Good News: Your Team’s Prospect Pool Is Stacked

The Vancouver Canucks are sitting in 28th place in the NHL, with just three wins in their last seven games. At this point, most of the fanbase, and more importantly, team management, has accepted that this is going to be another one of “those years” and are letting the proverbial plug pull itself as the end of the year nears.

Always in search of a silver lining, though, those who follow the Canucks have been in search of good news in the form of updates about their prospects. As such, we’ve been getting a lot of articles and tweets like this one from News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal (a very solid traditional-media follow for Canucks updates):

While nothing is false about this tweet, and I don’t believe that Dhaliwal is attempting to mislead anyone with the information there, it does follow a common flaw in single-team prospect evaluation. It’s a flaw that I’m just as guilty of as everyone, and have worked to towards escaping. Simply, it’s the idea that the team you’re focusing on the most is the only one with players accomplishing things.

That’s not to say that you may as well not bother counting who does what. Especially in two of the above cases: Elias Petterson’s Draft+1 season has a very real case for being the most impressive for a non-immediate graduate ever. Petterson’s numbers leave behind the likes of Peter Forsberg, the Sedin Twins, Nicklas Backstrom, and Markus Naslund. The SHL (and former SEL) might not be the best league in Europe at the top end, but it is historically the deepest, and if you can dominate there, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be a great NHLer.

Similar goes for Jonathan Dahlen, who is having a historically great year in Allsvenskan, the second level of Swedish pro hockey with an almost as good track record for development. Those are rare-event seasons that don’t deserve to be scoffed at. In Pettersson’s case, fans should be head over heels.

The others mentioned though? That’s where it gets murky. There’s a difference between “history books” and “having a good year”, and Gaudette, Lind, and DiPietro are leaning towards the latter here. Prospect development is interesting, with many models trying to figure out what exactly it takes for a player to be a sure thing (pGPS being the public gold standard at the moment). Generally speaking, though, you’ll find that while very few have successful careers without being very good in their youth, but that having very good seasons isn’t a guarantee either. The ladder to the pros has many steps to it, and as competition gets stronger, some guys get phased out. Obviously, the ones who go on “best season we’ve seen from someone his age in decades” have a bit of a better chance.

Not to mention, there are a lot of leagues, a lot of teams, and a lot of age levels to separate players into rankings for, and 31 teams clamouring to build the best pools they can. So my theory here is this: How well can one hype up five prospects from each NHL organization this year?

Here are my caveats, before I post these tables:

  • These are not rankings of teams, or made for comparing organization depth. Some pools are better than the others; the point is to show that every pool has a handful of players that you can take the used car salesman approach with
  • I’ve only used this year’s numbers for these tables. Some players, as a result, don’t look as good as they should, because they’ve just come out of cold streaks, or not quite as dominant years. Take Ilya Samsonov from Washington, for example, he’s had a very good year in the KHL, but not the historically great ones for his age that the two seasons prior provided, which have solidified him as a can’t-miss prospect.
  • On a similar vein to the above point, these aren’t 1-5 rankings of each team’s prospect pool. They’re just five guys that I could sell the hardest on this year’s performance, placed in their respective tables in no particular order. For example, if I wasn’t using a carbon copy of Rick’s tweet for Vancouver and you asked me for a Top-5, I’d be swapping out Michael DiPietro and one of Kole Lind or Adam Gaudette for Thatcher Demko and Olli Juolevi.
  • This also isn’t a comparison of young cores in general. A lot of teams have graduated young players because they were talented enough to jump straight into the NHL in their first or second year. I had to spend a lot of time finding people for Boston, Buffalo, and Washington, for example, but those teams have a good chunk of relatively recent picks and acquisitions playing up top. Edmonton is the same, but they have Jesse Puljujarvi and some kid named Connor with the big club.
  • NHL graduates are mostly avoided. I gave Nikita Scherbak to Montreal because he is a relatively recent call-up and had a great AHL season prior, but that’s the extent of my manipulation in that regard.
  • Two prime-age KHLers are used here: Alexander Khokhlachev (BOS) and Nikita Gusev (VGK). Kohkhlachev is supposedly interested in returning to the NHL next year, while Gusev has been forever gossiped and in an organization just establishing a prospect pool, so they get that pass.
  • Lastly, this is not made to suggest that the Canucks prospect pool is bad. It’s above the league average (but could and should be a lot better), and there are a lot of teams here where I’d reject getting all of their five players just for Petterson alone. The point is more for the players in the middle: the Lind, Gaudette, DiPietro types; that other teams have players doing those things as well, and that the same degree of hype shouldn’t be placed on them. Players in recent years with similar NCAA to Adam Gaudette this year, for example, include names like Zachary Aston-Reese, Evan Rodrigues, and Jimmy Vesey. Getting a decent third line centre would be a big coup with that in mind, but does constantly mentioning his scoring title in the same breath as a Pettersson-type drive the bar of expectation up too high?
  • Similarly, for other fanbases, that your team isn’t the only one with those types of players. There are a few top prospects here, but most these guys amount to decent-percentage bets to be decent players, with a couple who might luck into becoming difference makers, and a couple more who might disappear off to European success or an early life-after-hockey.

