22 November 2013

Charting the Sens' progression of age vs. games played

A while back, I was musing about the Sens' inexperience and odd age disparity on Twitter when it was pointed out to me that number of games played is a more relevant indicator of experience. So, as a follow-up to the last post, I took a look at the progression of NHL games played versus age among the current active Senators players, excluding goalies.

Some quick notes about the data collection process: I did not include this season (2013-2014); I omitted any player with only one full season of NHL games (i.e. Derek Grant, Cory Conacher and Eric Gryba); I calculated each age by subtracting the year of their birth from the second year of the season (e.g. for the '11-'12 season, the math would be 2012 - 1984 for Milan Michalek); and I didn't include Matt Kassian, because he's not important (except for team morale and Twitter advice). Essentially, the more to the left the player's line is, the more games he played at a younger age. The gaps in certain players' lines represent the 2005 lockout.

A few observations:

  • Turris is on a path to becoming a Spezza-esque player in terms of games played, if not in terms of talent. He could be the next franchise player... ignoring the fact that the Coyotes drafted him, of course.
  • When Corvo was signed, he was touted as a veteran who would bring experience and smart plays to the team. From the second graph, it's pretty evident that he hasn't played nearly so much as one would expect from a veteran defender. Methot's on track to surpass him in games played.
  • It's interesting how the majority of the players began their NHL careers in very-early-20s (and Turris, Zibanejad and Cowen at the age of 19). Only Greening and Condra among the forwards graduated the AHL later than 22 years of age (Greening's line is directly on top of Condra's), and Greening is struggling mightily while Condra has clung on to a niche role. You'd have to look at this with a much larger sample size, but it seems to imply that the best NHLers start playing in the big league sooner rather than later.
If that last thought is proven somewhat reliably true, then looking at age would be a relatively solid indicator of experience; lesser players would be weeded out, leaving behind only the good players who began playing games at a younger age. What this means for the Senators is that, with the league's 6th-youngest team this season, inexperience is most likely a factor. And the question is: does Bryan Murray have any moves to improve this team without making it younger?


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