Plus–minus (sports)

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A table of NHL season stats for a player, including +/- values

Plus−minus (+/−, ±, plus/minus) is a sports statistic used to measure a player's impact, represented by the difference between their team's total scoring versus their opponent's when the player is in the game.

Ice hockey[edit]

In ice hockey, the plus–minus measures a player's goal differential. When a team that is at even-strength or shorthanded scores a goal, all players on the ice on the scoring team will register a plus while all players on the conceding team on the ice will register a minus. When a goal is scored by a team on the power play, no plus or minus points are awarded to either team. Empty net situations are treated the same as even-strength unless the team that scores is on the power play.[1] Penalty shot goals are excluded.

A player's plus−minus statistic is calculated for each game played. The statistic is directly affected by overall team performance, influenced by both the offensive and defensive performance of the team as a whole. However, there is controversy in the effectiveness of the plus−minus statistic's ability to accurately convey a players individual performance.


The plus/minus statistic was first used in the 1950s by the Montreal Canadiens, an NHL team, for evaluating its own players. By the 1960s, other teams were also using this system. During the 1967-68 season, the NHL officially started using the plus/minus statistic.[2]

Situational plus–minus[edit]

There are some drawbacks to the traditional calculation of the plus–minus statistic in ice hockey. Not all types of goals are included, specifically power play goals. Every goal included in the calculation is weighted the same regardless of the situation - even strength, power play, short-handed or empty net. Also, traditional plus–minus is not applied to goaltenders.

Situational plus–minus (Sit +/−) is an alternative calculation that takes into account all types of "team-based" goals, which excludes only penalty shot and shootout goals. Each goal is weighted based on the number of skaters (i.e. not goaltenders) on the ice. The plus–minus rating is calculated by dividing the number of skaters on the ice for the team scored upon by the number of skaters on the ice for the scoring team, applied as a plus to all players (including goaltenders) on the ice for the scoring team and as a minus for all players (including goaltenders) on the ice for the team scored upon.[3]

Best situational plus–minus[4]   Worst situational plus–minus[4]
Season Pos Player Team NHL
Pos Player Team NHL
2008–09 D Mike Green Washington Capitals +24 +70.76 D Brendan Witt New York Islanders −34 −56.22
2009–10 LW Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals +45 +87.71 C Nate Thompson New York Islanders,

Tampa Bay Lightning

−17 −46.00
2010–11 LW Daniel Sedin Vancouver Canucks +30 +73.63 D Chris Phillips Ottawa Senators −35 −52.77
2011–12 G Marc-Andre Fleury Pittsburgh Penguins N/A +59.61 D Milan Jurcina New York Islanders −34 −45.67
2012–13[a] LW Chris Kunitz Pittsburgh Penguins +30 +52.55 D Erik Gudbranson Florida Panthers −22 −28.20
2013–14 LW Chris Kunitz Pittsburgh Penguins +25 +62.04 C Steve Ott Buffalo Sabres,

St. Louis Blues

−38 −48.09
2014–15 RW Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning +38 +54.85 G Mike Smith Arizona Coyotes N/A −76.31
2015–16 LW Alex Ovechkin Washington Capitals +21 +60.65 C Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks −30 −38.15
2016–17 G Braden Holtby Washington Capitals N/A +63.28 D Fedor Tyutin Colorado Avalanche −25 −45.07
2017–18 G Connor Hellebuyck Winnipeg Jets N/A +67.44 C Johan Larsson Buffalo Sabres −30 −46.50
2018–19 C Brayden Point Tampa Bay Lightning +27 +72.77 D Adam Larsson Edmonton Oilers −28 −46.52
2019–20[b] LW Artemi Panarin New York Rangers +36 +64.04 D Filip Hronek Detroit Red Wings −38 −53.69
2020–21[c] G Philipp Grubauer Colorado Avalanche N/A +64.13 D David Savard Columbus Blue Jackets
Tampa Bay Lightning
−27 −37.82
2021–22 LW Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames +64 +94.80 G Karel Vejmelka Arizona Coyotes N/A −57.20
2022−23 C Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers +22 +83.35 G John Gibson Anaheim Ducks N/A −79.24
  1. ^ The 2012–13 season was shortened to 48 games due to the lockout.
  2. ^ The 2019–20 season was shortened to 68–71 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. ^ The 2020–21 season was shortened to 56 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The NHL introduced the Plus-Minus Award in the 1982-83 season, awarded to the top plus player for that season that played in at least 60 games. The award was named the Emery Edge Award and was won in the inaugural season by Charlie Huddy of the Edmonton Oilers.

The award was last given for the 2007-08 season. At this point the award was named Bud Light Plus-Minus Award and was won by Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings.[5]


Although the statistic was pioneered in the sport of hockey, it has found its way into use in other sports and areas of life. In basketball, the NBA's Houston Rockets first utilized a modified version of the stat, which indicated that Shane Battier, who had a plus–minus score of plus 10, was a much more effective player than had been previously believed.[6]

Association football[edit]

A plus−minus statistic has been used in sports economics to analyze the degree of competitive balance over time in association football.[7]


  1. ^ Jones, Wayne (January 12, 2020). "What does plus minus (+/-) mean in hockey? (with stats)". Hockey Answered. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  2. ^ "What Is the Plus/Minus Statistic in Hockey and How Is It Calculated?". LiveAbout. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  3. ^ "Learn More". Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "PlusMinusLine | National Hockey League Situational Plus/Minus". Retrieved July 29, 2023.
  5. ^ Randle, Justin (August 17, 2022). "What is the Plus/Minus stat in Hockey? (with Examples)". Busy Playing Hockey!. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  6. ^ Lewis, Michael (February 13, 2009). "The No-Stats All-Star". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Sittl, Roman; Warnke, Arne Jonas (2016). "Competitive balance and assortative matching: Data from the German Bundesliga".