The entrance workplace rebuild in Buffalo continued yesterday with the hiring of Sam Ventura as VP of hockey technique and analysis. It might not sound like an thrilling publish, however specialists within the area suppose the Sabres made an important transfer in bringing in Ventura from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the place he helped the franchise win two Stanley Cups.
Ventura first made his identify within the hockey world as a part of the influential Battle-on-Ice analytics web site, which he co-founded with Andrew Thomas (who went on to the Minnesota Wild) and finally featured Alexandra Mandrycky (now with the Seattle Kraken). Ventura labored with Jason Karmanos in Pittsburgh and with Karmanos now in Buffalo because the affiliate GM, he’s reunited along with his like-minded compatriot.
“He is an especially good man,” mentioned one NHL analytics knowledgeable. “A extremely good thinker, strategically. With Karmanos there and his lengthy relationship with Sam, he clearly has demonstrated his value to have that main position that Karmanos has introduced in to suit Buffalo.”
How vital was this rent for Buffalo? In line with the insider I spoke to, the Sabres have not been on the vanguard of analytics in comparison with another franchises within the league, however getting Ventura on board with Karmanos actually goals them in the fitting route. The Sabres even have Jason Nightingale in a twin analytics/scouting position, however the group remains to be build up its entrance workplace after the large cull final 12 months.
“There’s been a lot change there, it is tough,” mentioned the analytics knowledgeable. “From the skin wanting in it is onerous to guage the motivations of transactions. Getting Taylor Corridor signed for the worth they did, that was one I used to be bullish on – it did not work out for them, it extra labored out for Boston – however there’s a sign they’ve carried out some good issues. However I would not say they had been on the forefront of analytics. Earlier than Karmanos, I’d say they had been truly going the opposite method, they had been type of laggards. They’re positively trending in the fitting route now. Preserving a good funds is paramount there and having a powerful funding in analytics to keep away from the Jeff Skinners of the world goes to be fairly vital transferring ahead.”
However what precisely will Ventura deliver to the Sabres? All of it comes all the way down to having a quantitative lens as a part of the decision-making course of, whether or not that be on the professional aspect of issues or the newbie scouting aspect.
Relating to professional scouting, it is about how your group values one participant versus one other and the way these gamers will pattern throughout their contract. It is comparable on the newbie aspect, although as a substitute of contracts there’s extra concentrate on projection and the way a sure prospect compares to a different participant in the identical draft class.
The group’s conventional scouts, those that go to the rinks, watch reside video games and discuss to a participant and his coaches, deliver essential info to the method and analytics is not anticipated to switch any of that, however it might probably fill within the gaps and be an important instrument. Merging the qualitative information from scouts and the quantitative information from the analytics division simply makes for a extra full image.
The Sabres at the moment have one of many smaller scouting departments within the league, so getting Ventura and his talent set on board might be extremely useful.
“To not have that within the dialogue may be very harmful,” mentioned the analytics knowledgeable. “Having somebody who, arguably, is without doubt one of the finest in our area, is an enormous benefit.”