Did players competing overseas help or hurt NHL teams?

Roughly half of the 2012-13 NHL season was missed due to a contract dispute between the player’s association and the NHL’s owners. When the season resumed in mid-January, it did so with an abbreviated preseason, with only a week of practice leading up the first set of games.

Wary of beginning the year with dead legs, several players spent the months of October-December overseas, playing with teams in European and Russian professional leagues. A complete list of those players (and the professional teams they spent time with overseas) is shown here.

One interest to come out of the lockout is whether or not playing overseas impacted performance in the NHL.  A quick, naive way of looking at this is to compare the number of players each team had playing overseas against how that team is performing this season, as judged by current points in the season standings. 

A scatter plot (jittered, to account for multiple teams with the same points and overseas players) is shown here:

Image

The correlation coefficient between number of overseas players and current points (as of 2/12/13) is 0.06. It’s fairly clear there’s no strong association between these two measurements, at least on a team-wide basis, but I’ll be sure to explore this topic again the season goes on.

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