A Qualcomp/Zone Start graph is a chart that displays what a player’s role is by looking at his corsi relative to how tough his competition is and his offensive zone start percentage. Rob Vollman did this project at Arctic Ice Hockey for the Winnipeg Jets players and I thought it would be a fun idea to look at this for the Hurricanes players. My graphs are very similar to his in the sense that I put the zone starts on the x-axis and corsi relative to quality of competition on the y-axis. One change I made was that I color coded the player’s data marks to show how they did possession-wise. Red means they had a positive relative corsi , blue means they ended up negative and purple means they ended up getting destroyed. I think that explains it pretty clearly but if not, the graphs below should help.
This is every Carolina forward who ended the season on the team last season with the exception of Jon Mastumoto whose 39.4% offensive zone starts and -1.931 ended up being an outlier in this sample. This includes RFAs and UFAs, though.
Go here for an enlarged version.
Players who got the toughest assignments would be in the top-right section of the graph as their quality of competition ranks above average and they took most of their starts in the defensive zone. Brandon Sutter, Jiri Tlusty, Zach Boychuk, Cory Stillman and Chad LaRose are the players who fit in this category. Eric Staal also qualifies here but only by a little. Sutter’s did worse than these three possession wise but he faced tougher competition than them (and almost every forward on the team) so that is probably why. Boychuk getting some of the toughest assignments during his 23 games with the team is a little interesting given how little experience he has. Maybe give him some easier assignments next season and see how he does with them? Tlusty getting buried like this is a little confusing considering I never thought he was a good defensive player at all and he’s very inconsistent in his own zone but he isn’t getting killed so I guess that’s a good sign. Dwyer and Stillman both ended up underwater in terms of possession but Dwyer faced notably weaker competition. LaRose did very well against tough competition and had the highest corsi relative rating next to Staal, who finished at the top of the pack as you could probably guess.
In the lower left hand corner we have players who got the easiest assignments on the team. The only forward who was sheltered was Jerome Samson and only played in 23 games that were in the last half of the season. He only played about 7 minutes a game but did well, if not unspectacular, as a fourth liner but that’s about it.
Next we have players who faced tough competition but got more offensive zone starts which means they are relied upon for their offense than anything else. Although there are some players here who could be considered “two-way players” but that fits the first category too for players like Sutter, Staal and LaRose. In this section we have my favorite player Erik Cole, Tuomo Ruutu, Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Zac Dalpe. Cole faced similar competition to Staal but didn’t do nearly as well as he did. In fact, Cole was the only player in this section who didn’t have a positive corsi rating. I swear, I am not trying to pick on him intentionally, it’s just that the numbers aren’t pointing in his favor right now. Anyway, the Finnish duo of Jokinen and Ruutu fared decently with their assignments while Skinner also did well but with more sheltered minutes. Zac Dalpe did terrible possession wise and faced weaker competition than the rest of the group which is probably why he was sent back to Charlotte in three separate call-ups. Here’s hoping he does better next season.
The last category are players who faced weak competition but started more in the defensive zone and are located in the bottom right section. Here we have Troy Bodie and Drayson Bowman. Bodie appeared to play better than Bowman did but was barely a postive corsi player but the fact that he was a positive player possession wise with a lot of defensive zone starts does speak something good about him as a bottom-six player at least. Bowman also was not completely buried corsi wise, which is good.
Graphs like this are a good way to put context into the situation when talking about corsi. Eric Staal had the highest relative corsi rating on the Canes last season despite playing tough minutes and against tough competition. Meanwhile, the next closest rating was Jerome Sampson’s 9.9 corsi relative but he played the most sheltered minutes on the team and it was a very small sample size. Same goes for Zac Dalpe’s terrible -18 corsi relative rating. He only played in 15 games and while he didn’t do well in them, this doesn’t mean we should jump to conclusions about his future in Carolina until we see how he does with a full-season. This also helps see why Skinner had such a great rookie season, he got easier zone starts than nearly any other forward on the team but he took advantage of them big time. Think the Canes should do something similar with Boychuk to see what happens?
Let’s move onto defensemen:
Bryan Allen (data is a bit skewed from his time in Florida) and Tim Gleason had the toughest assignments among defensemen and both appeared to be hammered possession-wise. However, when you put things into context here and consider that Gleason faced the toughest competition by a mile and is the closest thing to a shut-down defenseman the Canes have right now, his corsi rating doesn’t appear to be as bad. Allen played some tough minutes both in Carolina and Florida and appears to be a similar case to Gleason. Let’s see how he does with a full-year in Carolina. Jamie McBain and Derek Joslin faced average competition and got softer minutes than Gleason and Allen and neither got killed too much possession-wise.
Joe Corvo played a lot of tough minutes but was used in a lot of offensive situations, too. He also appeared to beat his competition possession wise but only by a little bit (.7 corsi relative). Meanwhile, Pitkanen played softer minutes and took advantage of them a lot as he had the highest corsi relative rating among the defense corps. He faced weaker competition than the likes of Gleason, Corvo and Allen, though so that’s worth noting.
At the bottom right corner is Jay Harrison who was the only defenseman on the Canes who received sheltered minutes but he was used in defensive situations. He also barely beat out his competition despite playing softer minutes but he had to start a lot of his shifts in his own end so being able to end up on the positive side of the possession battle is definitely a good thing, especially for someone who is only relied upon to be a 3rd pairing defenseman.
So there you have it. The graphs here mainly illustrate what a player’s role is rather than how than a player performed (I just threw that in by color coding the bubbles) and I feel that it does that accurately. I may try this with some other teams and see how they turn out. It’s also a good way of judging where a team needs to address needs during free agency.