Maple Leafs’ Commentary: Has the Team Taken a Step Backward?

A few days ago Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic wrote an article rating how each team has done in this offseason to date. Luszczyszyn has an extensive background in hockey analytics. He has written previously for The Hockey News, The Nation Network, and Hockey Graphs. (from “NHL offseason improvement rankings: From No. 1 Detroit to Florida at No. 32,” Dom Luszczyszyn, The Athletic, 04/08/2022).

Related: Predicting the Maple Leafs & Atlantic Division Final Standings

Luszczyszyn is also the creator of the Game Score Value Added (GSVA) statistic. If you want more detail on GSVA you can get it here by following this embedded link

More About the Game Score Value Added (GSVA) Statistic

To come up with his ranking for each team, Luszczyszyn has used the GSVA for each player leaving a given team compared to each player coming onto a given team. If the combined GSVAs of the incoming players are greater than those leaving, the team gets a positive rating. If the combined GSVAs of the players leaving the team is greater than the combined GSVAs of the incoming players, the team gets a positive rating.

For example, when looking at the Maple Leafs, the loss of Ilya Mikheyev is seen to be the biggest loss for the team. The model suggests he’s worth 1.5 wins on his own. His combination of goal-scoring and defense will be missed on the penalty kill. Ondrej Kase will also be missed as a depth player.

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev will be missed by the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Luszczyszyn’s GSVA rating is so exact that it gives us the actual number of wins difference predicted for each team in the upcoming season. According to their GSVA, the Detroit Red Wings are predicted to have six more wins in the 2022-23 season than they did in the 2021-22 season. If we look at the points the Red Wings finished with in 2021-22 (74 points) and then add six wins (or 12 points), we can predict the Red Wings will finish 2022-23 with 86 points. 

How does that affect the Toronto Maple Leafs? 

Using GSVA and the final standings for the Atlantic Division in the 2021-22 season we can predict where each team will finish in the 2022-23 season. Keep in mind this is just one statistic and it is predictive. As with all predictive stats, there is a margin of error. 

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The statistic uses past performance to predict future performance. It does not take into account any improvement or regression in a player’s abilities. There are also a number of other intangibles that it does not take into consideration. For example, it doesn’t include the intangible we often call “chemistry,” or how two players “fit” together when they play. The Maple Leafs’ Michael Bunting “fits” well on the team’s first line because of his chemistry with both Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Luszczyszyn’s Atlantic Division Predications

With that in mind, let us look at what Luszczyszyn’s GSVA rating predicts the 2022-23 Atlantic Division Standings will look like. (Note: The GSVA rating uses decimals. We’ll round to the nearest full win.)

Team2021-22 Points+/- Wins GSVA2022-23 Points
Florida Panther122-5 (4.9)112
Toronto Maple Leafs115-4 (4.1)107
Tampa Bay Lightning110-2 (2.3)106
Boston Bruins107-1 (0.6)105
Detroit Red Wings74+6 (6.0)86
Ottawa Senators73+4 (3.7)81
Buffalo Sabres75+1 (0.9)77
Montreal Canadiens55+2 (2.1)59

We can see, using GSVA, that the predicted standings for the Atlantic Division in  2022-23 season are not that much different from the final standings in 2021-22 season. Florida is still predicted to finish first, with their lead over second place Toronto shrinking slightly from seven points to five. The Maple Leafs, Lightning, and Bruins would appear to be in a dogfight for the next three spots, with only a point separating each team.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Celebrate Toronto Maple Leafs
Can Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner celebrate more goals together this season?
(Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

While the Red Wings would be the most improved team, the additional six wins (12 points) they are predicted to improve by would still leave them 19 points behind the Bruins. 

Predictions Past the NHL’s Atlantic Division

Some other notable predictions to take note of by using GSVA. The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche would drop from 119 points to 113. The first-place Carolina Hurricanes of the Metro division are predicted to drop by four points to 112 points. The New York Rangers would also drop from 110 points to 105.

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The Washington Capitals are predicted to leapfrog both the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metro Standings because they would improve by eight points from 100 to 108. The Pittsburgh Penguins would drop from 103 to 101.

One other interesting note is that, according to Luszczyszyn’s predictions, the same eight teams that qualified for the 2021-22 playoffs in the East would also qualify for the playoffs in 2022-23.  

Matt Murray Ottawa Senators
Can Matt Murray help the Maple Leafs win the Atlantic Division?
(Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By the way, Maple Leafs’ fans, if you’re into revenge the team would once again be hosting the Lightning in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]