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Glossary

AHL

American Hockey League. It is a professional minor 
league commonly used as a feeder league for NHL 
clubs, and most teams are affiliated with an NHL team.

Art Ross Trophy

Award given to the player who leads the NHL in 
points scoring.

Assist

An assist is attributed to one or two players on a goal. 
They are awarded to the players touching the puck before 
the goal-scorer, provided they contributed to the 
goal-scoring play.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Award given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, 
sportsmanship, and dedication to the game 
of hockey.

Blocks/60

A rate statistic showing the number of blocked shots 
a player recorded per 60 minutes of ice time.

Bottom pairing

Typically refers to the fifth- and sixth-best defensemen 
on a squad. Most teams play three sets of defensemen 
in a game, hence the "bottom pairing" label 
for the third set. The term can be used to describe a 
player's role on the team, or their talent level.

Bottom six

Typically, forwards are considered "bottom six" if 
they play on the third or fourth lines. The term can be 
used to describe a player's role on the team, or their 
talent level.

C

An abbreviation for the center position.

Calder Trophy

Award given "to the player selected as the most proficient 
in his first year of competition in the National 
Hockey League." It is commonly referred to as the 
Rookie of the Year award. To be eligible, a player 
must be 26 years old or younger, and have played less 
than 25 games in any NHL season.

Cap hit

The value of a player's contract that is recorded 
against the salary cap. Regardless of salary variation 
from year to year of the contract, under the current 
CBA, the cap hit is calculated as the total value of the 
contract divided by the term of the contract.

CBA

An abbreviation for Collective Bargaining Agreement. 
Refers to the agreement between the NHL and 
the players association (NHLPA) which governs the 
salary cap, player contracts, discipline, etc.

 

Conn Smythe Trophy

Award given to the player judged most valuable to 
his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is based on 
the entire postseason, not just the final game or series.

Core Age (team)

The sum of each skater's GVT multiplied by age on 
a team, divided by the team GVT. It is a better measure 
of the average age of a team, weighting the best 
players the most.

Corsi

A statistic originally invented by Jim Corsi, who was 
the goaltender coach for the Buffalo Sabres. Corsi is 
essentially a plus-minus statistic that measures shot 
attempts. A player receives a plus for any shot attempt 
(on net, missed, or blocked) that his team directs at 
the opponent's net, and a minus for any shot attempt 
against his own net. A proxy for possession.



2

GLOSSARY

Corsi QoC

A measure of competition quality using Corsi as 
its basis. While a slight improvement on goal-based 
measures, the scale can be incredibly hard to decipher 
based on the quality of teams faced throughout the 
year.

Corsi Rel QoC

A measure of competition quality using relative Corsi 
as its basis. It is less luck-driven than QualComp 
and more universal than Corsi QoC because it's based 
on a relative metric. The most statistically sound quality 
of competition metric currently used.

D

The abbreviation for Defenseman.

DGVT

Defensive Goals Versus Threshold. This stat measures 
a player's worth, in goals, at shot suppression.

Elitserien

The proper name for what is commonly called the 
Swedish Elite League (SEL) here in North America. 
Commonly considered one of the two best non-NHL 
leagues in the world, with the KHL of Russia being 
the other one.

ESP/60

Even strength points per 60 minutes. A commonly 
used statistic measuring the amount of points a player 
scores per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. For 
the 2010-11 season, anything over 1.62 ESP/60 was 
considered to be scoring at the rate of a top-six forward, 
though 1.8 ESP/60 is the common benchmark.

ESSV%

Even strength save percentage. Many analysts prefer 
to measure goaltenders using only their even strength 
shot-stopping since there is less year-to-year variation 
and less luck involved.

ESTOI

Even strength time on ice is a measure of the ice 
time a player averages per game in even strength situations.


Fenwick

Another possession metric, originally devised by 
Matt Fenwick of the Battle of Alberta blog. Fenwick 
follows the same concept as Corsi, but doesn't include 
blocked shots. Fenwick is considered to have better 
predictive value for future goal differential than Corsi. 
The removal of blocked shots is also valuable since 
blocked shots are a proven skill worthy of being separated.


FO%

Faceoff percentage. The ratio of faceoffs that a player 
has won. Any rate better than 55% is considered 
elite.

Frank J. Selke Trophy

Award given to the forward in the NHL who best 
demonstrates defensive skill.

G

Commonly used abbreviation for goal, but also for 
goaltender when referring to positions.

GA

Abbreviation for Goals Against. This is the total 
goals given up by a team or by a goaltender.

