Due to last week’s Christmas break there will be no weekly report so instead I will do something a little different this week.
In August I wrote about evaluating Flyers prospects using NHL Equivalanecies or NHLE. For those new to this concept, NHLE allows us to take a player’s stat line in a lesser league and figure out how their offensive performance translates to the NHL. It enables us to get a ballpark idea of how a prospect would perform if they were given a full season in the NHL. It also makes it easier to compare prospects playing in different leagues. To get a full understanding of NHLE go here.
Since we’re about half-way through the season I thought it would be a good time to take a closer look at the performance of our prospects. I included the European trio of Popov, Bodrov, and Bertilsson to see how they stack up against the rest.
The stats in the tables here are the NHL Equivalency numbers derived from their current performance in their respective leagues. This is a rough idea of what we could expect of them in the NHLE based on their performance this year. This post from August explains how the NHLE is calculated.
In August I wrote Brendan Ranford was the most interesting prospect on the list due to his age and his performance in comparison to prospects that were older than him. So far this season he has cemented himself as the one name all Flyers fans should know. The 7th round pick is having a magical season that would have given him first round consideration if it happened a year ago.
It’s only a half a season, but what is impressive to me is that his performance is slightly better than the final seasons of the junior careers of Carter and Richards is also better than JVR’s final season in the NCAA. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have found our next young stud because he has size and skating issues that the others did not possess, but I feel he should be considered to the gem of our system due to his age and performance.
Outside of Ranford there is not a whole lot that impresses me about our list of forwards. Tye McGinn is having a solid season, but it’s about what you would expect from a 20 year old in juniors. Dave Labrecque is on the same pace as last season which is good, but like McGinn he’s a little old for the league at the age of 20. Michael Chaput is also on the same pace, but the good news is he is only 18 so there is a bit more promise there.
Andrei Popov was at the top of the list back of August, but finds himself 4th this time around. He is significantly off last year’s pace which is a disappointment for the 22 year old in his 5th year of pro hockey. One has to wonder if last year was just a career year.
Luke Pither, Mike Testwuide, Eric Wellwood, and Stefan Legein are all off of last year’s pace. It’s worth nothing that Pither and Wellwood made the jump from juniors to the AHL while Testwuide made the jump from the NCAA to the AHL which could account for the drop in production. Although I suspect Pither as an overager was beating up on the younger competition and isn’t really as good as his performance last season would indicate.
In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say Brendan Ranford looks to be our only forward prospect who has the potential to play on a scoring line in the NHL. That said, I feel a handful of these guys could probably end up contributing in the NHL as role players which certainly has its value. Perhaps there will also be another Andreas Nodl in this bunch.
Erik Gustafsson remains the gem on defense. What impresses me is he remains on the same pace as last year despite making the jump from the NCAA to the AHL full time. Playing on an offensively inept team also has not hurt his offensive game one bit. He’s not a young prospect, but he is the most talented and the most ready to contribute in the NHL. He was a really nice find by the scouting staff and Paul Holmgren.
The newly signed Brandon Manning looks to be our next most impressive defenseman in terms of his offensive game, but we have another 20 year old junior who could be benefitting by beating up on the younger competition.
Tyler Hostetter has bettered his pace from last season and was on pace to have the best season of his junior career.
Joonas Lehtivuori, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Kevin Marshall are all on the same pace as last season. I would have liked to see some improvement from Lehtivuori and Bourdon considering their offense is supposed to be their strength, but playing on team with no scoring certainly hasn’t helped them develop.
It’s hard to get a true read on the defenseman since this does not evaluate their defensive play, but overall I feel a slight more optimism with the defense crop since most of them have been able to better or repeat their performance from last year. As with the forwards there isn’t a lot of quality in terms of potential impact players at the next level, but a few of these guys may be reliable on a bottom pairing in the NHL.