Teenagers in the NHL

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Canadiens1958, Aug 26, 2011.

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  1. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Look at teenagers - junior eligible players, who played in the NHL. Not a "best of" thread but more of a historic overview taking into account era, position, context, eligibility - Denis Potvin was never eligible according to the rules of the day to play in the NHL as a junior.

    First junior that comes to mind that continued on to a successful career was Harvey "Busher" Jackson. Others like Bobby Boucher were less fortunate.

    Goalies cover a wide range from Harry Lumley to Tom Barrasso and beyond. Defencemen from Fern Flaman to Larry Hillman to Bobby Orr to Drew Doughty. While forwards are too numerous to mention.

    There is the obvious drawback of physical and mental maturity. A teenager simply is not strong enough to play with men, so very often there is a sharp increase in performance once the player reaches physical maturity in the early twenties - evidenced by the sharp upward spikes in production from Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and others. Mentality the grind of a much longer season from junior to the NHL also takes a toll.

    Comments appreciated.
     
  2. livewell68

    livewell68 Registered User

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    Jagr was a junior in the Czech Republic and then by the time he was 16 and 17 and playing in the Czech elite league against men.

    He was drafted and was 18 when he played in the NHL.

    Still has the best playoff performance to this date as an 18 and 19 year old.
     
  3. Hawkey Town 18

    Hawkey Town 18 Registered User

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    Ray Bourque should be mentioned. In his first NHL season he was 19, was named a 1st Team All Star and averaged over a PPG in 10 playoff games
     
  4. Hawkey Town 18

    Hawkey Town 18 Registered User

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    It would be interesting to compare teenagers that were brought to strong Cup contending teams as opposed to rebuilding teams and look at how they performed initially as well as how they ended up developing and see if there are any differences.

    Pat Lafontaine and Jaromir Jagr are examples of those brought onto strong teams.
     
  5. livewell68

    livewell68 Registered User

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    I think team success would favor teenagers that were drafted by strong teams while those who were drafted by weaker teams developed quicker and had better numbers early.

    This can be attributed to icetime and expectations.

    Jagr for instance won 2 Cups in his first 2 seasons but he was playing on 3rd and 4th lines in his rookie season and playing on the 3rd in his sophomore season (regular season).

    It was during the Penguins second Cup run that Jagr's true potential started to show.

    He would then have 94, 99 Pts the next 2 seasons with the added icetime and then would win the Art Ross in his 5th season.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  6. mbhhofr

    mbhhofr Registered User

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  7. overpass

    overpass Registered User

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    Patrice Bergeron played a substantial role on a division-winninhg Bruins team at the age of 18.

    I would guess that players who are able to contribute to winning teams as teenagers go on to have very successful careers in general.
     
  8. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Minor Pro

    Sidebar. The Detroit Red Wings had a tendency under Jack Adams to play their better prospects in the high minors instead of letting them play/finish as junior - Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk, Norm Ullman, John Bucyk played in the USHL, AHL, WHL.

    Also it would be reasonable to consider the WHA as well - Baby Bulls, etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  9. justsomeguy

    justsomeguy Registered User

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    Dick Duff and Danny Lewicki were both 19 when they began their first seasons with the Leafs.
     
  10. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Maple Leafs

    The Maple Leafs had a varied approach, Ted Kennedy was 18, others like Bill Barilko, Fleming Mackell and Eric Nesterenko had partial seasons as teenagers extending beyond what would eventually become the 5 or 10m game try-out period.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2011
  11. pappyline

    pappyline Registered User

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    Nevertheless, All these players with the exception of Howe were very productive players from day 1. They seemed to adapt very quickly. Maybe there is something to be said for being thrust into a prominent role on a weak team.
     
  12. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Sponsorship

    We have to make a distinction between the sponsorship era and the "Draft" era.

    Sponsorship era the players had a solid junior background that was geared to the parent teams NHL game and needs. Even the first year pros like Dave Keon, etc fit right in.

    Post sponsorship era saw mismatches as teams drafted players that did not fit the NHL team's game and needs. The best player available was not necessarily the most appropriate player for the team.

    Prominent role on a weak team? At times this was the ideal method yet there were other situations where junior aged players joined SC teams or contenders.

    Proper preparation was the common factor.
     
  13. Iain Fyffe

    Iain Fyffe Hockey fact-checker

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    I'd be interested in figuring out when "junior" took on its present meaning. Originally the distinction between senior and junior was not one of age, but of ability (usually with intermediate in between). Hockey clubs would ice three teams: a senior, an intermediate, and a junior. There were no age limits on any of these. Typically junior players would be younger, since new players would start out on that team and work their way up, but they would often play with older players who didn't have the ability for a higher level of play.

    At some point, this changed to a system based on age. I'm really not sure when that happened, or indeed why.
     
  14. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    Off Topic

    Off topic and vague. Merits a thread of its own.
     
  15. vivianmb

    vivianmb Registered User

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    dale hawerchuk had 194 pts in his first two seasons.i believe ages 18,&19.
     

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