GAA

Goals Against Average is a commonly used statistic 
to measure the average number of goals a goaltender 
gives up per game. It is similar to ERA in baseball 
and just as poor at representing goaltender talent since 
it's extremely dependent on the team in front of the 
goalie. Most analysts consider this statistic obsolete 
and of little use.

GD

Abbreviation for Goal Differential. It represents the 
difference between the number of goals a team scores 
minus the number of goals conceded. Goal differential 
is commonly used as a better measure of team talent 
than win-loss record in the absence of possession 
metrics. Equal to overall GVT for teams.

GF

Abbreviation for Goals For. This is the total goals 
scored by a team, commonly paired with Goals 
Against to show a team's Goal Differential.



3

GLOSSARY

Giveaway

A form of turnover in which the player makes an 
unforced error that results in giving the puck up to 
the opposition. They can be unreliable as a statistic 
since the definition is subjective and individual rink 
scorers show significant differences in the way they 
record them.

GP

Abbreviation for Games Played. 

GVT (Individual)

Goals Versus Threshold. Developed by Tom Awad 
of Hockey Prospectus, GVT measures a player's 
worth in comparison to a typical fringe NHL player. 
GVT has two major advantages over most metrics: it's 
measured in goals, which are easily equated to wins, 
and it is capable of comparing players across multiple 
positions and multiple eras. GVT is the summation of 
OGVT, GGVT, DGVT, and SGVT.

GVT (Team)

Goals Versus Threshold for a team is equal to the 
team's goal differential. By definition Team GVT 
= sum of Player GVT - Replacement Level (which 
GVT defines as 1.5 goals per game or 123 goals per 
season).

Hart Memorial Trophy

Award given to the NHL player judged to be most 
valuable to their team during the NHL's regular season.


Heavy lifting

Refers to difficult roles that certain players are 
placed in, with significantly tougher quality of competition 
and zone starts.

Hits/60

A rate statistic showing the number of hits a player 
delivers per 60 minutes of ice time. While interesting, 
it has very little predictive value on goals scored or 
goals prevented.

Jack Adams Trophy

Award given to the NHL coach judged to have contributed 
most to his team's success.

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Award given to the defenseman who shows the best 
all-around ability in the NHL.

Junior

Players aged 15-20 are commonly referred to as "Junior" 
players given that they are eligible to play Junior 
hockey in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

KHL

The Kontinental Hockey League was formed in 
2008 as the main source of professional hockey in 
Russia. The league also contains teams from Belarus, 
Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Slovakia. The NHL and 
KHL have an agreement to honor the contracts from 
the other league in order to avoid poaching of players 
under contract. 

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

Award given to the NHL player who best exhibited 
sportsmanship and gentlemanly play combined with a 
high standard of playing ability.

LD

Abbreviation for Left Defenseman, merely indicating 
the side of the ice the player generally occupies. 
NHL players are typically listed as Defensemen, without 
identifying which side they generally play on, but 
several European leagues make the distinction.

Lockout (of 2004-05)

When the owners and the players association reached 
an impasse during negotiations after the 2003-04 season, 
the owners locked the players out. An entire season 
was lost, but the NHL emerged as a salary cap 
league which has helped smaller market clubs achieve 
financial stability in most of the leagues locales.

LW

The abbreviation for the Left Wing position.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy

Award given to the NHL player who scores the most 
goals during the regular season.



GLOSSARY

Net Penalties/60

The difference between the penalties a players draws 
and the penalties a player takes. This difference is recorded 
as a rate per 60 minutes of ice time. Net Penalties 
per 60 gives insight into which players are giving 
their teams extra power play opportunities. Net Penalties/
60 tends to be higher for forwards and lower for 
defensemen, given their roles on the ice.

OGVT

Offensive Goals Versus Threshold is the portion of 
GVT measuring a player's ability to generate goals. 
OGVT measures a player's contribution to goal creation.


OHL

The Ontario Hockey League is part of the CHL, 
which comprises all three of Canada's top-tier junior 
hockey leagues.

On-ice save percentage

The save percentage of the team when a particular 
player is on the ice. It is used to help determine whether 
a player has had poor luck.

On-ice shooting percentage

The shooting percentage of the entire team when a 
particular player is on the ice. This metric can be used 
to look for underlying reasons why a player's assist 
totals have moved considerably or to determine the 
general amount of luck a player has had relative to his 
career average.

