Anyone taken a look at the Caps‘ leading scorers and noticed something that sticks out about the guys who represent the top 5? All five (Semin, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Laich) are 24 years old or younger. This isn’t any sort of revelation, but the Caps have great young players and they rely on them heavily.
But I wondered last night how many other teams really rely on them the way the Caps do, and the answer is nobody, or almost nobody depending on how the numbers are quantified. For the purposes of this exercise, I am including only players who will be 25 years old or younger when the regular season ends.
Before last night’s games, there were 15 teams that have gotten at least 50 points from U-26 players. When I put this list together, the Caps had the most points from this pool (Chicago passed them late last night) and the highest percentage of points from these players.
The Caps have nine regulars (Semin, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, Laich, Fleischmann, Schultz, Gordon and Jurcina) that fit in this category and Eric Fehr, who could be a regular at some point this season. There are a few teams who boast 11 or 12 U-26 regulars, while Chicago can dress as many as 13 and St. Louis could almost roll out an entire U-26 lineup if the Blues wanted to (and they might be close after the trade deadline this season).
Here is the list of teams with the most points from guys 25 and under this season:
Chicago: 110/159 (69.2 percent)
Washington: 108/151 (71.5)
Pittsburgh: 99/158 (62.7)
San Jose: 71/200 (35.5)
Columbus: 70/158 (44.3)
Philadelphia: 66/146 (45.2)
N.Y. Rangers: 66/151 (43.7)
Edmonton: 65/134 (48.5)
Los Angeles: 63/107 (58.9)
Toronto: 63/160 (39.3)
St. Louis: 61/130 (46.9)
Boston: 59/144 (41.0)
Buffalo: 57/135 (42.2)
Phoenix: 55/118 (46.6)
Vancouver: 52/144 (36.1)
While the Caps’ top five scorers are 25 and under, no other team goes deeper than two before a “veteran” player appears on their list. Toss in Fleischmann, and six of the team’s top nine are 25 or younger — only the Penguins with six of their top eight (and that’s only because Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney are hurt) can top that.
Some things I found interesting about this list:
* I was surprised to see the Rangers and Leafs on here/so high and Phoenix so low.
* Teams like Phoenix, St. Louis and Columbus are in “rebuilding” stages, but aren’t relying on kids as much as people might think they are. The Blue Jackets number includes Rick Nash, who is hardly a kid anymore.
* Why is Atlanta not on this list?
* Expect to see a lot of Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Philadelphia at the top of other lists for the next 5-7 years (like say, teams with the best odds to win the Cup — those types of lists).