Young Guns up Front

Without a doubt, the Edmonton Oilers are absolutely loaded up front with youth and talent this season. Hall, RNH, McDavid, Draisaitl and Yakupov are all 24 or under, giving this team plenty of hope for the future.

I thought it would be interesting to look at what proportion of the team’s total ice time (among forwards) the young players (24 and under) are getting this season  and compare it to the rest of the league. Below is a graph that has two bars for each team. The  blue bar is the proportion of total ice time at even-strength, and the red bar is the proportion of goals scored. The teams are ranked by ice time proportion (Source: War on Ice)

YouthDeploymentForwards

So at the top, we see that Florida, Buffalo and Edmonton lead the league in the proportion of ice time given to young players.  And all three teams are getting a decent share of goals from their young players, which is a good sign that the young guns getting ice time are earning their keep.

Moving down the list, you see some interesting stuff. Fourth on the list in terms of ice time for young forwards is Ottawa. But unfortunately, this specific group of forwards aren’t scoring goals (only 29% of their forward’s total).

Detroit on the other hand doesn’t give as much ice time to young forwards compared to other teams, but their young guns are producing (63.6% of the team’s total goals, ranking them 3rd in the league). That’s a pretty nice situation to be in.

I was surprised that Toronto, who is in a development year, is not giving a lot of ice time to young players, and subsequently, not getting much in terms of goal scoring. They have been wise in letting some of their top prospects (Marner, Nylander, Dermott) develop at the appropriate level. But you have to wonder when they’ll bring in additional pieces to add to their young cluster.

You can make a case for some of the other teams near the bottom, as they’re in that window where their once-prospects are all in their primes together and have a chance to win a cup (Montreal, Pittsburgh). But I think teams, regardless of their situation, should strive to have prospects developing with the team, in preparation for the future.

One other thing to note is how goals scored at even-strength are distributed by age this season.

GoalsbyAge

Here we see a the young prospects (22-24) doing well, with those prime players, around 27, contributing significantly. There’s a few different reasons for why the distribution if like this, so if you have any thoughts, let me know.

The one thing I take from this post is how exceptional the Oilers forward group can be in the very near future. They’re young, getting ice time and contributing on a nightly basis so far. Here’s hoping this current cluster of youth can stay together and avoid any significant injuries.

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