LA Kings

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With the game of hockey relying more on analytics, the LA Kings should consider hiring analytical genius Eric Tulsky.

The game is changing – better yet growing into something larger than a simple sport where one goal is a skill, but two goals means being a star. Whether people like it or not, denying the fact that advanced analytics are quickly taking over the game won’t stop it from coming in.

Some teams around the National Hockey League are more old school and tend to steer further away from advanced analytics and tend to leave out advanced metrics when it comes to managing their teams. Some teams that stay away from analytics in the NHL are the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Other teams are far more cooperative with these statistics as they realize that the game isn’t the same as it once was and that these analytics come in handy. Those teams include the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Minnesota Wild.

LA Kings general manager Rob Blake relies a lot of his management on eye tests and basic points. He also looks towards his scouts when it comes to his players, but the issue is that analytics need to be used much more in the system. What Blake has done to rebuild the KIngs has been astonishing, but now comes the time where the future is now, and you have to start building conservatively of the cap and yet manage to have a good team.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, may I present to you Carolina Hurricanes assistant general manager, Eric Tuslky.

There’s not too much personal knowledge on him, but the important thing is he’s an analytics-based manager and a dang good one at that. The Carolina Hurricanes hired Tulsky back in 2014 to be a day-to-day analyst for the team. He worked in that position for three years before finally getting promoted to director of analysis in late 2017. He worked with that position until recently, when he was hired as an assistant GM right before the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.

Based on the context clues, you can already tell what this’ll be about. The LA Kings need to bring in some analytics-based managers because they’re no longer a bad team. It’s been made obvious that LA’s time to shine is now, and the rebuild has been scrapped. The issue is that the salary cap exists, and the Kings aren’t built like the Tampa Bay Lightning. The truth is, Blake still has some building to do. Sure, you can’t build a team purely based on first liners because, in simplicity, the money won’t allow you to do so. 

For instance, take Bill Zito and the Florida Panthers. Zito arrives in Florida, and the team is low on cap and is looking at ways to become a good team. Enter free agent Carter Verhaeghe. Bill Zito and Carter’s camp agreed on a two-year deal worth one million dollars per season, and at the time, it was seen as nothing more than a depth signing. I mean, it was kind of obvious to the fans that it was a depth signing. Verhaeghe was coming off a 13 point season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so there wasn’t too much to him… until he scored 36 points in 43 games with the Panthers in his first year.

Zito knew that he had to build a playoff-caliber team with no money, so he relied on analytics as his go-to to save money and sign solid players. He did exactly that, and the rest is history.

Eric Tulsky could be the same story as Zito. Now I’m not suggesting that Blake should go and Tulsky should take over, but I’m rather saying that the Kings should bring in Eric Tulsky as an AGM to bring in a heavy sense of analytics. Thanks to Eric Tulsky’s expertise in advanced analytics, he’s helped bring success to Carolina. Analytical players that Tuslky has dragged into Carolina include trading for an elite defensive defenseman in Jani Hakanpaa for dirt cheap, helping acquire Vincent Trochek, and turning him into a legitimate top-six forward for virtually free, and signing depth piece Ian Cole

Tulsky has been in charge of all analytics for a while in Carolina, and I wouldn’t be shocked to hear some of the more modern-based teams in the NHL call him about joining their teams. It shocks me how Eric isn’t an NHL general manager at this current time, but there is not a single doubt in my mind when I say that he will be one. You see, advanced stats are starting to take over hockey. You see the very basic WAR (wins above replacement) and xGF (expected goals for) charts on Twitter. Every day hockey fans have the right to subscribe for a certain amount of money to big-name chart creators to have access to some of these stats. It’s already all over the internet, so it must be in the hands of these people that run NHL teams.

That’s exactly the case with Eric Tulsky. The difference is, he isn’t like the basic advanced stats producers you see on Twitter posting their player cards; Tulsky has his own metrics and has his own advanced stats to see a player or multiple players. What we see on the internet every day is nothing more than the very basic and bare minimum of hockey analytics. It’s also the last type of analytics that managers use in the NHL because the access that these professionals have won’t make sense to any hockey fan. 

What these guys like Eric Tulsky have is something some GMs can’t even understand, and that’s because these “old-timey” managers don’t look at advanced analytics. So take it into consideration when it’s the year 2030, and every team has adapted analytics as an everyday thing. You wouldn’t really want to feel left out, not to mention feeling stupid because you didn’t adopt it into the game.

Analytics are difficult. There’s no shame in having no idea how they work. These stats are tracked using computers and calculated by machines. No human can sit down and plop out a chart full of every little detail in less than 24 hours. This sort of stuff takes years of dedication. That’s why people like Eric Tulsky are so amazing at what they do. They know these analytics better than anyone, and they know how to build a winning team because they have built winning teams before.

The LA Kings head office is already full of intelligent people who are so good at building teams, but it never hurts to add greatness. What do you do when you’re already on top? You keep building up. Eric Tulsky is one of the smartest people who work in all of the NHL, and he deserves a shot at being a GM. It’s obviously not worked out yet for him, and that’s why he should be hired by an upcoming team with some cap issues- like the LA Kings – as an assistant general manager.

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