Canada’s World Juniors Top 6 Usage

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 3:23 am by Josh W

We previously looked the defencemen and goaltenders
for team Canada at the IIHF World Under-20 Championships. Next we can look at CHL analytics to see how
well they have been performing against peers in the major juniors and see if
Hockey Canada has truly picked the best players to play in the top 6 forward rotation.

Read past the jump to learn who they are.

Hockey Canada likes to select players based on roles to fill
specific positions (grinder, checking line, penalty kill specialist etc) rather
than just selecting the 22 best players. This can lead to some “interesting” selections making the final cut which
often leads to much debate by fans.   

who are the 6 players that are currently leading Canada in offensive roles?

top6 ppg

There’s honestly are no real objections in this top 6
for Canada, you have a number of high end offensive talents including top OHL
scorer Max Domi, future first overall pick Connor McDavid and two members from
the NHL lent by their clubs to the tournament in Anthony Duclair and Curtis Lazar.

We could use z-scores to compare how the NHLers have been
performing against the CHLers but given the huge jump in talent between the two
leagues we will look at the NHLers separately.

top6 nhl usage

Anthony Duclair – NHL – NY Rangers

The New York Rangers drafted Anthony Duclair in the 3rd
round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Listed as 5’11” and 184 lbs this 19.34 year-old is playing his first
season in the NHL even though he is still eligible for juniors.  Through 18 games Duclair has scored 1 goal
and 6 points good for a 0.39 ppg rate. 
His 5v5 Points/60 in the NHL is currently at 1.91 which is a great
number for a second liner.  

As is typical for a 19 year-old in the NHL, Duclair is very sheltered
playing with bottom-6 line mates while getting very high offensive-zone starts. At 10.7 minutes/game Duclair has a +0.4% relative corsi rate.

Curtis Lazar – NHL – Ottawa

One of the biggest reasons to loan Curtis Lazar to Hockey
Canada is that it saves owner Eugene Melnyk around $70,000 since they do not have
to pay him for the three weeks he is away.  

Lazar was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 NHL Entry
Draft by the Ottawa Senators and has played 27 games with them so far this
year. While he is still eligible for
juniors, he is currently playing in a more difficult role than  fellow teen Duclair. 

Lazar has scored a similar 1 goal and
6 points but in a much larger number of games. He plays slightly more minutes a game at 11.1 and walks away with
better possession numbers with a +0.9 corsi rel.  Despite that,  his 5v5 points/60 are ranked 295th
in the league at 1.19 which is not bad for a 19 year old in his rookie year.

top6 usage

Max Domi – OHL – London

The Arizona Coyotes drafted Max Domi in the 1st round of the
2013 NHL Entry Draft. Listed as a
smaller 5’10” and 195 lbs, this 19.82 year-old is one of the oldest members on
the team and has been tearing it up this year in the OHL with 58 points in 27
games so far.

Domi’s adjusted Points/Game
show his NHL comparables to be Corey Perry, Scott Hartnell and Alex Hemsky.  Tie’s significantly more gifted son is facing some of the toughest
competition in the OHL while getting some strong help from his teammates. Domi spends almost half of his game just
playing on special teams and walks away with a +20.41% Even-Strength relative
Goal-For %.

Sam Reinhart – WHL – Kootenay

Centering the first line for Canada between Domi and Duclair
is the 2nd overall 2014 pick Sam Reinhart.  Reinhart is an older member of his draft
class, currently listed at 19.14 years-old and has scored 27 points in his first
15 games in the WHL, good for a 1.80 points/game rate.

His adjusted Points/Game show his junior comparables
to be Steve Downie, Radim Vrbata and Sean Couturier this year, though his pedigree suggests he should be better than all three. Reinhart faces some of the toughest
competition of all CHL members on Team Canada while getting help from some very
strong teammates, surprising given how bad his team is.. The youngest of the Reinhart brothers plays some of
the largest even-strength ice time (hence his huge circle in the usage chart) while still skating for a large number minutes
on special teams – in the end he comes away with an impressive +17.14% even strength relative goal rate.

Nick Ritchie – OHL – Peterborough

Similar to Reinhart, Nick Ritchie is another older member of
his draft class. Currently, at 19.06
years old, the Anaheim Ducks selected Ritchie 10th
overall in 2014.  

This year in the OHL Ritchie
has scored 32 points in 25 games, good for a 1.28 points/game rating and
drawing comparables to NHLers Jamie Benn and Marcus Foligno. Ritchie plays against above-average
competition but his QoC isn’t nearly as tough as his peers on Team Canada and
he still receives the benefits of strong teammates.  Ritchie plays some of the lowest
even-strength minutes / game relative to these peers, has a large number of
special team time and has a negative -2.75% even-strength relative goals-for%.

Connor McDavid – OHL – Erie

Whenever anyone talks about the upcoming 2015 NHL Entry
Draft, the one name you are guaranteed to hear is Connor McDavid. It’s clear, even by his 16 year-old season, that he’s going to be generational talent, and his adjusted Points/Game further
suggest this as well. The 17.96 year-old is
currently centering the 2nd line for Canada between Ritchie and
Lazar and in his 18 games played with Erie this year he is scoring at a rate of
2.83 points/game, which is incredible.  

McDavid plays against
above-average competition and is getting help from above-average teammates, unsurprising as Erie is one of the best analytics teams in the OHL. He plays a large amount of minutes on special
teams and at even-strength and has the highest even-strength relative
goals-for% at +30.78%. That number isn’t
likely to see much regression.