Using NHLE to evaluate the Sharks' prospect pool

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Tomas Hertl, 17th overall pick by the San Jose Sharks, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A little over a month ago, Jon Allred gave us a terrific overview of the prospects in the Sharks' pipeline and I'd definitely recommend giving that a read if you haven't already. Seeing as San Jose has welcomed a new draft class since that report and discussing the apparently apocalyptic CBA negotiations is kind of a bummer, I thought it might be informative to take a look at the year that was for Sharks prospects, at least in terms of offensive production.

A terrific tool for evaluating prospects' offensive outputs, seeing as most teams' systems include players from a wide array of teams and leagues around the world, is NHL League Equivalencies or NHLE, a methodology developed by Gabriel Desjardins of Behind the Net fame. The theory behind it is essentially that players in major junior, collegiate and European leagues can usually expect to only retain a certain amount of their offense when taking their talents to the NHL. By comparing the NHL production of players who made the jump to their totals the previous season, Gabe was able to discover the translation rate for points per game between the NHL and most of its feeder leagues.

While NHLE isn't flawless (we're essentially ignoring defense and only looking at a player's point total in one season--I know I wouldn't draw any concrete conclusions about a NHL player's talent level based on how many points he scored last year) and other considerations need to be made (age and ice time, which is usually unavailable, being the key ones) it still provides a good indication of how well a prospect is progressing offensively when viewed in context and is easily the most efficient way of making comparisons across a group of prospects. After the jump, we'll take a look at the NHLE scores compiled by Sharks prospects last season. Each player's NHLE is prorated to 82 games.

Forward Age League GP G A P NHLE G NHLE A NHLE P
Travis Oleksuk 23 NCAA 41 21 32 53 17.0 26.2 43.2
Tomas Hertl 18 CZE 38 12 13 25 19.2 20.8 40.0
Matthew Nieto 19 NCAA 37 16 26 42 14.5 23.6 38.1
Freddie Hamilton 20 OHL 60 35 50 85 14.4 20.5 34.9
Sebastian Stalberg 21 NCAA 34 12 19 31 11.9 18.8 30.7
Sean Kuraly 18 USHL 54 32 38 70 13.1 15.6 28.7
John McCarthy 25 AHL 65 19 24 43 10.5 13.3 23.8
Chris Crane 20 NCAA 35 14 10 24 13.4 9.6 23.0
Cody Ferriero 20 NCAA 17 9 6 15 13.0 8.7 21.7
Brandon Mashinter 23 AHL 65 16 18 34 8.9 10.0 18.9
Colin Blackwell 18 NCAA 34 5 14 19 4.9 13.8 18.7
Justin Daniels 22 NCAA 33 7 10 17 7.1 10.2 17.3
Christophe Lalancette 18 QMJHL 63 16 31 47 5.8 11.3 17.1
Brodie Reid 22 AHL 66 11 15 26 6.0 8.2 14.2
Chris Tierney 18 OHL 65 11 23 34 4.2 8.7 12.9
Curt Gogol 23 AHL 53 6 4 10 4.1 6.8 10.9
Daniel O'Regan 18 USHS 27 21 35 56 4.0 6.6 10.6
James Livingston 21 AHL 68 6 13 19 3.2 6.9 10.1
Marek Viedensky 21 AHL 52 5 7 12 3.5 4.9 8.4
Max Gaede 19 NCAA 30 3 4 7 3.4 4.5 7.9
Drew Daniels 22 NCAA 34 0 7 7 0.0 6.9 6.9

  • Tomas Hertl did extremely well last season playing in one of the more difficult pro leagues outside the NHL. As I've mentioned previously, the only other 2012 first-rounders to score a higher NHLE this past year were No. 1 pick Nail Yakupov and overager Tanner Pearson. Hertl's draft-year NHLE also compares very favorably to that of past elite prospects. For example, Jonathan Toews produced the equivalent of 31.2 NHL points in his draft year, Logan Couture scored 35.5, John Tavares scored 41.3, Taylor Hall scored 45.7 and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 36.9. I'm not implying Hertl will turn out to be as good as any of these guys but these numbers, along with what's been reported about his impressive two-way game and possession skills, are very encouraging.
  • Undrafted free agent center Travis Oleksuk, signed by the Sharks in late March, tops the list after finishing fourth in scoring in all of Division 1 college hockey. While I doubt the franchise expects him to make the big club this fall, nor should they, it probably wouldn't be entirely surprising to see the 23-year-old secure a roster spot with a good showing in training camp, especially considering the final forward spot is largely up for grabs as the depth chart currently stands.
  • Given more minutes and a larger role, Matt Nieto had a terrific sophomore campaign at BU. Nieto's NHLE last season was actually higher than that of his former teammate (and former Sharks prospect) Charlie Coyle, and that includes Coyle's stint on the powerhouse St. John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.
  • The team's fifth round picks in each of the last two drafts, Daniel O'Regan and Sean Kuraly, posted very high raw point totals but did so against some middling to below-average competition which knocks them down a few notches here. Still, everyone from Craig Button to Doug Wilson has compared O'Regan to Joe Pavelski which tells me he should be fine. And Kuraly's adjusted totals here still look quite good considering his age and draft position.
  • Someone who follows the Worcester Sharks closer than I do could likely provide a better perspective but it looks like Marek Viedensky had a really tough time adjusting to the pro game after dominating the WHL as a 20-year-old the season prior.
Defenseman Age League GP G A P NHLE G NHLE A NHLE P
Lee Moffie 21 NCAA 41 7 25 32 5.7 20.5 26.2
Matt Irwin 24 AHL 71 11 29 40 5.6 14.7 20.3
Matt Tennyson 21 NCAA 41 11 13 24 9.0 10.7 19.7
Konrad Abeltshauser 19 QMJHL 57 8 36 44 3.2 14.5 17.7
Dylan DeMelo 18 OHL 67 7 40 47 2.6 14.7 17.3
Joakim Ryan 19 NCAA 34 7 10 17 6.9 9.8 16.7
Sena Acolatse 21 AHL 65 8 12 20 4.4 6.7 11.1
Justin Sefton 18 OHL 63 4 15 19 1.6 5.9 7.5
William Wrenn 20 WHL 60 3 13 16 1.2 5.3 6.5
Isaac MacLeod 20 NCAA 44 0 6 6 0.0 4.6 4.6
Nick Petrecki 22 AHL 68 1 7 8 0.5 3.7 4.2
Clifford Watson 18 USHL 58 0 8 8 0.0 3.0 3.0
Taylor Doherty 20 AHL 65 0 5 5 0.0 2.9 2.9

  • I'm not convinced NHLE is all that great for evaluating prospect defensemen (it's no surprise defense-first blueliners like Wrenn, Petrecki and Watson rank low on this list) but there's some interesting stuff to pick through here nonetheless.
  • Lee Moffie is far from a household name but given his productive junior season for Michigan, it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility he could follow in the footsteps of previous blueliners drafted in the seventh round by San Jose, Jason Demers and Justin Braun, somewhere down the road. His NHLE this past year is already around what Braun's was at during his senior season at UMass Amherst.
  • Pleasanton product Matt Tennyson, signed as an undrafted free agent in late March, likely has a bomb from the point given the rate at which he filled the net last year.
  • Swedish-born, Cornell-educated defensemen have been good to the Sharks in the past and here's hoping their final selection of the 2012 draft, Joakim Ryan, carries on Douglas Murray's torch although he appears to be Murray's polar opposite as a player.

I tried to include all of the organization's significant prospects here but it's totally possible I missed somebody. Let me know in the comments if I did and I'll add them.

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