Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Year 2014

A far future time - a President Obama might start thinking about his legacy. The Nintendo Wii will be obsolete, replaced by a machine with sensors for your hands, arms, knees, and hips for a truly immersive environment in Dance Dance Revolution IX. And according to Capcom, a lone robot named Rock will have defeated six waves of evil Robot Masters under the control of the nefarious Dr. Wily.

The NHL will have taken a break for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, four years after the games in Vancouver.

And nineteen players will still be bound by contracts they've already signed.

Some of these players will very likely still be in their primes: a 27-year-old Alex Ovechkin, Thomas Vanek at 29, Jason Spezza at 30. But then there's a 36-year-old Dan Boyle making nearly seven million dollars. Or Rick DiPietro at a reasonable $4M at age 32, but with a full seven years left on his contract.

Past performance is not an indicator of future success, so whatever these teams are hoping for their trigenarians in 2014, the odds are against them.

Using a sample of the top 100 scorers from the past 15 years or so, I charted aging players performance. And while it's easy to remember the later years of the Great One as being proof older players can perform, it's not true. Age 26 and 27 was distinctly the peak for this group of players - performance drops at a rate of about 5% per season after that. There's a bit of a cliff from 29 to 30, and collapse of 10% every year from 34 on.

Some players beat the odds, to be sure, but don't get fooled by early all star years that turn into a long, slow, wind of 50 point seasons.

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