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Let’s Experiment in EHM: Winning Without an ‘E’

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The letter ‘e’ is one of the most common letters in names. Avoiding it is very hard. In this week’s Eastside Hockey Manager Experiment, the goal is to build a successful hockey team without any players with an ‘e’ in their name.

An EHM game without players with an ‘E’ in their name.  It does not quite work so well for the title without ‘E’s
An EHM game without players with an ‘E’ in their name. It does not quite work so well for the title without ‘E’s

Welcome to the second of what could be many experiments with Eastside Hockey Manager, which is the premier hockey simulaiton game on the video game market today in my opinion. Last week, I ran a season of a WAR-optimized lineup with CJ’s help. They were utterly dominant. This week’s experiment is a bit sillier. From acasser:

And if you wanted to do something really silly, just to have an interesting exercise? How about a team where no player is allowed to have the letter ‘E’ in his name, first or last. That would take guys like Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin out of the equation, Leon Draisaitl and Steven Stamkos too (because first names), but the first three eligible forwards that come to mind would be Nathan MacKinnon, Taylor Hall, and Connor McDavid.

Or would I not be permitted to use the term ”eligible” because that word has a couple of E’s in it?

Further downstream in the comments to that post was a roster suggested by CJ, a request to do the same to the AHL squad (which I failed immediately in my first go at in the comments since I included a player with an ‘e’ in it), and even re-naming the team to the Kansas City Scouts which has none of those pesky ‘e’s in its name.

The Experiment

Replace the 2019-20 New Jersey Devils and Binghamton Devils with a roster of players without the letter ‘e’ in either of their first and last names. Play through the season and see how they do.

The Approach

CJ re-ran his model for a WAR-optimized lineup for players without an ‘e’ in their name. So I used it to start the season:

Forwards: Brad Marchand, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak, Connor McDavid, Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino, Craig Smith, Max Domi, Dominik Kubalik, Nick Cousins, Anthony Mantha, Zach Sanford, and Conor Garland

Defensemen: Ryan Pulock, Roman Josi, Jaccob Slavin, John Marino, Adam Fox, Matt Roy, Jonas Brodi, and Vladislav Gavrikov

Goalies: Tuukka Rask and Tristan Jarry

As for Binghamton, I chose who the better players were in the AHL based on the previous experiment without players with an ‘e’ in it. To make the contract total work - remember, you can only have 50 players under contract - I made Brandon Baddock into an AHL-only player because, well, he’s Brandon Baddock.

Forwards: Nathan Bastian, Brandon Gignac, Baddock, Kilm Kostin, Anthony Richard, Jonathan Ang, Logan Brown, Nick Lappin (AHL only), Austin Cznarnik, T.J. Tynan, Dmytro Timashov, Otto Koivula, Joshua Norris, Sam Anas, Dominik Bokk

Defensemen: Josh Jacobs, Colby Sissons, Brian Strait, Gustav Forsling, Juuso Valimaki, Christian Wolanin, and Jimmy Schuldt

Goalies: Malcom Subban and Jonas Johansson

For the GM’s name, I went with John King. John because John is a great first name. King because it is a powerful e-less name. I re-named the Devils into the Kansas City Scouts, although they still play in Newark, New Jersey. The Binghamton Devils became the D-vils as there was no e-less name in the history of Binghamton (Rangers, Whalers, Dusters). Prudential Center was re-named as Rock as The Rock includes an ‘e.’ I did nothing with Adirondack because the ECHL is really not going to be touched in this game. This meant I forgot about Nikita Popugayev so I released him when I realized this error in-game. I also did nothing with the staff or scouts because the experiment is about the players and not necessarily the support staff. No one is buying an Alain Nasreddine coaching jacket, which would include a dreaded ‘e’ on the nameplate. (The lore in my head for this one is that Josh Harris - notice the lack of ‘e’ in his name - is tired of spending money for this vowel on nameplates and signage. He does not care about Adirondack or the staff’s names. You can thank David Blitzer for that concession.)

