Midway-Point Prospects NHLE Update

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.

ABOUT NHLE

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 HE 38 13 10.4
Draft+1 2013-14 HE 39 18 14.0
Draft+2 2014-15 HE 30 11 11.1
Draft+3 2015-16 HE 19 15 23.9

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2013-14 AJHL 49 22 5.3
Draft+1 2014-15 HE 41 17 12.5
Draft+2 2015-16 HE 18 7 11.8

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 MHL 53 10 N/A
Draft+1 2013-14 MHL 47 20 N/A
Draft+2 2014-15 VHL 35 18 N/A
Draft+3 2015-16 KHL 26 2 5.1

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2013-14 J20 33 9 N/A
Draft+1 2014-15 SHL 34 2 2.9
Draft+2 2015-16 SHL 22 4 9.0

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2014-15 OHL 52 3 1.5
Draft+1 2015-16 OHL 34 10 7.6

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2014-15 OHL 67 64 24.7
Draft+1 2015-16 OHL 37 34 23.7

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2014-15 SHL 18 5 13.7
Swe-2 17 7 N/A
Draft+1 2015-16 AHL 26 9 13.4

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 WHL 70 7 2.2
Draft+1 2013-14 WHL 63 8 2.8
Draft+2 2014-15 WHL 70 22 7.0
Draft+3 2015-16 WHL 25 11 9.8

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2011-12 USHL 24 2 1.7
Draft+1 2012-13 OHL 45 11 6.3
Draft+2 2013-14 AHL 2 0 N/A
Draft+3 2014-15 AHL 45 5 4.3
Draft+4 2015-16 AHL 21 4 7.4

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2011-12 WHL 72 24 7.4
Draft+1 2012-13 WHL 72 44 13.6
Draft+2 2013-14 WHL 69 60 19.3
Draft+3 2014-15 AHL 26 13 19.4
ECHL 39 30 N/A
Draft+4 2015-16 AHL 25 6 9.3

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2011-12 QMJHL 60 25 8.8
Draft+1 2012-13 QMJHL 67 45 14.1
Draft+2 2013-14 QMJHL 65 50 16.2
Draft+3 2014-15 AHL 37 18 18.9
Draft+4 2015-16 ECHL 22 7 N/A

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2011-12 HS 54 87 N/A
Draft+1 2012-13 HE 34 18 16.0
Draft+2 2013-14 HE 39 25 19.4
Draft+3 2014-15 HE 37 27 22.1
Draft+4 2015-16 HE 20 20 30.3

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2011-12 USHL 58 34 11.7
Draft+1 2012-13 CCHA 42 21 13.0
Draft+2 2013-14 Big10 23 4 5.0
Draft+3 2014-15 Big10 35 13 10.6
Draft+4 2015-16 Big10 14 7 14.3

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2014-15 OHL 68 104 39.5
Draft+1 2015-16 OHL 31 49 40.8

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2014-15 WHL 69 42 13.5
Draft+1 2015-16 WHL 26 18 15.4

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 HS 28 43 N/A
Draft+1 2013-14 ECAC 34 5 2.8
Draft+2 2014-15 ECAC 37 11 5.7
Draft+3 2015-16 ECAC 19 5 5.0

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 QMJHL 65 70 22.7
Draft+1 2013-14 QMJHL 63 87 29.1
Draft+2 2014-15 AHL 55 42 29.6
Draft+3 2015-16 AHL 27 12 17.2

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2012-13 WHL 72 76 23.5
Draft+1 2013-14 WHL 57 74 28.8
Draft+2 2014-15 WHL 60 80 29.6
Draft+3 2015-16 AHL 21 4 7.4

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2013-14 WHL 70 57 18.1
Draft+1 2014-15 WHL 69 77 24.8
Draft+2 2015-16 AHL 25 6 9.3

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

Year Season League GP Pts NHLE
Draft 2013-14 OHL 64 40 16.1
Draft+1 2014-15 OHL 57 49 22.2
Draft+2 2015-16 AHL 25 3 4.7

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.

    • FeyWest

      Klimchuk was never scouted as an offensive powerhouse and he’s been playing 3rd/4th line minutes & it’s his first Pro year. AFAIK Poirier’s been trying to adjust to the defensive aspect of the game which you are likely to see a drop in offense. Plus the Heat as a whole have struggled which would lead to poorer than expected numbers. Poirier’s stepped it up recently getting a lot more shots so I think he’s on the upswing.

      Also why no Bill Arnold, he’s one of my most intriguing prospects.

    • FeyWest

      The entire team has had struggles scoring. I’ve yet to hear any good explanation as to why, but would love to see an article going in depth on it. It’s something that needs to be addressed IMO.

      If Poirier takes another season in the minors, so be it. If Klimchuk takes two more, no big deal. Let them mature at their own pace. I find it interesting that both of them had consistent NHLEs until this season. See above.

      Conversely, it’s the team wide struggle to score that has me excited for Agostino. What sort of numbers might he be posting on a higher scoring club?

      • SmellOfVictory

        I can’t speak to the entirety of the scoring issues, but from what little I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard there are at least a couple of significant factors: 1) the Heat don’t have a very strong veteran presence, 2) Huska is actually doing his best to have them play the Flames’ system as opposed to Ward who was more concerned with winning games.

        The Flames’ system, as we saw at the beginning of the season was originally… flawed, to say the least. Now that it’s been adapted a little, maybe we’ll see more improvements in the AHL as well.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Gonna go ahead and disagree with you about Rushan Rafikov.

