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Comparing Peverley and Wheeler

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While Rich Peverley and Blake Wheeler were not the only two players moved in the recent trade with the Boston Bruins, there is some inclination to directly compare the two. I don't think it's entirely fair, but I'll bite: how do these guys stack up? I'll break it down by even-strength, power-play, and penalty-kill, as both forwards played in all three situations.

[Note: I've made some edits to clarify a few points and fix a few typos. These are noted in brackets where applicable. timmyf]

Even Strength (Per 60m ice time)

Wheeler: 090G 0.74A1 0.49A2 2.13PTS

Peverley: 0.52G 0.52A1 0.37A2 1.40PTS

Those scoring numbers are relatively easy to compare. Boston tends to score a bit more than Atlanta on average, so you'd expect Wheeler's numbers to be higher, but I was still pretty surprised at how high they are. These next numbers are a bit tougher to compare directly.

Wheeler: 2.71GFON 2.21GAON +0.49ON (+1.02OFF)

Peverley: 2.06GFON 3.09GAON -1.03ON (0.03OFF)

Both skaters hurt their team's plus-minus while playing, though Wheeler was still an overall plus. Peverley's numbers, by comparison, look rough. Boston is a better team, so it's hard to compare directly, but hopefully this gives you some idea of where each player stands.

Wheeler: 0.006 QUALCOMP -0.030 QUALTEAM

Peverley: 0.048 QUALCOMP -0.073 QUALTEAM

Both skaters played with worse-than-average teammates and against better-than-average competition, but the effect was more pronounced for Rich Peverley. This can, to an extent, explain his poor numbers for the year.

Power Play (Per 60m ice time)

Blake Wheeler didn't receive nearly as much power play time as Rich Peverley, but we can try to even things out by looking at their per-unit ice time numbers.

Wheeler: 0G 1.00A1 1.00A2 1.99PTS 3.98GFON 5.77GFOFF

Peverley: 1.38G 1.38A1 0.35A2 3.11PTS 6.56GFON 6.79GFOFF

While Wheeler seems to have been a bit of a drain on the penalty kill power play, it should be noted that he played just over 60m of power play time all year, so you're looking at a relatively small sample. [As I should have said more clearly here, this makes it very difficult to directly compare the two. All of Wheeler's numbers on the power play should be taken with a large grain of salt.] Still, Peverley has him beat handily. In fact, this was something I failed to get across to people about Peverley all year: his numbers look much better than they are because he's been effective on the power play. [Peverley's 6 PPGs are good for 2nd on the Thrashers and make up 43% of his total goals. His 6 PPAs were good for 30% of his total. At even-strength, Peverley was 7th in goals and tied for 6th in points.]

"But Tim, we want people who are effective on the power play," you say. And you're right, so long as they aren't hurting us at even strength.

Penalty Kill (Per 60m ice time)

Wheeler: 7.86GAON 6.05GAOFF

Peverley: 7.27GAON 9.09GAOFF

Comparing the two players to each other is difficult and unfair, but seeing how they perform within their own team's penalty kill is helpful. Wheeler wasn't particularly effective, Peverley was. [By this, I mean that Boston's penalty kill performed much better while he was on the bench than while he was on the ice. They gave up goals at a rate 30% higher when Wheeler was on the ice. That's statistically significant for sure. There are many things that can lead to these numbers other than "Wheeler is a bad penalty killer," but it's hard to see them in stats. Ask a Bruins fan.] I mentioned this in my post-trade write-up: expect this to hurt our PK. It almost certainly will.

The conclusion here is that the Wheeler trade should help us be better at even-strength but will likely hurt us on special teams. As much as it hurts me to say this, especially given our 30th-ranked penalty kill, that's a trade I'm willing to make. For what it's worth, Mark Stuart was extremely effective in his limited penalty kill time this year, so perhaps that part of the trade will make up some of the slack due to losing Peverley.