Saturday, January 12, 2008

Carrying The Mail

A brief look at the old guys in the NHL. I have cut and pasted Desjardin's 5v5 data into Excel, then scraped the player ages from the NHLPA site, and simply queried one against the other*. Very simple stuff here.

Even-strength ice time per game, by age:





Quality of opposition by age, using Desjardin's QUALCOMP and a variant of his TOICOMP numbers. These two metrics are completely independent of each other.





* Some player's names are listed differently on the NHLPA site than they are at Desjardin's site (e.g. - Zach Stortini vs Zachery Stortini). The NHLPA also lists players who are still officially under contract but have yet to play a game this season due to injury or other reasons (e.g. - Sullivan, Zhamnov, Rathje). So because I did not manually correct any player names, 36 players from the NHLPA's list of 680 skaters did not find matches in Desjardin's list, and were omitted from these charts. The data has been smoothed out here (+/- 1 year) in an effort to numb the effect of strong and weak draft classes.

13 Comments:

Blogger Hawerchuk said...

Yeah, my player name database comes from NHL.com, which seems to differ from NHLPA.com. Neat stuff.

1/12/2008 7:46 pm  
Blogger dstaples said...

Good stuff, in that it shows if an older player 33-36 is on your team, he will be counted on and given a lot of ice time. This upward trend starts at age 30, which is somewhat odd in that it's the same age as the majority of players are done in the NHL, if I'm not mistaken.

I wonder, how big is the sample group for each age, as in, how many players at 20, 21, 22, etc. all the way up to 40. There's not many left by age 40, as we all know.

1/12/2008 9:02 pm  
Blogger mike w said...

Nice!

Suddenly I don't feel all that old.

I wonder how much age-graded TOI is skewed by veteran defencemen.

1/12/2008 11:18 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

dstaples said...
This upward trend starts at age 30, which is somewhat odd in that it's the same age as the majority of players are done in the NHL, if I'm not mistaken.


If you've been an Oiler fan for the past 18 yrs, you have to believe that all NHL players magically suck after the age of 30. If you don't do that you'll be compelled to end your days with a a Leaving Las Vegas-style bender.

30 seems too early to me, especially these days with all of the over-30 elite players that are still out there. Surely 33 is the new 30 for NHLers, right?

Good point about the sample sizes though - the over-35 bracket is going to be much smaller than the 25-30 bracket.

1/12/2008 11:40 pm  
Blogger dstaples said...

I'd love to know a few things about the average age of NHL players, as I'm not at all convinced that 33 is the new 30 (though this chart was news to me -- I thought younger guys would get more ice time) . . .

Questions . . .

What is the average age when NHL players have their peak scoring season?

Is the average age of NHL players changing?

Is the average age of Stanley Cup-winning teams going up or down, and how does it differ from the league average age in a given season?

Perhaps someone has already answered these questions. I sure don't to pull out my calculator and do the work:).

I think you're right, Mike, that the playing time for the older guys is skewed because defenders often do seem to figure out how to play the game only by the time they are in their late 20s. Is there a chart that breaks this ice-time issue down by position?

1/13/2008 12:15 am  
Blogger Doogie said...

The NHL also has at least two players' names spelled wrong outright -- Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn (not Kastitsyn).

I wonder how much of that peak is also due to the wheat being separated from the chaff by that point, due to UFA status, injuries, or other factors.

1/13/2008 9:40 am  
Blogger Hawerchuk said...

NHL players have historically reached their peak scoring at in the Age 23-25 range. I think that's true whether you're talking post-war or post-1968.

But you always see a big survivor effect as guys get older and the vast majority of players get hurt, retire or drop out of the NHL. It's the same way with pitchers in baseball - run an analysis like this, and you will often see a peak in performance at some ridiculously old age (38? 40? 42?). But it's skewed by a few superstars who continue to put up huge numbers long after the average guys their age move over to the broadcast booth.

1/13/2008 1:17 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...

Excellent as always Vic. Part of this is simply logic but the strength of this post is that it moves the line from where I (we) thought it might be down the road apiece.

My first thought is that the 33+ year olds are all those really good hockey players who've been impact sorts and any career bell curve shows the outstanding ones have sustain at their peak and their coda's are long and graceful.

Those graps are just Joe Sakic all down the line. Times whatever.

Also, I wonder at what point the really good ones start carrying the mail. By that I mean surely Sidney Crosby is going to improve the BA of the 24-year olds once he gets there and this would hold true right through his 40th birthday when he retires as an Oiler.

One final thing: if Vic did this study in 1983 would the number have been different? I think it would have.

1/13/2008 5:43 pm  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

My first thought is that the 33+ year olds are all those really good hockey players who've been impact sorts and any career bell curve shows the outstanding ones have sustain at their peak and their coda's are long and graceful.

Me too. And also that by the time players get into their thirties, most of the useless ones have been weeded out of the pack.

It's not uncommon for guys like say Jamie Lundmark or Krys Kolanos to get 2nd, to 8th chances to stick throughout their mid twenties.

1/13/2008 5:56 pm  
Blogger Jeff J said...

"I wonder how much age-graded TOI is skewed by veteran defencemen."

Me too. In fact, this looks like a great way to either debunk or prove the conventional wisdom that the development curve for defencemen is delayed compared to forwards. I always thought it was true, but BoA's Matt put up a good post this season (which I can't find now) that said otherwise.

1/14/2008 10:19 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

LT, it would have to be. So many guys were done by their early 30's that there couldn't have been a big group at that age that were still carrying mail.

Vic, great stuff again, bud.

1/14/2008 12:50 pm  
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1/19/2008 1:17 pm  
Blogger DD said...

The NHL didn't really get Kostitsyn's name wrong. Prior to the 2003 draft, I saw it spelled both ways. From what I recall, one spelling is a translation from Cyrillic of the Russian pronunciation and one is a translation of the Belarusian pronunciation.

1/28/2008 1:02 pm  

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