Junior Players in the KHL, 2019-20: A Look at the Teams

Dinamo Minsk’s 20-year-old defenceman Vladislav Yeryomenko has seen a lot of ice-time this fall and winter, as have a number of his team-mates. (Image Source)

We move along this evening in our look at the junior-agers in the KHL, and this time we’ve got some fact and figures about teams’ usage of young skaters overall during the first half of the 2019-20 season. Which teams gave lots of ice-time to their youngsters (there’s a clue in the image above), and which did not? And which team got the most points from their junior-age skaters? The answers are below, so read on…

Before we start, and just for the sake of reference, here are links to the detailed team-by-team looks at junior-age skaters, posted last week:

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To the first of two charts in this post! This one shows some general numbers per team for junior-age skater usage in the first half of this KHL season. “Junior-age,” for our purposes, refers this season to players born in 1999 or later. These are players that are still eligible to play in the MHL (Russia’s top men’s junior league), and are eligible for one of the two “designated junior” lineup spots that each KHL team gets for each game. The legend for the chart is as follows:

  • Team: Self-explanatory.
  • JP: “Junior Players,” the total number of different junior-age skatersincluded in the lineup for at least one KHL game.
  • GiL: “Games in Lineup,” the total number of man-games in the lineup for junior-age skaters.
  • GP: “Games Played,” the total number of man-games in which a junior-age skater took a shift on the ice.
  • %: Percentage of games in the lineup in which a junior-age skater played at least one shift.
  • Total TOI: Total time on ice for junior-age skaters through the team’s first 31 games.
  • TOI/GP: Average TOI per game played for junior skaters, not including those games wherein a youngster dressed but did not play.
  • G-A-Pts: Goals, assists, and points.

A reminder here that all numbers are through each team’s first 31 games of the 2019-20 season. And that these numbers do not include junior-age goalies, only skaters. The table is sorted by Total TOI, but you can access the spreadsheet here, and sort it otherwise if you would like.

Some overall numbers: KHL teams deployed an average of 4.25 junior-aged skaters over the season’s first half (mean: 4). The average number of total games in the lineup was 56.7 (mean: 58), and the average number of games played was 44.2 (mean: 45.5), meaning that a junior-age skater in the lineup had a 78% chance of taking a shift (mean: 78.4%). The average total time on ice given to young skaters by KHL teams in the first half of the season was 420:54 (mean: 366:12), with an average of 8:02 on ice in games in which the young players did play (mean: 7:47). Note that that is the average TOI/GP per team, not the overall average.

And so Dinamo Minsk and Severstal were well out in front in terms of total ice-time given to junior-age skaters, the product of relatively small salary budgets combined with extensive development programs at both clubs. Sibir led the way in terms of average time on ice per game, almost entirely as a result of the minutes given out to 20-year-old defenceman Ilya Morozov. And Ak Bars Kazan have gotten the most offensive production from their young players, highlighted by the 6-6-12 put up in the season’s first half by 20-year-old forward Artyom Galimov.

And at the other end of the chart, we find Kunlun Red Star, who did not use any junior-age skaters in the season’s first half at all (we discussed the reasons why in the Kharlamov Division post last week). Amur’s and Avangard’s youngsters also saw very little time on the ice, as did Avtomobilist’s. Avtomobilist’s numbers are actually very strange; they tied for the league lead in the number of different juniors used in the lineup, but they hardly ever put any of them on the ice. Very much the “watch and learn, kid” approach!

One last quick observation here: three teams (Ak Bars, Lokomotiv, and Admiral) had no games wherein a junior player dressed but did not receive a shift. On the other hand, the youngsters watched a lot at Amur and (as mentioned) Avtomobilist, while Jokerit also put their in-the-lineup young players on the ice less than half the time.

Is there any correlation between young-skater deployment and team success? Well, not particularly. To be sure, Dinamo Minsk and Severstal, at the top of the young-player-usage table, are both outside the playoff picture at the moment, but so are Amur and Kunlun Red Star (the latter barely), at the other end of the table. By the same token Ak Bars, first overall at the moment, are among the league-leaders in use of junior-age skaters, but Avangard, third overall in the standings, are near the bottom of the usage table. So if there is any correlation, it’s very faint.

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Another chart for you (the original spreadsheet is here); the numbers across the top in this one represent the number of junior skaters in the lineup for a particular game (including games in which the player did not take a shift), while the numbers next to each team are the number of games in which a team dressed that many junior skaters in the first half of the season. So, Dinamo Minsk had three games in which they dressed two young skaters, seven in which they dressed three, 18 with four junior-agers, and three games with five.

So, 70% of the time, teams had at least two junior-age skaters in the lineup, but only rarely did they have more than that. And only three teams ever had more than three young skaters in the same game’s lineup. In general (i.e. more than 90% of the time), teams had at least one junior-ager in the lineup, even teams like Amur and Avangard that kept the actual ice-time to the barest minimum. And, Avtomobilist’s deployment is once again an object of interest. The Yekaterinburg club gave the third-smallest amount of total ice time to its junior-age skaters, but come Hell or high water, they had two of them in the lineup, no more and no fewer, game in and game out.

It should be no surprise that two is most common number of junior-agers in a team’s lineup, given that that is the number of extra lineup spots given by rule for the deployment of young players. That, of course, is not an upper limit on the number of teenagers a team can dress for a game, but any more than two must take up a regular lineup spot.

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Thoughts, observations, or questions? Drop ’em in the comments. And thank you for reading! Tomorrow, we have the final post in this mid-season series on young skaters in the KHL, and in it we’ll look at the group of players as a whole.

Posted on December 9, 2019, in 2019-20, KHL, Rules and Regulations, Young Players in the KHL. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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