Wasted Youth

Something that’s bothered me for a while is the lack of real skill and talent in the NHL. Ideally, the league would have fewer teams, create more competition for spots and ice lineups that are better loaded with skill and goal-scoring ability.

The way it works in the NHL today is that you’ll have a small group of true contenders, teams with talent that can score and have an entertaining product. Then there’s a big group of average teams, with decent rosters but plenty of holes preventing them from becoming legitimate contenders. And then you have the junk teams that appear to be contending for a playoff spot, but really aren’t when you factor in the three-point/loser point system.

The issue for thes bad teams is typically poor roster construction around their skilled players and the lack of depth, especially on defence. Think of the Oilers, Avalanche and Coyotes and some of the terrible decisions they’re management teams have made. What’s especially bothersome is when talented, elite players have to spend the prime of their professional careers with these loser organizations.

A prime example that comes to mind, for obvious reasons, is 26 year old Taylor Hall. After being drafted in 2010 by the Oilers, the winger played six full seasons as the team’s top line winger, before being moved to New Jersey. Here’s how his team’s have done with and without him at even-strength.

Hall EO

Hall NJ

Brutal.

In Edmonton, he was an offensive driver, as the team was just able to outscore opponents when he was on the ice. Without him, a goal-share of 40%. It appears that the same thing is happening now in New Jersey as Hall continues to be the offensive driver, but he’s again surrounded by a terrible roster that is garbage without him. He is being paid for his work, but it’s got to be frustrating losing this often.

Side note: Hall is signed with the Devils for three more seasons at $6M per season, and is a UFA at age 28. The others signed to long term deals in New Jersey: Zajac (31), Palmieri, and Andy Greene (34) and Cory Schneider (30). (Cap Friendly)

It’s seeing numbers like in the graphs above that makes me question why players, whose skill and talent is what draws people to the game, don’t have more control over their futures. Hall did sign an extension with the Oilers, but he and every other player entering the league are under team control most often for the duration of their prime years (up to age 27). And it really makes me wonder if NHL owners have enough incentives to actually build a winning team.

Data: Corsica Hockey

 

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