Prospect Ramblings – Rookie TOI Evolution

Hayden Soboleski


image courtesy of LiveInTheStands



We’ve been waiting patiently, and the 2019-20 season finally starts this week. For dynasty and keeper drafters like us, this means we finally get to see our investments start to pay off if they’ve made the team. 


Obviously players develop as the season progresses, and become more useful as the season goes on. Maybe on the flip-side of that argument, rookie pros aren’t used to the grueling NHL schedule and decline in energy over the year. There are a thousand possible factors, and I’m not planning on digging into them now, but I do want to know…


Will my prospect’s TOI grow or shrink on average during the season?


This isn’t a simple question, because every situation is different. The top drafted players play a lot because they’re good, but also because their team’s have the fewest options to begin with. So I’m just going to dig into some basic numbers to see what kind of evolution the most fantasy-relevant rookies tend to see. 


All numbers are calculated manually from game log data


So what do we see?

  • Coaches seem to know what they have in a player by Game 20,
  • TOI levels out drastically around Game 40 for almost everyone,
  • Both Forwards and Defense are capable of seeing huge jumps from Game 1 if they are better than expected,
  • The obvious “top prospects” from Day 1 (Hischier, Patrick, McAvoy) are the most stable.


What does this mean for you?

  • Don’t give up on a prospect in the first week or two,
  • If you aren’t seeing the usage you expect after the midpoint of the season, or even the 1/4 mark, don’t hold your breath for more,
  • The top “obvious” guys (Dahlin, Svechnikov) are likely going to start where they end up. The coach already knows where they fit,
  • Keep an eye out for this year’s Gourde or Barzal, that start low but force their way into more TOI and fantasy relevance.


What’s missing?

It seems likely that the initial jump in TOI (Game 1 to Game 20) could be due to unexpected inclusion on PP units. If I did this again, I would also calculate jumps in Special Teams TOI. If you have thoughts or ideas on how to expand and improve, hit me up on Twitter!



Thanks for reading, and best of luck this fantasy season!

Hayden Soboleski











Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Owen Beck 8.0 9.5
Lane Hutson 10 10
Joshua Roy 7.5 9.0
Jacob Perreault 5.0 5.0
Filip Mesar 7.0 7.0
Jesse Ylönen 4.5 7.5
Alexander Gordin 2.0 1.0
Nate Schnarr 4.0 4.0
Jack Smith 1.0 1.0
Lias Andersson 7.0 7.0