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Deep Dive #2 - An Argument for Increasing TPE Caps
#1

Once again, my deep dive is not your standard team or player analysis, but something a little more esoteric. Last time, I examined my top four most promising expansion locations, and this time I’ll be looking at the TPE caps as they currently exist in the SMJHL.

Currently, in a player’s first two seasons, they’re capped to 350 TPE applied, maximum. For their last two, that raises by 75, to 425. We’ll be basing the arguments in this essay off these values, as well as a few more assumptions:

-We’ll assume that any players in hypotheticals are fully active
-We’ll assume that players are making enough money to fully buy all purchasable TPE (Weekly/Seasonal Training)
-We’ll assume players are making their best effort on the variable TPE garnering methods (Predictions threads/fantasy/etc)
-We’ll assume that hypothetical players are going to spend 4 years in the J, as that is the current usual course of a career
-We will round up or down as per normal (.5 or higher up, .4 or lower down)

We will also be using @luke's data for S73 earnings, found here Who Earned The Most TPE in S73, and some data provided by @sve7en, found here S72-S75 Draft Week TPE. Thank you both!

On first glance, we can see one immediate issue with the way SMJHL TPE caps work. They don’t change every season, they change every other season. This is arguably more of a concern for the third and fourth seasons, but it impacts the second season as well. No matter what else we do, we want to change this so that each season sees iterative improvement of a player.

Why do we want to make a change to introduce consistent iterative improvement of players? The simple answers are, to boost engagement and to foster more ‘realistic’ results. It’s not a fun feeling to sit on a large bank of points and know you’re not allowed to spend them, but even more, it takes away the value and purpose of earning the points in the short term, and the truth is, people are hardwired to prefer instant gratification over long term growth. In addition, players who make the major leagues of any sport don’t do so by suddenly plateauing halfway through their time in the minors. If our goal is a simulation of real hockey as best we can manage, then we should take care to be setting situations that reflect that. Of course, we also don’t want to remove the entire point of having an SMJHL by completely uncapping TPE, so what do we do? There are two solutions:

The Conservative Change

Conservative as in only minor adjustments, not politics. With that out of the way, the simple, easy, ‘barely changes anything’ approach that still accomplishes our minimum goal is to increase the TPE cap by 25 each season. Under this scheme, the caps would go 350/375/400/425, ending up exactly where we already are. It doesn’t upset the balance very much, slightly reducing the power of third season players and slightly boosting the power of second year players. This option honestly is simple, safe, and boring, so I’m not going to spend too much time on it. It’s what you take if you’re very worried about upsetting the balance of the league.

My Preferred Change

My preferred change, meanwhile, still starts the cap at 350 TPE. This is a good amount, and actually unreachable in a rookie season. For example, for season 75 rookies, the maximum available TPE by SHL draft week was 154. When combined with the starting TPE of 155, this will get you to 309, close to but just short of the cap. In the interest of making things easier with Luke’s data as well, we’ll look at S73 players for TPE amounts, which actually means we want to look at the maximum available TPE to S74 draftees. That was 164 TPE, a small bit higher, which means the highest rookie earner for that class could, at best, have come away with 319 TPE total. Clearly, the 350 limit will not be surpassed by rookies. Arguably, it could even be lowered to 300, but since we want to minimize the amount of time players are spending capped and unable to invest their TPE, we’ll leave it at 350.

From here on, the cap on invested TPE would increase by 50 each season, meaning it would be 400 in a J player's 2nd season, 450 in their 3rd, and 500 in their 4th. Why these amounts? Quite simply, we don’t want to raise the maximum cap too high, or else we risk making rookies entirely useless. However, we do want to raise the cap enough to stimulate a more natural rate of growth of players as they advance, something the more conservative option doesn’t do as effectively, since the growth is so minor from season to season. In addition, the increased cap actually strengthens the J’s position as a development lead, as head offices and teams built to help guide new players towards accomplishing their goals in a long career will have more chances to do that job, teaching players which abilities are more likely to help them, and giving them more low risk opportunities to experiment with the new redistribution rules. This should better position users to be effective the entire lifespan of their player.

We can also recognize that an increase of 50 in the cap is a less extreme difference between each season of playing in the J than currently exists between second and third season, so increases of 50, while favoring the more experienced player, do not completely remove any chance of competition from the rookies. Another goal with this weighting towards a higher cap overall is to discourage the process of selling out a teams future for short term competitiveness, as it will be harder than ever to recover from such a play.

But we also have to address how realistic the new 50 cap raise is, especially when going from a rookie season to a second season in the J. We’ve seen already that earning more than one hundred TPE in a season is expected for active rookies, but non-rookies get access to arguably more opportunity. When looking at Luke’s data, we can see that the highest amount of TPE earned in S73 was 210, but thanks to the handy google sheet included in his post, we can check the average, including any player who earned even a single TPE in the entire season, was 139. This means players who are fully active will easily be able to hit their caps.

