The 2014 Flames Fifteen - #13: Kenneth Agostino

Justin Azevedo
May 29 2014 08:00AM

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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.

  Justin Kent Ryan BoL Byron Taylor Christian 2013 2012
Kenneth Agostino 10 15 N/R 13 12 13 N/R 13 N/P

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Justin is a 23-year-old Flames fan who also happens to be pursuing a double major at the University of Calgary. He has played hockey at high levels, enjoys wearing shorts and tends to drink far too much Grasshopper. Please don't hate him.
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#1 Baalzamon
May 29 2014, 08:12AM
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When I heard about the trade to Pittsburgh, I was a little peeved about the return... but I was already somewhat familiar with Agostino, and was happy the Flames had at least managed to include him as a piece (Hanowski, on the other hand, I had never even heard of).

Love the way this kid plays.

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#2 Kenta
May 29 2014, 08:43AM
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We'll see. I think he is a long shot, especially if we continue to draft well. Too many "could have, would have, should have" excuses for his sub par performance in your write up. He also may be less motivated than some of his peers as he has an Ivy League degree to fall back on.

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#3 Parallex
May 29 2014, 08:56AM
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"Think another Curtis Glencross"

Yup, after the Iginla trade when I went on a googling binge trying to see and learn about those guys the first name that popped into my head regarding Agostino was Glencross. When I finally saw him play that was confirmed even more... He even looks a bit like Glencross.

I think hell be an NHL player... I'm not sure he'll be an NHL player for us (lot of talented prospects in the system now, he might get crowded out) but I think he'll play in the league. I think he'll have at least a few years apprenticeship in the AHL, probably break into the league at age 24 or 25.

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#4 piscera.infada
May 29 2014, 09:04AM
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@Parallex

I think he'll be valuable asset to the team. When I heard about the trade, I asked a few friends who went to Yale about him. They came up with one comparable at least in terms of the style he plays (not necessarily point production) - Ryan Callahan. If he can bring some of those 'intangibles' to the team (including leadership), I could see Kenny being a very valuable player moving forward. Especially if he continues to develop as a possession player. I mean, imagine him and Backlund on a third line in the future. Drool.

I'm not saying he'll become Ryan Callahan at all. But It's an interesting comparable.

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#5 Chambers
May 29 2014, 09:07AM
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Kenta wrote:

We'll see. I think he is a long shot, especially if we continue to draft well. Too many "could have, would have, should have" excuses for his sub par performance in your write up. He also may be less motivated than some of his peers as he has an Ivy League degree to fall back on.

I am assuming your kidding ? Right?

Achieving an Ivy League degree clearly demonstrates your ability to complete huge accomplishments. The fact that he is highly educated gives the Flames comfort that this kid can indeed achieve lofty goals...i.e. making the NHL!

Get real!!!

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#6 CDB
May 29 2014, 09:11AM
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Kenta wrote:

We'll see. I think he is a long shot, especially if we continue to draft well. Too many "could have, would have, should have" excuses for his sub par performance in your write up. He also may be less motivated than some of his peers as he has an Ivy League degree to fall back on.

Seriously? Less motivated than his peers because of an Ivy League degree? Westgarth and Parross both have Princeton degrees and are willing to get punched in the face and regularly knocked unconsciuous....

Regardless of where your degree comes from, not too many people make 700k (league minimum) or even what he will probably get in the AHL when factoring in performance incentives, especially at that age. He's a hockey player, because he was intelligent enough to get into a terrific school does not make him less motivated.

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#7 SmellOfVictory
May 29 2014, 09:13AM
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Nice write-up. I'm not super familiar with Agostino, so it's good to know that he's got such promising numbers.

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#8 PrairieStew
May 29 2014, 09:20AM
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An NHLe in the mid 30's is not that bad. How many wingers did we have that scored at that rate last year? 6 - Hudler, Cammaleri, Glencross, Stempniak, Byron, and Sven. One already gone, and one likely gone. With Sven and Byron one essentially replaced the other on the roster.

I see Agostino as Galiardi - 4 years younger. I think the Flames should qualify TJ with an offer but only for one year and if a guy like Agostino can produce at the same rate go with him.

