You have to be this tall to become an NHL top scorer!

Posted by David Minuk in Columns,Features on July 30, 2009 — 5 Comments

 

Do you want to become an NHL top scorer? 

Well to enter this ride you need to be a very specific height.  It seems that a by-product of the 90′s was the concept that you needed to be a giant to be drafted in the NHL.  Guys who were less than 6’0″ were generally disregarded as mere boys amongst men.  But is that the case?  What about those little guys?  Can’t they be big time NHL producers?  Well it appears that to make it as a top points getter, it would be best to be a certain height.

Over the past ten NHL seasons the height of the top point producers ranges from a low of 5’6″ to a high of 6’5″.  The tallest guy to make the cut, standing at 6’5″, was Mats Sundin who back in 2002 finished 4th overall in league scoring.  It would appear that if you are taller than 6’5″ your best bet is to go play in the NBA or try defence as it is unlikely that you will be a top ten finisher in the NHL.  Similarly for those players under 5’6″ things aren’t looking too good.  The last time someone at this height finished in the top ten was back in 1999.  Of course it was the diminutive Theo Fleury who finished 8th overall that year.  Although even when you’re little, you can still get under the skin of the bigger guys.

But at which heights have guys consistently been able to secure a spot in the top ten of NHL scoring?  Well much like on Family Feud, I surveyed the last 100 top ten finishers over the past ten season and here are the results:

Height Top 10 Height Top 10
6’5″ 1/100 5’11″ 22/100
6’4″ 13/100 5’10″ 8/100
6’3″ 19/100 5’9″ 3/100
6’2″ 3/100 5’8″ 0/100
6’1″ 15/100 5’7″ 0/100
6’0″ 15/100 5’6″ 1/100

So interestingly the height that has seen the most top producers has been 5’11″.  If you take a look at the top three, it breaks down as follows:

#1 – 5’11″
#2 – 6’3″
#3 – 6’0″/6’1″

However how many of these are the same player?  For example if you are 6’2″ in height, you might be thinking, well there’s been at least 3 guys (a whopping 3%) who have finished in the top ten so it isn’t too bad.  But unfortunately they were all the same player, one Alex Ovechkin.  So for some reason guys in that range just haven’t been able to produce as much as those players one inch below or above them.  Of course if you are 6’2″ you can always look forward to making catchy jingles.

If you further breakdown the top three (technically four since 6’1″ & 6’0″ were tied with fifteen apiece) they break down as follows:

Finish Height # of players in Top 10 # of players who appear multiple times in Top 10 Players
1st 5’11″ 22 10 Sakic (6), Crosby (3), Alfredsson (3) Datsyuk (2),  Bure (2), Palffy (2), Parise (1), Zetterberg (1), Oates (1), Weight (1)
2nd 6’3″ 19 11 Jagr (3), Malkin (2), Bertuzzi (2), Modano (2), Spezza (1), Lang (1), Murray (1), Francis (1), Allison (1), Yashin (1), LeClair (1)
3rd 6’0″ 15 8 Forsberg (3), Naslund (3), Demitra (3), Selanne (2), Backstrom (1), Richards (1), Hejduk (1), Amonte (1)
3rd 6’1″ 15 8 Kovalchuk (4), Iginla (3), Hossa (2), Elias (2), Stillman (1), Nolan (1),  Cheecho (1), Kovalev (1)

Upon further breaking down these numbers, if you attribute a score for where each guy finished (1st overall = 10 points, 5th overall = 5 points and 10th overall = 0 points), the guys at 6’3″ finished pretty well (considering they had 3 less players than 5″11″).

Height Total Points
5’11″ 95
6’3″ 94
6’0″ 67
6’1″ 65

So does this mean if you aren’t one of the heights listed above you are destined to dwell in the cellar, never to be an elite NHL scorer?  I doubt it.  It is just encouraging to see that even guys who aren’t giants can still thrive in today’s NHL.

That is unless your 5’9″ or below.  Or 6’5″ or above.  Then you might have to accept your inadequacies.