Indeed, if we take S73’s highest earning rookie, who had 315 TPE on SHL draft day, and assume they earned the S73 average their next season, we can see that by the end of their second season, they’re already on 454 TPE. If we further assume they earn 139 TPE each of their next two seasons, they’ll reach 732 TPE by the time they age out of the J. This means that, by their third season, they’ll be capping on day one as long as they actively pursue earning TPE. This would arguably encourage increasing the caps even higher, to further stretch out the engagement, but we start to run into problems here.

We’re not looking to eliminate the ability of rookies to contribute meaningfully to teams, and if we raise the caps too high that’s the effect we’ll achieve. This means we have a limit to the ability to increase engagement through simply raising the cap. In addition, raising the cap too high has the arguable possibility of harming our second goal- ‘increasing realism’- by making each season a huge jump in a player’s ability compared to the last one, meaning every active player looks like a generational talent. Finally, if we increase the caps too high, we run the risk of counteracting one of our desired side effects from this change; the higher the caps go, the harder it is to climb out of the hole of cashing in an entire team for a championship, but also, the more rewarding such a move can be in the short term, a danger if a GM is looking for a little glory on their way out.

When looking at these kinds of adjustments, we can’t simply keep the highest earners in mind, and we can’t let ourselves be waylaid by those who are barely active, or inactive entirely. Some changes would be healthy for the league, however, and by increasing the cap by 50 each year, earning TPE becomes something with short term benefits for more seasons than it currently is, while also allowing players to be better positioned to hit the ground running when they enter the SHL.

In the end, the SMJHL is a development league. It isn’t about winning as much as it is about trying to build good habits, keeping players active through their first few seasons, and teaching new players or returning recreates who have been away awhile the intricacies of building their character. Leaving large amounts of TPE sitting in the banks of players for three of their four seasons in the league is counter productive to almost all of those goals, and that’s why I endorse a new scaling TPE cap that increases by 50 points per season.

Scarecrows
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#2

This is not my best analysis of all time but I wasn't getting paid IRL bucks for this one so no charts

Scarecrows
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#3

Nicely put you have my vote

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#4

I like this 

@Jexter should convince HO to do this next

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#5

Even though it is a development league the fact stands that winning will help with keeping people active. If cap is raised it might not have huge impact on each individual player but could seriously effect balance between top and bottom teams. Always harder to keep (new) people active when their player and team aren't doing well and if the bottom teams cannot keep enough rookies active they can't really take advantage of the raised cap in coming seasons. Also as more teams get added to the league each team has only so many draft picks (or waiver turns) to pick new players to replace someone who has gone IA. In the end roughly 40% of S75 players who are on SMJHL rosters are currently under 350 cap and about 25% of rostered S74s are still below 425.

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#6
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2024, 10:22 AM by sve7en. Edited 1 time in total.)

02-28-2024, 10:05 AMpuolivalmiste Wrote: Even though it is a development league the fact stands that winning will help with keeping people active. If cap is raised it might not have huge impact on each individual player but could seriously effect balance between top and bottom teams. Always harder to keep (new) people active when their player and team aren't doing well and if the bottom teams cannot keep enough rookies active they can't really take advantage of the raised cap in coming seasons. Also as more teams get added to the league each team has only so many draft picks (or waiver turns) to pick new players to replace someone who has gone IA. In the end roughly 40% of S75 players who are on SMJHL rosters are currently under 350 cap and about 25% of rostered S74s are still below 425.

Counterpoint

If winning helps keep people active, does losing hurt that? Increasing the cap increases the disparity between stacked teams and developing teams and shouldn't be something we're actively looking to facilitate in the J.

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#7

02-28-2024, 10:13 AMsve7en Wrote: Counterpoint

If winning helps keep people active, does losing hurt that? Increasing the cap increases the disparity between stacked teams and developing teams and shouldn't be something we're actively looking to facilitate in the J.

That is kinda the point I tried to make

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#8

02-28-2024, 10:15 AMpuolivalmiste Wrote: That is kinda the point I tried to make

I'm illiterate, my bad

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#9

02-28-2024, 10:22 AMsve7en Wrote: I'm illiterate, my bad
No worries, my message could definitely have been more clearly on the point. Like the last sentense is not really building up the statement about amount of players who would be further from the cap if they increased, which would make them (and their teams) worse when compared to max earners.

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#10

Last time I talked about this Downer threatened to kill me

Also will read more on this later

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#11

02-28-2024, 10:03 AMTheOPSquid Wrote: I like this 

@Jexter should convince HO to do this next

I would but LHL might regress even more statistically with even more tpe

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#12

Cake for pres

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#13

Wow a DD that spurred conversation! Approved @cake307 @CptSquall

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