Via the NHL
There’s two things about Mark Jankowski that cannot be argued: the first is that he’s shown improvement year-over-year. The second is that that improvement, at first glance, doesn’t mean as much because of where he was starting from.
The former first-rounder comes in at #14 on our countdown.
Jankowski was always a risky pick, and the Flames felt that in order to get value for their pick they would have to move down to select him. (They also got Pat Sieloff, but unless he becomes an impact player, he’s mostly irrelevant to this discussion. Also, from @SKRollins on Twitter: “my favourite thing about the trade-down defense is the only reason they didn’t have that 2nd was the dumb Regehr trade”.) Due to when he was born – September 13th, 1994 – he’s been about a year behind in player development compared to his peers. This has always been Jankowski’s big advantage – he has an extra year of development built in; this was technically his +1 year even though it was his second post-draft year.
The biggest issue with Jankowski is that he isn’t scoring at the rate we expect both a.) first round picks and b.) top-six forwards to score at. Some would argue that’s okay because he’s a “late bloomer” because of when he was born. The issue is that guys who are “late bloomers” tend to be development outliers. You shouldn’t bet that an outlier can make the NHL with a first round pick, in my opinion.
Along with his young age, another benefit that Jankowski has is the frame of a legitimate 1C. However, I’m unconvinced that Jankowski putting on more muscle weight is going to help him become a much better player from here on out. Providence lists him at 6’3″, 186. That puts him within 10 pounds and one inch of players like Evgeni Malkin, Evander Kane, James Van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier, and Patrice Bergeron. I do not think that Jankowski is going to have wildly different results against those guys if he gains a vacation’s worth of meals. I am also less swayed by the “awkwardness” he has as a negative factor; if he can’t compensate for a growth spurt he had almost three years ago by now he won’t ever do so.
I am also less convinced that Providence as a team is hurting his output then I was in the middle of the year. We don’t have shot attempt numbers for individual players at the NCAA level (at least, I couldn’t find them) but we do have the team totals for the Friars and we can extrapolate based on the 2/1 ratio. Their CF% this year was 52.4%, which indicates that Providence was a pretty good team. Not dominant, but certainly at the very least above-average.
Jankowski finished this season with a 22 NHLE (13+12 in 38 GP), which isn’t a good figure for a draft-eligible first rounder, let alone a player entering his third (second) post-draft year. That’s also a figure he got to with an inflated SH% (15.1%), which either suggests above-average luck or above-average talent. Due to the low total, I’m inclined to lean to the former but I don’t really know. If there’s no correction in the SH% next year, I’m willing to accept Jankowski’s true talent level against NCAA goalies is just that high. Jankowski also didn’t have that sort of elite jump we’d want in a +1 year, either – NHLers tend to jump about 6 points, very good to elite NHLers jump 9 points. Janko jumped about 5.
But – we have two results that I consider very positive. The first is his shooting volume. I’d still like to see more from Jankowski, but at the start of the year I believe I wanted 2.5 SH/G. He ended up at 2.3, which is pretty close. It’s still not *great*, per se, but it’s an improvement. He was 4th in SH/G on the team, and controlled about 13% of the team’s total shot attempts if we assume the general “2 events=1 shot” ratio that we have in the NHL. That’s a good number at the NHL level – but he was only in on 22% of the team’s scoring, which is less of a good number at the NCAA level.
|Power Play Points||Secondary Assists||Team Scoring|
|Mark Jankowski||20% (5/25)||50% (6/12)||22% (25/114)|
So why the difference? I think a lot of it has to do with his lack of PP time. Jankowski only managed 5 points on the PP this year, which gives him an EV scoring percentage of about 80%. Most of the time, my cut off is between 50% and 60%. If Janko had the same amount of EV points (20) and was at a “normal” split he’d have an extra 10 or so points, and an NHLE of 31 – which is much closer to what we’d want out of a top-six forward in his plus one year. If you also normalize for SH%, the NHLE drops a little to 29. Still behind the pace a little (as you’ll see in the future), but at least it has the potential to be better with minimal change.
I also want to mention his 54% F/O win rate, which is always nice, although I’m unsure of the effect it actually has on the game. The secondary assist thing I’m not as worried about due to the low total of assists.
I like Janko more as a prospect than I did last year. He still isn’t showing much scoring development, which is concerning – only Tanner Glass and David Jones have taken this sort of route and become NHLers, which shows it’s not exactly a good one to take.
Before this year, Jankowski had positive results in basically no areas. This year, he has positive results in shot attempts and his EV/PP split, two things I equate with “improvement”. (You’ll recall that last year I was a lot happier about Poirier than others because of his 80/20 EV/PP split.) If he can get more PP time and make use of it, then I’ll be much happier about him as a prospect. Right now, though, the total is too low and the luck is likely too high; even still I’m much more bullish on his NHL chances now than I was last summer.
But – even though the potential is there, he has to be able to get the results this season for me to justify ranking him higher because of how poor his 2013 was.