FanPost

Are small players undervalued at the NHL draft (Part 2)

So my first post showed where players of different size tended to get drafted, as well as some basic stats in all situations. As AndersJ pointed out, using points and goals is a flawed way of determining performance, especially when Power play time is included. I agree.

Little did he know, I already had started pairing up my draft data from Part 1 with some stats from behindthenet.ca. With these stats, we should get a little better idea on the performance of different height groups.

This post will be more of a data drop than the last one. Take some time to look through the data at your own pace.

So first, forwards. This is all forwards with 250+ minutes (total ice time). I looked only at even strength stats.

Height Group # of players % drafted Average draft round Average draft position EV Goals for/60 EV Goals against/60 EV TOI/60 EV Goals/60 EV A1/60 Corsi rel QoC Rel Corsi On ice SH% Penalties taken/60 Penalties drawn/60 PD/60 Off Zone Start%
5'9" or shorter 16 68.75% 4.27 107.82 2.75 2.55 12.48 0.718310287 0.733845472 0.260179196 2.290722234 9.128684675 0.640378636 0.888805982 0.248427346 51.52532413
5'10" - 5'11" 83 86.75% 3.60 95.86 2.49 2.45 12.48 0.728823602 0.615500723 0.430294069 2.150765888 8.330974041 0.686604998 0.918067725 0.231462727 50.77975717
6' - 6'2" 254 90.16% 2.90 72.84 2.39 2.41 12.28 0.696639743 0.56481528 0.353857734 0.356385306 8.071961927 0.701505623 0.761865766 0.060360142 50.23389802
6'3 - 6'4" 60 95.00% 2.16 48.32 2.44 2.44 12.88 0.742104736 0.619471117 0.541502624 2.538158137 8.102797413 0.715843295 0.796261985 0.08041869 50.58356864
>=6'5" 14 92.86% 2.54 63.38 2.24 2.20 11.50 0.543180658 0.583440332 0.176752107 -0.703360924 7.76048849 0.834230582 0.719211151 -0.115019432 48.71172045

Lots of data here. The first few columns are repeated from part 1 for convenience, showing how bigger forwards are drafted earlier and more frequently in the NHL draft.

Now we have a plethora of stats, including goals stats, possession stats, contextual stats, and even penalty stats.

I won't go over each category, I'll let you all look through yourself. But I will point out a few trends I see. The two smaller groups of forwards seem to perform pretty well, especially compared to the middle group. We are dealing with small sample sizes with that first group with only 16 players, so take that for what it's worth.

Overall, like the data in the first article, this is only a initial look. However, the smaller forwards (first two rows) seem to be performing pretty well compared to the larger forwards, even though they are being picked far later in the draft. Again, I am seeing, at least with this data, that smaller forwards (first two rows) are undervalued on draft day.

Now, on to defensemen (350+ total minutes). Again, only even strength stats.

Height Group # of players % drafted Average draft round Average draft position EV goals for/60 EV goals against/60 EV TOI/60 EV Goals/60 EV A1/60 Corsi rel QoC Rel Corsi On ice SH% Penalties taken/60 Penalties drawn/60 PD/60 Off Zone Start%
16 0.56 5.444444444 149.6666667 2.558132411 2.270511792 16.17 0.161029769 0.297254435 0.259068039 3.868769768 8.704130481 0.451938598 0.447298494 -0.004640104 52.3411965
5'11" - 6' 46 0.89 4 107.7317073 2.431681257 2.360647705 16.18 0.168239731 0.297666833 0.292174488 0.564091952 8.208167755 0.610302115 0.375393218 -0.234908897 50.94336234
6'1" - 6'3" 123 0.89 2.80733945 69.36697248 2.343095001 2.379013134 16.20 0.147950194 0.244541207 0.427675198 -0.707367299 8.092160377 0.592594916 0.349455649 -0.243139267 49.61991608
6'4 - 6'5" 38 0.97 3.027027027 75.16216216 2.275449616 2.444789236 15.73 0.127892716 0.237791114 0.340391056 -2.493107761 7.962925204 0.753562932 0.322684452 -0.43087848 48.12107943
>=6'6" 7 0.86 3 70 2.619563845 2.428350177 15.80 0.165420291 0.266645301 0.471580369 -0.182441773 8.925793085 0.925597132 0.276134796 -0.649462336 46.21676154

Again, similar trends. Smaller defensemen (first two rows) seem to be performing just fine compared to their larger counterparts. I'll let you all take a look through the data at your own leisure.

This performance data is far better than the stuff I presented in part 1, and gives us a better look into how smaller defensemen and forwards are performing.

Personally, as a smaller defensemen growing up and playing through Midget AAA, I have always been frustrated with how hockey people, starting with AAA and junior coaches/ GMs and going up through College, Major Junior, and the Pro ranks, always favor bigger guys over smaller guys. Big guys seem to get far more chances to prove themselves in the hockey word, even when they are outperformed by shorter players. I think this bias against shorter and smaller players exists at the NHL level, and I think one of the biggest market inefficiencies in the NHL today is the undervaluing of smaller forwards and defensemen.

Am I biased a little, perhaps, I'll let you make that call. But I still stick behind the idea that smaller players/prospects are undervalued in the NHL today.

For me at least, this as been a cool first look into size and how that impacts performance and the draft. This is a topic I'd like to spend some more time on, but we will see what happens and where the data takes me. Hopefully later this year I can spend some time collecting data and post more on this topic of size, performance, and the draft.

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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