While working on some things I created a couple of interesting visuals and wanted to share. Here’s a player usage chart of all forwards to play at least 41 games last season:
As a reminder, each player is represented by a circle. Players that start more often in the offensive zone are toward the right and players facing tougher opponents are toward the top. Players with more ice time have bigger circles and players with better possession stats are bluer.
I think this is an interesting visualization of forward usage. The biggest (highest TOI), bluest (best possession) bubbles tend to be in the top right (difficult quality of competition, more offensive zone starts). This is where you’ll find Toews, Gaborik, Benn, Datsyuk, Lucic, etc. The red hail falling out of the forward cloud (very easy competition) are enforcers: Orr, Barch, Rinaldo, McGrattan, Gazdic, etc. The smattering of players at the far left are defensive specialists: Kruger, Gordon, Malhotra, Boyle, etc.
Here’s the same chart for defencemen:
Defencemen usage looks more consistent. You see big bubbles in all quadrants, though most of the blue is to the right. And the overall usage spread is a lot tighter: while most forwards are in the ranges of 30%–65% ZS% and 27%–30% QoC, defencemen tend to be 40%–60% and 27.5%–29.5%.
Bonus: can you spot Phaneuf and Gunnarsson?