Wrapping up the 2011 NHL draft

Updated: June 29, 2011, 9:26 AM ET
By Alvin Chang

If Malcolm Gladwell had a dollar for every time his writing on hockey has been picked apart, he might be even richer than he is today -- and I'd owe him two bucks. But let's make it three.

In "Outliers," he wrote about the phenomena of how most hockey players are born between January and March. It is because youth hockey programs in Canada have a cut-off date of Jan. 1, so the oldest kids end up dominating due to more advanced physical development -- and ride that wave of success throughout their lifetime.

This holds true in most draft classes, including this year's. The first quarter babies dominate. But of this year's lottery picks, there isn't a single player born in January or February. There are two March babies -- Ryan Murphy and Mark Scheifele -- and both were born in the latter half of March. The past two seasons each had five lottery picks born in the first quarter.

So what's going on? First off, four Swedes and a Swiss skater were among the top 14, which could have skewed the numbers. Also, the sample size is small enough that it could easily be a fluke. But it is a conversation starter, and it brings back the idea that if you're talented enough, a few months of late development won't slow you down. So while the birthday bias does exist in the NHL, truly elite players tend to overcome that disadvantage.

Here are a few more notable observations to come out of the draft:

The Russian decline