NHL Fantasy Hockey Player Comparables: Mike Smith

Some players, such as Mike Smith, appear to be playing poorly, but a little research can show it may be bad team effort.

Welcome to Player Comparables, a chance to embrace the past in fantasy hockey while living in the present. Each article will take a present-day player and pit him up against the player from the past that is his best match or comparable, according to numberFire analytics (you can see comparable players on each player page).

The goal here is simple: take a player, compare him to his top historical match, and analyze their similarities and differences.

Mike Smith is having a bad season, and the numbers tell a sad story. The goaltender position is a volatile one in large part because the play in front of the netminder can foreshadow the current play and the game’s outcome.

Based on our algorithms, Smith’s most compatible player comparison is Peter Budaj circa 2010-11. On the surface, the two goalies have a few things in common, and none of them are good. The current Arizona Coyotes and 2010-11 Colorado Avalanche had a subpar defense that gave up a lot of shots and had a hard time keeping the puck out of the net shorthanded.

The following table shows that while both goalies suffered because of the sum of his team’s parts, not everything was bad about their play.

PlayerGPSave %SH Save %GAAVORP
Peter Budaj 2010-114589.591.73.20-2.67
Mike Smith 2014-153288.986.63.49-5.72

Smith and Budaj had a hard time of doing anything well. The outlier is Budaj’s shorthanded save percentage. His 91.7% was leaps and bounds better than the Avs’ team penalty kill percentage of 76.1%. Budaj’s teammates Craig Anderson and Brian Elliott had save percentages of 80.0% and 77.8%, respectively. Colorado’s penalty kill percentage was a paltry 76.1%, last in the NHL.

Mike Smith’s shorthanded save percentage has helped drag down Arizona’s penalty kill percentage to 75.6%, 27th in the league. This could be a large factor as to why Budaj’s value in fantasy is better than Smith’s.

Puck possession has plagued both netminders, too. Colorado had 47.3% Corsi For and allowed an average of 30.8 shots per 60 minutes. The Coyotes Corsi For this season is 48.6%. The ‘Yotes are also allowing 29.9 shots per 60 minutes. A team that cannot keep the puck away from its net has a better chance of losing than winning. Simple enough, right?

Mike Smith, 32, is looking a step slow. He is leaving his peak athletic years and doing so has not been kind to him. While he deserves a good chunk of the blame for the pucks going into his net, make sure to direct some of the blame towards his teammates.