Prospect Ramblings – Are rookies worthy PIM pickups?

Hayden Soboleski

2017-11-05

***

Despite being a number that actively hurts the team, PIM is a typical stat used in deep fantasy leagues too add some depth beyond goals and assists. Penalties can be part of a nasty skater's game, or a sign of poor play leading to regular obstruction calls. If the player is just mean, does his PIMs number stay the same as a sophomore and beyond? And if the penalties are due to poor abilities, does this number decrease as the player develops into a better NHLer? 

 

Here is a list of several rookies from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, along with their penalty minute totals since their rookie campaigns:

 Rookie  2015-16 PIMs  2015-16 PIMs  2016-17 PIMs
 Cedric Paquette  51  51  80
 Jonathan Drouin  34  4*  16
 Anders Lee  33  51  56
 John Klingberg  32  30  34
 Aaron Ekblad  32  41  58
 Evgeny Kuznetsov  24  32  46
 Filip Forsberg  24  47  32
 Kevin Hayes  22  30  18
 Alex Wennberg  22  2  21
 Max Domi    72  40*
 Joel Edmundson    63  60
 Darnell Nurse    60  33*
 Anthony Duclair    49  14
 Oscar Lindberg    43  32
 Sam Bennett    37  75
 Dylan Larkin    34  37
 Artemi Panarin    32  21
 Colton Parayko    29  32

* indicates an injury during the year. I intentionally included mainly players who played close to a full season in each year, to avoid confusion over PIM/game rates.

 

There are LOTS fo different types of players in the above table, so lest try to break players into groupings:

 

– Klingberg and Parayko are both top 4 offense-first d-men, so it makes sense that their PIM numbers stay fairly steady from year-to-year. They aren't being bred into shutdown guys yet. 

– Ekblad and Nurse I would categorize more as "all-around/shutdown top-4 d-men". In Ekblad's case, it makes sense that his PIMs climb over the years as he receives more and more of the workload that forces him to take penalties against tougher opponents. In Nurse's case, he started high, so maybe he didn't have room to grow this number (he was on pace for a similar sophomore mark before his injury). Maybe I'm giving Nurse too much credit, and he's more of a 2nd/3rd pair blocker/bruiser comparable to  Edmundson, who true to this role is maintaining steady time in the penalty box. This wouldn't surprise me. 

Domi, Lee, and Bennett are the "tough guys" on the list – the