Monday, 7 July 2014

Are bigger defencemen more susceptible to injury as they age?

An interesting article on the Canadiens' website demonstrates that as they age, bigger defencemen are more susceptible to injury than their more modestly-sized counterparts.  And it's not just a crackpot theory pulled out of my tinfoil hat, but science, son.  It's all shown graphically, with math and stuff.

The money quote:
“Shorter players may perform better for a longer period of time due to experiencing less strain on impact and less wear and tear on their joints,” noted Philippe Renaud, a biomechanics researcher at McGill’s Ice Hockey Research Group. Renaud added that the laws of physics suggest the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles of a player such as Francis Bouillon, who is 5’8”, receive much less torsional amplitudes as those of a player standing at 6’6”. 

We tend to hunger for the big tall physical defenceman, the second coming of Larry Robinson.  The late-model version of Chris Pronger.  Shea Weber 2.0.  The stats show that these guys really are the outliers, that most tall defencemen don't make the NHL, and if they do they tend to break down earlier in their career.

We've already looked at the stats for CHL defencemen who are defensively-oriented rather than those who pile up points in their draft year: those who produce have a greater chance of making the NHL, whereas the stay-at-home types tend to wash out, overwhelmingly.

So we should be safe for the boys in our farm system right now, save for Jarred Tinordi and Brett Lernout, and maybe Greg Pateryn.  We do have quite a few defencemen 6'2" or thereabouts, and puck movers who can put up points and contribute.

And I'll take this into account the next time I'm scanning the draft-available rolls and see a Jonathan Ismaël-Diaby or Alexis Vanier and think: "Oh, he's huge, let's grab him..." 

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