Frozen Tools Forensics: Scoring Wars – Young Guns and the Old Guard
This week on Frozen Tool Forensics we are going to take a look at 2019-20's scoring by age. We will use the Big Board report on Frozen Tools to breakdown which age categories are highly represented in our current leading scorers, what the rankings look like at various age groups, and which NHL teams have high numbers of young or old scorers
Just as a quick recap: If we run our Big Board Report (and export the data so we can filter and rearrange the columns), the top five scorers are as follows:
One thing that stands out for the purposes of this article is that four of the top five scorers are age 24 or below. If we extend the rankings to the top 20, our age breakdown looks like this.
It is pretty keeping with tradition that our largest scoring group is the 23-29 group (it is slightly larger that the 18-22 group too, so that helps). We expect that most players reach their peak somewhere in that range and start to decline into their 30s. We can also compare the 2019-20 season with 2018-19.
Again, we see a very similar trend in the top 20 scorers. Interestingly, even though the trend looks almost exactly the same between the years we actually turned over 50% of the skaters between the years. That means only 10 of the 20 players made the top 20 in scoring in both seasons.
If we turn our attention to the Old Guard first (aged 30+) our top ten looks a lot like you might expect, with a few notable exceptions.
Brad Marchand and Patrick Kane lead the way, with Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, and Alex Ovechkin featured prominently. John Carlson is the only defenseman, marking the end of the era where Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns would normally have made this list. Also absent is Sidney Crosby, whose pace would certainly have landed him on this list, but he just missed too many games in our shortened sample. Also notable absences include guys like Phil Kessel, Jamie Benn, Nicklas Backstrom, Claude Giroux, and Patrice Bergeron who all would have likely graced this list in recent seasons. Besides Carlson, Jonathan Toews and Max Pacioretty are the surprises here. Both have been consistently good in their career, but usually would not out-point some of the players listed above who dropped off this season. A rebirth in Vegas has done wonders for Pacioretty, and Toews seems to have found another gear.
And now on to our prime players.
The only surprises here are the guys who did not make the list. John Tavares, Johnny Gaudreau, Taylor Hall, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tyler Seguin, and Aleksander Barkov are not featured. Mika Zibanejad and Kyle Connor are newcomers, but are certainly deserving after the seasons they put up.
And finally, the real young guns.
Obviously, the overall ranks fall off fairly quickly here, but there is still some extreme talent on this list. Interestingly, this list features two defensemen (rookies at that). I expect that much of this list will be filling out our top scorers list in a few years. Toronto also currently owns the top two young guns, which bodes well for them.
Finally let's take a look at how these scorers are distributed across the league. Starting with the top 50 scorers in the NHL we can see how they are sorted across teams below.
|Team||Top 50 Scorers||Av Age|
This table shows the number of players in the top 50 each team has and the average age of those players. Obviously the scale of scoring prowess matters when taking into account value here (Leon Draisaitl's 127-point pace is a bit better than Patrice Bergeron's 50th-ranked 67-point pace), but this does give us a summary.
A couple of take-aways here. Carolina, Toronto, and Edmonton all have several scorers in the top 50, and they are young. Carolina in particular, with three players and an average age of less than 23 (Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen) seem like they are primed for the future. Edmonton is another obvious example with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, though Ryan Nugent-Hopkins brings up the age a bit. Winnipeg has the highest representation in the top 50, and an average age right in the prime, and yet they have not been able to translate it into success as a team.
On the flip side LA, Washington, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are the far side of the aging curve, with a couple of top 50 scorers, and average ages 30 and higher.
If we just look at the top 20 scorers the table looks like this.
|Team||Top 50 Scorers||Av Age|
No team has more than two in the top 20, and again Toronto, Edmonton, and Winnipeg seem to be leading the pack. Boston, Washington, and Pittsburgh (from our over-the-hill list above) are still well represented in this list, which bodes well for current performance, but again we see older players so the future is in question. LA is just in trouble all the way around. No one in the top 20, only one in the top 50 and that player (Anze Kopitar) is 32.
That is all for this week. Thanks for reading.
Stay safe out there.
Want more tool talk? Check out these recent Frozen Tool Forensics Posts.
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