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NHL rookie production in the second-half of the season

How well does history predict second half production in a rookie season?

NHL: JAN 23 Avalanche at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I recently did some work looking into how top rookie scorers coming out of different pre-NHL leagues. Obviously, a player’s talent and team situation are king when it comes to predicting scoring potential, but there’s always an opportunity to see what history tells us about players coming from different backgrounds.

What I’ve done is take the Top 10 rookie scorers from the last two seasons, check their first-half and second-half scoring totals, and note which league the player came out of prior to joining their respective NHL club. Here is my data, courtesy of FrozenPool by DobberHockey:

* significant time missed

Obviously, a larger sample size would do wonders for an investigation like this. I could go back more years, but that wouldn’t represent the increasing speed of the game which is allowing young players to have more success. I could look at more players than just the top-10 scorers, but that would mean including several rookies who didn’t see consistent ice time, got sent up and down regularly, and so forth. Factors like that aren’t my focus - I intended only to see if certain leagues are producing players more or less prone to slowing down in second halves. So, we’re stuck with the information above.

So, what do we see?

All 4 AHL veterans on the lists had better second-halves than first halves. It wasn’t always by a lot, but that’s still a very promising observation.- Of the 4 European-league jumpers on those two lists, 1 (Laine) suffered a serious decrease in their second half. The other 3 stayed at their first-half pace (give or take a point).- The 3 NCAA learners were a mixed bag. 1 jumped in points a little, 1 decreased a lot, and 1 decreased a little. Not overly promising.- The CHL was another mixed bag. As a whole, there isn’t much of a trend: 5 increased, 3 decreased, and 1 stayed relatively the same. Overall good, but not definitive by any means. Broken down by Junior league: OHL players include 3 decreasers and 1 increaser (not including McDavid’s return to health-boosting his numbers). So OHL doesn’t score high here.Both WHL players saw big post-All-Star jumps. Small sample size but very interesting.1 QMJHL player saw a huge jump, the other stayed the same. Again, promising despite the small sample size.

So, how might this apply to the Avalanche?

- The Avs’ top rookie phenom Alex Kerfoot is an NCAA veteran...which may not be a great thing based on the above examples. Same goes for Tyson Jost, although he seems to be turning it on lately so could very well defy the norm.

- JT Compher, on the other hand, has some history on his side when it comes to improving in the second half. His AHL seasoning could imply the potential for a jump as the season rolls on. This might also be applied to AJ Greer should he get another NHL look, despite his poor production so far. Dare I suggest we might expect an increase from the 1 point Lindholm has produced thus far??

- Andrei Mironov hasn’t really stood out when given an NHL shot, but should he get a recall at any point, fellow Europeans have set a good bar of consistency throughout the year.