The Limitation & Confounding Factor

My interpretation of the experiment was to run a team of players without an ‘e’ in it. I am free to trade players, pick up players off waivers, and call-up players as needed. As long as there no players with an ‘e’ in it, then I am good. Likewise, if the AHL team signs someone to an AHL contract but it was not by my doing, then that is fine. The goal is for John King to construct an e-less team, not for the organization. That is the limitation on myself. No acquisitions are allowed of players with an ‘e’ in it. All other rules apply.

There is a confounding factor. During the last experiment, I saw that xECK29x released the version 12.4.3 of the The Blue Line rosters. So I used that as my base for this game I would run. What I quickly realized is that the database was updated to reflect the NHL as of March 12, 2020. This means that all of the moves made in real life in the 2019-20 season are in this database. Hall is a Coyote; Coleman is with Tampa Bay; Martin Brodeur is now an assistant GM; and Alain Nasreddine is behind the bench. If you wanted to see how the pre-pause NHL would perform in a simulated game of the entire 2019-20 season, then this will do it.

Experiment Results: The 2019-20 Regular Season

After setting up the game, the board made it clear that they expected the squad to compete for a Stanley Cup. I would hope so. The first line is Marchand, McDavid, and Pastrnak. The first pairing is Josi and Pulock. The #1 goalie is Rask. Yeah, this team should compete very well on paper. It was based off of CJ’s formulation that yielded the WAR-optimized lineup that won 69 games and went 16-2 in the playoffs.

First, I had to make some changes to the roster. I do not know if someone was re-signed or not, but the roster put me just over the salary cap. Rather than making a simple move like demoting Gavrikov or Marino to just get under, I decided it was best to move some of the larger contracts on the roster. Craig Smith, for example, was a depth forward with a $4.25 million cap hit. I decided to dump him well before training camp. I decided one a Smith-for-Smith move. Specifically, Craig Smith to Detroit for Givani Smith. While Givani Smith is not on Craig Smith’s level, he was much cheaper and therefore would be more appropriate for a fourth-line winger spot. In retrospect, a smarter move may have been to try to move Craig Smith for a prospect or a pick and call up someone like Kostin from Binghamton. Or move a different fourth-line player with a cap hit over $4 million. More on that in a bit.

Second, I set up a proper series of exhibition games where the team showed its strength. While not as dominant as the WAR-optimized team, they were showing that they could hang with an offensive playstyle. I decided to keep as many of the Binghamton players there as I expected the Binghamton team to do well.

The season did not start with a 18 game winning streak, but a four-game winning streak with a 2-4 loss to Boston. However, the wins would rack up very quickly. They lost just one game in November, which featured the second largest blowout of the campaign.

The second largest blowout of the E-less Scouts.
The second largest blowout of the E-less Scouts.

As a quick aside, Ottawa was putrid in this game. They had four wins by New Year’s. Four.

By the All-Star break, the E-less Scouts were 42-6 with 205 goals for, 106 goals against, and 84 points. At least six players had average ratings of above 8 on the team. Believe it or not, but the superstar on the team was Brad Marchand. He led the league in scoring by this time by at least 20 points over Pastrnak and McDavid. His average rating was above 8.8. Marchand would cool off a little bit but this is now the third straight EHM game I am playing where Brad Marchand is some kind of monster on the ice. The kind of monster that can only be slowed down and not stopped. Yes, he did take a suspension in this season. It was just for one game. The Scouts were fine as it just meant Bryan Rust moved up a line for a game.

By the way, Rust and Mantha were absolutely great throughout the season. Mantha was one of those six players above an average rating of ‘8,’ alongside MacKinnon and McDavid. Rust was close to that mark. The real positive surprise was Pulock. I expected Josi and Ryan Ellis to be amazing on the WAR-optimized team and they were more than satisfactory. But Josi-Pulock was almost 1999-2000 Stevens-Niedermayer like in their dominance on the ice. Pulock had some of the worst shooting luck I ever saw in a game; he scored just one goal out of 200 shots. But he racked up 57 assists in the season and played way better than Ellis ever did. Another positive surprise was the goaltending. Jarry was much better than Darcy Kuemper as a #2 and Rask was more consistent. While they faded a bit down the stretch, they were as good as you could want as a tandem.