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#9 Kmp
May 29 2014, 09:23AM
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I like Agostino good skater, really good on the forecheck. Doesn't have Glencross's hands, but should be a good bottom six guy.

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#10 DoubleDIon
May 29 2014, 10:00AM
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Seriously? You think he's faster than Glencross? You do realize Glencross is our fastest player right? Or at least he was before this year for sure. Agostino is a good skater, but not faster than Glencross.

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#11 mattyc
May 29 2014, 10:07AM
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Nice write up.

I think it's really promising that he's been averaging a lot of shots. I should also add that the difference in NHLE from 33-37 is less significant for a NCAA prospect than CHL/AHL because college players play less than half the number of games (leaving more chance for luck to play a bigger influence, as you alluded to).

I also completely agree with you about speed being an important (and maybe underrated) skill for a prospect. When I think possession, I think puck retrieval mostly, which is a combination of speed and positioning. I'd imagine it's a lot easier to teach positioning than speed. Similarly, I think of some of the corsi-monsters, and they're all guys that can wheel (Justin Williams, Bergeron, Toews, Parise)

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#12 Parallex
May 29 2014, 10:11AM
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@DoubleDIon

I dunno... if he's not faster then Glencross I think he's pretty close, guy can really skate. Glencross isn't our fastest skater, pretty sure Byron would blow him away in any sort of race.

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#13 Kenta
May 29 2014, 10:16AM
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Chambers wrote:

I am assuming your kidding ? Right?

Achieving an Ivy League degree clearly demonstrates your ability to complete huge accomplishments. The fact that he is highly educated gives the Flames comfort that this kid can indeed achieve lofty goals...i.e. making the NHL!

Get real!!!

As your response indicates you may lack an Ivy League degree, I'll spell it out for you. A marginal NHL prospect often struggles in making an NHL roster. This involves allot of sweat and tears and can be frustrating. If said player has other well paying options in the real world (as many Ivy League student-athletes do given their alumni network of contacts), they may bail if the going gets tough. The fact he is obviously a very talented and smart kid is obvious. Whether he is willing to hang in there over the medium term remains to be seen.

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#14 piscera.infada
May 29 2014, 10:40AM
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Kenta wrote:

As your response indicates you may lack an Ivy League degree, I'll spell it out for you. A marginal NHL prospect often struggles in making an NHL roster. This involves allot of sweat and tears and can be frustrating. If said player has other well paying options in the real world (as many Ivy League student-athletes do given their alumni network of contacts), they may bail if the going gets tough. The fact he is obviously a very talented and smart kid is obvious. Whether he is willing to hang in there over the medium term remains to be seen.

Can you provide an instance of an Ivy-League educated athlete who decided to forgo their (I'm assuming lifelong) dream of becoming a professional athlete (a job that very few people in the world get even a sniff at) because they don't want to put the work in?

If anything, the fact that he was able to "make it" in a reputable post-secondary institution, would prove that he has the work ethic to ensure he is successful in whatever he sets his mind to. NHL jobs don't grow on trees - there's what, 780 full-time positions available in the entire world? Yes, it's a pretty solid fail-safe, but I very much doubt the kid's dream since he was a little boy in New Jersey was to parlay his Political Science degree into gainful employment.

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#15 JayD54
May 29 2014, 10:54AM
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Full disclosure, I have not yet bought into any of the 'new fangled' stats (i.e. Corsi) that are now coming into play.

That said, from the limited sample we had of Agostino in April, I like the kids potential. His first couple games, he looked like a deer in the headlights before he got his legs going. Then he managed to make a couple of good offensive plays and did score a goal. Like a lot of rookies, its in his own end where he appears to need the most work.

I, for one, like him and his potential given his size and demonstrated abilities with his head and his skills. I will give him more than 8 games to 'show me' and would expect that he will be one who will benefit from (Troy Ward (I hope))coaching in the AHL and make a full time appearance in the Flaming C sometime in 2015.

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#16 Stubblejumper
May 29 2014, 11:53AM
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Nice post Justin.

I'm likely not as optimistic about you about Aggie's future NHL potential.

On the left side we have Glencross and Hudler currently.

Behind them on the depth chart is Gaudreau, Baertschi, Klimchuk, Agostino, Hanowski.

