NHL All-Decade Team Software
NHL All-Decade Team Software

This is the second part of our All-Decade compilation, with the most decorated and most productive players already named to Team Hardware. Now it gets a little dicey as we move to Team Software, two All-Decade Teams that have been picked using advanced stats, which have become really in vogue this decade.

As usual, the rules:

In customary All-Star Team fashion, there will be both a First Team and a Second Team, and no overlap is allowed between the mainstream and analytics teams. Stats and figures are all cumulative since the 2009-10 season (I know that's 11 seasons but it's also the first season the NHL has made possession stats available) with a minimum of 400 games played, which is close to half of the maximum of 868 by the end of this season.

Quantity matters a little less, and the emphasis is on overall quality on both sides of the puck at 5-on-5. These are the players we always seem to forget because their impact on the ice isn't always just about scoring, so their greatness isn't always so obvious.

Team Software

First Team

Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit Red Wings
Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, RW, Boston Bruins
Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames
Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins

We could've simply picked the top 10 players with the best possession metrics, but it can't be that straightforward because not all metrics are of equal value. There has to be a little more nuance than that, but for the most part, all five of them will be at or near the top of the list in almost every category.

Datsyuk, in particular, looks much better from an analytics lens because for the first time, other than using plus-minus and takeaways, we can really see how much of an impact he had on defense, and it's massive. According to Evolving-Hockey's Even-Strength Defense (EVD) Goals Above Average (GAR), Datsyuk has a 36.9 rating, the third-highest this decade, and 0.901 GAR/60, the best mark in the league, just ahead of Connor McDavid and Mark Stone. His defensive value still puts him in the 97th percentile among forwards, just behind Patrick Kane and slightly ahead of Alex Ovechkin even though he's scored far fewer points.

Bergeron and Marchand are obvious picks, forming two-thirds of the Perfection Line. Bergeron is a four-time Selke winner and a Cup champion, but it's probably most interesting to note that Marchand edges Bergeron in most advanced metrics, and even if we separate Bergeron's impact, Marchand's possession numbers still rank among the league's elite.

Giordano is the classic late bloomer, a Norris Trophy winner at the age of 35, but since returning from to Calgary after a one-year stint in Russia, he's been one of the league's most consistently impactful defenders, scoring double-digit goals in five seasons. He is 14th in SAT%, ninth in EVD/60, fourth in WAR/60, first in overall GAR and WAR, and in the 98th percentile based on xGAR ranks. Hedman isn't far behind, ranking second in both overall GAR and WAR, and he ranks first at Even-Strength Offense (EVO) ahead of John Carlson and Erik Karlsson.

By almost every metric, Rask is one of the best goalies this decade. Of course, he can thank an elite defense in front of him, but he ranks seventh in Goalie Point Shares, sixth in WAR, third in Complete Games %, second in Games Started with a Sv% above .900, second in GSAA and first in EV Sv%.

Second Team

Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Toews, LW, Chicago Blackhawks
Joe Pavelski, RW, San Jose Sharks/Dallas Stars 
Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Dougie Hamilton, D, Boston Bruins/Calgary Flames/Carolina Hurricanes
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Philadelphia Flyers/Columbus Blue Jackets/Florida Panthers

The dominance of Kopitar and Toews is obvious, and their underlying metrics prove it. They were literally the centerpiece of their respective teams with multiple Cup titles and are considered two of the best two-way centers of their era.

The last forward spot was a difficult pick, but Pavelski's name kept popping up. He ranks sixth in GAR and fifth in WAR, according to Evolving-Hockey, and puts up strong possession numbers across the board. Other names that were considered but eliminated: Marian Hossa, Vladimir Tarasenko and Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher made a strong case, ranking 7th in SAT% and first in individual xG/60, ahead of even Alex Ovechkin according to Evolving-Hockey, but in terms of raw scoring he falls well short.

Letang is an obvious choice, a defenseman who would be among the elite and who would be part of the Hardware Team had he managed to stay healthy. Hamilton, meanwhile, has been an analytics favorite for what seems like forever, and only now with the analytically-inclined and free-wheeling Hurricanes has he really been showcased. Hamilton is third in individual xG/60 and first in goal differential per 60 minutes, and despite negative impact on takeaways and penalties drawn, ranks in the 91st percentile.

Goalie was another hard decision, but Sergei Bobrovsky just edges Pekka Rinne and Roberto Luongo. They're neck-and-neck in Sv% and EV Sv%, but Bob and Luongo have a slightly better PP Sv%, and when broken down further in terms of production per 60 minutes, Bobrovsky has the edge. He's either been really good or really bad, but the good has far outweighed the bad, and his two Vezinas clinches the deal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason joined RotoWire in 2013. In 2014, he was a finalist for the FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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