PDO

Created by Vic Ferrari, PDO is the sum of a player's 
on-ice save percentage and on-ice shooting percentage. 
PDO is an excellent way to measure "puck luck" 
or good fortune as it regresses heavily to the mean of 
100 (sometimes shown as 1000). For example, a player 
with a PDO of 103.4 is likely to see his luck drop 
next year, affecting his plus-minus or point totals. A 
player with a PDO of 97.1 will likely have a "bounceback" 
year purely by getting a few more bounces go 
his way.

PIM

Abbreviation for penalty minutes. Not a particularly 
useful statistic in measuring discipline, because 
it doesn't differentiate between penalties that put the 
other team on the power play and offsetting penalties 
like fighting majors.

Plus-minus

A traditional hockey statistic used to show the 
team's goal differential when a particular player is on 
the ice. The theory seems to makes sense, but in reality 
it is heavily driven by luck, quality of teammates, 
and other situational factors. Commonly misused as a 
defensive statistic.

Possession

A term used to describe how well a team directs play 
at the opposition net. At the moment, the best measures 
of possession are Corsi and Fenwick. Possession 
is important to hockey analysts because it has a very 
high correlation with winning and predicting future 
performance of a team.

PPP/60

A rate stat that measures the number of points a player 
records per 60 minutes of power play time. Even 
strength and power play rates are split out to give 
better insight into which situations a player excels at. 
Much more liable to fluctuate than ESP/60 based on 
much less playing time involved, so it's better to observe 
a player's PPP/60 over several seasons.

PPSV%

Power play save percentage is the save rate a goaltender 
records with the man advantage.

PPTOI

The average time on ice a player spends per game in 
man advantage situations.

President's Trophy

Award given to the team who finishes the regular 
season with the most points.

Primary assist

Since up to two assists can be assigned per goal in 
the NHL, the primary assist (A1) is awarded to the 
player who touched the puck directly before the goal-
scorer. Primary assists are considered to be less luck-
driven than secondary assists.



GLOSSARY

QualComp

A measure of competition quality using relative 
plus-minus as it's basis. A number higher than 0 indicates 
a higher than average level of competition. One 
drawback to QualComp is that it is goal-based, incorporating 
more puck luck than Corsi-based methods.

QMJHL

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is part of 
the CHL, which comprises all three of Canada's top-
tier junior hockey leagues.

QS

A Quality Start is a measure of whether a goaltender 
"gave his team a chance to win". In order to record a 
quality start, the goalie must have a save percentage 
over .912 or a save percentage between .885 and .912 
while allowing less than three goals. The reason Quality 
Starts are so important is that teams win 77.5% 
of the games in which their goalie records a Quality 
Start.

QS%

Quality Start Percentage shows the ratio of a goaltender's 
games in which they recorded a quality start. 
A quality start rate of 60% is considered elite, while 
anything below 40% is quite poor.

Regression to the mean

A statistical term that refers to the phenomena of 
statistical measures returning to their average value 
over time. For example, if Player A's career shooting 
percentage is 8.5% and he shot 11.3% last season, he 
will likely regress closer to 8.5% the following year.

RD

Abbreviation for Right Defenseman, merely indicating 
the side of the ice the player generally occupies. 
NHL players are typically listed as Defensemen, without 
identifying which side they generally play on, but 
several European leagues make the distinction.

Relative Corsi

A player's Corsi value in comparison to his teammates. 
Relative Corsi is expressed as the player's 
Corsi minus the team Corsi rate. A positive value indicates 
a player who is better than the team average and 
a negative number is a player who is worse than the 
team average.

Replacement level

The level of performance of an easily obtainable 
player, such as an AHL call-up. Replacement level is 
considered the minimum performance that teams can 
achieve, therefore many statistics (such as GVT) express 
the value of players as value over replacement 
level.

R^2

A statistical term showing the degree of correlation 
between two variables. It is typically expressed in a 
percentage, indicating the amount of variation in Variable 
A that can be explained by Variable B.

RW

The abbreviation for the Right Wing position.

Salary cap

The maximum amount a team can spend on player 
salaries each year. The values for each player's contract 
include their annual salary and their signing 
bonus, split over the number of years the contract is 
signed for. Governed by the CBA. For the 2011-12 
season, it is $64.3 million.

Salary floor

The minimum amount a team must spend on player 
salaries each year. The values for each player's contract 
include their annual salary and their signing 
bonus, split over the number of years the contract is 
signed for. Governed by the CBA. Set at $16 million 
below the salary cap. For the 2011-12 season, it is 
$48.3 million.

Save percentage

The percentage of shots on goal that a goalie prevents 
from going in the net.

