The Southeast Division is the worst division in hockey. That’s the only way to put it; the teams there are consistently weaker then the rest of the league.

What effect does this have on scoring? There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests individual players decline when leaving the division (Erik Cole and Jay Bouwmeester, to name two) while players entering the division can add years to their careers (Marty Reasoner and Rich Peverley as two examples). It’s no wonder that the Southeast is the home of some of the league’s most highly regarded offensive stars.

How would those stars fare outside their division? To find out, I compared the division scoring numbers to the out of division scoring numbers since the lockout for five of the Southeast’s best offensive talents: Ilya Kovalchuk, Vincent Lecavalier, Alexander Ovechkin, Eric Staal and Martin St. Louis.

Player Kovalchuk Lecavalier Ovechkin Staal St. Louis
Div. G 54 38 53 40 39
ODiv G. 47 37 58 36 27
Difference -7 -1 5 -4 -12
Div. A 43 54 61 52 53
ODiv A 43 47 49 40 52
Difference 0 -7 -12 -12 -1
Div. Points 97 92 114 92 92
ODiv Points 90 84 107 76 79
Difference -7 -8 -7 -16 -13
Div +/- -3 1 4 4 4
ODiv +/- -9 -9 14 -3 -9
Difference -6 -10 10 -7 -13
Avg. Points Loss -7.2% -8.7% -6.1% -17.3% -14.1%

 

A not unexpected drop-off there. All of these players still score well against the rest of the league, but suddenly we stop seeing Staal and St. Louis as 90+ point guys and start seeing them in the point-per-game range.

The really interesting player on this list is Ovechkin. His scoring dips the least, and alone among this group of five his plus/minus actually increases when playing outside the division (he’s also the lone plus player of this group). He seems to be the rare exception to the Southeast effect.