May 21 2010 12:47PM
With the draft about a month away, it's time to start turning our attention towards the Flames futures. I plan to profile some of Calgary's top youngsters over the next week or so, beginning with former first rounder Greg Nemisz.
Because of his draft pedigree and accomplishments to date with the CHL's juggernaut Windsor Spitfires, Nemisz is roundly considered to be the Flames best forward prospect behind Mikael Backlund. He has scored 30+ goals in each of his last 3 seasons in the OHL and has also increased his point-per-game pace every year, culminating in the 1.37 rate he managed this year in 51 games.
Nemisz is a big boy at 6'3" and 200 pounds and he can play both wing and center. The Spitfires have deployed him as both a top line scoring option and a second-line "support" player during his time there. Nemisz was also the only Flames prospect to appear in this year's World Junior Championship tournament, although his role and contributions were rather limited. He turns 20 years old in a couple of weeks and is all but guaranteed to be playing for the Abbotsford Heat in October.
The quality of Nemisz' team is both a blessing and a curse. His junior career has been marked by long seasons and playoff success, meaning a decent development environment. However, it's also an environment that would tend to inflate a players counting stats given the high powered arsenal the Spitfires have boasted the last three years. Josh Bailey, Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler Adam Henrique, Andrei Loktionov and Eric Wellwood have all made their way through Windsor during Nemisz' time there. That's a ton of high-end talent. As such, it's possible that his offensive results are being...exaggerated by the fecund climate.
Unfortunately, junior stats lines tend to be extremely limited. We don't even know how many shots Nemisz took on net this year, for instance. Other contextual facts are also lacking: PP points, ES points, etc. So, with a view to improving the landscape a bit, I went through the regular season gamesheets and looked for total offense by the Spitfires with Nemisz in the line-up as well as his ES and PP point totals. Here's what I found:
Windsor Total offense = 255 goals
Nemisz total points = 70
PPG = 1.37
ES points = 40
PP points = 29
EN points = 1
% of total offense = 27.5%
% at ES = 57.1%
NHLE = 34 points
Most of the stuff here is self-explanatory. Nemisz played in just 51 games due to a cut on the leg that cost him the end of the regular season. The Spitfires scored 255 goals for in those 51 games (yup...they averaged an incredible 5 goals per game) meaning Nemisz was in on about 27% of the club's total offense during the regular season. That represents a marginal improvement over last year's 25% ratio, although it still suggests that Nemisz is less a driver of offensive results and more a "cog in the machine" so to speak (a rule of thumb for me is 30% or higher = driver of results).
I've also listed PP and ES production, as well as the percentage of his points that were had at ES. This is a way to look for the "red flag" of a guy putting up a majority of his points with the man advantage. A power play specialist at the junior level doesn't exactly project well going forward (*cough*Rob Schremp*cough*). Nemisz is at a fairly healthy 57% ration of ES-to-PP points, although that's a bit of a dip from the 63.6% he managed previously.
The final number is Nemisz' NHL equivalent point total based on his PPG pace and Desjardin's work on league equivalencies. His findings suggest that OHL players translate their offense at about a 0.3 rate to the NHL, meaning Nemisz' 1.37 PPG pace is equivalent to a 0.41 PPG pace in the NHL (assuming a similar role/circumstances). I multiplied that number by 82 (a full NHL season) to come up with 34, which is the theoretical number of points we could expect out of Nemisz right now over a full year at the NHL level, playing in a similar role. It's an "expected" output in theory only since there's little chance Nemisz would be playing in the Flames top 6 right away, but it's an interesting stake in the ground nonetheless. Also, keep in mind that Nemisz PPG pace is probably skewed by the strength of his team - meaning, so is his NHLE no doubt.
The quantitative information on Nemisz is strong but not eye-popping. There's nothing here, for instance, to suggest that Nemisz will be challenging for a spot on the big club next year or is a good bet to turn into a legit top 6 contributor. That said, there's some things to like here and it looks like there's at least NHL upside (albeit not on the level of "difference maker").
Stay tuned for some observations on Greg Nemisz from Brock Otten.