On the opposite end of surprises, Nick Bonino was a massive disappointment. His average rating hovered around six. Not 6.5. Not 6.3. Six. Even in a limited role on the fourth line, Sanford and Givani Smith out-performed him regularly. Nick Cousins, who also was mired in the depths of ‘meh’ hockey performances, out-performed Bonino regularly. Despite the team’s success, it was an opportunity for improvement. Bonino was the only player I tried to move before the trade deadline. I could get nothing for him so I dumped him to Binghamton. I called up Anthony Richard, the center with the highest average rating in Binghamton. Richard was not much better. I ended up just sticking with Cousins and hoping he could be more like Cirelli with ‘6’s instead of alternating ‘5’s and ‘6’s like Bonino.

Injuries in the season were more commonplace than the WAR-optimized season. A few weeks here for Mantha, a few weeks there for Brodin, and so forth. But nothing so critical that I had to go to Binghamton for a replacement. That is unfortunate for Kostin and Valimaki, who demonstrated that they were both way too good for the AHL all season. With Bonino and Cousins disappointing me, I did play quite a few games with seven defensemen - which helped Adam Fox break into the lineup in the first half of the season and keep Marino, Matt Roy, and Brodin fresh.

Through the stretch run of the season, the E-less Scouts were the first to clinch a playoff spot and the Eastern Conference. Wins continued to pile up. They fell short of the 69-win mark of the WAR-optimized team. Instead, they finished with a 66-15-1 record which is still all kinds of astounding. They had a goal differential of +142 and, unlike the last experiment, the high success rate on the penalty kill in the NHL and a 4-1 record in shootouts.

The 2019-20 season run with the last known rosters in real-life NHL was interesting. Edmonton was a powerhouse with Andreas Athanaisou. Hall was a stud for an Arizona team that clawed their way into the playoffs thanks to having one more ROW than Chicago. Somehow, Anaheim was not trash and won 50 games. Somehow, Pittsburgh hit a massive slump and missed the postseason. Our Hated Rivals surged their way to second in the division with a bold 11-10 shootout record (48 wins and 37 ROW equals overrated). The final day of the season was a toss up between Philly and Carolina. Philadelphia failed while Carolina prevailed. They would be the first opponent of the playoff run for the E-less Scouts.

Final Eastern Conference standings in this experiment
Final Eastern Conference standings in this experiment

Marchand cooled off a bit to just merely among the best players in the world. His average rating fell to 8.54, finishing just a bit behind Pastrnak’s 8.6 He still broke 100 points. Despite a late charge, McDavid fell short of 50 goals. If only he was not injured for the first three weeks of the season. It did not matter much on the E-less Scouts as they had four players with 40 or more goals each: McDavid, Pastrnak, Marchand, and Mantha. They also had six players with at least 70 points: Marchand, McDavid, Pastrnak, MacKinnon, Mantha, and Rust.

Scouts players by points
Scouts players by points

As for the goalies, while Rask started the season very well, he was a little looser as time went on. But, again, Jarry proved to be an excellent #2 goaltender without a massive drop off. Interestingly, he had all three of the team’s shutouts in 2019-20.

Scouts goalie tandem
Scouts goalie tandem

For perspective, here are the top scorers in the NHL from the season. Again, whatever Athanasiou was doing in Edmonton was absolutely rewarded. Also, how did Ryan Strome pick up 72 points? Getting back to the Scouts, five Scouts made the top 24 with Rust being 25th. The top rookie on the team in scoring was Kubalik with 47 points, which was second to Victor Olofsson this simulated season.

Top 24 scorers in the NHL in this E-less Experiment
Top 24 scorers in the NHL in this E-less Experiment

