Is so much youth on the Caps’ roster a bad thing?

October 1, 2013

Adam Oates and Tom Wilson (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“In the playoffs, we made a note after one of the games,” Capitals GM George McPhee said in the summer of 2012. “It was to remember these games when we’re at the draft. Remember how intense they are, how demanding they are, how physical they are, and make sure we get someone who wants to play in that kind of stuff.”

That someone ended up being Tom Wilson, a 6-foot-4 right-wing selected 16th overall in the 2012 entry draft. Wilson, along with defenseman Connor Carrick (fifth round, 137th overall, 2012 draft) have both made the NHL squad as teenagers.

Since the salary cap was instituted after the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, teams have relied on younger (and cheaper) players to fill out their rosters. But it has been rare for a team to have multiple teen skaters make it past the 10-game mark, which burns a year of their entry-level contract. In fact, only 12 teams since 2005-06 have had two or more teenagers make it past Game 10, often with less than ideal results.

Team

# Teens playing 10 or more games

Playoff result

2006-07 PIT

2

Lost in first round to Ottawa Senators (4-1)

2007-08 CHI

2

Did not qualify

2007-08 STL

2

Did not qualify

2008-09 PHX

2

Did not qualify

2009-10 ATL

2

Did not qualify

2009-10 COL

2

Lost in first round to San Jose Sharks (4-2)

2009-10 TBL

3

Did not qualify

2010-11 ANA

2

Lost in first round to Nashville Predators (4-2)

2010-11 ATL

2

Did not qualify

2010-11 EDM

2

Did not qualify

2011-12 CAR

2

Did not qualify

2012-13 EDM

2

Did not qualify

Out of the 12 teams, eight did not qualify for playoffs and the four that did all had first-round exits. That is not to say Washington can’t or won’t make the playoffs playing in a tougher division with Wilson and Carrick on the roster, but it does show that having that much youth and inexperience could hamper one’s chances at taking the next step in the playoffs.

greenberg
Neil Greenberg, when he isn’t watching the games, analyzes advanced statistics in the NHL and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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