Welcome back! Today, we are going to do a fun exercise inspired by Anne Tokarski's Ice Garden article where she selected all-conference teams for a hypothetical women's hockey tournament (link to the article). I'm going to do something similar here using my Win Shares metric as well as some other twists to make things interesting. First, I want to explain my Win Shares Roster card you may have seen me post on Twitter a little bit ago with my 19/20 Men's and Women's All Star Teams:
These cards were inspired by the NHL WAR roster generator cards created by @JFreshHockey on Twitter. I filled out the All-Star rosters my taking the top 12 forwards, top 6 defensemen/women, and the top 2 goalies. You might ask, why do the Win Shares numbers for some of the players on these cards not match the data I have published on the site? Well, these cards are designed to evaluate the strength of these players as a team. Thusly, ice time plays a role in the calculations. Players on the lower lines will see their Win Shares deflated, as they get less ice time to contribute on the ice. Therefore, these cards are designed to predict the strength of the team if they actually all took the ice and played together, rather than highlighting the individual strengths.
For this blog post, we are going to do the same thing, however divide it up even further and pick all-conference teams and see which conferences would field the top lineups. To make this more interesting, I set the rule that each conference team must have at least one player from every member school. As you'll see, this bumps out some players that otherwise truly deserve to be in the all-conference lineup. In lieu of this, I decided to at least show who the first player to miss out on making the roster, by position group. If we played hypothetical tournaments with these teams, those players would be reserves in case of player injuries or dropouts. With that out of the way, let's get to the teams! We'll start with the women and then move on to the men.
Women's Hockey East
Women's DI Top Units
The rosters chosen reflect the overall conference strength, I believe, with the WCHA, ECAC, and Hockey East leading the way in strength with the CHA and NEWHA bringing up the rear. The WCHA lineup is, on paper, the best team led by the offensive firepower of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio State. Their closest rival, the ECAC team, is a model of balance with top tier players in every position group led by players from Clarkson, Cornell, and Princeton. Hockey East's strength comes from the back, leading the way at the defense and goalie positions. Northeastern dominates the lineup with key additions coming from teams like BU, Providence, and Maine, UConn, and BC. CHA comes in 4th with Mercyhurst names dotting all across the lines. Syracuse, Robert Morris, and Penn State players round out the team. Finally, NEWHA's team is the worst on paper, but there are some fantastic players leading the way for them to make noise, with Sacred Heart, LIU, and Franklin Pierce players controlling the lion's share of the spots.
Men's Atlantic Hockey
Men's Big Ten
Men's Hockey East
Men's DI Top Units
The men's rosters are more evenly balanced with Hockey East making up Tier 1 by itself, the WCHA and NCHC making up Tier 2, and the Big Ten, ECAC, and Atlantic making up Tier 3. Hockey East has by and far the best lineup on paper, anchored with an elite forward group and goalie tandem. BC players make up the majority of the roster, but elite players come from other schools like Providence, UMass, Maine, and BU. The WCHA and NCHC have nearly identical strength rosters here, with above average forward groups, elite defensive groups, and below average goaltending tandems. Looking at the players selected, it comes down to mostly North Dakota vs Minnesota State players as expected, with the better defensemen going to the NCHC, and better goaltending duo going to the WCHA. The Big Ten leads the next tier, off the back of their very strong goaltending tandem. No one team makes up most of the team, with Penn State and Ohio State leading the way in the player count with Michigan and Michigan State following close behind. Following the Big Ten is the ECAC, with an average forward and goaltending group, but they have the worst defensive group of any conference. Surprisingly, the top team Cornell only has 2 players, with Quinnipiac, Harvard, and Clarkson each contributing more. Finally, as expected, the Atlantic Hockey team comes in with the weakest roster, but not by as much as most would expect. Sacred Heart and AIC make up most of the picks for a lineup that's actually middle-tier for the defensemen and goalies, but they come in last with their forwards which causes them to come in last on paper.
Hope you enjoyed this exercise! Feel free to share these if you'd like and I'd love to hear your feedback!