With the 2013 USNDT invites coming up then the USHL, QMJHL and NHL drafts, we have learned the time of year the player was born is now going to have to be considered.
A study published online last week in the science journal PLOS ONE suggest the NHL mistakenly picks players born in the first part of the birth year.
The report found that 36 per cent of players drafted by NHL teams between 1980 and 2007 were born in the first quarter of those years, or from January to March, compared to 14.5 per cent of draftees who were born in the fourth quarter.
“It’s never been shown that people are systematically underestimating the ability of the younger players,” said Deaner, an associate professor of psychology at the Grand Valley State University in Michigan.”We found the teams are consistently underestimating how good the guys are that are born from July to December.”
Deaner reported the selection bias can start at an early age, when 12-year-old players born between January and March will dominate the rosters of elite level youth hockey teams, ahead of their peers born later in the year. He said the younger players may be almost as good, but might not be as big or as skilled and will likely end up in a lower league or not as given as much playing time.
“On average, the players who are drafted in a lower league might turn out to be better and those players might more often be relatively younger,” he said.
According to Deaner the study showed that men drafted in the second half of the year were about twice as likely to have successful NHL careers by attaining benchmarks like 400 games played or 200 points scored, than those born earlier in the year. “If the team wasn’t making this mistake, they probably would have been more successful,” he said. “The guys born in the first part of the year are much more likely to be busts.”
The report found that players born later in the year and drafted later actually had more productive hockey careers. According to Deaner, “The average draft position of the draftees born in the third quarter of the year and those born in the first quarter of the year is almost identical. Yet those third quarter players are twice as likely to have successful careers. It’s not somehow because the third quarter players are absolutely younger. We know that absolute age has nothing to do with it because fourth quarter players are pushed ahead to the following draft due to the Sept 15 cut-off. So they are absolutely older than the first quarter players they are drafted with. Yet fourth quarter draftees are also twice as likely to be successful in the NHL. So relative age– birth month, not birth year– is a huge predictor of how successful a draftee will be.”Reference
Deaner, Robert O., and Lowen Aaron. “Born at the Wrong Time: Selection Bias in the NHL Draft.” PLOS ONE. n. page. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057753>.