I guess for me the question is...who's best amongst Klimchuk, Hanowski and Agostino for the 3LW role..?

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#17 Baalzamon
May 29 2014, 12:17PM
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@Stubblejumper

who's best amongst Klimchuk, Hanowski and Agostino for the 3LW role..?

Ago's better than Hano (who has been playing RW anyway, as far as I know), and Klimchuk's a few more years out. Who knows, by the time Klimchuk makes it he might be the #2 LW.

I think people get a bit too hung up on which side a player plays on, especially with wingers. Most wingers can play on either side. Handedness is irrelevant as well, as a lot of wingers prefer their off wing (see Rene Bourque, early-career Alex Ovechkin, etc).

Also, it often seems like LW is the "default" listed position.

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#18 SmellOfVictory
May 29 2014, 12:20PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

Nice post Justin.

I'm likely not as optimistic about you about Aggie's future NHL potential.

On the left side we have Glencross and Hudler currently.

Behind them on the depth chart is Gaudreau, Baertschi, Klimchuk, Agostino, Hanowski.

I guess for me the question is...who's best amongst Klimchuk, Hanowski and Agostino for the 3LW role..?

Hudler plays on the right and Hanowski is not NHL calibre.

Certainly, there's a small glut of young guys who might be able to slot into LW soon (JG and Sven being the most likely newcomers in addition to Agostino), but that doesn't make him an odd man out yet. Plus a lot of guys can play both wings, and worst case scenario he might get pushed to the 4th line.

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#19 Stubblejumper
May 29 2014, 01:01PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Hudler plays on the right and Hanowski is not NHL calibre.

Certainly, there's a small glut of young guys who might be able to slot into LW soon (JG and Sven being the most likely newcomers in addition to Agostino), but that doesn't make him an odd man out yet. Plus a lot of guys can play both wings, and worst case scenario he might get pushed to the 4th line.

Re Hudler playing RW..yes agree, particularly when on the same line as Glencross. Colborne, another lefty, does the same.

Fast forwarding 2-3 years and looking at the left side..first question..is Glencross re-signed and is Hudler gone? And making the assumption that Baertschi does well and something silly doesn't happen (like trading him).

So in 2015-16 LW looks something like Gaudreau, Glencross, Baertschi.

I agree Hano is not an NHLer...skating is a major issue (while he has size I can't understand why he was even thrown in the deal).

Given the current prospect pool this means Klimchuk or Agostino. Aggie has age & experience giving him the edge, sheltering Klimmer for another year or two. However Klimmer may have more upside potential. Plus more prospects will be added to the pool.

However I wouldn't be sold on either Aggie or Klimmer depending on the composition of the team and the concept for the 4th line.

Either way Agostino has a tough road ahead to make and stick with the team.

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#20 loudogYYC
May 29 2014, 01:28PM
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Kenta wrote:

As your response indicates you may lack an Ivy League degree, I'll spell it out for you. A marginal NHL prospect often struggles in making an NHL roster. This involves allot of sweat and tears and can be frustrating. If said player has other well paying options in the real world (as many Ivy League student-athletes do given their alumni network of contacts), they may bail if the going gets tough. The fact he is obviously a very talented and smart kid is obvious. Whether he is willing to hang in there over the medium term remains to be seen.

Don't be a douche man.

Agostino looked really good in prospect camp last year, I hope he's a 3rd liner by next season cuz it's probably time to trade Glencross too.

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#21 PrairieStew
May 29 2014, 03:22PM
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@Stubblejumper

Hanowski keeps coming up in this thread and I don't expect him later ( and higher ) in the Flames 15, so I'm going to have a go at him now.

As pointed out by many his skating skills are less than stellar, but there are plenty of NHL wingers who aren't exactly fleet of foot. 2 of them suited up for the Flames regularly last year - Westgarth and McGrattan. I would suggest that Hanowski's puck skills are better than both of those guys so I think in that sense he could be a competent NHLer; and his size is something that differentiates him from some of the other young guys .

I would be willing to wager that the opening salvo by Treliving/Burke in a contract discussion with Hanowski is this : " How do you feel about fighting ?". If the guy knows whats good for him he'll say he is willing to learn. I think he could be a useful guy if he adds that willingness ( if not skill) to drop the mittens, and could easily see him as a 4th line 5-8 goals, 12-20 point guy.

