Breaking News Adrian Peterson must stay away from Vikings until legal issues are resolved ×

June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Mikhail Grigorenko poses for a photo after being selected as the number twelve overall draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

When Is The Right Time To Give Up On A Forward Prospect?

Last week at the Prime Time Sports Management Conference, Kevin Cheveldayoff (General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets) was quoted as saying  “a gentleman who helped me get in the business once told me you draft players, you don’t adopt them. You have to understand if they don’t turn out, move on.”  Yet so many teams do not live by this philosophy.  It is understandable because they invest so much time and money on their high draft picks that they don’t want to let go too easy.  Many in management are also scared to admit they made a mistake in fear of their job.

Tyler Dellow at mc79hockey.com, wrote an interesting piece earlier this week looking at the development of defensive defensemen in the NHL.  In a nutshell he found that most regular NHL defensemen get to that point by the time they are 23 and show signs of doing so much earlier.  This somewhat contradicts the popular belief that you have to give young defensemen plenty of extra time to develop.

Cheveldayoff’s quote and Dellow’s article got me thinking about forward prospects and when teams should give up hope on those which they think will be point producers at the NHL level.  Since I also cover the Maple Leafs for Editor In Leaf, there are two prime examples of first round picks that have yet to find their place in the NHL.  Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne are both only 22 years old, but has the ship already sailed on their chances of becoming scoring forwards in the NHL?

In the 2011-12 NHL season there were 95 forwards that had at least 50 points.  That is approximately three players per team.  Fifty points by most accounts is not a lot, but considering how few forwards produce to that level each year it should temper most people’s expectations on prospects.

Looking at each of those 95 players from the 2011-12 season, 83 of them were regulars in the NHL by time they were 22 and 53 of the players had reached the 50 point plateau by that time.

All Players > 49 Points

Age

Full Time NHL Player

First Time To 50 Points

18

22

6

19

15

8

20

18

14

21

12

10

22

16

15

23

4

8

24

5

11

25

1

8

26

1

7

27

1

6

28

0

0

29

0

1

Average

20.4

22.5

Considering that many European and NCAA prospects typically don’t join their NHL clubs until at least a season or two after being drafted, I filtered the list to only include players that were drafted from the CHL.  Of those 53 players, 48 of them were regulars in the NHL by age 22 and 33 of them had eclipsed the 49 point mark in a season by that time.

CHL Drafted Players > 49 Points

Age

Full Time NHL Player

First Time To 50 Points

18

18

4

19

8

5

20

10

8

21

7

8

22

5

8

23

2

6

24

2

1

25

0

5

26

0

4

27

1

2

28

0

0

29

0

1

Average

19.9

22.2

I wanted to get a feel for first round picks since these are the players that teams tend to hang on to, hoping that they will one day fulfill the potential that they saw in them on draft day.  Looking at all the first round picks on this list, all 51 players were full time NHL contributors by time they were 22 and 40 of them had scored at least 50 points by that time.

First Round Picks > 49 Points

Age

Full Time NHL Player

First Time To 50 Points

18

20

6

19

13

8

20

12

10

21

4

7

22

2

9

23

0

3

24

0

4

25

0

2

26

0

2

27

0

0

28

0

0

29

0

0

Average

19.1

21.0

Clearly there are players like Martin St. Louis and Alex Burrows that break out offensively later in their career, but for the most part if a forward is not at least a regular contributor at the NHL level by the time they are 22, they probably will not fulfill the scoring promise that was expected of them.


Follow Tony on Twitter: 
@TheDailyBites

 

 

Tags: Prospects Statistical Analysis

comments powered by Disqus