During my last recreational league hockey season, my captain had me play center. My favorite part (aside from face-offs) was the increased defensive responsibilities. I think it would be a fun idea to switch to defense for a season. However, I’m a bit concerned that at 5’7″ (67 inches) tall, I would be seen as too small to effectively play defense. I decided to check NHL stats and throw something together in R. Data includes all players currently in the NHL as of June 20, 2018.
Based on my findings, it looks like there is a lot of variation across each position. Sure, the trend seems to be that players are taller the further back in the rink they are, but there is a lot of overlap in distributions of heights for each position.
- Median heights across all players is only about 3-5 inches taller than average males
- Roughly speaking, centers and wings are around the same height
- Heights for defensemen closely resemble the spread of heights for forwards, but shifted up about an inch
- Goalie is the one position where someone of my height playing the position would be a large outlier
After seeing the data, I don’t think that hockey has too much specialization based on height. Yeah, I’m not the tallest person, but especially for a rec league, I shouldn’t be discouraged from playing any position. I’ll sign myself up to play D next season.