Before Moneyball (the book, not the movie), there was Bill James.
For those of you who may not know, James is the grandfather of Sabermetrics and is currently a senior advisor on baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.
He began writing The Bill James Baseball Abstract in 1977 which was "the first of its kind to scientifically analyze and study baseball, often through the use of statistical data, in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose."
Luckily, Hockey Prospectus is there to carry the torch into the Moneypuck era.
Since I got their inaugural copy last year I have been waiting for Hockey Prospectus to make their 2011-12 annual available. Finally, I got to read it last week.
For those not familiar, the book is, for the most part, an in-depth analysis of each NHL team. It certainly has a math element to it, so those who love stats will enjoy it. But make no mistake: this is for anyone interested increasing their knowledge of hockey, sounding smarter on Twitter or just as a guideline for expectations for the 2011-12 season.
There are also projections for every player, which I used to draft in my fantasy leagues.
And lastly, there are some great essays, including revisiting Corsi (a simple puck possession metric which is gaining ground as THE way to identify hockey talent), Timo Seppa's Ultimate Faceoff Percentage and how age affects a player's development.
It's money well spent. Just think, you'll be able to tell people "before Moneypuck, there was Hockey Prospectus."