    He’s a 20 year old with a deep pedigree. The Russian national team put a letter on him at the WJC last year, and they named him the captain of the Russian Superseries team.

    He was also one of the top defencemen in the Russian development league at 19 years old last year.

    I’m not saying the kid is a slam-dunk to be an NHLer. But his expectations for this season should have been “earn a full-time spot in the KHL”. And despite being bounced around a bit, he has now done that.

    If he was a 20 year old captain of the American WJC team who had just transitioned to the AHL full time but was still waiting for the points to come, I doubt you’d be completely writing him off.

  • redhot1

    To be honest, all I’m seeing is a bunch of excuses for these poor performances. I thinks it’s possible some of these prospect just aren’t as good as we thought they are.

    • Brent G.

      I think that we, as fans, naturally do over value our prospects. As recently as this past summer you could read all over this site about these prospects becoming every day influential nhlers. Frankly it is tough and the odds of success are low for a reason. Most of these guys simply aren’t going to make it…

      • piscera.infada

        I wholeheartedly agree with you. In the past, I think many people forgot that attrition amongst prospects is common-place. Many of these prospects who some have “pencilled in” the lineup aren’t going to make the show.

        That said, I do think that some of the alarm is just as capriciously rushed. A player like Poirier is still a relatively young prospect. He’s had a rough first-half of one season. It’s hardly time to write him off. I’d say the same for Klimchuk. He’s in his first professional season, he’s still learning the league. By Huska’s account, he’s doing everything he needs to be doing in regard to his development. Another is Andersson. So through roughly the mid-point of his season his NHLe is one-point lower than it was last year? That hardly gives me pause.

        At least as far as AHL prospects go, the team has had a rough start to the season thus far. They first went through a stage where their team-shooting percentage was sub-4%, then they when through a stage where they couldn’t get a save from any goaltender. It’s really difficult to get a true read on prospect development when a team has been that inconsistent, unless you actually watch every single game–I’m skeptical about how much valuable insight we can glean from these numbers alone, for this reason.

        I’ll be paying a lot closer attention to the second-half of the Heat’s season, to see if I can glean any trends. At this point, however, I have a very hard time becoming alarmist about the prospect situation.

    • FeyWest

      Excuses or not the whole reason for the A is, as we are using it for, a development league and only time will tell if they sink or swim. It’s up to the players to learn from their struggles and excel and I’m more inclined to expect growth rather than floundering, they are only kids after all.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Right, that’s why the entire team’s production is down across the board, all in the same year? Because they all magically got worse at the same time by a similar amount?

      Also, @ChinookArch: although I agree with your point about guys like Bruce and Kanzig being pretty much guaranteed busts (huge guys, Kanzig overager, etc.), I don’t think that applies to Ollas-Mattsson. He’s been playing in one of the top 3 men’s leagues in the world since he turned 18, so given his continued progression, he looks like a potentially legitimate future NHLer. Maybe if we’re lucky, he’ll turn out like Willie Mitchell.

  • SmellOfVictory

    What a depressing set of prospect NHLEs when you’re used to multiple years of Gaudreau, Bennett, QMJHL Poirier, and Baertschi (poor, poor Baertschi).

    I think it’s worth noting that the AHL guys all look a bit rough by the numbers because the entire team has been pretty lacklustre.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Players like Ollas Matsson, Bruce and Kanzig always give me pause when examining NHLE and overall performance at the junior level. They are monsters at any level, but particularly when comparing them to typical 17-19 year old opponents in junior. Deficiencies in their game are often masked by their brute strength, and size.

    Anecdotally speaking, these players get less and less effective as they progress through higher leagues. Each league advancement is exponentially more difficult than the last, as skaters get bigger and stronger. The advantage giant boys had in junior are mitigated, bit by bit. It’s too early to give up on Hunter Smith, but look at his NHLE this year compared to his time in the OHL as a current example of this concern.

    Now, if they make it? Well now that’s something to celebrate. Especially, when you get unicorns like Lucic, Byfuglien and Pronger.

  • KiLLKiND

    The real question with Jankowski is whether we sign him. I think we will in the end because he sounds just like our very own top PP minutes Joe Colborne. Big needs to grow into his frame, nice hands at times and for some reason drafted in the 1st round. I’m happy he is progressing as well and hopefully he can continue his growth this year.

  • piscera.infada

    I don’t get too excited or disappointed about our prospects until they are finished their 3rd year of pro hockey. So if you look at this list the only guy who is of any real concern is Sieloff and of course his illness has dramatically impacted his progress, it is unlikely he makes it. I see WSpoon is no longer considered a prospect by definition, he seems to have fallen out of favour.

  • piscera.infada

    I suspect F PAVEL KARNAUKHOV will impress at Young Prospects camp like last year. Could make it to NHL before Poirier. Big guy and getting stronger.

  • mattyc

    Gilmour was drafted in his third eligible season, not his second. He’s literally one month younger than Markus Granlund (2011 draft). That means Gilmour was passed over in his first (2011) and second (2012) draft-eligible years.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Given that the Swedes perform well at the World Jr. level and have for years, is it safe to suggest that Swedish Junior Hockey may have a similar coeffiecient to the WHL? Just looking at Ollas Matsson and I don’t want to shrug off a NHLE of 9 in his second year.

  • BigRig91

    Was just looking at Austin Carrolls fights this year from the AHL. He has six this year all seem to be pretty spirited fights. Scoring a few really pumped about this kid . I think he leads the team in fighting majors as well.