Did Alex Ovechkin deserve the Calder in 2005-06?
Alex Ovechkin won the Calder trophy for NHL rookie of the year for the 2005-06 season. Ovechkin totaled 52 goals and 54 assist in 81 games. His 106 points is the 3rd highest total ever for a rookie. 2005-06 was also Sidney Crosby’s rookie season. Crosby had 39 goals and 63 assists. According to Wikipedia, the only other time two rookies have had over 100 points in the same season was in 1992-93 (Teemu Selanne and Joe Juneau).
The voting for the Calder was not especially close, as Ovechkin received 125 of the 129 possible first place votes. He also received 4 second place votes. Crosby received 4 first place votes, 95 second place votes, as well as a number of third and fourth place votes. Scoring 52 goals as a rookie is going to grab the attention of voters. Ovechkin’s highlight-reel goals and physical style of play was also credited for helping him win the award nearly unanimously.
Advanced stats are more prevalent than ever before in the NHL, and are certainly more of a thought than they were in the 2005-06 season. While there’s no doubt many voters still pay them no mind, I want to take a look at how the Ovechkin’s and Crosby’s rookie seasons match-up from an advanced stats perspective.
First, here’s a look at a player usage chart.
This is for all 5-on-5 situations. So, Crosby (57.256) faced easier zone starts than Ovechkin (52.68%), but also faced (slightly) tougher competition (28.78% to 28.56%). The wide gap on the Y-axis is actually quite small if you look at the scale. Both players had somewhat sheltered zone starts, as would be expected for rookies. The bubble color is set to FenRel% which resulted in no noticeable color for either player because, as you’ll see shortly, these two had similar FenClose numbers in their rookie season. Not pictured here is that both players also had very similar strength of teammates, as measured by TOI teammate %. Ovechkin’s was 30.45%, Crosby 30.48%.
Back to looking at possession through FenRel %. This is another stat where there’s not a very meaningful difference between the two. Ovechkin’s FenRel % was 7.88 and Crosby’s was 7.44. Looking at close game situations also doesn’t give either guy much of an edge. Ovechkin’s close game Fenwick was 53.16%, Crosby’s 50.95%. When looking relative to their teammates, the numbers are 9.19% and 9.93%, respectively.
Advanced stats don’t do much to distinguish either player during their rookie campaigns. They both had good possession numbers, especially relative to their teammates. Both guys received zone starts that were a bit sheltered, Crosby more so than Ovechkin. And lastly, they played with and against very similar levels of competition.
So sorry, Sidney, I won’t be calling for a re-vote based off of advanced stats.
All data pulled from War on Ice