Anyone who reads my content regularly knows that I'm always interested in discussing the particular ice time and usage prospects see in the NHL. Some get into lots of games but in a role so limited they become fantasy irrellevant, whereas others truly jump into the important role they deserve, albeit only when injuries strike. A fun aspect to monitor is how consistent a rookie's ice time stays throughout the year as coaching staff identify the ideal useage for them and the team's outlook becomes more well-defined.
So, for a project over at MileHighHockey, I tracked Avalanche rookie TOI over the year and made a chart showing progress (or lack of). I've gone ahead and done the same with a bunch of high-profile 2018 Calder candidates to compare the great players that are often only tracked individually:
A few notes:
– I did all this data collection by hand, so it's rough. Do not take data points as exact values. I do my best.
– Since every teams schedule is different, I used "Game #" on the x-axis. Comparing this between teams can be misleading , so take position along the horizonal axis with a grain of salt.
So what do we see?
– Keller's big role on the coyotes is leading to consistent ice time. It's decreasing slightly on average, but don't underestimate the benefits of being a top center, even if its on a poor team.
– Speaking of which, I expected Hischier's numbers to be closer to Keller's.. He started lower, then pulled close to even since around Game 13. Keller still sees higher peaks, but Hischier's impact on the surprising Devils is clearly holding strong.
– With the way Barzal has been lighting up the league, I expected him to have a higher TOI. He has some peaks that I assume come in games where the Isles got lots of powerplays, but otherwise he's doing his damage with the same ice time as lots of others.
– Both Boeser and Connor have had reasonably steady ice times despite their huge offensive upsides. Boeser is lighting it up regardless – I was surprised by his few 20+ minutes games like Keller and Barzal see more often. With so many other go-to wingers, Connor's steadiness was actually a surprise, I assumed he'd have seen a few dips.
– Even with his play often coming alongside Toews at even-strength, DeBrincat just doesn't see the time the other big names do, so don't expect him to match them in points even though his talent is close.
– Charlie McAvoy is an absolute beast. With only a handful of games under 20 minutes, its hard not to think he'll be setting a new bar as a workhorse defenseman within a few years. He's dipping lately, hopefully this isn't him slowing down.
– Hagg has played a surprising amount of big-minute games, and doesn't fall below second-pairing numbers very often. I'm surprised we don't hear more hype about his role in Philly.
– Butcher and Sergachev have clearly settled into consistent roles on their clubs, which is excellent news considering their teams are finding success. I have huge faith in prospects who can find a safe home on a winning team – they are least likely to go anywhere.
– Girard got leaned on when he was shipped to Colorado, but saw his responsibility drop off dramatically since then. Disappointing given that he's the top prospect on the back end there, but understandable given the team is finding a bit of a groove and wants to win.
I hope you find some value and/or interest in the data above! I had a blast compiling it all, now to start working on next week's Ramblings…