Connor McDavid, Age, and Fatigue
I made this comment in my OilersNerdAlert EDM-DET post-game yesterday:
McDavid isn’t really McDaviding very much. … Prior to this game, McDavid had the fourth highest ice time in the league for a forward. All the players ahead of him are veterans. Maybe the idea of playing the crap out of him is not a successful long term strategy, especially for a 19-year-old player who was a featured high ice-time player in the World Cup before the season started.
Let’s look at some facts in that regard:
- McDavid is averaging 21.4 minutes of all situations ice time (ATOI) per game this season. He’s still fourth in the league after last night’s game. (All data sourced from corsica.hockey)
- The next nearest Oiler forward is Jordan Eberle at 18.5 minutes, nearly three minutes per game less than McDavid. That’s a very reasonable 55th in the league for forward ice time.
- There are three forwards ahead of McDavid in ATOI. They are: Ryan O’Reilly (25 yo, 22.4 mins), Patrick Kane (27 yo, 22.2 mins), and Anze Kopitar (29 yo, 21.8 mins). The #1 ATOI forward in the league is 6 years older and plays just one minute more per game.
- Of the top 10 forwards for icetime, not including McDavid, the average age is 28 years. The youngest are 23 years old (Scheifele and Trocheck).
- A quick scan of the top 50 ATOI forwards shows only a handful of young players (Gaudreau, MacKinnon, Forsberg, Barkov). McDavid is the only teenager on the list. (note: can’t guarantee that as this is eyeballed)
Now, we all know that McDavid is an extraordinary player, and I don’t doubt he can tolerate more icetime for his age than ordinary mortals. And the team is generally not very good without McDavid on the ice, so the temptation to play him every minute you can must be overwhelming.
But let’s not forget, he’s just 19 years old – still a growing boy. (And given he’s three years from his likely peak, his age is something that should absolutely terrify the rest of the league)
So this kind of icetime load has me worried, especially since it looks to my eyes like McDavid hasn’t been able to easily shed the hooking and holding the way he did early in the season.
Overtraining or Ubertraining?
In my day they called long-term fatigue from too much training volume ‘overtraining’ – do they still use that term? While this could just be an ebb in the regular pattern of ebb and flow, it might not be. The end result of overtraining is often injury, and that’s something the Oilers must protect McDavid from at all costs!
Not sure if this is anything real, but I believe it is something that should be given attention. I hope TMc and the Oilers training staff are watching closely.