Experiment Results: The 2020 Playoffs

Imagine that you are a Carolina Hurricanes fan in this simulation. You have seen this team on the bubble all season long. You were scoreboard watching back in December because you knew the team would be on the edge for that long. They were. Your heart sank on April 3 when the team lost 4-2 to Columbus, who secured a playoff spot with that win. You worried if Philly would jump past you on the final day of the season. You had a game in Boston and you needed a regulation win and Philadelphia to lose to Buffalo. Boston was out of the playoffs and Buffalo already punched their ticket and seed in the East. Your heart was racing after Boston went up 2-1 in the third period, making all kinds of bargains within all kinds of religions for an equalizer. Julian Gauthier provided one with less than six minutes left. Meanwhile, you are feeling better about Buffalo smacking down Philly in the third period. But you need your team to win. Overtime was coming. And when Sebastian Aho finished the play, you screamed like you have not in years. You thanked everyone you could. You went online to herald all the Canes from Aho to Hayden Fleury. From owner Tom Dundon to Don Waddel to Eric Tulsky to Rod Brind’Amour and even Ron Francis because, hey, it’s Ron Francis. You see the Scouts are next but you figure if Carolina has endured this much struggle to get into the playoffs, then maybe they can upset the Scouts. Maybe Brind’Amour and his rockin’ bod will have a brilliant plan. Maybe Tulsky found a statistical flaw in the Scouts game beyond a squad without any ‘e’s in the player’s names. Maybe.

Then this happened on April 13. And you become scarred for life.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

I laughed out loud when the game provided the results. The 8-0 win over Ottawa was the second largest blowout of the campaign. This was easily the largest. And it is in the playoffs. Against a team who qualified for the playoffs - not a then-three-win Ottawa team. Forget an 8-0 game, the Scouts had an 8-0 first period. Petr Mrazek was torched for seven goals out of 22 shots in the first period. James Reimer came in to not stop any bleeding. Eleven of the twenty Scout players in this game had a rating of ‘10.’ Only Givani Smith did not have a point. Not that I am an EHM expert but this is easily one the grandest blowouts I have ever witnessed - and it was in Game 1 of the playoffs.

The following three games were less dramatic. The Scouts won Game 2 by a 5-3 final score where Rust featured on four of the five goals. Game 3 was the closest game, a 3-1 win where McDavid broke a 1-1 tie and Sanford sealed the win. Game 4 was an emphatic end o the series. KC won 6-0 featuring a three-point effort from Pastrnak. The team would be idle for a week and a half was Washington and Our Hated Rivals traded games in their series. The Caps came back from a 3-2 series deficit to win Games 6 and 7 in overtime to send Our Hated Rivals to where they belong: the golf course. Thank you Nick Jensen.

Quick aside here: Binghamton would make the playoffs but they got swept by Toronto in the second round after prevailing 3-2 over Laval in the first round. So I called up Kostin and Valimaki as extras. They would not get in, though.

Washington would put up much more of a fight than Carolina. Game 1 at Rock was a 2-1 overtime win for the Scouts. Givani Smith came up huge just 1:29 into the overtime period to get the series on the right foot. Game 2 was a more decisive affair with KC taking it 4-1 and some guy named Kovalchuk setting up the lone Washington goal. Yes, he is a Cap in real life. Washington made it interesting by stunning the Scouts in Game 3 with a three-goal first period in a 1-4 loss. The Scouts took revenge by taking Game 4 with a 5-2 win starting and ending with goals by Mantha. However, the Caps were not done being a thorn in the side of the Scouts. In Game 5, they silenced Rock with a 3-1 win with an ENG in what would be a close battle. Could Washington get another superstar performance out of Ilya Samsonov? No. In Game 6, the two teams traded goals but the breaking point was when Rust scored seconds after Jensen’s goal to make it 3-3 in the third. Up 4-3, the Scouts just needed some insurance and Rust provided one late on a power play. Mantha sealed the game with an ENG seconds later for a 6-3 final and the right to play for the Prince of Wales Trophy.

Opposite them were Tampa Bay. After sweeping Buffalo, Toronto gave them some issues early in the season. But the Bolts turned an early 2-1 series deficit into a 4-2 series win with the last two wins coming in overtime. The series clincher coming in double overtime; an individual effort by McDonagh. Yet again, Toronto would be sitting at home by June. Would the Lightning give the Scouts problems? No. Game 1: 4-2 by Kansas City with a natural hat trick by McDavid in the first period alone. Game 2: 5-0 by Kansas City with five different goal scorers. Game 3: 4-2 by Kansas City with a brace by Mantha. Game 4: 4-2 by Kansas City with a comeback from being down 1-2 entering the third period to 4-2 by the end of regulation thanks to Rust, Marchand, and Mantha. The Prince of Wales Trophy went to the Scouts. I do not know if captain Roman Josi touched it or not.

