Via the CHL
I’m a bit surprised JC Lipon went undrafted last year. After posting an NHLE of 23 in his 18 year old season, he was passed over 240ish times by every team in Pittsburgh – for Lipon, perhaps the third time is the charm?
Lipon was only 17 when his first draft rolled around. His size (at the time, 5’9 and 165 pounds) and lack of production were enough to dissuade anyone from drafting him. The season after, Lipon scored 65 points in 69 games and grew a couple inches but it still wasn’t enough for NHL teams to take a flyer.
This year, he was 19 and put up some nice numbers: 89 points in just 61 games, for an NHLE of 36 in, technically, his first real draft+1 season. Lipon started strong, collecting 40 of his 89 points before Halloween rolled around. He’s also grown a little: the WHL site now lists him at 6 feet and 181 pounds – only 10 or so pounds away from being average NHL size.
Lipon is ranked 118th overall on Corey Pronman’s top 250 list and the CSS puts him at 83rd among North American skaters. Lipon is a fast guy and played in all situations this season for his club, the Kamloops Blazers. His skating is considered good, but it isn’t elite. He has struggled on the defensive side of the puck in the past, but his substantial PK time for the Blazers this year seems to suggest those worries might be history.
Lipon’s playmaking skills (i.e., his passing) seem to be the most attractive feature of the kid’s game. On the flipside, he seems to take a lot of penalties, but I’m unsure if that is a direct result of his physical game (okay) or discipline problems (less okay). His only elite talent is likely puck distribution, but he doesn’t have any major deficiencies in his game either.
Lipon has some pretty attractive offensive splits:
- 32 of his 53 assists were primary assists (60%),
- Only 30 of his 89 points (10G, 20A) were powerplay points (34%),
- He contributed to 89 of the team’s 214 goals for when dressed (42%),
- Scored 3 ENG, 2 SHG, 1 SHA and 1 ENA.
Let’s take a look at a couple of his comparables, shall we? I found players who were drafted in 2011 and still played in the WHL this season – needless to say, Lipon looks pretty impressive. Only one player is younger than Lipon on this chart (Stransky). Everyone else is at least 3 months older.
|Michael St. Croix||72||37||55||1.28||31|
These numbers seem to be on Lipon’s side as well. Of course, there is a little bit of reverse survivorship bias, as some players playing in the NHL and AHL will likely have higher NHLEs because they are “better” players playing at higher levels.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that Lipon’s point totals this year were a result of cushy situations, his age, or good linemates. His PPG rate has climbed steadily since coming into the WHL 4 seasons ago, he played the entire season at the age of 19 and he has a very good PP point split. To me, all signs point to this guy being a legit 2/3W in the NHL.
I have no idea where he’ll go, but if he’s available with one of the Flames 3rd or (seemingly unlikely) 5th round picks, it’d be hard to say no.