This tweet and this blog post made me curious about how the Sharks’ AHL prospects are looking these days. I knew last season wasn’t a strong one for the Barracuda, but this year, while still very early, has been quite a bit better. If you didn’t read that article (shame on you, content hater), here’s the gist of Josh Weissbock’s dealio:
Forwards 21 and younger who average fewer than 0.7 points per game are longshots to make the NHL. Once they hit 22, that number bumps up to a point per game. For defenders, 0.5 points per game will do it if you’re under 22 and 0.7 per game is the goal if you’re older than 22.
Some caution: These are probabilities, not certainties. Players who average a point per game in the AHL can flame out in the NHL and guys who don’t develop their scoring touch until they’re 23 may become pleasant surprises. And, obviously, points aren’t the only way to judge a player’s value to a team. We’re looking at this because it’s informative, not because it’s all knowing.
So let’s start with the bad news. The 2015-16 season stunk for the Barracuda in terms of prospect production. See what I mean:
As you can see, only Nikolay Goldobin lived up to his production expectations. You’ll notice most of these players aren’t prospects, so this isn’t a huge surprise. The biggest disappointment is probably Mirco Mueller, who only averaged .22 points per game in his age 20 season.
Goldobin’s scoring has never been in doubt, of course, but I think his NHL prospects are quite good. There’s always room in the NHL for scoring, and as the Sharks continue to struggle in that category his numbers become all the sexier. He’ll get another chance at the NHL level.
Before looking at this season’s numbers, note this sample is far too small to draw any conclusions from it. With that in mind, I’ll be updating this spreadsheet throughout the season. Bookmark it if you’d like to see how the Sharks’ prospects are doing. Now hit the sheets:
There’s a lot more green on this chart. You’ll notice two of the four forwards in the green have already been called up (Kevin Labanc and Daniel O’Regan) while Goldobin continues his tear in the AHL and Rourke Chartier is a player who might get a chance if O’Regan doesn’t perform in the NHL.
What’s most exciting about those forwards is their age. Only O’Regan is older than 21 (he’s 22), so the Sharks have a ton of youth waiting to get their shot in the NHL. Timo Meier sits just outside the edge as he’s averaging 0.67 points per game in his first professional season. I feel confident he’ll get above the 0.7 mark before it’s all said and done.
Moving on to the defense, you’ll see both Julius Bergman and Tim Heed have put themselves in good positions. The Sharks are currently all set defensively, but with the expansion draft looming and Brent Burns yet to be extended ... well, you can never have enough depth. Sadly Mueller hasn’t seen much of an improvement in his scoring (up .05 points per game), though his age offers a bit of optimism.
While the Sharks are certainly fighting through things right now, it’s exciting to see the prospect pool hanging out with the Barracuda. This is as deep a pool the Sharks have had for many, many years. Doug Wilson and company deserve credit for that. Now we wait for these guys to make an impact at the NHL level.