Inside the life of an NHL analytics expert

Devils GM Ray Shero solicited his analytics department for intel on Taylor Hall prior to acquiring the star winger. David Hahn/Icon Sportswire

When the request for an analytics breakdown on Taylor Hall came in, Sai Okabayashi didn’t think too much about it, mostly because he didn’t really think the New Jersey Devils had a shot at acquiring him.

Okabayashi was part of the New Jersey analytics team led by director Sunny Mehta, and those requests from GM Ray Shero would sometimes come via a text message, paired up with queries about two or three other players. Often, nothing came of them.

So when he saw a request for the usual analytics package on Hall, he wasn’t necessarily thinking a monster trade was coming.

“It’s like, ‘Okay, I’ll give you information about Hall, but why bother?’ The guy is 99th percentile of every possible category,” Okabayashi said when we chatted on Monday.

He estimates that the first time he was asked for the analytical breakdown for Hall, it came about a week or so before the trade for Adam Larsson happened.