Bang for your Buck Awards (January 25, 2019)
After 11 year Hiatus, Anaheim Returns to Top Spot in Bang Award Results
In the midst of a season long struggle to maintain a playoff position, the Anaheim Ducks have been awarded the 2019 Bang For Your Buck Award which should offer no end of relief to Anaheim players knowing GM Randy Pascal’s shrewd maneuvering is allowing them to be the most points-to-dollar efficient team in the uNHL, a title not held by Pascal’s team since 2008.  The second award places Pascal in rarified territory as one of only three General Managers to win the award multiple times (Montreal / Edmonton).
 
This year’s victory can be attributed largely to the fact that first place Anaheim’s top forward line, top defense pairing and number one goalie come in at a shade under $12 million in earnings, less than half of the 31st place team’s $25.75 million top 6. This is even more impressive considering the fact five of the six are signed for next year at their current pay potentially signaling another above average positioning next year.  Pascal has assembled a very cost-effective roster who, if they make the playoffs, would put an exclamation point on the season for the Ducks in terms of economic stability. 
 
Of course, it’s not uncommon for the Bang winner to make the playoffs as that has been the case each year since Montreal in 2010 who won the award but struggled on the ice with a 0.443 winning percentage.  Generally, success on the ice and on the ledger seem to have found a commonality.  The average top 5 finishers in Bang results have played .640 hockey which is largely in line with historical averages though Anaheim’s current .520 play is the lowest mark for a Bang winner since that Montreal team in 2010.
 
In terms of Anaheim’s specific numbers, they spend $550k per winning percentage point which leads this year’s pack but where does that number rank historically?  Generally, as to be expected, the cost of success is rising.  Since data for the award was tracked beginning in 2005 when the top team spent slightly less than $269k per winning percentage point, the average winner’s costs have increased.  Anaheim’s $550k is the fourth highest amount ever with the high water mark set in 2013 during a rash of uNHL spending the previous ufa season.  Evidently, it is becoming more expensive to be successful in the uNHL.
 
At the other end of the spectrum sit the lowly Florida Panthers who indulged heavily in the free agent market this past summer. Those signings have largely been of the bust variety but a playoff appearance (7-3-0 in their last 10) would go a long way towards easing concerns in the Sunshine State. 
 
Florida spends just shy of $950k per winning percentage point which isn’t historically bad.  That dubious distinction belongs to the 2008/09 Vancouver Canucks when then GM Fabio Belli rode an embarrassing 0.082 winning percentage in an effort to draft first overall pick John Tavares, a player who remains with the organization to this date.  The cost per winning percentage point that season?  Over $2.5 million.  So, in respect of that, Panther’s GM Clint Jameus’ results aren’t that bad at all.
 
In fact, generally, the last place team in Bang Award results has improved for the past four years as teams become more conscious of the economic aspect of the league.  Florida’s costs are the third lowest (and only $65 short of second) since 2005. So there is something for Jameus to hang his hat on. Were this last year, the Panther’s $950k per rate would have placed them 27th.  Not a large jump but enough of a jump to point out that there’s improvement league wide in this regard.  Further to this, the Panther’s current .500 record is the highest winning percentage ever for any team placing last in Bang award results. 
 
So what does that say about Florida? Of the last place finishers, Florida has one of the lowest cost rate ever and the best winning percentage ever.  Not historically bad, but historically good for being bad if that makes any sense.  It’s not that Florida is off the rails, it’s just that the league is a place where the dividing line between being successful and being unsuccessful is blurring at an alarming rate.
 
In fact, the cost rate gap between the top team and the bottom team, unsurprisingly, is shrinking at a consistent rate and is now the lowest it has ever been with some $400k separating the two.  In other words, the difference between winning this award and finishing last is increasingly razor thin; a testament to the improved competitiveness found in the league.
 
 
So, where do the other teams fit in?  The top 5 is littered with excellent teams – Edmonton and Vancouver (3rd and 4th respectively) are fighting for the Western Conference title and Detroit (5th) is looking increasingly like the President’s Trophy winner with every passing day.  Minnesota finished 2nd capping off what has become a renaissance season for the Wild after finishing 25th in this award last year marking the greatest jump of any team.
 
In addition to the aforementioned Florida Panthers, the bottom five include Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Calgary and Dallas.  There’s a real sense of optimism in Canada’s capitol as the Senators currently sit in a decent position in the PickupHockey pool portending a playoff appearance next year.  There is significantly less optimism in the other four cities though Calgary should improve next year as well. 
 
The similarities between Florida and Tampa Bay are worth noting – both share problematic futures (see Pickup Hockey) and both have already looked to cut costs this year.  Florida finished 31st in Bang and 27th in the last 3 yr average, and Tampa finished 30th in Bang and showed the greatest drop of any uNHL team dropping 19 spots from the previous year.  Additionally, according to Jason Belle’s CapGeek file, Florida is committed to some $76 million next year despite a current 29th place standing in PickupHockey.  Tampa, coincidentally, has commitments of $78 million though they sit marginally higher in PickupHockey than does Florida (20th).  Either way, these two teams seem locked in a downward spiral which will take some measure of work to get out otherwise they will be occupying similar positions next year.
 
 
Slap Shots
-- Top Risers – Minnesota, Anaheim, Washington, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.
-- Top Fallers – Tampa Bay, Colorado, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto
 
-- Short Term (last 3 yrs) Top Teams – NY Rangers, Nashville, Vancouver, Edmonton, Detroit
-- Short Term (last 3 yrs) Bottom Teams – San Jose, Dallas, Ottawa, Florida, Columbus
 
-- Lifetime Top Teams – Edmonton, Nashville, Arizona, Montreal, New Jersey
-- Lifetime Bottom Teams – Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, Columbus, San Jose
 
-- Multiple Winners – Edmonton, Montreal, Anaheim
-- Multiple Last Place Finishes – Toronto, San Jose
 
***Thanks to Frank for compiling the year-to-date economics used for this article.  It’s not an easy task to do this every year but every year he has volunteered.  Couldn’t do this without him.  It’s unfortunate that he’s historically been really bad in this award but even though he’s shitty in economics, he tries hard.  Way to go Frank!***

 

 

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