We’re about half-way through both the current National Hockey League season and the seasons for the various other leagues that the Calgary Flames have prospects in. So we’re far enough into the season to be able to compare each player’s performance with previous seasons – and with other prospects – by using NHLE to track and compare their offensive production.
To keep things manageable here, I focused the examination on Flames prospects 22 years of age and younger, which also effectively capped it at players from the 2012 NHL Draft and younger.
NHLE, or “NHL Equivalence,” is a method of approximating offensive production in one league with offensive production in the National Hockey League, by aggregating production from players from each league and comparing it with their production in the NHL. So for instance, if you average out the production of everyone from the WHL that ever played in the NHL, you can basically create a method of estimating what that production is worth in the NHL and provide a way of (a) comparing production through a player’s career but across leagues and (b) comparing production of players within an organization but in different leagues.
For the most up-to-date NHLE league comparison coefficients, check out Hockey Abstract’s website. Unless otherwise noted, that’s what I used here.
D JOHN GILMOUR
Providence College; 2013 seventh round pick; 22
Gilmour was drafted a second-year draft eligible player, having been passed over in the 2012 Draft. He’s been consistent offensively in Hockey East, but his offensive numbers didn’t really take a leap forward until this season. He’s a senior and is contributing a lot offensively, but everything has been going in (until recently) for Providence College this season, so the numbers are a bit of a mirage. That said, even if the team-wide production continues to slow down, his NHLE will be a lot better than in previous seasons and it’s not like he’s a fourth-year WHL player out-muscling teenagers.
D BRANDON HICKEY
Boston University; 2014 third round pick; 19
The AJHL coefficient is an estimate from Behind the Net from a few years back. Hickey’s been a victim of Boston University’s team-wide struggles offensively – and he was a beneficiary of the Jack Eichel Effect last season. I’d hesitate to conclude whether Hickey’s numbers are regressing or progressing for that reason. Hickey had some decent performances at the World Juniors, so at the very least Hockey Canada feels like he’s doing well. (The Flames probably do, too.)
D RUSHAN RAFIKOV
Yaroslavl Lokomotiv; 2013 seventh round pick; 20
Good news/bad news: Rafikov has finally cracked a KHL roster this season after knocking around on Lokomotiv’s reserve list for a couple seasons (and getting released and then re-signed this season). At this point, he’s probably no longer a prospect of note.
(There’s no accepted standard NHLE coefficient for Russia’s junior league, the MHL, or Russia’s minor pro league, the VHL.)
D ADAM OLLAS MATTSSON
Djurgardens IF; 2014 sixth round pick; 19
Unlike Rafikov, who didn’t really get a foothold in a good pro league until his third season after the draft, Ollas Mattsson cracked the Swedish Hockey League in the first season after the Flames selected him – albeit as a seventh/eighth defender. He’s cracked their top-six this season and gotten gradually larger defensive responsibilities. His current contract is up after this season, and he’s an interesting long-term prospect. He’s got NHL size, has played a bunch against grown men and looked pretty good in the World Juniors.
(There’s no accepted standard NHLE coefficient for Swedish junior hockey.)
D RILEY BRUCE
North Bay Battalion; 2015 seventh round pick; 18
Speaking of long-term prospects, Riley Bruce is a big, lanky tall kid. He’s also just barely 18 and has played a ton in the OHL already. His offensive game has taken a step forward – going for “non-existent” to “decent” – and he’s young enough that he’ll have at least another season to work on stuff in major-junior and to fill out physically.
D RASMUS ANDERSSON
Barrie Colts; 2015 second round pick; 19
The first player drafted by the Flames in 2015, Andersson’s offensive production has been fairly consistent this season compared to last year. It helps that Barrie is a really strong offensive team and most of the players that get a lot of ice-time automatically have strong numbers. He had decent but not super-impressive offensive numbers in the Swedish pro leagues as a teenager before coming over to North America.
D OLIVER KYLINGTON
Stockton Heat; 2015 second round pick; 18
The second player selected by the Flames last June, Kylington was arguably selected for his potential. Impressively, he’s made the jump to North American pro hockey full-time with a negligible change in his offensive production (when you control for differences between leagues). I’m curious to see what happens with his numbers in the second half of the season, and potentially next season as a 19-year-old – will the grind of the season slow him down, or will Kylington further adjust and get even better at the AHL level?
D KEEGAN KANZIG
Calgary Hitmen; 2013 third round pick; 20
Kanzig isn’t the most popular prospect in the organization and he projects as a stay-at-home defensive defender. That said, his offensive numbers have progressed since his draft year much the way you’d hope the would. Granted, they were extremely low to begin with, but they’ve improved.
