At the core of the impressive work that Paul Pidutti is doing via Adjusted Hockey lies his simple desire to contextualize NHL hockey performances over various eras.
Staying true to that theme, it would be fair to say that the legitimacy, credibility and general attention given to his work, in very short order, is pretty much tantamount to the 76 goal rookie campaign that Teemu Selanne enjoyed with the Winnipeg Jets enjoyed in 1992-1993.
And while I suspect that last statement will likely bring a smile to the face of the former NOJHL goaltender turned full-time accountant, Pidutti is just as likely to note that once the numbers are adjusted to an even playing level, perhaps there was someone in the 1930’s or 1940’s with a freshman campaign even more noteworthy than Selanne.
Regardless, the fact remains that just a week or so after launching the end product of two years’ worth of deeply numerical work, Pidutti was the subject of a feature write-up by none other than Frank Seravalli, a strong advocate of the work being done by the young man who dates his affinity for sport statistics back to his baseball scorekeeping days, following older brother James to ball diamonds right across the province.
Since then, his analytical hockey brainchild has been featured in everything from The Athletic to TSN, ESPN and The Hockey News, with Pidutti doing radio appearances on SiriusXM NHL Network and Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
What Pidutti created and what has taken the hockey world by storm is the Pidutti Point Share system, a singular fully quantifiable score on a per player basis that allows for a much fairer comparative landscape for NHL’ers who might have taken to the ice a half century or more apart.
By far the most traction to date – keeping in mind that his work first saw the light of day near the beginning of November of 2022 – was garnered in the discussion circles that involve any given player’s worthiness to be enshrined in the NHL Hall of Fame.
“I almost fell into the Hall of Fame standard,” Pidutti noted candidly. “My original intention was to try and compare every player from every era in a way that made sense. From there, the more research I started to do, the more I realized that the Hockey Hall of Fame has developed such an inconsistent standard.”
“I am a big baseball guy and their Hall of Fame has a huge following. It’s such an important and prestigious part of baseball. When it comes to hockey, it seemed that it rarely got talked about. I thought there was a void.”
To be clear, while analytics are often the buzzword of the day when it comes to pretty much any statistical analysis in professional hockey, this is not the pathway down which Pidutti has ventured. “There are a lot of people out there doing it (analytics) extremely well,” noted the 37 year-old northern lad.
“I thought I could offer something that the lay person could wrap their mind around without getting bogged down in analytics.”
In fact, some of the highest praise for his efforts has come from the fact that while the background number crunching (the “secret sauce”, as he laughingly referred to that process at one point) is a rabbit-hole down which he will not venture in casual conversation related to his project, it is his ability to then whittle all of those numbers down to a final end result, all while providing a relatively easy to follow high-level guideline as to where the numbers are originating that has even the most casual hockey fan excited to find out more.
“I did think that I had to make it digestible,” said Pidutti. “I knew that if I made this in a really complicated way, it would never gain traction.”
Getting to that point was no walk in the park.
“I think the reason that it came together so well was that I was initially just doing it for fun; I didn’t have to have it done by a certain point in time. I just kept doing trial and error until I felt that it could pass the public sniff test – which it did.”
“I have so many versions of what you see now; this is probably the 30th version.”
While the mechanics behind the PPS are worthy of easily a complete story in and of themselves, for now let it be known that it revolves around three keys factors – career value, pace value and peak value – that capture both the entirety of a player’s career, but then also work in formula aimed to even things out for those whose careers were cut short, measuring concepts such as efficiency and dominance.
Throw in a measurement of league strength (Pidutti has slotted all players into one of five distinct eras) and added bonuses for highlights such as Stanley Cups and individual awards and you end up with a final number that falls into one of six categories relative to a standard number: far exceeds, exceeds or slightly exceeds – OR slightly below, below and not a candidate.
A huge fan of Moneyball (baseball analytics) from a very young age, Pidutti had initially envisioned this undertaking as a forty chapter book. While that thought process changed during the two-year Covid period in which he jumped head first into this vision, his starting point did serve a purpose.
“I realized that nobody would read such a book – it was way too technical – but what it allowed me to do was organize all of my thoughts,” he said. “When I went live, I had already hashed out in my head how to communicate this to people.”
And very much to his credit, people are reading and listening to Paul Pidutti, almost at a record-breaking pace – but I will allow the well-spoken and newly-anointed Hockey Hall of Fame guru to provide some context on that, as only he can.