Perhaps one way to use this new metric is to provide another factor for the Hart Trophy debate; after all, if you're focusing on the top players in the league in order to figure out who should be the MVP, you might start with the current scoring leaders:
Convincing arguments could go in any number of directions from here. Lecavalier is our leading scorer, but Sid's close behind and the reigning MVP. Kovalchuk is leading a resurgent post-Hartley Thrashers team, and Zetterberg is a dynamic two-way star on the best team in the Western Conference. But let's bring Penalty Plus/Minus into the mix...
Now we start to see some separation; Crosby and Zetterberg aren't just lighting the lamp themselves, but they're also putting their respective teams in better position to succeed by drawing penalties and generating power plays. Lecavalier and Kovalchuk aren't doing so to anywhere near the same degree. While some may scoff and say that creating 15 extra power plays may only result in 3 or 4 extra goals for a given team, one has to remember the defensive component as well; not only does the team on the PP stand a decent chance at scoring a goal, but they also enjoy the benefit of their opponent striving merely to clear the zone and rag time off the clock.
Penalty to Vincent Lecavalier, 2 Minutes for Holding...
As we head into the later stages of the season, it will be interesting to see how this leaderboard changes over time. Since this is a new metric, there's nothing to say that current trends will hold true throughout the rest of the year. Opposing defenses could start hauling down Lecavalier to prevent his scoring chances, or Crosby could get frustrated with Pittsburgh's on-ice disappointments and take more penalties himself.
And for the curious, Sean Avery currently stands at 11 penalties drawn against 8 committed, for a +3 figure. As the poster child for the question of whether agitators commit or draw more penalties, his numbers will be followed closely.