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Hockey Analytics

Brad Boyes: Inner Perimeter

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Brad Boyes has been in this same situation for the better part of a handful of seasons. A new team, potentially upgraded to a more prominent scoring role the further he moved away from career high 43 goal and 33-goal seasons. Traded from the Blues in 2010-11 to the Sabres, he scored 14 goals in 86 games, adding another 10 with the Islanders. He had moderately more success with the Panthers (156-35-39-74). His time with these three teams were in more of a support role, unable to reproduce career highs riding a 17% overall shooting percentage.

 

Since the trade from the Blues in 2010-11, Boyes had averaged 0.81 A/60 at 5v5, entering 2014-15 with a 0.81 3-year average. Last season his assist production ballooned to a 1.13 A/60 complimented with a 0.89 A1/60, up from the 0.39 3-year average. He fired 6.9 shots per 60, down from the previous season’s career high 8.28, but closer to his season’s average, yielding nine goals, down from 17 in ’13-14.

 

I consider Brad Boyes strengths to be able to operate in the ‘inner perimeter’, within the dots, but not quite in dirty scoring areas, at least not on a consistent basis. The former Leafs draft pick patrols the edge of play, pushing pucks back into high danger areas and functioning as a distributor more than a shooter.

 

According to War-on-ice.com Boyes has experienced a drop in on-ice high-danger scoring chances per 60, a function of both himself and Panthers team. Since the trade to Buffalo his high-danger scoring chances for look like the table below. His individual high danger scoring chances dipped to 44 in ’14-15 from a previous high of 65, while the rate stat dropped to 12.2 per 60. On a parallel, his on-ice scoring chances per 60 minutes dropped to a low of 24.1.

 

Season

Age

Team

Gm

iHSC

HSCF

HSCF60

SCF60

2015.16

33

TOR

5

2

18

17.6

28.4

2014.15

32

FLA

78

44

207

12.2

24.1

2013.14

31

FLA

78

65

278

15.8

28.5

2012.13

30

NYI

54

52

237

18

30.6

2011.12

29

BUF

65

32

192

16.6

27.6

2010.11

28

STL/BUF

90

67

334

16.3

28.2

We have some additional data to further explore this, fortunately, using Ryan Stimson’s passing data. The file is available for users here.

 

Stimson and his group of trackers were able to track a small amount of 2014-15 games from January 2015 onward (sample size is an issue here, but for our illustration, it’s a start), adopting criteria explored by Steve Valiquette, coining the term ‘Royal Road’ and Chris Boyle’s Shot Quality Project, then expanding with player shots after a pass, primary passes and on-ice performance.

 

We have to define the ‘Royal Road’ and how it relates to the passing data as well as explore Boyle’s study.

 

The ‘Royal Road’ was introduced by ex-NHL goaltender, Steve Valiquette after extensively studying goals/saves, encompassing some of The Shot Quality Project by Chris Boyle. Steve’s results from studying goals are expanded in this article by Kevin Woodley, while introducing goaltending evaluation tools, by identifying goals scored via different types of plays/methods. Steve’s definition is below.

“… Valiquette has identified another key factor in shot quality: Plays and passes which move across what he calls the "Royal Road," a line that halves the offensive zone in two below the tops of the faceoff circles.”


More on the ‘Royal Road’ is housed here where Boyle expands on type of shots constituting the threat level by color scale.

 

Boyle’s project determined that shots immediately following a pass were more dangerous than an unobstructed clear view shot. More from Woodley on NHL.com to outline the clear result.

 

"Boyle has calculated the expected save percentage on a clean shot to be .949, but it's .651 on shots immediately following a pass."

 

Boyle goes on to outline the difference in scoring using a heat map for assisted and unassisted shots.

 


In regards to the @kirkgoldsberry piece on @Grantland33, here is the NHL mapped with assists/no assists. pic.twitter.com/wkCdUJoqsh

— Chris Boyle (@ChrisBoyle33) October 13, 2015

 

 

There’s a clear effect on exploiting the Royal Road to a player’s and team’s advantage to maximize scoring chance potential, coinciding with the lower save percentage of a shot immediately following a pass, versus clean shots.

 

Players in the inner perimeter would likely be using this space to exploit the cross-ice movement to get the goaltender moving and shooting in transition. Let’s look at Boyes.

 

I’ve ascribed the ‘inner perimeter’ from the goal lines, running up to the top of the faceoff circles, forming an inner layer that incorporates the high slot at times, but more likely coincides on one side of the ice. Players can be more effective on the strong or weak side and where once I was more critical of these types of players, even as recent as last season, I’ve opened up to the skills and ability of these type of players. There’s an application of skills here that could coincide with winning.

 

I felt in the past, most impact players exploit high stakes ice in the slot and in front of the net, but the secondary layer in the inner perimeter requires players to move the puck back into dangerous areas, while pouncing on rebounds, and fighting off more defenders that collapse with the play in the defensive zone. In short, there’s a place for this type of player, something to further explore outside of the scope of this particular post.

 

At McKeen’s Hockey, his scouting profile reflects this ‘stealth’-like ability to generate offense, even hinting to the ability of hiding along the edge, instead of in dirtier areas

 

Scouting: A bright, stealth-like forward with fast, soft hands .. crafty one-touch passer and potent shooter .. surprises goalies with a fast, well-disguised release .. at his best when driving courageously into lanes and getting shots on target to create rebounds.

.