While that sweep was going on, the Western Conference had a very tidy playoffs. Hall’s Coyotes lost 4-2 to Edmonton, who were upset in a sweep by Anaheim in the second round. St. Louis and Nashville swept their first round matchups and Nashville prevailed over the defending champs in the second round. The Clarence Campbell Trophy would go to a Predator or a Duck. It took five games and it went to Nashville, who were led by Viktor Arvidsson turning into a playoff point machine. Remember that this game is being simulated based on the NHL season as of the pause. This meant Alain Nasreddine was the coach of the Scouts and their final opponent in the playoffs was coached by John Hynes. Who would prevail?

In Game 1, it seemed like the Scouts would based on the first seven minutes. Marchand scored 35 seconds in and Kubalik made it 2-0 at the 7:01 mark. However, Duchene and Granlund responded to make it even by the first intermission. After a scoreless second period, Mantha got the Rock jubliant when he scored to make it 3-2. Just by the halfway mark, Jayce Hawryluk made it 3-3 and the tension resumed at the arena. Overtime would be necessary. Would Hynes lead his squad to an upset? No. Givani Smith became the hero again, finishing a pass by Sanford to get his team the first win of the series.

Game 2 was a bit similar. Marchand scored first albeit not within the first minute of the game. Arvidsson scored his first of the season, which included an assist from John Hayden in case you needed to know that Hynes was the head coach of Nashville. Mantha would put the Scouts up 2-1 by intermission. After a scoreless second, time went on in the third with fans hoping for a Scouts goal to relieve the pressure. Rust provided it at 54:44. Concerns were raised when Colton Sissons made it 3-2 with less than four minutes left, but the Scouts held on to take a solid 2-0 lead in the series.

If Nashville was at their sturdiest in New Jersey, then they were at their wobbliest in Tennessee. The series went to Smashville and the only thing that was smashed were the hopes and dreams of the mustard-yellow clad crowds as well as the Predators organization. Game 3 opened with Kubalik, Max Domi, and Mantha all scoring within the first seven minutes. The second period closed out with McDavid and Kubalik scoring within the final five minutes of the middle frame to make it 5-0. While Arvidsson scored a consolation goal early in the third, there would be no comeback. If anything, the Scouts made the score even uglier with Connor Garland and MacKinnon tacking on their own goals for a 7-1 win. Saros looked like a shell of his former self by the end of the game. For reasons unknown, Hynes pulled him after the MacKinnon goal even though there was fewer than 90 seconds left to play. Kubalik went supernova in this game with a six point effort: two goals and four assists. Alas, he was two short of tying the franchise and league record set by Patrik Sundstrom in 1988. Still, if any performance deserved an ‘11,’ then it would have been that one.

The Scouts taking the Cup was a foregone conclusion by this point. Nashville was not going to comeback from a 3-0 series deficit and certainly not after a 7-1 defeat in Game 3. Before you write in the comments how it is technically possible, Game 4 was more of the game. McDavid scored a minute in. Mantha, Sanford, and McDavid again scored to make it a 4-0 first period. Marchand and MacKinnon provided two quick ones to make it 6-0 before the halfway mark of regulation. Nashville did have a short run of goals from Turris in the final seconds of the second, Arvidsson scoring an early goal in the third, and Will Butcher (I gave Nashville Butcher since I had Josi) put in a PPG a bit after the halfway mark in the period to make it 6-3. But they were all consolation goals. Everyone at the Bridgestone Arena knew it. Everyone at the watch party at Rock knew it. Everyone in the world knew it. And if that was not enough, McDavid completed his hat trick at 56:50 to make it 7-3. Kansas City won the Cup. They went 16-2, just like the WAR-optimized team did. They did it without any players in the NHL and AHL having an ‘e’ in their name.

The 2020 Playoff Tree for the E-less Scouts
The 2020 Playoff Tree for the E-less Scouts

In terms of playoff performers, give it up for Anthony Mantha. He put up an amazing 16 goals and 26 points. He also led this squad of powerhouses in shots with 92. Mantha had the best average rating among all Scouts with an 8.61. He raised his game to that proverbial higher level and even rose above it. Mantha did not lead the scoring by a lot, though. McDavid was close behind with 25 points; Bryan Rust - another player who was awesome in the postseason - had 24 points, and the unit of Marchand-MacKinnon-Pastrnak had 21, 20, and 21 respectively. The Scouts benefited big-time with great performances by the Josi-Pulock first pairing, Adam Fox, and Kubalik putting up 18 points while kept to a bottom-six role.

