Predicting Stockton’s Rookie Point Totals

Prospect
camp is right around the corner, which means all eyes are going to be on the
Flames youngsters. In particular, I’d like to focus on the Heat’s new stock of
rookies and see if we can accurately predict how they’ll do this season in
terms of points.

Back
in May, Josh Weissbock and Money Puck over at
CanucksArmy introduced a
brilliant new model to track and predict prospect success based on decades of
similar players, or cohorts. They aptly named it the
Prospect Cohort
Success model

(or PCS). I highly suggest you check
out the article in the link provided. It explains everything you’ll need to
know about PCS. It’s an interesting new project that’s breaking ground in the
world of scouting and predicting a prospect’s likelihood of NHL success.

In
a nutshell, it uses the league, prospect points in that league, size and age to
find cohorts similar to any given player. Using the PCS model, I have collected
a pretty good idea of what we can
expect from Stockton’s rookies this season.

Please
keep in mind these are neither best case nor worst case scenarios, rather
educated estimates based on this new tool courtesy of Josh and Money Puck.
Also, I did not include rookies on AHL deals like Louick Marcotte, Ryan Lomberg
and Michael Kirkpatrick.

THE
METHOD

I
did not use the PCS model as it was intended (to predict prospect chance of
success at the NHL level). Rather, I used it to gather first-year AHL point
totals for like-players to estimate how the Heat’s rookies may perform this
season.

I
calculated the average of all rookie AHL point totals from all past and current
NHL cohorts who are considered to have had success in the big league (i.e.,
200+ games played) within the past 20 years. That gave me a sample size of
anywhere from 8-15 players, which isn’t awful. While this method may not be perfectly
accurate, it will have to suffice. It would’ve taken months to calculate all
the AHL rookie point totals of each player’s cohorts, which was sometimes
upwards of 80 players.

Therefore,
for the sake of clarity, the numbers below reflect projected numbers using past
and current players considered NHL successes. In the case of a Heat rookie who
had few or no successful NHL cohorts, I used players with 75+ NHL games to
sample.

MORGAN
KLIMCHUK

Klimchuk’s
rookie season could go one of two ways, and really, there’s no way to tell
which way it’ll go for sure. Stockton’s forward lineup is going to be fairly
deep, despite losing Max Reinhart and David Wolf.

Depending
on how Klimchuk earns his minutes (and yes, he has the disposition and drive to
earn them), he could start in the top-6 or play in the bottom-9. Regardless, as
the season progresses, you just know a kid like Klimchuk is going to be used
everywhere and anywhere throughout the lineup and in a myriad of situations. He
is one of the most versatile young forwards in the Flames’ system.

Notable Cohorts:

  • Brenden Morrow
  • Jordin Tootoo
  • Clarke MacArthur
  • Blake Comeau
  • Jamie Lundmark

Before
you start flipping your laptop at those names, keep in mind the above criteria
for being a cohort. Unfortunately, the PCS model doesn’t take style of play
into consideration because it can’t be quantified. Obviously, Klimchuk isn’t
anything like Morrow or Tootoo. The MacArthur, Comeau and Lundmark comparables
makes more sense. Sampling rookie AHL seasons of several of Klimchuk’s cohorts,
including the players above, it’d be reasonable to expect about 46 points from the Flames’ 28th
overall pick in 2013. That’d be a heck of a rookie season.

HUNTER
SMITH

Okay,
now try not to laugh, but when you put Hunter Smith’s name into the PCS beta,
there are only two names that come up as comparables in points, age, size and
league from his final year in the OHL. Those two players are…

Notable Cohorts:

  • Brian McGrattan
  • Tom Sestito

Are
you done shaking your head and laughing? Okay, this may not be as farfetched as
it may seem at first. Keep in mind, McGrattan and Sestito as 19-year-olds in
the OHL were actually pretty decent scorers and put up similar numbers to what
Smith did this past season. It’s a ridiculously small sample size, but if we’re
to guess, just for the hell of it, how Smith will do in Stockton this season,
we can figure he’ll amass somewhere between 22-25 points.

KEEGAN
KANZIG

It
seems unfair to add Kanzig to this article as his point totals are obviously
not a reflection of his game whatsoever, but just for fun, let’s take a good
guess at what we can expect from this monstrous human being.

Notable Cohorts:

  • Nolan Yonkman
  • Jeff Schultz
  • Bryce Salvador
  • Kurt Sauer
  • Jamie Pushor

Based
on Kanzig’s cohorts, it’s reasonable to expect him to put up about 14 points if he starts in the AHL,
which is a big if. I’ve always been a
proponent of the idea of letting Kanzig start the season with the ECHL Thunder.
It’s going to be tough for him to get minutes in Stockton with how deep they’ll
be.

KENNEY
MORRISON

17310571-mmmain

(MLive file photo)

When
the Flames signed the undrafted NCAA star out of Western Michigan, it was
widely considered a prudent and important signing for an organization thin on
defensive prospects. In his 10 games with the Adirondack Flames, Morrison’s
offensive abilities were on full display, putting up six points. However,
defensively, he needed a bit of work. All good things come in due time.

Notable Cohorts:

  • Douglas Murray
  • Ben Lovejoy
  • Neil Sheehy

Using
the first-year AHL statistics from the above cohorts, including others, we can
reasonably expect Morrison to score between 23-25 points. However, as one of the more potent offensive
defenders (which includes an incredibly hard shot), Ryan Huska will surely
utilize the youngster on the power play, which would increase those point
totals.

HOW
ACCURATE ARE THESE PREDICTIONS?

Let’s
take a look at some recent examples of past Flames AHL rookies to see how
accurate we can be with this year’s crop.

  • Max Reinhart (40 predicted
    points, 21 actual points)
  • Markus Granlund (45 predicted points, 46 actual points)
  • Kenny Agostino (41 predicted points, 43 actual points)
  • Emile Poirier (43 predicted points, 42 actual points)
  • Tyler Wotherspoon (17 predicted points, 9 actual points)
  • Dustin Sylvester (25 predicted points, 34 actual points) *very small sample size*
  • Greg Nemisz (34 predicted points, 33 actual points)
  • T.J. Brodie (27 predicted points, 34 actual points)
  • Mikael Backlund (37 predicted points, 32 actual points)

As
you can see, the accuracy varies. It could be incredibly accurate (as the
Granlund, Agostino, Poirier and Nemisz predictions are) or way off (Reinhart,
Wotherspoon).

Nonetheless,
it’s a fun and interesting way of gauging our expectations for these young prospects
this season in Stockton. It’s not perfect, but estimations aren’t meant to be.