#2. Pace Value

In our introduction to adjusted statistics, we became acquainted with pace as a statistical concept. Take a counting stat, divide it by the number of games played, and apply the rate across an 82-game NHL season. Pace allows us to better view performance on a more familiar scale, filling the void created by injuries and abbreviated seasons. While totals in a season or career measure output, pace is a measure of how efficiently that output is achieved. But how do we strike a balance between career value and pace value when career lengths vary so significantly?

Facing an uncertain future due to his health, what impact should the back end of Jonathan Toews' superb career have on how we evaluate his body of work? "Jonathan Toews celebrates his 2nd of goal of the 1st period of Game 7." by rchdj10 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

We cannot over credit players for simply playing a long time, yet we also can’t dismiss the value added by players that still contribute when their peers are retired. After working through many case studies, it was clear that most late-career performances should neither greatly add to, nor diminish, player evaluations. The reason? With few exceptions, we’ve seen the best a player has to offer well before they contemplate retirement. So, using scenarios ranging from highly optimistic (several seasons sipping from the Fountain of Youth) to doomsday (sharp decline or forced retirement), PPS was designed to harmonize career vs. pace based on the many ways an established career might end.

As a result, the methodology needed to be flexible enough to do three things:

  1. Modestly reward a player aging well.
  2. Modestly penalize a player aging poorly.
  3. Have minimal impact to a player aging in line with expectations.

Only in the rare circumstances of exceptionally good or bad play should a player’s PPS meaningfully rise or fall late in a career.

How will we measure pace value?

You’ll recall we right sized total career value by dividing it by 15. This was a key decision in order to find the career-pace equilibrium. By adding one’s pace value to PPS (that is, value per 82 games), we get the two figures on comparable scales. This is intended to say that career and pace are, more or less, equally important aspects of a player’s career.

We’ll use Jeremy Roenick again to demonstrate the calculation. We take his career adjusted point shares, divide by his career adjusted games played, and multiply by 82, as follows:

  • 125.8 career AdPS ÷ 1,389 career AdGP x 82 = 7.4

This tells us that over the course of his career, Roenick contributed 7.4 adjusted point shares of value to his teams for every 82 games he played. This inherently includes each version of him – the explosive Hawks’ star, the consistent mid-career Coyote and Flyer, and the worn out version chasing an elusive Cup on the West Coast.

PPS Factor #2: Pace Value (Skaters)

[Career adjusted point shares ÷ career adjusted games played x 82] x 10

In terms of PPS to date, Roenick is at 15.8 through two of the five factors (i.e. 8.4 for career value and 7.4 for pace value). Having played in 20 different seasons (16.9 AdYrs), Roenick had a long career; unsurprisingly, his career value exceeds his pace value. Players with relatively short careers, on the other hand, are more likely to score better in pace than career value.

Before we officially add pace value to PPS, a modification for goaltenders is required. Scaling a goalie’s career pace value to 82 games is not sensible given goaltenders don’t play 82 games per season. If we treated goalies like skaters, pace would be overrepresented. When we established what a “full” goaltender season would be in defining adjusted seasons, we used 60 games. This is a logical adjustment for pace value, representative of a typical workload for a starting goaltender. Let’s demonstrate using 15-year veteran goaltender (and current CBC commentator) Kelly Hrudey:

  • 125.7 Career AdPS ÷ 709 Career AdGP x 60 = 10.6

Even adjusted to 60 games instead of 82, Hrudey’s pace value may seem high compared to Roenick’s. It’s important to recall that, under the point share framework, goaltenders are assigned significant contributions given their critical role in goal prevention. This further reinforces the need to separate players by position when evaluating their careers.

PPS Factor #2: Pace Value (Goaltenders)

[Career adjusted point shares ÷ career adjusted games played x 60] x 10

One final note: to qualify for pace value points in PPS, a player needs only one adjusted season (i.e., at least 82 games for skaters, 60 games for goaltenders). This low bar simply tosses out those players with a cup of coffee or two from earning undeserved points in the system.

Naturally, career and pace values tend to move in opposite directions beyond one’s prime. Let’s illustrate the connection between career and pace via Hawks’ captain Jonathan Toews. We’ll place ourselves at the the point in time where Toews had just finished sitting out the condensed 2020-21 schedule (his age-32 season). At that time, it was plausible that Toews could retire, return as a shadow of his prior form, or return revitalized and continue to play capably further into his 30s. At the time of his crossroads, Toews had played in 13 seasons. This would be a relatively short career among players of his formidable status in the game.

So, what if Toews never came back? Say he packed it in, citing serious health concerns. How do we view his career as a 13-year sprint, and not the 20-year marathon it might have been? Let’s review Toews’ career to date via AdPS.


Stats through 2020-21; AdPS = Adjusted Point Shares; AdGP = Adjusted Games Played; Pace = AdPS ÷ AdGP x 82

If Toews did not return to action, he’d retire with career value of 6.3 and pace value of 7.8, a total of 14.1 through two factors in PPS. Toews’ decline was already underway, as his last five seasons were his five worst by pace. This is a standard trend, and not an indictment of Toews’ excellent career. Like most players, having peaked between his age-22 and age-26 campaigns in terms of value, his best was almost certainly in the rear-view mirror.