Scouts by playoff scoring
Scouts by playoff scoring

I would not say anyone was a real disappointment outside of Cousins and, to a lesser degree, Domi. Also, I took this screenshot after the prospects on loan to junior teams returned, which is why you see Bahl and Foote here. They did not actually play in the postseason or were kept as extras like Kostin and Valimaki.

Experiment Results: The 2019-20 Awards

As the NHL in EHM has their awards ceremony after the NHL Draft, I had to sim all the way through that to find out who earned the individual awards for the season.

Since Binghamton was specially good, I am pleased to note the following awardees and finalists from the Binghamton D-vils.

  • John Sollenberger Trophy (leading point scorer) - Finalist: Klim Kostin, 2nd with 75 points. Fewer goals than winner Alexandre Fortin.
  • Eddie Shore Award (top defenseman) - Winner: Gustav Forsling, Finalist: Juuso Valimaki, 2nd.
  • Aldege “Baz” Sebastien Award (top goaltender) - Finalist: Malcolm Subban, 3rd
  • Harry “Hap” Holmes Award (fewest team goals) - Winners: Subban and Jonas Johansson
  • Yanick Dupre Memorial Award (humanitarian) - Finalist: Logan Brown, 2nd
  • Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award (top coach) - Finalist: Mark Dennehy, 3rd
  • Lee Cunningham Award (MVP) - Winner: Forsling

That is a lot of hardware. That is also not a surprise. Binghamton finished with the best record in the AHL at 50-17-9. It was a team filled with e-less players who were great in the AHL in real-life and in EHM. Alas, they ran into the second best team in Toronto, who crushed them in the playoffs on their way to a Calder Cup. At least the D-vils were strong as expected although it would have been nice to have a double champion in the system.

As for the Kansas City Scouts, they also owned the NHL awards.

  • Art Ross - Winner: Marchand (111), Finalists: McDavid (91), Pastrnak (90)
  • Maurice “Rocket” Richard - Winner: McDavid (47), Finalists: Pastrnak (42), Marchand (40)
  • Ted Lindsay Award - Winner: Marchand, Finalists: MacKinnon, McDavid
  • James Norris Award - Winner: Ryan Pulock, Finalist: Roman Josi (the other finalist was Klefbom on Edmonton)
  • William Jennings Award - Winners: Tuukka Rask, Tristan Jarry
  • GM of the Year - Winner: John King (finalists were Poile on Nashville and BriseBois on Tampa Bay)
  • Lady Byng Memorial Trophy - Winner: McDavid, Finalist: Pastrnak (Gaudreau came in second for this one)
  • King Clancy Memorial Trophy - Winner: Pastrnak, Finalists: Marchand, Mantha
  • Jack Adams Award - Winner: Alain Nasreddine (finalists were Hynes on Nashville, Cooper on Tampa Bay)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy - Winner: Marchand, Finalist: Pastrnak (Panarin came third)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy - Winner: Mantha, Finalists: Rask, McDavid

That is a ton of awards for the Scouts. Interestingly, Kubalik or Fox were not finalists for the Calder. But that is more than OK. The one that stunned me was Pulock winning the Norris. Yes, he led all defensemen in scoring but he did it with one goald and 57 assists. Pulock was highly rated with an average rating of 7.98. That was the third highest average rating in the season among all defensemen. However, Josi led the league in that cateogy, he was no slouch with 47 points, and ten of those 47 points were goals while putting up almost as many shots as Pulock (Josi had 189, Pulock had 200). I would have given it to Josi. All the same, it went to a member of the E-less Scouts, who were utterly dominant in this EHM simulation.

