Sutter offers a glimpse of team's analytics approach - LA Kings Insider

Whether or not last summer deserves to be known as the Summer of Analytics, there was discussion over the direction of several NHL front offices during an otherwise calm time of the year for hockey news.

The Toronto Maple Leafs created an analytics department following the hiring of Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager. Dubas, a former agent who previously served as the GM of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds, is among the most recognizable proponents of the continued rise and acceptance of advanced stats, many of which detail players’ and teams’ ability to possess the puck and work in the attacking zone. Other digital proprietors of statistical information and analytics experts were hired by NHL teams, continuing the discussion over how teams should rely on available numbers that can gauge a player and team’s direction over longer periods of time, and to what degree.

It’s a different environment from when Darryl Sutter first cut his teeth as an assistant coach some 20-plus years ago.

“I’ll tell you how much the game’s changed,” Sutter said. “My first job as an assistant coach was to be like Radar and carry the big box with the phone in it. That was my job. Make sure you got your keys to the room and you got the right seat on the airplane and carry the new phone that was out. That’s what it was. So it’s changed.”

There have always been uses for analytics in the modern game, and Sutter referenced arbitration as an area in which teams have traditionally relied the available numbers – whether they be zone starts, the quality of competition, possession metrics, et cetera.

“Do you not think that there’s an in depth study done on each player because of arbitration that would include more than what a coach thought? It would have to include all of that,” he said.

The Kings have been an excellent possession team under Dean Lombardi and in the coaching tenures of Sutter and Terry Murray. Since the 2009-10 season – the first season Los Angeles returned to the playoffs since 2001-02 – they rank second amongst all NHL clubs in cumulative Corsi-for percentage, the percentage of all attempted shots directed towards the attacking net. They trail only the Chicago Blackhawks in the metric, while the Boston Bruins rank fourth.

In other words, the only teams to have won Stanley Cups over the last five season rank first, second, and fourth in cumulative possession rankings over that span.

But the Kings aren’t a team to give away any particular advanced metrics that they value over others. In an interview with Lombardi at Hockey Fest, the Kings’ general manager joked that “You can get my book when I’m done.”

Like Lombardi, Sutter cautioned against the overreliance on analytics as a be-all or end-all in player or team evaluation.

“Well, we use it as we see fit,” Sutter said. “We’ve used it for the last two years a lot. We have specific things we don’t care to publicly talk about that we think are really important in those analytics, and they prove true over a period of time, over the graph of it. It doesn’t necessarily mean tonight it’s going to have an impact or anything, but after so many games against that team, or after so many home games, or after so many road games, or after a road trip or a home stand, it does. There is a correlation between how the coaches individually rate players to the analytics that we use. You use it to your benefit, and you use it as you see fit, not as ‘the answer.’”

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.