Speedy sniper Mike Gartner's long and steady career shows how a player can continue to add value at the back end of a career. "Mike Gartner 001" by rchdj10 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

To get a sense of scenarios for Toews, let’s look at two other forwards with similar value through 13 seasons – Hall of Famers Gilbert Perreault and Mike Gartner. Perreault’s career lasted 17 seasons, while Gartner retired after 19 seasons.


Career Value6.36.26.2
Pace Value7.87.87.4
Career + Pace14.114.013.6
Career Value = Adjusted point shares ÷ 15; Pace Value = AdPS ÷ AdGP x 82

Through 13 seasons, the three players are separated by only 0.5 points in PPS across career and pace value. Had all three men hung up their blades at this point, the remaining factors of PPS (peak, timeline, and bonuses) would be necessary to distinguish these three careers. Let’s take a look at how things played out for Perreault and Gartner over the balance of their NHL tenures; Toews’ career will be frozen at the point of his year away.


Career Value0.01.32.1
Pace Value0.06.35.7
Stats through 2020-21

Perreault continued with two decent campaigns before filing his retirement papers after a career-worst age-35 season. A sign of the times, he returned to play the minimum 20 games in 1986 solely to benefit from changes in pension rules. Perreault added +1.3 in career value, and as expected, contributed at a lesser pace. Gartner’s additional six seasons strongly shaped the narrative of his career, adding an additional 170 goals and four 30-goal years. The famously mustached forward is bumped up +2.1 in career value. Despite his surge up the career goal scoring list, Gartner added little value via assists or defence, so his pace also predictably slowed with age.

So, what kind of impact did these twilight years have for Perreault and Gartner?


13 Seasons
13 Seasons
13 Seasons
Career Value6.
Pace Value7.
Career + Pace14.
Stats through 2020-21

By the sum of career and pace PPS values:

  • Perreault rises +1.0 (or 7%), tacking on two solid seasons before quickly fading. This fits our earlier requirement of “having minimal impact to a player aging about as expected.”
  • Gartner rises +1.6 (or 12%), declining gracefully for six mostly full seasons. This fits our earlier requirement to “modestly reward a player aging well.”
  • Toews, absent a final act to his career, remains slightly behind each.

Notably, while Gartner’s career goal total rose by 32%(!) in these six seasons, his PPS rose only 12%. This is how the methodology keeps the tail end of a career in check. Adding +2.1 via career value acknowledges his contributions, while dropping -0.5 via pace value recognizes Gartner’s contributions had slowed. Overall, we’ve rewarded him, without overstating his performance the way his growing goal total did.

With the right balance between career and pace found, we’ll conclude our review of pace value by checking the all-time leader boards. As the top players in career value featured those with longer careers, we’d expect the top players in pace value to highlight shorter careers. While players qualify for pace value points with 1.0 AdYrs, we’ll set a minimum of 300 adjusted games played on these leaderboards to focus on more notable players.


1Howie Morenz108George Owen117Clint Benedict133
2Bobby Hull94Doug Harvey84Bill Durnan144
3Mario Lemieux149Bobby Orr175Ken Dryden133
4Connor McDavid*127Al MacInnis11.2Dominik Hasek126
Stats through 2021-22; Pace Value (Skaters) = AdPS ÷ AdGP x 82 x 10; Pace Value (Goaltenders) = AdPS ÷ AdGP x 60 x 10

Orr’s pace value leaps off the page as famously as his iconic, Cup-winning goal in 1970. The majority of the leaders experienced truncated careers for various reasons including: Morenz (death); Owen, Durnan, Dryden (choosing early retirement); Benedict (played in predecessor league to NHL), Hull (signed with WHA), Lemieux (frequent injury/illness), Orr (early retirement from injury), McDavid (still active), and Hasek (late arrival to North America). Most impressive are the inclusions of Harvey and MacInnis, 19 and 23-year veterans, respectively; to maintain such paces despite their longevity bodes well for their standing in PPS.

We’ll again flag the top five by position across all eras by pace value, including active leaders (*).


1Mario Lemieux3149Bobby Orr3175Bill Durnan2144
2Wayne Gretzky3136Ray Bourque3123Ken Dryden3133
3Connor McDavid*4127Denis Potvin3121Clint Benedict1133
4Mike Bossy3118George Owen1117Tony Esposito3126
5Sidney Crosby*4113Eddie Shore1113Dominik Hasek4126
*Connor McDavid4127Roman Josi489Andrei Vasilevskiy4109
Stats through 2021-22

Notably, Gretzky, Esposito, and Bourque are the only players to crack the list in careers exceeding 15.0 AdYrs, a testament to their enduring play at a high level.

Our foray into pace doubled as a conversation into properly balancing production and efficiency in evaluating an NHL career. We’ve found a comfortable middle ground in PPS that rewards each measure, capably balancing the contributions of careers of any length.

Before moving on to the third and final foundational component of PPS in peak value, let’s pencil in Jarome Iginla‘s pace value. With 147.6 career AdPS across 1,585 AdGP, he banks 7.6 for pace. Given the extreme length of his career, Iginla’s pace inevitably takes a hit. Nonetheless, his mark is 85th among all forwards, and 62th among retired forwards. In the bottom left of the card, we see Iginla’s total PPS has now grown to 17.5 through two factors.

Era Names, Era development concepts, Adjusted GP, Adjusted Yrs, Adjusted PS, Adjusted Pace data, PPS System and Player Card from Adjusted Hockey;
All other data from Hockey-Reference.com.