It’s the off-season and the Flames are entering slumber mode until training camp. Nevertheless I still have a few things kicking around my head, including stuff on Sieloff and Jankowski.
– With Pat Sieloff signing his ELC, I’ve heard a lot of noise about him potentially turning pro this year. Sieloff is a rare CHLer in that he can skip right to the AHL at 19 because he spent his 17-18 year old season in the US development system. Taking that preliminary development step would probably be good for a lot of teens who are stuck in juniors owing to the CHL-AHL arrangement, but I’m not sure what the rush is with this particular player.
Sieloff played just 45 games for Windsor last year (scoring 11 points) owing to injury concerns. He made the WJC gold-medal winning US squad, but was a support, bottom-pairing guy. He hasn’t particularly dominated his peers at this point in his development and could probably benefit from a 19-20 year old year in the OHL.
Which is to say there’s no evidence that I can see that suggests Sieloff should jump the queue. A small percentage of prospects are good enough to compete against men before their 20th birthday, but it’s a very big jump to take. Not sure what the rush is with the former 2nd rounder.
– Bit of a brouhaha in the Janko article below I see.
One thing I’ve learned from 6+ years of writing about hockey, and prospects in particular (if only because I’ve engaged in a lot of research that turned out to be completely fruitless), is that you should almost always assume the null hypothesis: ie, this guy probably won’t make the NHL or be a player of note. A very small percentage of kids turn out to be worthwhile pros at all. An even smaller amount of them turn out to be difference makers in the show. Flames fans can count on one hand the number of draft picks over the last decade who are currently playing in the league as anything above a replacement level guy.
Of course, youngsters are a bit of a "blank slate" for a year or two after they’re chosen, with reports of their skill sets and potential NHL ceilings fueling fantasies and speculative roster building. It’s part of the fun of being a fan, of course, particularly when you cheer for a team that has little chance of meaningful success in the near future.
Again, I’ve nevertheless learned to assume the null hypothesis until a prospect can prove otherwise. A kid needs to be extraordinarily dominant relative to his peers in order to make the leap and stick. There aren’t a lot of job openings in the league every season and the competition is comprised of established, well-trained professionals and other exceptional young talents all jostling for a few open spots. So a prospect needs to be consistently great or boast an extreme development curve to even get a legitimate shot.
It’s a tough hill to climb and plenty of guys with glowing scouting reports and great physical attributes fall off a long the way.
In regards to Jankowski in particular, there’s no arguing his results from last year were "meh" at best, even if we look at them in greater detail and from various angles. This is hardly a death blow to his pro aspirations, of course, and there’s also no question his circumstances last year were tougher given his young age and the impotence of his club. Still, pointing out his freshman performance as underwhelming and not indicative of future success isn’t pessimism, hatred or a personal vendetta against the player – it’s a nod to the fact that becoming a useful player in the NHL is really, really hard and that hopefuls need to be better than a huge segment of their peer group – in theory and in fact – to make it.
Janko still has time on his side, but make no mistake – a big step forward is required.
– I mentioned this on twitter the other day, but I looked at a collection of goalies who have recently played in th KHL and NHL with the intention of finding the potential difference (or "translation factor") between the two leagues so we can know what to expect from Ramo this season.
Here’s how the list turned out:
|Player||NHL SA||NHL GA||NHL SV%||KHL SA||KHL GA||KHL SV%|
The key numbers are the aggregate save percentages in each league. This particular group of goalies managed an average SV% of .910 in the NHL over 7000+ shots and a .916 SV% in the KHL over nearly 16000 shots.
Obviously this comes with a huge list of caveats, including the small sample of players, the potential effect of career curves, the fact that we don’t know if team quality meaningful influences SV% in the KHL, etc. The result is intuitive because it shows that pucks are apparently harder to stop in the NHL, but I wouldn’t take the assumed magnitude of the effect too seriously (meaning, I wouldn’t assume Ramo – a career .923 goalie in the KHL – will necessarily be a .917 talent goalie in the NHL).
– Speaking of goalies, Ryan Pinder asked me last week on the radio who I consider to be the Flames best prospect in net currently. I said it was Jon Gillies owing to his remarkable season for Providence as a freshman last year, but again we should be cautious about getting too excited about projecting him as a high-end starter after only a single 30+ game season. Still, if he can replicate or build on his performance as a sophomore, he’ll be a guy to start getting legitimately excited about.