ZachParise

 

Why it's better to own Zach Parise over Alex Steen...

 

This week’s match features Alexander Steen versus Zach Parise. Will Steen be more than a one season wonder, and will Parise find a way to recapture the magic from his years with the Devils? Time to find out – Cage Match starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract Status/Cap Implications

Although Steen is considered by many to be a “come from nowhere” breakout performer, he actually was a highly touted prospect back in the day. In fact, both Steen and Parise were former first rounders, with Parise being grabbed by the Devils 17th overall in 2003 while Steen was chosen by the Maple Leafs 24th overall just one year earlier. Both ended up debuting in the NHL in 2005-06, with Steen having played several years in Sweden and Parise playing a combination of college and AHL hockey. And they now have played in nearly the same number of career games (617 for Parise, 605 for Steen).

Parise was a 60+ point scorer by his second year, while Steen put up several middling seasons with the Maple Leafs before being dealt to St. Louis in 2008, and still didn’t crack the 50 point plateau until the 2010-11 season, when he put up 51 in 72 games (58 point full season pace). And although Steen’s numbers this year were unprecedented (62 points in 68 games – projecting to 75 points over 82 games), he had managed to score 55 points in his prior 83 games during 2011-12 and 2012-13, so he was flirting with a breakout over the past several years.

With Parise, he’s twice achieved point per game numbers (94 in 82 games in the 2008-09 season, and 82 in 81 games in 2009-10), but has never actually finished a season with between 70 and 80 points, and has scored at a 60-70 point pace in each of his two seasons with Minnesota -- 38 points in 48 games in 2012-13 (projecting to 64 over 82 games) and 56 in 67 games in 2013-14 (projecting to 68 in 82 games).

Parise was a marquee free agent before signing with Minnesota in 2012; and his current contract reflects that status at 13 years, $98M, translating to a yearly cap hit of $7.538M (tied for 9th highest in the entire NHL for 2013-14). Steen just finished a four year, $13.45M contract ($3.36M yearly cap hit), and was re-signed by the Blues in December for three more years at $5.8M per year. So Steen is still a bargain compared to Parise going forward, but far less so than he was through this season.

 

Ice Time

There should be a lot of useful information here, including to see if Steen’s breakout performance came as a result of a huge increase in Ice Time and to compare Parise’s Ice Time not only in each of his two Minnesota seasons but also to see how they stack up against his final two seasons in New Jersey.

One important note – for Parise I’ve included 2009-10 data (here as well as in the other tables) instead of 2010-11. I normally don’t like to go beyond the four most recent seasons since that’s “ancient history” in terms of fantasy analysis; but keep in mind that Parise played only 13 games in 2010-11, so it’s almost like that was a lost season for him anyway. Also, his 2009-10 season saw him score better than a point per game (82 points in 81 games), whereas he hasn’t scored above a 60-70 point pace/range since then. So it’ll be interesting to determine what his data was that season and how it measures up against his three most recent seasons.

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (amount ahead of second highest forward)

PP Ice Time per game (amount ahead of second highest forward)

SH Ice Time (with rank among team’s forwards)

2013-14

20:16 (AS) – 1st

20:25 (ZP) – 2nd

3:19 (AS) – 1st

3:19 (ZP) – 3rd

1:53 (AS) – 2nd

1:02 (ZP) – 7th

2012-13

18:59 (AS) – 3rd

20:40 (ZP) – 2nd

2:33 (AS) – 1st

3:25 (ZP) – 2nd

1:37 (AS) – 5th

1:27 (ZP) – 4th

2011-12

19:07 (AS) – 3rd

21:29 (ZP) – 2nd

2:30 (AS) – 3rd

3:26 (ZP) – 3rd

1:42 (AS) – 4th

1:57 (ZP) – 2nd

2010-11

19:33 (AS) – 3rd

3:07 (AS) – 3rd

0:57 (AS) – 6th

2009-10

19:46 (ZP) – 3rd

3:06 (ZP) – 2nd

0:33 (ZP) – 9th

 

Although Steen’s productive Ice Time numbers were up in 2013-14, they weren’t too much higher than in the past few seasons, especially 2010-11 (when he tallied 51 points in 72 games). Simply put, if you didn’t know that Steen scored at a 75 point pace this season and a 50-60 point pace in the other three, you’d be hard pressed to deduce it from looking at these numbers.

Things also have been pretty consistent for Parise, even going back to 2009-10. It is interesting that his most productive season saw him receive much less SH Ice Time, although it’s hard to imagine that an additional minute or so of SH Ice Time would be what turned a point per game player into a 60-70 point player. Plus, he tallied 69 points in 2011-12 when he had his highest SH Ice Time per game, and roughly the same scoring pace this past season when he had roughly 1:02 of SH Ice Time.

My thinking is we’ll have to take a close look at their luck-based metrics to see if a better explanation for each one’s seemingly “outlying” season (2013-14 for Steen, 2009-10 for Parise) might be found there.

