May 29 2014 08:00AM
Via the NHL
Kenneth Agostino has performed well in the collegiate ranks, but most assume that his ceiling is likely that of a third-liner. Is that accurate? The contrast is stark when comparing a senior season in which he had next to no good luck - bad teammates and a low SH% - to a junior season where he had an elevated SH% and good teammates.
2010’s 140th overall pick comes in at 13 on our countdown.
I have Agostino ranked higher than all of my counterparts. Two guys didn’t have him in their top-15 at all. I think this is odd, considering how prolific his college career ultimately was. Agostino finished his 4 years in the Ivy League just shy of a PPG (.99, 132 in 134), posting a good or very good NHLE every year (27, 35, 37, 33). He also has an April 30th birthday, which means he’s playing a year forward, much like Mark Jankowski is doing - Agostino was 21 his entire senior season. Agostino also has a NCAA National Championship from 2013.
In looking at the game sheets from the time before he was Flames property - i.e. his first three years at Yale - I believe he was playing top-6 minutes from about 2/3rds of the way through his Freshman year onwards. PP time comes with that, so that will inflate his scoring a little. I think it’s fair to place his offensive ceiling at that of a good third-liner because he’s failed to break an NHLE of 40 - even with sweet PP time and good line mates. A 39-in-82 pace would make him a top-180 forward. He’s not quite there.
So then why do I have him ranked so high, even after determining that his scoring projection is relatively middling? First, Agostino can burn. Hella fast wheels on this guy. If you can skate well enough, you should be able to win puck battles other players can’t - simply because you’re getting to the puck quicker. I think this is really under appreciated when evaluating guys.
Second, I’m pretty certain Agostino is (and will be) an above-average possession player. Having a good corsi guy on your third line who can score between .3 and .5 PPG would be a huge advantage when the team is ready to contend. Think another Curtis Glencross, but less hitting and more speed. The reason I think he’s good at possessing the puck is because of the grotesque shot totals he put up in college. His per-game numbers improved every season: 2.2 in his freshman year, 3.4 in his sophomore year, 3.8 in his junior year and finally, an absurd 4.9 in his senior season. Generating five shots a game - in any league - is no joke.
It’s also a big reason why I don’t think the dip to an NHLE of 33 after his 37-NHLE junior season is an issue: he just had bad luck this year (SH% of 8.6) compared to the good luck (11.7%) he had last year. As we saw in the Janko article, I’d expect an average SH% of about 10%-12% in the NCAA. Agostino was a tick and a bit back from that. He also probably had artificially low assist numbers, as there was only one other player on Yale this season who scored over 20 points. I think, when all is said and done, he probably settles in the 30-35 range.
|Power Play Points||Secondary Assists||Team Scoring|
|Kenneth Agostino||31% (10/32)||44% (8/18)||30% (32/106)|
I think it’s apparent he drove the bus (or one of the busses) at Yale. He was able to offset his bad luck simply by volume. I believe that’s valuable. Even though he topped out at 37 in a season where basically everything went right, a drop of only four when everything went wrong suggests to me that he might not have the best ceiling but he’s got a pretty good floor. His team scoring percentage is healthy for an NCAA player, but not elite. The PP/EV split is pretty good as well, and though his secondary assists are right at that 55% cut-off, there's some sample size wiggle room. Two "good" and one "average" is worthy of this type of ranking.
Mostly unrelated: Kenny Agostino won’t have much to worry about in terms of being associated with Jarome Iginla. Does anyone actually believe that guys like Agostino or Hanowski or Cundari are going to be blamed if they don’t turn out because of who they were traded for? Who really thinks like that?
It is curious that Agostino was also ranked 13th last year.
Given when he moved into top-six positioning, I’d expect the first shots-per-game bump to be more time-on-ice based. The second and third bumps? Less so. We have genuine progression from Agostino as a possession forward here, and when you clump that together with his speed, his chances of sticking at the NHL level should be pretty good. Maybe not this year, but I definitely think that we will see Kenny Agostino make the transition to full-time NHLer by his 23-year-old season.