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#22 Stubblejumper
May 29 2014, 04:02PM
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@PrairieStew

An astute observation..:)

Essentially a "are you willing to do what it takes to get/stay in the show" conversation.

Even if willing he too will likely find it an uphill struggle as he battles with VanBrabant & Wolf as heavies, but also Ferland & Arnold as middleweights with greater skating, skill & offensive upside.

BVB rang up 160+ PIMs in the AJHL and 100+ PIMs & 15G in the NCAA, and comparatively is a good agile skater for a 6'3" 220lb guy. Wolf had even more PIMs and had a very healthy 0.7 ppg (albeit in the DEL).

To beat these guys out Hanowski better be in summer power skating school, come to camp in the best shape of his life, and show he has the eye of the tiger.

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#23 Jeff Lebowski
May 29 2014, 04:12PM
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Chambers wrote:

I am assuming your kidding ? Right?

Achieving an Ivy League degree clearly demonstrates your ability to complete huge accomplishments. The fact that he is highly educated gives the Flames comfort that this kid can indeed achieve lofty goals...i.e. making the NHL!

Get real!!!

Athletes who graduate from Ivy league schools - are NOT necessarily geniuses or even 'smart'. Although the athletic scholarship situation is not the same as non ivies, just because an athlete got into Yale doesn't mean he/she met the same requirements of a regular student (high marks, interviews etc).

The coach will say, this is an important player for our program and as long as he/she meets the minimum standards (SAT) of that institution - he/she gets in. Those minimum standards are never the entry for non athletes. These kids must be the top 1%.

I'm not saying these athletes are all dumb. I'm saying if they didn't play such and such sport, they would have ZERO chance of entry into an ivy.

Also, you can graduate at the bottom of your class and still get the same degree as all the others (who didn't get some latin designation like summa cum laude).

But you're around the best higher education has to offer (teachers, resources, students) so at the end you can sound 'smart'.

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#24 Chambers
May 29 2014, 06:16PM
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Kenta wrote:

As your response indicates you may lack an Ivy League degree, I'll spell it out for you. A marginal NHL prospect often struggles in making an NHL roster. This involves allot of sweat and tears and can be frustrating. If said player has other well paying options in the real world (as many Ivy League student-athletes do given their alumni network of contacts), they may bail if the going gets tough. The fact he is obviously a very talented and smart kid is obvious. Whether he is willing to hang in there over the medium term remains to be seen.

Let me spell this out for you as you are continuing to embarrass yourself with your ridiculous comments...I have spent an entire career interviewing and hiring University graduates. The astute practical graduates (not all) clearly demonstrate that they are able to leap and achieve lofty goals wether it be in business or in hockey. The advantage these graduates have over anyone else is that they have demonstrated their ability to commence a complex programme and in fact complete it too graduation.

Although the degree does not guarantee success in hockey it gives an employer (Flames) comfort that this kid has his s__t in order! The fact that he may be skilled enough to take it through an NHL career remains to be seen!

I'm willing to bet that Agostino has the determination to succeed in hockey and his accomplishments on the educational side will only drive him more to succeed! Exactly opposite of what you are suggesting!

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#25 Bj
May 29 2014, 06:31PM
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Glenx certainly seems like a good comparison. Remember that Glencross improved quote a bite after he made it as a full time NHLer.... hopefully Ago can too.

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#26 Sobueno
May 29 2014, 06:56PM
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@Chambers

I'd tend to agree with you on this one. I'm in a pretty damn competitive program at school right now that took extensive volunteering, good grades, extracurriculars, etc. to even get a sniff at an interview. A lot of my classmates are high level athletes (a couple of former olympians even), which apparently is pretty attractive to the admissions committee. In this case, it's the opposite of what we're discussing - the elite athlete has the qualities of commitment and hard work to be successful in an academic setting. I would argue it can go the opposite direction as well - those qualities that allow someone to be a successful student are transferrable to other areas as well (bless them with some killer physical talents and they could conceivably be successful athletes as well).

Fair point though that at an undergraduate level, not all students on an athletic scholarship would have gained their same admission on their academic merit alone.

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