I have been meaning to post something about the late birthday advantage for awhile, but I had kind of forgotten about that idea until I read this interesting article over at Oilersnation. Cam Charron's piece looks at the July 1st - Sept 15th players from a slightly different perspective than mine, but it's well worth the read for anyone who's interested in the minutia of draft decision making.
The advantage I'm speaking of doesn't refer to the "more upside" angle*, it refers to an edge which is a result of the current CBA. Currently, teams hold the rights to a drafted player for 7 accrued seasons, or until age 27, whichever comes first. The interesting part, as it relates to the draft, is that "Age" is calculated based on a player's age as of June 30th. What this means for 2011 draftees (any year, really) is that two players who reach the NHL 3 years after their draft could be treated differently with respect to UFA age, depending on their birthday. If Connor Murphy (DOB: March 26, 1993) plays 2 years of college hockey followed by one year in the AHL before joining the NHL at the start of the 2014/15 season, he will be eligible for UFA status July 1, 2020. However, should Duncan Siemens (DOB: September 7, 1993) play 2 years of in the WHL followed by one year in the AHL before joining the NHL at the start of the 2014/15 season, he will be eligible for UFA status July 1, 2021.
I think this is a less significant element for players at the top of the draft, because they will be probably be in the NHL early enough that "7 accrued years" will be the determining factor, not the "age 27" option. I would tend to imagine this would be a more significant consideration as you get later in the draft and you don't expect the players to be NHL ready for 3 or 4 years anyways**. By no means am I suggesting a team should pass on a superior prospect because of a birthday, but when you've got a couple guys rated evenly and you're picking at 98 OV, I think it's a factor at least meriting consideration.
Some of the notable players with a late birthday in this draft are:
Ryan Strome, F (July 11, 1993)
Duncan Siemens, D (Sept 7, 1993)
Jonas Brodin, D (July 12, 1993)
Oskar Klefbom, D (July 20, 1993)
John Gibson, G (July 14, 1993)
Alexander Khokhlachev, F (Sept 9, 1993)
Brett Ritchie, F (July 1, 1993)
Jeremy Boyce, F (Aug 28, 1993)
Mario Lucia, LW (Aug 25, 1993)
Myles Bell, D (Aug 19, 1993)
Vincent Trocheck, F (July 11, 1993)
Mike Reilly, D (July 13, 1993)
Xavier Oullette, D (July 29, 1993)
Nick Cousins, F (July 20, 1993)
Sergei Shmelev, F (Aug 28, 1993)
Alessio Bertaggia, F (July 30, 1993)
Jordan Binnington, G (July 11, 1993)
Stephen Michalek, G (Aug 6, 1993)
Jaroslav Pavelka, G (Sept 12, 1993)
* Although, this angle seems to make a lot of sense to me. I've done no investigation, but it "feels right" that a player born Sept 12, 1993 might have more opportunity to grow than a player born Sept 17, 1992.
** Additionally, a somewhat more important factor for D and G in the first and second rounds than it would be for forwards.