Scoring chance

Scoring Chances are generally defined as shots taken 
from within the arc that extends from the crease, 
through the faceoff dots and to the top of the circles.

Second assist

Since up to two assists can be assigned per goal in 
the NHL, the secondary assist (A2) is awarded to the 
player who touched the puck two players before the 
goal-scorer. Secondary assists are considered to be 
more luck-driven than primary assists.



GLOSSARY

SGVT

Shootout Goals Versus Threshold is a measure of 
a skater's or goaltender's value in the shootout. It is 
based on the player's ability to score or prevent goals 
in the shootout versus a league average player in the 
same situation.

Sheltered minutes

A term referring to the type of ice time a player is 
given by the coach. Players given "sheltered minutes" 
are generally matched up against easy competition 
and/or given a very high zone start ratio. 

Shooting percentage

The percentage of shots on goal (by a team or player) 
that go in the net.

SHSV%

Short-handed save percentage is merely the save 
percentage of a team or player while in a short-handed 
situation. Save percentages when short-handed are 
generally much lower than those at even strength. 
SHSV% is considered quite volatile from year-to-year 
due to small sample size.

SHTOI

The time on ice per game that a player spends in 
short-handed situations.

Shutdown

An elite defensive player or duo who's good at shutting 
down opposition scoring-as in shutdown defenseman, 
a shutdown pairing, or a shutdown forward.

SM-Liiga

The top professional hockey league in Finland. Occasionally 
referred to as the Finnish Elite League, SM-
Liiga translates to "Finnish Championship League".

Snepsts System

A projection system based on searching historical 
data for players the same age with similar era-adjusted 
statistics as a player's past few seasons, and averaging 
their future performance. Also useful for establishing 
minimum and maximum scoring expectations based 
on historical precedent. 

SOG

Abbreviation for Shots On Goal.

Takeaway

A form of turnover in which the player takes the 
puck from the opposition, rather than gaining possession 
through opposition error. It can be unreliable as 
a statistic since the definition is subjective and individual 
rink scorers show significant differences in the 
way they record them.

TOI

Abbreviation for time on ice. Typically represented 
in minutes per game.

Top four

Typically refers to a squad's best four defensemen. 
On most teams, the top four defensemen shoulder the 
majority of the ice time among defensemen. The term 
can be used to describe a player's role on the team, or 
their talent level.

Top six

Typically refers to a squad's first two lines of forwards. 
These lines are usually counted on to provide 
the bulk of the scoring for most teams. The term can 
be used to describe a player's role on the team, or their 
talent level.

Top nine

Typically refers to a squad's first three lines of forwards. 
The top nine forwards generally play the bulk 
of the minutes on most teams. The term can be used 
to describe a player's role on the team, or their talent 
level.

Top pairing

Refers to the top two defensemen on a team. These 
two players are typically relied on to play against the 
opposition's best offensive players. The term can be 
used to describe a player's role on the team, or their 
talent level.

 

Translations

Converting a player's scoring data from other 
leagues to an NHL equivalent, using scoring changes 
of those who made the move previously as a basis. For 
example, an AHL translation would be what a player 
would score in the NHL, based on what happened to 
previous AHL players with similar statistics when 
they went to the NHL.



GLOSSARY

UFO%

An advanced faceoff metric, Ultimate Faceoff Percentage 
is calculated from even strength, non-empty 
net situation, road faceoffs only, and adjusted for 
strength of competition.

Vezina Trophy

Award given to the goaltender judged to be the best 
in the NHL.

VUKOTA

Hockey Prospectus' proprietary projection system, 
based on the GVT metric and created by Tom Awad.

WHL

The Western Hockey League is part of the CHL, 
which comprises all three of Canada's top-tier junior 
hockey leagues.

World Junior Hockey Championship

Officially, the IIHF World Under 20 Championship, 
it's the annual international Under-20 ice hockey tournament 
held in late December and early January. It 
usually showcases the best junior-aged prospects in 
the world as well as potential top picks for the upcoming 
draft.

WOWY

With or Without You is a style of analysis used to 
determine which players benefit the most from their 
linemates and which players are driving play.

Zone Start%

A ratio showing the percentage of a player's non-
neutral-zone shifts that were started in the offensive 
zone. Zone starts use faceoffs as a proxy for all shifts. 
Players with a ZS% higher than 54% could be considered 
sheltered or deployed offensively while players 
with ZS% south of 46% can be considered to be deployed 
defensively or doing the "heavy lifting".