Review: Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract

Want a good resource for advanced hockey statistics? Curious about who is REALLY the best player? Or maybe you just want to know what the worst trade in NHL history was? This is the book for you.

We're fans of statistical analysis over here at The Cannon, and some of the most useful data we've found over the past few years has come from one source: Rob Vollman.

The man behind HockeyAbstract.com and the Player Usage Charts that we've highlighted on several occasions, Vollman also contributes to Hockey Prospectus and ESPN.com. His goal is to help make stats and mathematical analysis as much a part of hockey as it is baseball or basketball, and he's doing a great job alongside guys like Cam Charron and Gabriel Desjardins.

Now, as we get ready for the 2013-2014 season, Vollman has come up with a book that's meant to be a primer, of sorts, into the world of hockey stats.

Unlike the Prospectus, which we've reviewed before, this is not meant as a breakdown of every team and player in the NHL. Instead, Vollman asks questions, and walks us through the stats that he (and others) use to try to help find an answer.

Who, for example, is the best overall player in the NHL? Vollman takes a look not just at goal scoring or shooting percentages, but CORSI, usage stats, GVT, and other metrics, then presents the results and shows you his conclusions.

The book also discusses some historical events, like trying to find the most lopsided trades in NHL history based on the performance of players on their new clubs, and even trying to determine who is really the best coach in the NHL, both in terms of active bench bosses and through the league's history.

There are also a number of projections based on stats for next season, and while he's bullish several Jackets players (in particular Sergei Bobrovsky and Brandon Dubinsky), you won't be shocked to learn that he's predicting the team narrowly misses the postseason once again.

Overall, this is a great resource if you're a fan of stats or just want to get into some of the interesting history and mechanics of the game. It doesn't hurt that Rob is also a pretty cool guy and a friend of the blog, but I'd happily recommend this book to anyone. If nothing else, it's a wonderful way to start a few discussions - or perhaps settle a bar bet or two.

Hockey Abstract is available on Amazon in print, or from PayLoadz in eBook format.

Disclaimer: The Cannon was provided a reviewer copy of the eBook edition by the author.

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