PPM Line Strategy: 4-Step Player Skill Method

Over the last 2 and a half seasons i’ve seen a lot of people ask about how they should train their players and/or find the best place for them on their team. While there are a number of theories about how to best setup your team, there are none that are 100% full-proof and accurate. I’ve had a lot of players come and go through my team over the last year and have tried and tested a few different methods to try and come up with a proven system. What I discovered is that there is 1 system that not only is highly accurate, but is also blatently obvious and right in front of us. I’ve named this the “4-Step Player Skill Method”.

The Process

The method is really quite simple. It looks at 4 key plarts of your players skills and narrows them down to find the best position / place to play them, and how to train them. You will find if you use a spreadsheet such as google spreadsheets or excel this system is much easier to follow.

Disclaimer: I want to point out that my preferred training method is the 4-3-2 (or 100%-75%-50%) method where your secondary attributes are 75% and 50% of your primary attribute. If you train a different style, please take this into account when reading below.

The 3 steps to this method focus on the following:

  1. Player Attribute Balance
  2. Attribute Quality
  3. Preferred Side
  4. Experience & Chemistry

I will explain each a little in detail below.

1. Player Attribute Balance

This is the first, and possibly the most important step as it will determine which position on the ice your player needs to play (C, W, D or G). What you need to do is take a look at your players 3 key attributes and write them down on paper or use a spreadsheet. The attribute theory i use is based on the lowest common demoninator, meaning that your primary attribute true value is determined by your secondary attributes face value.

ie. A player with:
Offense: 63
Pass: 41
Tec: 32

will actually be seen as

Offense: 54
Pass: 40.5 (75% of 54 primary attribute)
Tec: 27 (50% of 54 primary attribute)

Why? Because with a primary attribute of 63, his 2 secondary attributes at the 75%/50% ratio would be 47.25% & 31.5%. While the Tec attribute is high enough at 32, his passing at 41 is too low, so therefore would lower the total value of the Primary to suit. This is an unproven theory, but one that is becoming widely used and appears to work very well. That said, you don’t yet know what your players ideal position would be. So, we need to run the numbers for the 2 forward positions, Center and Wing. We know his offense is 63, so i’ve ruled out him being a Dman already.

Write down the attributes for both Center and Wing positions, then run the conversions to find their real values based on the theory used above.

In this players case:


REAL VALUES: Offense: 63, Pass: 41, Tec: 32 CONVERTED VALUES: Offense: 54, Pass: 40.5, Tec: 27


REAL VALUES: Offense: 63, Tec: 32, Aggression: 19 CONVERTED VALUES: Offense: 38, Tec: 28.5, Aggression: 19

Look at the resulting values side-by-side and you can clearly see this player is much better suited for the center position.

You may find some players are ideal to play both center and wing, which is fantastic as there may be times you will need to move their positions around such as the Powerplay and/or Penalty Kill lines.

Repeat this process for ALL your players, incl. defensemen and goalies. The resulting data will play a key role in determining where your players spend their time on your team.

2. Attribute Quality

This step is purely optional, but as you progress in the game, more and more important. The attribute quality will determine how good that attribute is and have a direct affect on how quickly your player trains that attribute. If in doubt, ignore this right now and focus on steps 1, 3 and 4.

3. Preferred Side

While all players do have a preferred side, this really only affects wings and defenders. Centers are lucky to not rely on this so heavily. I have found that if you play a winger on his “off-side” he seems to have about a 25% decrease in potential quality on the ice. As such, ALWAYS play your guys on their preferred side. If you must play someone on their off-side, do it with caution. My player mentioned above prefers the Left side, but as he’s a center, it’s not such an issue. If i had to play him on the wing however, he would only ever play on the left.

4. Experience and Chemistry

So far we’ve determined which position your players should be in and what side they should play on if wings or defenders. Now, we need to figure out what line they should be on. To best do this, refer to their experience and chemistry figures. Chemistry simply refers to how well they play with the others on their line. Experience goes without saying, and is how long they’ve been playing for. The game suggests that a well experienced player with great chemistry will always play incredibly well.

So, naturally, you want to now list all your players experience and chemisty on that piece of paper / spreadsheet alongside their name, attribute balance and preferred side.

Fill Out Your Lines

Now, here comes the process of pulling that list apart and building your lines. I suggest you now split your list up into the defines positions:

  • Centers
  • Left Wings
  • Right Wings
  • Left Defenders
  • Right Defenders
  • Goalies

By breaking down your list you can see which players are the best to be played on your best lines. Your top lines wants to have your best attributed players who ALSO have high experience and chemistry. This part may take some time to work out, as there will be times when you have to choose between attributes and experience. In my opinion, always side with experience. On my team I have a winger who has attributes MUCH higher than any other player on my team, but plays the 2nd and 3rd lines due to low experience.

Based on the data you now have, you should be able to fill out at least 3 lines of players who have good attributes, are well positions and who have the right experience. Play with your lines and see how they work out. You may find your seemingly “worse” players do better than some of your so called super-stars. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Most importantly, have fun!

Tomorrows Article… Training your players based on the afformentioned attribute balance system

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