Inspired partly by my frustration of fellow Leafs' fans using "But we're the 2nd youngest team in the LEAGUE!" excuse and partly by James Mirtle's recent tweet on average NHL age, I decided to look into something I'd wanted to know for a while: How do average ages look when you weight the players' ages by their TOI?
My rationale behind this is simple: Just because a team has a number of young players on their roster, it doesn't mean that they're the ones primarily impacting the outcome of the game. There are teams that have the luxury of easing in their young players due to the depth of the rosters, and others that lean on their youth to be primary contributors. In my opinion, it's this distinction that leads to a better idea of how "young" a team is than a simple average.
I break the TOI-weighted ages by position: Avg Fwd, Avg Def, Avg Fwd + Def, Goaltending and Total Roster. The below tables are sorted ascending by Avg Fwd + Def, as this gives the best indication of the on-ice roster age independent of goaltending.
Goaltenders tend skew the age due to:
- Ice-time: ~60 mins per game compared to 10-25 mins for forwards/defense
- Older productivity: Goaltenders on average are able to be extremely productive much older than forwards and defense
Top 5 teams in each category in Green, Bottom 5 teams in Red. Without further adieu, teams TOI-weighted age and NHL rank:
|Team||Season||Avg Fwd||Avg Def||Avg F & D||Avg G||Total Avg|
- To my own surprise, weighting the players by TOI actually made Leafs the youngest roster when including goaltending - 3rd when looking at the Fwds and Def only.
- Edmonton - while having the majority of its high-end talent in it's youth, is 7th youngest in terms of Fwd & Def. Notice how the "Khabibulin effect" takes the actual total TOI-weighted ranking to 15th.
- Montreal has something of an opposite effect. Middle of the pack (15th) in terms of Fwd and Def, the pairing of Price / Budaj (heavily weighted by Price's TOI) brings them down to 9th youngest at a total roster level.
- Interesting point on NYI, BOS and PHI - all three teams rely heavily on youth at Fwd (4th, 6th, 5th) but lean on older players on defense (28th, 29th, 25th)
- The opposite is true for WSH, MIN, and to a lesser extent CBJ & NYR - where teams are ranked 23rd, 19th, 15th and 12th at Fwd but 6th, 5th, 4th and 1st on Defense
- It's hard to identify any strong correlation between player age (at any position) and regular season success - for every older strong team (DET, PHX) there's an equally successful young team (NYR, STL)
- Despite what people might like to say, LA is not that young - excluding the goaltending tandem of Quick/Bernier, LA falls middle of the pack at 13th, but jumps to 7th once you include them
All Age and TOI stats from Hockey-Reference.com