 

Secondary Categories


Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2013-14

0.67 (AS)

0.45 (ZP)

0.63 (AS)

1.04 (ZP)

0.41 (AS)

0.67 (ZP)

3.10 (AS)

3.65 (ZP)

0.25 (AS)

0.30 (ZP)

2012-13

0.35 (AS)

0.33 (ZP)

0.70 (AS)

1.23 (ZP)

0.55 (AS)

0.85 (ZP)

3.22 (AS)

3.79 (ZP)

0.22 (AS)

0.27 (ZP)

2011-12

0.65 (AS)

0.39 (ZP)

0.56 (AS)

0.79 (ZP)

0.67 (AS)

0.47 (ZP)

3.11 (AS)

3.57 (ZP)

0.11 (AS)

0.17 (ZP)

2010-11

0.36 (AS)

0.54 (AS)

0.39 (AS)

3.03 (AS)

0.14 (AS)

2009-10

0.39 (ZP)

1.33 (ZP)

0.42 (ZP)

4.28 (ZP)

0.32 (ZP)

 

Once again there is a good amount of consistency in the year-to-year numbers for both players. Parise’s last point per game season coincided with his highest shots per game average, and Steen’s best season was where his PP points per game was highest. But in both instances there is not enough of a difference between those highest totals and their respective averages for the other three seasons to immediately explain their comparative jump in production in those single years. Parise’s best season also featured his highest PP points production, but barely above 2013-14. So again – seemingly no explanation there, making all the more important to closely examine their luckiness.

But before doing that, some other observations that can be made from this data, including that Parise being far better than Steen in Hits, although in two of his last three seasons Parise’s average was either at or below one per game so the difference between them is less than it once was. Both players also will give you excellent output in Shots and pretty good Blocked Shots for scoring forwards. And although their PIMs are not great, they’re also not terrible.

 

Luck-Based Metrics (all at five on five)

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting Percentage

PDO

Individual Points Percentage (IPP)

2013-14

15.6% (AS)

11.8% (ZP)

10.14% (AS)

8.16% (ZP)

1005 (AS)

997 (ZP)

76.1% (AS)

67.6% (ZP)

2012-13

6.2% (AS)

9.9% (ZP)

8.61% (AS)

7.40% (ZP)

1006 (AS)

974 (ZP)

63.6% (AS)

70.4% (ZP)

2011-12

11.2% (AS)

10.6% (ZP)

9.51% (AS)

8.82% (ZP)

1045 (AS)

986 (ZP)

71.0% (AS)

83.7% (ZP)

2010-11

9.2% (AS)

7.68% (AS)

967 (AS)

87.8% (AS)

2009-10

11.0% (ZP)

9.42% (ZP)

1029 (ZP)

78.0% (ZP)

 

Steen’s PDO and IPP for 2013-14 were reasonable, but his individual shooting % was easily the highest of all four seasons, and nearly double his career average of 9.07% going into this season. And for a guy like Steen who shoots so much, that added up to a pretty big difference in goals. In fact, if he had shot 9.07% this season, he would’ve finished with only 19 goals instead of 33, which in turn means his scoring pace would’ve projected to only 61 points instead of 75. Thus, although he didn’t have what would otherwise be considered a statistically lucky season, he nevertheless had what – for him – is likely an unsustainably high personal shooting percentage.

In looking at Parise’s numbers, by far his highest PDO did happen to occur in his most recent point per game season, although for what it’s worth a PDO of 1029 is still considered within the “normal” range of 970 to 1030. What also stands out is that his lowest and second lowest team shooting percentage and IPP among these four seasons (as well as his lowest and third lowest team shooting percentage) occurred in his two campaigns with Minnesota. Plus, his point per game 2009-10 season occurred with a personal shooting percentage slightly below his career average of 11.3%.

All in all, these numbers suggest that it will be more likely for Parise’s numbers to trend back upward than it will be for Steen to repeat his production level from 2013-14.

 

Injuries

You’ll find Steen on the DobberHockey Band-Aid Boys list, and rightfully so. He has exactly one season of more than 76 games played, to go along with three seasons of between 61 and 68 games played and one where he only managed 43. Parise had no injury issues (missing only three total games in his first five seasons) until 2010-11,, when nearly his entire season was derailed due to a fluke knee injury. But he followed that up by playing every game the next two seasons before missing 15 in 2013-14. Clear edge to Parise.

 

Who Wins?

It seems like an eternity ago that Parise was picked 43rd overall in the DobberHockey Experts League, with Steen not being taken until 216th. But part of the beauty of fantasy hockey is that over the course of just one season players who were ranked so differently not even a year ago can now rightfully be compared to each other, as they are in this Cage Match.

If Steen’s personal shooting percentage wasn’t so stratospherically high compared to his career average, then there would be realistic hope of him being able to replicate his breakout success in future seasons. And while Parise might never again reach point per game status, we saw that he might have been a victim of some unsustainably bad luck over the past two years, and thus could rebound to at least finish in the 70-75 point range as soon as next season.

But before I declare Parise the winner, there’s the question of value versus cost. By season’s end Parise was still owned in 99% of Yahoo leagues, compared to Steen’s 89%. That lends further support to the argument that in fantasy hockey it’s harder to convince people that someone (like Parise) is no longer an elite talent than it is to convince people that someone (like Steen) has become elite.

Even if Steen’s points regress and Parise’s rebound, chances are they’ll finish within 10 points of each other if they play a full season. Given that, the right one to pick will depend on whether (and, if so, to what extent) Parise is overvalued and Steen is undervalued in your pool.

 

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