Prospect Ramblings – Rookies on the Road

Hayden Soboleski

2016-12-11

How rookies perform away from home in this Sunday Ramblings…

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We all know that playing on home ice is a different beast than when you're on the road. The fans are cheering against you, you slept in a hotel rather than your own bed, and most importanty – your coach can't match your ice time as effectively against the other team's line-up. Without the benefit of the last change, players who normally see regular minutes get bumped down knowing the team can't afford a bad match-up, while players with more of a defensive accumen often see an increase in responsibilities. So when we see rookie players lighting it up all around the NHL, I'm curious to see who is doing it only at home – when their coach is handing them sheltered time, and who is doing it on the road, when the opponent has every opportunity to shut them down.

 

Home points-per-game:

Player Pts/GP
 Mitch Marner (TOR)  1.17
 Patrick Laine (WPG)  1.13
 Zach Werenski (CLB)  0.93
 Pavel Buchnevich (NYR)  0.83
 Matthew Tkachuk (CGY)  0.82
 Kevin Fiala (NSH)  0.71
 Anthony DeAngelo (ARI)  0.71
Brady Skjei (NYR)  0.67

 

Most is list is names you've been hearing alot over the last few months. Marner, Laine, and Werenski are the current Calder frontrunners, and we can see why. Over a point-per-game is outstanding for any player, not just rookies, and Werenski getting close to that as a defenceman is especially impressive. But, like I've said above, this is the situation in which it's easiest for a coach to give a player the minutes in which he can succeed. Two obvious rookies missing form the list above – Auston Matthews and William Nylander, who have 0.42 and 0.36 points-per-game at home, respectively. This is by no means a slouch, but I think we all expect more given the dominance they have teased us with.

 

Road points-per-game

Player Pts/GP
 Auston Matthews (TOR)  1.07
 Willan Nylander (TOR)  1.00
 Pavel Buchnevich (NYR)  0.75
 Joel Eriksson Ek (MIN)  0.71
 Travis Konecny (PHI)  0.67
 Anthony Mantha (DET)  0.57
 Jimmy Vesey (NYR)  0.54
Patrick Laine (WPG)  0.50

 

Those names that were disappointing at home – well here they are at the top of the "away" list. I'll admit, this doesnt make much sense. One possibility – that these players are actually made to play harder minutes at home, as a way to give them good NHL experience when possible, even though the other team would prefer to use their top players against the Kadri or Marner lines that generate more points. So, once the Leafs hit the road, the other team is free to target Marner and co., giving Matthews and Nylander a better chance to show off. This is purely speculation on my part, if anyone wants to dive into Quality of Competition (QoC) data to prove me right or wrong I'd be thrilled. 

 

One important observation fro the above chart – no defencemen. There were three defencemen in the "home" list but none here, making it safe to say that the rookie defenders are especially subject to matchups affecting their output. This is a pretty important finding in terms of setting my fantasy lineup.

 

One last note on this – I'm very encourged to see Rangers youngsters Vesey and Buchnevich on both lists. It's rare for a rookie to become a relied-upon and successful player in all situations, so