Experiment Conclusions

As this roster was largely put together by CJ’s methodology for optimizing WAR, I am not shocked it was by and far the best team in the NHL in this game. No, it was not the most optimal team. The requirement of players not having an ‘e’ in their name ensured that. It did have a different staff than the WAR-optimized team due to the different base database I used. I also threw it for a loop by trading Craig Smith for Givani Smith to make cap space and then demoting Bonino since he stunk in this game. It still crushed the NHL on its way to a Cup. While injuries were more frequent, the team was fortunate to not have fewer than 20 healthy players at a given time. And no one missed months of the season at a time either. The results are largely the same as the WAR-optimized team. Still, this team won 66 out of 82 games and won the Cup in 18 games. I expected the E-less Scouts to be great. If only because I still had the WAR-optimized first line and Connor McDavid on the roster. But I did not expect them to be this great. Those results speaks to the strength of CJ’s method, especially since there is no way to calculate WAR or GAR in the EHM game itself.

It is notable that for a second straight game, Marchand and Pastrnak were the picture of dominant wingers. They are among the best wingers in real life, but they performed exceedingly well throughout the campaign. Out performing both McDavid and MacKinnon is a feat in of itself and they both did it so easily. I am most impressed by the lesser heralded names on the roster. Rust and Mantha were fantastic secondary scorers who both had huge postseasons. I figured Kubalik could produce and he managed to do so even without prime minutes. Pulock ended up being a better partner for Josi than I expected. Fox went from a guy with a poor training camp to a very reliable option in the second pairing. Even Matt Roy was more solid than I was expecting; I did not expect him to play better than Brodin but he did. The Rask-Jarry tandem was great and I did not have to worry about the goaltenders at all in this season.

As silly as acasser called his idea, this experiment was a resounding experiment.

The Next Experiment

I have a few already placed in the queue that I want to try and do for this series from the People Who Matter. From last week’s post:

MedicSBK wants a roster of the highest ranked Corsi players from the 2018-19 season to compare it to the WAR team. The WAR-optimized team was based on the 2019-20 season, but that is an easy adjustment. This experiment will be carried out in the future, but it will not be the next one. (Hint: Brad Marchand will likely be on this team too.)

EliasStillRocks wants to see a one-player roster. That is, one player would play each position except goalies. He initially suggested Blake Coleman, I countered with Nico Hischier, and he was fine with that. I have to play around with the database to see how to do this without having to manually update everyone’s stats and attributes. It will not be the next one, but this will also be an experiment to be carried out in the future.

EliasStillRocks also suggested “the worst team possible” filled with NHLers. CJ actually ran his methodology for a worst-WAR-optimal (WAR-minimal?) team. We will also try this out for the future.

There is also an idea I personally have, but I am sitting on it for now. But I want you all to help with it when it comes out. If you follow people playing Football Manager, then you might have a guess as to what it is.

The next experiment will be all about The Big Deal, Jack Hughes. The suggestion comes from alslammerz:

Also inspired by some of your ideas in this post, how about seeing how Jack Hughes would do across a variety of leagues? Edit him onto the Michigan roster for NCAA, put him on his CHL team, (if possible b/c the game seems to think he can’t go there) see how he does in Binghamton, KHL, and maybe one random higher tier European league (NLA, DEL) and one random lower tier European/other league (Belarus, Australia, Japan, Kazakhstan). Or, and I’m not sure how easy this would be as I don’t know how good in-game editing is, but what about something where he started in the lowest reputation playable country (the top league within though, no reason to start him in Belarus-2) and worked his way up each year. (There’s 27 countries so he’d be arriving in the NHL at 45)?

Editing a saved game is a bit difficult. I know the database editor does not recommend changing a database with an active game for it. However, I can and will do the first idea of seeing how Hughes would do in other leagues. So next week, we will see how Hughes does at Michigan in one game, how he does in juniors with Mississauga (they drafted him in 2017 so I am picking them), how he would do in Binghamton, how he would do in the KHL, how he would do in the Liiga, how he would do in the SHL, how he would do in the Swiss National League, and how he would do in the Elite Ice Hockey League - Great Britain’s top league (that’s the lower tier league I am choosing). Maybe he is one-and-done in all of them? Maybe he would stick around for at least the season) Would he thrive or suffer? We shall see.

Your Take

In the meantime, please let me know what you thought of the second EHM Experiment. How did you react when you found out how much the E-less Scouts won and how dominant they were in the postseason? Does this further show CJ’s methodology to work? Please let me know your answers and any other ideas for EHM Experiments that you would like to see in the comments. Thank you for reading.