D PATRICK SIELOFF
Stockton Heat; 2012 second round pick; 21
Sieloff’s had problems with injuries wiping out basically chunks of three seasons since he was drafted, and that’s really hurt his progression. The thought when he was drafted was that he might project as a Regehr-esque defensive defender over time, but it’s really tough to figure out what he is even at the AHL level considering how little he’s played there.
(USHL to OHL estimations are from Behind the Net.)
D BRETT KULAK
Stockton Heat; 2012 fourth round pick; 22
Kulak’s had a nice quiet ascendancy over the past few seasons. His offensive totals took decent leaps each season he spent in the WHL, and stayed pretty much constant when he made the leap to the pro game last year. Heck, his ECHL numbers are pretty impressive, too. He had a short NHL stint this season and his AHL numbers have taken a bit of a dip because of working back into the AHL rotation after that stint, as well as the Heat changing up deployments here and there to get some of the newer kids going. He’s more of a veteran among this crew, so he’s getting tougher minutes at times.
D RYAN CULKIN
Adirondack Thunder; 2012 fifth round pick; 22
Culkin’s in a bit of a tough spot this year, similar to Kulak. His numbers progressed every season – and even took a nice hop up when he went to the AHL last year. However, his injury this season slowed his start and put him in the ECHL because of Stockton’s log-jam of defenders.
F MARK JANKOWSKI
Providence College; 2012 first round pick; 21
Jankowski’s trotted along nicely, albeit not putting up the kind of offensive numbers that you’d hope for from a first round pick. Like with Gilmour, the gigantic leap forward offensively is a bit of a PDO-driven mirage that’s pumped Providence College up team-wide, but Jankowski’s numbers will likely end up quite a lot better than he’s seen previously by virtue of his crazy-good start to the season.
(There’s no accepted NHLE coefficient for Canadian high school hockey.)
F MATT DEBLOUW
Michigan State University; 2012 seventh round pick; 22
Much like Sieloff, Deblouw has really suffered from injuries and inconsistency during his college career. His offensive numbers have wobbled around in pretty unimpressive fashion during his time with Michigan State. I really doubt they offer him a contract after this season.
F ANDREW MANGIAPANE
Barrie Colts; 2015 sixth round pick; 19
Mangiapane was drafted in his second year of eligibility (his 2013-14 NHLE was 19.4) after really figuring out how to score in the OHL. His numbers are slightly better this season, though he’s missed time due to a suspension. Offensively, he’s the most promising of Calgary’s prospects.
F PAVEL KARNAUKHOV
Calgary Hitmen; 2015 fifth round pick; 18
Karnaukhov scores at a fairly modest level when you control for league differences, but he’s pretty consistent. He’s had a few injuries this season, so if he can stay healthy down the stretch it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see his scoring creep up a little bit more this season.
F TIM HARRISON
Colgate University; 2013 sixth round pick; 21
When Tim Harrison was drafted, we joked that nobody knew who he was. I’m not sure what’s changed. His numbers are about what you’d expect from a late round pick, but they’re not going to get him an NHL contract or anything like that.
F EMILE POIRIER
Stockton Heat; 2013 first round pick; 21
Poirier’s struggled a little bit this season offensively after having a really smooth transition to the AHL level last year, even playing some NHL games. He didn’t have a great training camp and he missed a bit of time this season with a minor injury, though he’s gotten better offensively of late.
F MORGAN KLIMCHUK
Stockton Heat; 2013 first round pick; 20
It’s probably safe to say that Klimchuk’s had a tough transition from the WHL this season, though a good deal of that is due to an early-season groin injury and some of it is because he’s been eased into offensive situations by the Heat (and instead he’s gotten thrown into bottom-six duty and defensive situations). He’s scored all of his points in the past couple of weeks, though, so that may be an indication that he’s progressing and getting more used to pro hockey.
F AUSTIN CARROLL
Stockton Heat; 2014 seventh round pick; 21
Drafted as an over-age player, Carroll’s points progression should be taken with a grain of salt because he was physically bigger than the other kids (and he was an overager). He projects as a physical role player at the pro level, so his low offensive production probably shouldn’t be alarming or all that surprising.
F HUNTER SMITH
Stockton Heat; 2014 second round pick; 20
Like Carroll, Smith was an over-age player drafted for his size. His offensive production is part a product of him being a bigger kid than everyone else and Oshawa being really good last season. And he also projects as a physical winger at the next level, so I’m not shocked or scared that his production is so low.