Young talent trumps 'experience' in the playoffs

duche.jpgPerhaps I’m in a mood to beat up on puck-based stereotypes today, but I think that fans of the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and – yes – both lovers and haters of Sidney Crosby will find Behind the Net’s study of the most productive young (and old) players quite interesting. The blog looked at the highest point-per-game rates for players between the ages of 18-21 as well as the other end of the spectrum: players 38 and older.

For the young players, Crosby is in second place behind … Barry Pederson?

While Sidney Crosby’s greatness is readily apparent, it’s amazing how far Barry Pederson is ahead of the pack. The Pederson-Rick Middleton combination was amazing in the 1982-83 playoffs, but they came up against the eventual cup champion Islanders and went down four games to two. Pederson looked like a sure-fire hall of famer, but underwent numerous surgeries after a tumor was found in his shoulder and was never the same player. He would have just two playoff points after age 21.

Interesting stuff. Other notable names on the “young” list included Stan Mikita, Steve Yzerman, Bobby Orr and Nicklas Backstrom. The old fogies list includes the incomparable Jean Beliveau as well as modern players including Bill Guerin and third-place Nicklas Lidstrom (especially impressive considering the fact that, you know, he’s a defenseman).

In many ways, I feel that posts like this – as well as evidence from youthful dynasties like the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers of the ’80s – prove that the “experience” argument is overdone. Am I saying that having guys with Just for Men beards like Bill Guerin or Scott Niedermayer isn’t worthwhile? No, not at all. But like John Buccigross and others have pointed out plenty of times before, Wayne Gretzky and other stars almost always hit their primes in their early twenties. Some might scream “Detroit Red Wings!” but to me they’re an anomaly (and, besides, as important as Lidstrom has been this season, much of their resurgence can be tied to 25-year-old Jimmy Howard). Experience is valuable, but if you put a gun to my head, I’ll take the young legs every time.

So, yeah, if you’re a fan of high draft pick-heavy squads like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, Colorado and Los Angeles, go ahead and feel good about the future.

Scroll Down For:

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

    blackhawks
    Harry How/Getty Images
    13 Comments

    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

    Getty Images
    3 Comments

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

    Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

    tampa bay lightning
    Scott Audette/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

    The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

    “This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

    Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

    Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

    Rasmus Sandin
    Julian Avram/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

    The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

    “Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

    The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

    Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.