Craig MacTavish has been defended in some quarters as a good developer of 'kids'. In fact, Lowetide himself defended the coach thusly :
"Do me a favor and find me an NHL coach who has given as many at-bats to kids with a better record than MacT since the run to the Stanley. I'll look forward to it. Should be, two, three pages."
While I don't dispute that MacTavish has been saddled with a large number of developmental prospects through the lack of foresight by the organization, I will dispute that he's done as much as he can with those prospects.
This is a chart comparing total games played by rookies as defined by the NHL, by franchise from the 2006-2007 season through the 2008-2009 season. [Click the image to zoom]
As you can see, the Blue Jackets lead the league in this category with 810, followed by the Oilers at 797 and Chicago with 768. Over that time, the Oilers have put up 240 points, the Blue Jackets 241 and the Blackhawks 250. That the Oilers and MacTavish are special, it seems, isn't accurate. Note here that San Jose is in the company of a number of teams that have done a complete rebuild and have maintained a high level of play.
Perhaps a closer look at the type of games played will show that the Oilers and MacTavish especially are outperforming expectations.
This is a chart comparing total significant games played by rookies, which I'm defining as 1/3 of a season or greater, by franchise from the 2006-2007 season through the 2008-2009 season.
Edmonton rookies have played 655 games, two-thirds of a season more than the Blue Jackets at 593. Chicago has played 550 and Phoenix joins this conversation at 600 games played and 221 points, well below their counterparts.
There was also sentiment that Lemaire develops kids, best expressed here by doritogrande. While that may or may not be true, the simple fact is that over the last three years, the Wild are in the bottom six in games played by rookies at 318 and bottom ten in significant games played by rookies at 221. Lemaire isn't going great guns with the young 'uns.
Back to the issue at hand, it looks like MacTavish is outperforming Gretzky, as always. He's neck-and-neck against Columbus and Chicago. Looking at this season alone:
MacTavish isn't playing rookies this year. The only significant game rookie is Liam Reddox. Both Chicago and Columbus are still bringing kids along, so at least for this season, there is no longer an excuse that he has to bring the kids along with him. There are two other teams in the range of Edmonton over the last three years as far as rookie games played and they are about even to slightly better in points. They are also about to accomplish something MacTavish hasn't been able to do in three years: land a playoff berth. Of course, there isn't any single coach that has had as many rookie games as MacTavish because the two teams in the same range have done something the Oilers haven't: fired their coach.
Here are the numbers overall: