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Is the size-factor in NHL-drafts overrated?

While I’m a strong believer in the advantage of having size and strength as a hockey-player I start to realise that the size-factor might be a bit overrated nowadays.

Zdeno Chara, the tallest NHL-player with 6.09

Zdeno Chara, the tallest NHL-player with 6’9″

No question: A skilled, fast, mobile, big and strong player is better than a skilled, fast mobile, small player. But although the rule-changes a couple of years ago worked basically a bit in the favor of skilled and quick players there are still heavy doubts about smallish, skinny players. No matter how skilled they are.

It’s time to dig a bit deeper and try to find some facts and figures with the target to rationalise this evergreen in scouting-discussions.

In a span of 5 years before 2010 the NHL drafted 23 players with the small size of 5.09, 58 players with 5.10, 121 players with 5.11, 132 players with a size of 6feet, 130 with 6.01, 134 with 6.02, 70 with 6.03, 37 with 6.04 and 11 with 6.05. The interesting question is now: How many players of each these categories did make it to the NHL, means in my interpretation played at least 100 games in the NHL?

Nathan Gerbe, the smallest NHL-player with 5.05

Nathan Gerbe, the smallest NHL-player with 5’5″

The result might surprise a lot of readers: There are no significant differencies between these size-groups. 36% of the drafted 6.05 sized players appeared in more than 100 NHL-games as the „best“ size-group. The lowest percentage comes with 19% and belongs to the 6’3″ sized-players. The 2nd best group are the 6’4″ sized players with 32% and… surprise, surprise, the 3rd best size-group was the 5’9″-players with 30%. Yes, the related amount of players are not big enough to proof the thesis that the size-factor is overrated but at least these numbers indicate that the size-factor is probably a bit overrated. Anyway: Thanks to hockeyfreak7 for these interesting numbers.

Personally I’m a believer in skills, hockey-sense and personality as a priority if I’m thinking about a top10 pick. In later rounds, if you e.g. try to find specific role-players, I start to weigh in the size- and strength factor more and more. Sometimes I really believe that we scouts tend to overrate the size-factor because it’s a fact and not a subjective asset and of course we love the facts and figures and are sometimes not brave enough to raise our voice for a really skilled smallish player. Does the name Sebastian Aho, the smallish but highly skilled and still undrafted Skelleftea d-man ring a bell? Maybe I’m too optimistic about him, maybe not?

Sebastian Aho, underrated because of the size-factor?

Sebastian Aho, underrated because of the size-factor?

 

Published with permission from Thomas Roost NHL-Scout (Central Scouting Europe/NHL since 18 years).     http://www.talentscoutroost.blogspot.ch/search?updated-min=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2016-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4

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