For the purposes here, I’m going to focus on Royal Road (RR) data, specifically, RR shot attempts on a per-60 basis and one timers in particular. One-timers are decent indicators of the sides since there’s a likelihood of the quick pass across the RR to an awaiting player to fire on net.

 

Using Stimson’s data and some definitions:

SAG = Shot Attempt Generation

RR = Royal Road

1T = One-timer

SAGE = shot attempt generation efficiency (a measure of goals success relative to shot attempts)

 

Boyes led the Florida Panthers in Royal Road shot attempts generated per 60 minutes (RR SAG60) with 1.117 attempts per 60. Among all NHL forwards tracked with over 200 minutes, the average was 0.633. Boyes bested the rate by almost double, while a 2.904 one-timer shot attempt generation per 60 is a strong indicator of the type of passing game he was capable of producing, close to the NHL average (first table below).

NHL 1TSAG60

NHL RR SAG60

2.454

0.633

 

Players

 1T SAG/60

 RR SAG60

 1T SAGE

 RR SAG

24 BRAD BOYES

2.904

1.117

0.50

10.00

20 SEAN BERGENHEIM

3.792

1.083

0.57

2.00

14 TOMAS FLEISCHMANN

0.530

0.796

0.50

3.00

36 JUSSI JOKINEN

3.584

0.694

0.45

6.00

73 BRANDON PIRRI

1.908

0.636

0.42

4.00

63 DAVE BOLLAND

2.547

0.566

0.50

4.00

68 JAROMIR JAGR

4.244

0.531

0.44

2.00

19 SCOTTIE UPSHALL

1.371

0.514

0.63

3.00

12 JIMMY HAYES

2.243

0.472

0.37

4.00

11 JONATHAN HUBERDEAU

1.834

0.408

0.33

4.00

16 ALEKSANDER BARKOV

1.929

0.305

0.68

3.00

17 DEREK MACKENZIE

1.351

0.300

0.44

2.00

27 NICK BJUGSTAD

2.045

0.292

0.57

2.00

 

When moving on to his individual shooting production – that is, as the recipient of Royal Road passes and one-timers, Boyes led Panthers forwards in one-timer attempts (21) and shots (10) as well as individual Royal Road attempts (6). Once again, players lining up for one-timers are generally not standing in front of the net, they’re likely just off to the side, or at the top of the zone.

 

Players

 TOI

 iSC

 iSCS

 iRRC

 iRRS

 i1TC

 i1TS

 i1TG

 iTransC

5 AARON EKBLAD

704.89

7

2

1

0

32

9

0

8

33 WILLIE MITCHELL

432.14

9

8

3

2

23

14

1

2

24 BRAD BOYES

537.18

19

10

6

3

21

10

2

19

73 BRANDON PIRRI

377.3

22

9

5

1

18

8

1

17

16 ALEKSANDER BARKOV

590.99

25

16

3

2

16

7

4

19

12 JIMMY HAYES

508.25

19

13

3

3

16

7

1

19

68 JAROMIR JAGR

226.18

18

8

2

0

12

6

1

11

27 NICK BJUGSTAD

410.81

10

6

4

2

12

7

1

24

36 JUSSI JOKINEN

518.92

17

5

3

2

12

5

0

18

44 ERIK GUDBRANSON

627.25

0

0

1

0

11

3

1

7

7 DMITRY KULIKOV

618.41

1

1

0

0

10

2

0

4

14 TOMAS FLEISCHMANN

226.24

7

4

3

2

10

6

0

8

82 TOMAS KOPECKY

283.04

7

4

5

3

8

5

0

16

11 JONATHAN HUBERDEAU

588.92

16

9

1

0

8

4

0

24

51 BRIAN CAMPBELL

749.14

4

3

2

1

7

2

0

0

League averages for the One-timers and Royal Road attempts are shown below, where once again, Boyes fares well above the average in Royal Road attempts and one-timer attempts. 

 

iRRC

 iRRS

 i1TC

 i1TS

 i1TG

4.22

2.73

12.12

6.35

0.89

 

Converting the shot attempts to a rate stat per 60 yields interesting results. Boyes easily eclipsed his next closest ranked player RR attempts on a per 60 basis. Bolland and Pirri had smaller samples to work with, but it’s clear Boyes was heavily used as a distributor across and receiver of passes across the middle.

 

Players

RRC60

RRS60

24 BRAD BOYES

53.718

26.859

63 DAVE BOLLAND

35.342

35.342

73 BRANDON PIRRI

31.442

6.288

82 TOMAS KOPECKY

23.587

14.152

27 NICK BJUGSTAD

27.387

13.694

16 ALEKSANDER BARKOV

29.550

19.700

36 JUSSI JOKINEN

25.946

17.297

12 JIMMY HAYES

25.413

25.413

17 DEREK MACKENZIE

19.985

6.662

14 TOMAS FLEISCHMANN

11.312

7.541

68 JAROMIR JAGR

7.539

0.000

19 SCOTTIE UPSHALL

5.836

5.836

11 JONATHAN HUBERDEAU

9.815

0.000

20 SEAN BERGENHEIM

1.846

0.000

22 SHAWN THORNTON

3.770

0.000

21 VINCENT TROCHECK

0.000

0.000

 

This season, fitting into the Toronto roster that could use an injection of scoring prowess, it would be intuitive to play with at least one linemate that shows a great net presence. James van Riemsdyk is the easiest potential partner while he’s shared time alongside the former Flyer and Nazem Kadri.

 

Keep an eye where Boyes positions himself in the offensive zone with sustained pressure.

 

 

 

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey