What Mikko Koivu is really worth 

July, 20, 2010
07/20/10
3:18
PM ET

Today's winners in Stats & Analytics:

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils, Relative Corsi

Today's losers:

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, intangibles

"To define Mikko by his statistics is to miss the point of what he's all about," Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Thursday night after inking center Mikko Koivu to the biggest deal in Wild history, a seven-year, $47.25 million contract extension.

If that were true -- that statistics can't capture Koivu's worth -- the right response would be: Dude, get some new statistics! But it's not true. We can estimate Koivu's value to his team on the ice. We can guesstimate his worth in dollars. We can even calculate how much Minnesota is willing to pay for his leadership and loyalty. In fact, the gap between what leading metricians have been able to figure out about player value and what has seeped into mainstream coverage and front offices may be bigger in hockey than in any sport.

To demonstrate this gulf, let's look at the two biggest deals of the summer.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

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