Without further ado, look how stacked ___________’s prospect pool is! They’re killing it this year!

Anaheim Ducks

Player Stat
Sam Steel 1st Points, Regina WHL
Max Jones 1st Goals/Game, London OHL
Antoine Morand 1st Points, Acadie-Bathurst QMJHL
Josh Mahura 2nd Goals, WHL Defencemen
Maxime Comtois 3rd Goals, QMJHL

Arizona Coyotes

Player Stat
Brayden Burke 4th Points / Pts Game, WHL
Tyler Steenbergen 2nd Points / Game, WHL
Cam Dineen 4th Points, OHL Defencemen
Dylan Strome 6th Points / Game, AHL
Nick Merkley 4th Points / Game, AHL

Boston Bruins

Player Stat
Ryan Donato 1st Goals, 2018 Olympics
Jack Studnicka 1st Points, OHL Oshawa
Trent Frederic 2nd Goals, U20 NCAA
Urho Vaakanainen 3rd Points, Liiga U20 D
Alex Khokhlachev 6th Points, KHL

Buffalo Sabres

Player Stat
CJ Smith 5th Points, AHL Rookie F
Marcus Davidsson 2nd Points, U20 SHL
Brendan Guhle 4th Points, AHL Rookie D
Rasmus Asplund 3rd Points, SHL U21
Casey Mittlestadt 6th Points, U20 NCAA

Calgary Flames

Player Stat
Glenn Gawdin 1st Points, WHL
Matthew Phillips 5th Points, WHL
Eetu Tuuola 2nd Goals, U20 Liiga
Andrew Mangiapane 2nd Points/Game, AHL
Rasmus Andersson 5th Points, AHL Defencemen

Carolina Hurricanes

Player Stat
Aleksi Saarela 5th Goals, AHL Rookies
Warren Foegele 1st Goals, AHL Rookies
Valentin Zykov 1st Goals, AHL
Trevor Carrick T-3 Points, AHL U24 D
Jeremy Helvig 1st SV%, OHL Starters

Chicago Blackhawks

Player Stat
Dylan Sikura 4th Points, NCAA
Henri Jokiharju 5th Points, WHL Defencemen
Matthew Highmore 3rd Goals, AHL Rookies
Tim Soderlund T2 Goals, U20 SHL
Ivan Nalimov 2nd SV%, KHL

Colorado Avalanche

Player Stat
Ty Lewis 1st Points, Brandon WHL
Conor Timmins 4th Points/Game, OHL
Adam Werner 10th SV%, Allsvenskan
Shane Bowers 3rd Goals, NCAA U20
Cale Makar All-Star, 2018 WJC

Columbus Blue Jackets

Player Stat
Vitali Abramov 2nd Points, QMJHL
Alex Texier 3rd Goals, U20 Liiga
Kale Howarth 2nd Points/Game, BCHL
Kole Sherwood 2nd Goals, Kitchener OHL
Emil Bemstrom 2nd Points/Game, SuperElit

Dallas Stars

Player Stat
Colton Point 1st SV%, NCAA
Jason Robertson 3rd Goals, OHL
Miro Heiskanen 1st Points/Game, U24 Liiga D
Jake Oettinger 4th SV%, U20 NCAA
Jakob Stenqvist 1st Points, U20 Allsvenskan

Detroit Red Wings

Player Stat
Filip Hronek 2nd Points, AHL Rookie D
Libor Sulak 1st Points, U24 Liiga D
Dennis Cholowski 8th Points, WHL Defencemen
Michael Rasmussen 1st Pts/Game, Tri-City WHL
David Pope 12th Goals, NCAA

Edmonton Oilers

Player Stat
Stuart Skinner 4th SV%, WHL
Ethan Bear 9th Goals, AHL Rookie D
Kailer Yamamoto 6th Points/Game, WHL
Cameron Hebig 1st Goals/Game, Saskatoon WHL
Kirill Maximov 1st Points/Game, Niagara OHL

Florida Panthers

Player Stat
Aleksi Heponiemi 1st Points/Game, WHL
Adam Mascherin 6th in Points, OHL
Owen Tippett 9th in PTS/GP, OHL
Henrik Borgstrom 5th in PTS/GP, NCAA
Max Gilton 4th in U20 Pts by D, NCAA

Los Angeles Kings

Player Stat
Kale Clague 3rd Points, WHL Defencemen
Gabriel Vilardi 2nd Points/Game, OHL
Jarret Anderson-Dolan 1st Points, Spokane WHL
Drake Rymsha 2nd Points, Sarnia OHL
Austin Strand 3rd Goals, WHL Defencemen

Minnesota Wild

Player Stat
Dmitri Sokolov 1st Goals, OHL
Kaapo Kahkonen 5th SV%, Liiga
Kirill Kaprizov 1st Points/Game, U24 KHL
Ivan Lodnia 1st Assists, Erie OHL
Lous Belpedio T-7 Goals, NCAA Defencemen

