Unlike the Iginla comparison, trying to establish a predictor for Kiprusoff’s potential performance is much more difficult. The stat to measure for goalie performance is more difficult to decide. Wins are great but are as often determined by the team as the tender . Goals against average is also tough to compare as a team style can vary creating discrepancies in the number of shots allowed, harming or benefiting the goals against.
Though imperfect, save percentage is probably the best measure. It can not measure that big save effect, clutch goaltending as it were, but those stats would be hard to dig up. Not like baseball – batting average with runners in scoring position etc. Someone suggested even strength save percentage – and I agree that’s probably the metric, but I’m not going to spend the time to separate out the historical stats on that.
I put together some high level peers here for Kipper to measure against. In doing so I hope we are setting the bar high, so that we can look at the most optimistic prediction possible. Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph and for a closer contemporary Marty Turco for a total of 6 guys. Unlike the forwards the trends are far less clear in the sv pct statistics.
I started the comparison at 23, though some had played earlier – only 4 were playing at 23 with Hasek, Turco and Kipper starting later. I ignored Kipper’s San Jose stats as they were small. All of them played until 37, with the exception of Kipper and Turco who haven’t reached there yet. Brodeur is 38 this year. Kipper’s last year under contract is when he is 37, though that will only be a $1.5 m salary year.
The range of sv pct for all goalies for all seasons was – from a low of .893 for Hasek in his rookie year at 26, and Joseph in his last full season in Phoenix at 39, to the high of Hasek’s .937 at 32. Kipper’s .933 at 27 second best among all. As a group – the 6 goalies fall below .902 only once –at 39 years old, when there is only 3 providing data.
Kipper clearly beats the group in his first year in Calgary at 27 - his .933 is 2.63 % pts ahead of the average – over 3 goals every 4 games. He missed the 28 year old season due to the lockout but the Vezina year at 29 had him 1.16% ahead of the group. At 30 his .917 was again nearly a full point ahead of groups .907.
What followed then was 2 years below the average as Kipper was only.906 and .903, then last year’s .920 beat the group by 0.7 %. If he had been at the group average.913 – that would have been over 14 more goals allowed last year. So the good news is that in 4 of his 6 NHL years Mikka has had a better save percentage than a group that contains the top 4 win leaders of all time and Dominik Hasek !
The interesting part of this is the unpredictability. The graph for the average looks not much like the bell curve of the goal scorers. It looks instead like one of those crazy Tour de France hill climbs - up, down, back up again and a screaming downhill to the finish ! 7 of the top 8 seasons on average of the 6 comparables occurred after 31 years of age. Age 32 was the best at just about .920, followed by the 37 and 38 year old seasons at .916. This is pretty astounding, but Roy and Hasek both had .925 seasons at 37 and 38 respectively. The drop off is steep from 38 on, though Brodeur hasn’t had the opportunity to affect those numbers as yet.
The years of 34, 35, and 36 are important as they are the next 3 for Kipper. The group produces a .915, a .911 and a .914 at those ages – pretty consistent. Assuming Kipper continues to beat the group 2 out of three years, he has been beating the group by 1.36 % when he does, and on the down years is under by 1.30 %. This could produce a range of .928 to .898 – a huge gap over the next 3 years. 72 games at 28 shots is 2016 shots; that range of save percentage is a 60 goal differential. Absolutely gigantic range of possibility here. If he sticks to the middle and achieves the .915 and sees 28 shots per 60 – you are looking at a 2.38 GAA; not quite as good as last year but I’d take it.