If new Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas detects an eerie silence around him right now, he’s not losing it. The eerie silence is the (lack of) sound created when everyone you meet is holding their breath, waiting to see what you’ll do next. Dubas just jumped from running the OHL’s Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (4450 fans per game, on average), to the job as right-hand man for the most widely-critiqued/criticized franchise in the NHL.
Roughly speaking, that’s kind of like skipping out on your usual Sunday foursome at the local golf and country club because you’re going to try your luck at the Canadian Open.
Sadly, it’s only day three of the Dubas era. We’ll all have to hold our breaths a little longer before Dubas’ impact on the team is clear. But taking a deeper look at the signing of David Booth to a one year/$1.1-million contract using some analytics can help give a taste of what’s likely to come in Leaf land.
What does Booth bring?
Looking at possession stats during the past four years, Booth has maintained positive scores (between 52% and 60% – thanks to Extra Skater for the stats). Considering the year and a bit spent with the Florida Panthers in these stats, Booth’s results suggest he can be a positive contributor even with a sub-par squad.
A little deeper, Booth’s Corsi% relative to his teammates shows he has been between 1% and 9% better than his teammates (Extra Skater). This again bodes well for Booth and his new team.
Sounds good, right?
At $1.1 million for a year, the chance that Booth recovers some scoring touch and acts like Mason Raymond circa 2013-2014 does seem like a no-risk, some-reward deal.
Corsi backs Booth up.
The Dubas era starts with a bang. Sounds great, right?
Problem is, this smacks of old Leaf behaviour, signing yesterday’s quasi-talented player and jamming up forward lines to prevent promotion from within. Didn’t William Nylander’s chance of making this team just die in Booth’s 29 year-old arms? Didn’t Brendan Shanahan just tell me that internal promotion is the new way?
Booth may check out fine in analytics, but in this case the new math simply justifies the old style.