Just How Rare Is Matt Read?

Christian Petersen

Hi. My name is Geoff and I am a Matt Read skeptic. Surely this isn't news to most of you - what aren't I skeptical about? - but sometimes, it's good to admit these things openly.

If you recall, when the Flyers signed Matt Read in March of last year, I was heavy on the skepticism. Signing a 24 year old undrafted college player is playing the odds already. Hoping they become a 15 goal scorer their rookie year is like wishing for a Golden Ticket, but only buying two Wonka bars; it is so unlikely it's difficult to calculate the chances.*

Yet here we are, 50 games into the season and Matt Read already has 16 goals in 47 games. This was highly unexpected to say the least, but just how unexpected is it?

*Yes, I know he got a third for his birthday.

Thanks to Hockey Reference's fantastic Play Index, we can find out rather easily.

Matt Read is a 25 year old rookie who has scored 0.34 goals per game over 47 games. Pretty easy to set criteria around that, just punch in (1) rookies (2) age 24 or older (3) with at least 45 games played and (4) 0.3 goals per game.

First, though, some background. Since 1917, there have been 1,582 players to debut at age 24 or older. Of those, only 861 players have scored a goal in that rookie season. That's already pretty uncommon, but just how rare is Matt Read:

  • Only 36 players since 1917 have done what Matt Read has done this season.
  • Of those 36, seven occurred in the Original Six era and six occurred in the first year after the NHL and WHA merged (with five of the six on former WHA teams).
  • There have only been three players to accomplish the feat since the lockout. The lockout of 1994. Sergei Berezin scored 25 goals in 73 games for the 1996-97 Maple Leafs on his way to a 7 year, 160 goal career.
  • Since the 2004 lockout, Matt Read joins Ryan Craig as the only players to score 0.3 goals as a 24 year old rookie.
  • Read is the second Flyer to do this, joining Bill Sutherland, who scored 20 goals in 60 games for the expansion Flyers. Sutherland was 33 and this was his career high in goals.
  • At least two other players** with connections to the Flyers accomplished the feat, as future Flyers Hall of Famer Mark Howe scored 24 goals as a 24 year old rookie for the Hartford Whalers and current assistant coach Joe Mullen scored 25 goals in 45 games as a 24 year old rookie for the St. Louis Blues.

So good job, Matt. You have done what very few have done before you. In fact, you are in the 97th percentile for 24 year old rookie skaters. A remarkable accomplishment indeed.

** There could be more, I just don't recognize any of the other names.

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