Using NHLE to evaluate the Sharks' prospect pool
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|
- 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|
- 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.