The NHL is collecting more and more in-game data and every team in the league needs more and more sharp thinkers to break down the numbers.

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The data revolution in hockey continues to advance apace.

The Los Angeles Kings are hiring a former number cruncher from the Chicago Cubs, Ryan Kruse, to head up their research and development department. R&D is a term we’re used to hearing from tech and engineering companies and it is very much de rigueur in hockey now.

The Kings also hired Rosie Yu, who holds a PhD in materials engineering and is working on a master’s degree in computer science. Yu will work as a full-time software engineer.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have called their analytics department the R&D department for some time now. They’ve had developers working on staff for some time now.

Hockey teams studying numbers is no big secret. Even the Canucks’ front office, which has plenty of old-school thinking from its key leaders in Jim Benning and John Weisbrod, have three analytics experts — Jonathan Wall and assistants Aiden Fox and Ryan Biech. They support scouting, managing the salary cap, delivering head coach Travis Green data to help him assess his team’s performance and plenty more. The Canucks don’t have a developer on staff full-time, but are believed to be working with someone on a contract basis.


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Data is more important than ever. And the NHL is working to bring more data online. But the more you have, the more people you need to break it all down.

The Canucks would be wise to hire more people to work with Wall and Fox and Biech … and who better than Cam Lawrence and Josh Weissbock, the number crunchers who went from Canucks Army to the Florida Panthers five years ago?

The duo worked as consultants for Florida and mostly supported the scouting staff to build their draft list. They used a big data approach to build a projection model that helped assess probable development paths of potential draft picks.

They weren’t even that expensive, working as consultants, rather than full-time employees.

They’re part of the group of outsiders who were labelled the Computer Boys, along with assistant general managers Steve Werier and Eric Joyce, during the year-long stint they were allowed to run the Panthers five years ago. The quartet took a fresh perspective to roster building and contract negotiations and while much of their work was undone by Dale Tallon’s reinstallation as general manager, their influence remains in the solid contracts they signed with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. They also identified under appreciated players on other teams like Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and James Reimer, who all have helped their current teams find success.

Teams around the league have approached Lawrence and Weissbock since the news got out that the Panthers weren’t renewing their contracts.


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Both are from B.C. Both got into hockey through their passion for the home team. Both would bring fresh perspectives and plenty of hockey management and scouting experience with them.

With the Canucks looking ready to bring goalie coach Ian Clark back, a move that would suggest money is being spent by the Aquilinis after a year of austerity, it would be prudent to make some shrewd investments in their data team. Lawrence and Weissbock fit the bill.

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