Montreal Canadiens

Player Stat
Cayden Prmeau 4th SV%, NCAA
Ryan Poehling 2nd U20 Points/Game, NCAA
Nikita Scherbak 2nd Points/Game, U24 AHL
William Bitten 1st Assists, Hamilton OHL
Jake Evans 1st Points, Notre Dame NCAA

Nashville Predators

Player Stat
Patrick Harper 1st U20 Points/Game, NCAA
Eeli Tolvanen 1st U20 Points, KHL
Dante Fabbro 2nd U20 Points, NCAA D
Thomas Novak 1st Assists, NCAA U-Minnesota
Rem Pitlick 1st Points, NCAA U-Minnesota

New Jersey Devils

Player Stat
Colby Sissons 4th Points, WHL Defencemen
Jesper Boqvist 4th Points/Game, U20 SHL
Aarne Talvitie 3rd Points, Jr A SM-Liiga
Joey Anderson USA Captain, 2018 WJC
Michael McLeod 2nd Points/Game, Mississauga OHL

New York Islanders

Player Stat
David Quenneville 1st Points, WHL Defencemen
Sebastian Aho 8th Goals, AHL Defencemen
Anatoli Golyshev 3rd Points/Game, U24 KHL
Otto Koivula 3rd Points, U20 Liiga
Ilya Sorokin 5th SV%, U24 KHL

New York Rangers

Player Stat
Ty Ronning 2nd Goals, WHL
Lias Andersson 2nd Points/Game, U20 SHL
Igor Shestyorkin 6th SV%, U24 KHL
Filip Chytil 5th Pts/G All-Time, Age 18 AHL F
Sean Day 9th Points/Game, OHL Defencemen

Ottawa Senators

Player Stat
Aaron Luchuck 1st Points, OHL
Logan Brown 6th Points/Game, OHL
Filip Gustavsson 4th SV%, SHL
Markus Nurmi 5th Goals, U20 Liiga
Christian Wolanin 1st Goals, NCAA D

Philadelphia Flyers

Player Stat
Carter Hart 1st SV%, WHL
Morgan Frost 3rd OHL, Points
Casen Twarynski 1st Goals, Kelowna WHL
Wade Allison 5th Points/Game, NCAA
Cooper Marody 10th Points/Game, NCAA

Pittsburgh Penguins

Player Stat
Daniel Sprong 2nd Points, AHL Rookie F
Niclas Almari 5th Points, U20 Liiga D
Sam Miletic 6th Points, OHL
Jordy Bellerive 8th Goals, WHL
Anthony Angello 1st Points, NCAA Cornell

San Jose Sharks

Player Stat
Jadyen Habgewachs 1st Goals, WHL
Antoine Bibeau 5th SV%, AHL
Dyan Gambrell 13th Points/Game, NCAA
Alexander Chmelevski 1st Points, OHL Ottawa
Maxim Letunov 1st Points, NCAA Uconn

St Louis Blues

Player Stat
Jordan Kyrou 1st Assists, OHL
Robert Thomas 8th Points/Game, OHL
Jordan Binnington 3rd SV%, AHL
Ville Husso 4th SV%, AHL
Nolan Stevens 9th Goals, NCAA

Tampa Bay Lightning

Player Stat
Boris Katchouk 4th Goals, OHL
Cal Foote 2nd Goals, WHL Defencemen
Alex Barre-Boulet 1st Points, QMJHL
Otto Somppi 5th Points, QMJHL
Mathieu Joseph 4th Points, AHL Rookie F

Toronto Maple Leafs

Player Stat
Andreas Johnsson 3rd Points, AHL
Garret Sparks 1st SV%, AHL Starters
Timothy Liljegren 1st Pts/G All-Time, Age 18 AHL D
Carl Grundstrom 2nd SHL, U21 Goals
Yegor Korshkov 12th KHL, U24 Points

Vancouver Canucks

Player Stat
Elias Petterson 1st Points, SHL
Adam Gaudette 1st Points, NCAA
Jonathan Dahlen 1st Points, Allsvenskan Timra
Kole Lind 1st Points, WHL Kelowna
Michael DiPietro 3rd GAA, OHL

Vegas Golden Knights

Player Stat
Nick Suzuki 4th Points, OHL
Nicolas Hague 2nd Points, OHL Defencemen
Lucas Elvenes 4th Points, U20 SHL
Erik Brannstrom 2nd Points, U20 SHL D
Nikita Gusev 2nd Points, KHL

Washington Capitals

Player Stat
Lucas Johansen 5th Points, AHL Rookie D
Axel Jonsson Fjallby 5th Points, U20 SHL
Ilya Samsonov 7th SV%, U24 KHL
Brian Pinho 2nd Points, NCAA Providence
Damien Riat 1st Points, U21 NLA

Winnipeg Jets

Player Stat
Skyler McKenzie 5th Goals, WHL
Sami Niku 1st Points, AHL Defencemen
Mason Appleton 1st Points, AHL Rookie F
Kristian Vesalainen 6th Goals, Liiga (1st U20 Points)
Jordy Stallard 1st Points, WHL Prince Albert

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