The Providence College Friars trounced the University of Massachusetts Minutemen by a 6-0 score yesterday to finish off their regular season. The Friars won last year’s NCAA national championship and have followed that up with their best conference performance ever, winning 16 conference games and tying Boston College for the regular season title. And who led their team in scoring? Calgary Flames 2012 first round pick Mark Jankowski, one of their 10 seniors.
It’s now off to the post-season for the Friars and that means that Jankowski Watch can now begin in earnest.
HOW HE’S PROGRESSED
Here’s a quick numerical glance at four years of Jankowski in the NCAA.
Jankowski’s sixth in his conference in scoring, and tied with Boston University’s Danny O’Regan (a Sharks pick) as the conference’s highest-scoring senior.
The good news is that he progressed fairly consistently over his first three seasons and then took a big jump this season in his scoring rate. Heck, his even-strength scoring is a big, big jump. Our pal Ryan Lambert has pointed out that a good chunk of his numbers jumping this year is his inflated shooting percentage – and to a degree the entire team’s – and that’s definitely a fair comment. His shooting percentage over his first three seasons was 13.2%, so if you correct for that he should have probably two to four fewer goals depending on how pessimistic you are that a college senior is better at getting to the net and/or shooting accurately than he was as a freshman.
The other thing to watch is Jankowski’s shooting rate. In short? He doesn’t shoot much; his season-long ranges are 1.73 shots per game to 2.32 shots per game, which isn’t that much. Granted, he’s been used as a defensive center for part of his collegiate career (which likely frames his tendencies with the puck) and he seems to be a distributor based on his points distribution between goals and assists, but you really want to see him shooting more if he’s going to succeed as a pro.
THE NEXT STEPS
The Flames have until August 15 to sign Jankowski. If he goes free agent and signs elsewhere, the Flames will get a compensatory second round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft (51st overall, pending any other compensatory picks). Jankowski can’t sign until his playing season is over, which means the Flames are trying to wait for the college playoffs to wrap up so they can get him signed already. Based on his age when signing – he’s 22 in “CBA age” because he turns 22 this calendar year – his entry-level deal will be a two-year deal.
For the curious, Jankowski could be enticed to join the Flames directly – and burn off the first year of his deal – if Providence College is finished before the NHL season is over (the last Flames date is April 9 in Minnesota). Bill Arnold, Bryce van Brabant, Ben Hanowski and Johnny Gaudreau have all chosen this option in recent years. If he elected to join the Stockton Heat on a try-out contract, as Kenney Morrison did last spring, his entry-level deal wouldn’t start rolling. The Heat’s regular season ends on April 17.
The first round of the Hockey East playoffs are next weekend (March 3-6). Providence College, by virtue of finishing in the top four of the conference, gets a bye and faces the second-weakest team that survives the first round the following weekend (March 11-13). The final four teams alive in the Hockey East conference head onto Boston the weekend after that (March 18-19) for the single-elimination semi-finals and final.
The Friars have been impressive all season, and are currently ranked fourth in the nation in the pairwise rankings. The top 16 teams in Division 1 hockey go onto the Frozen Four tournament. There’s no way that Providence College, the defending NCAA champions, won’t be invited.
The regional round is the weekend after the conference finals (March 25-27), and is single elimination, so the absolute earliest Jankowski’s college career can end is March 25 or 26. If his team progresses through to the Frozen Four itself in Tampa, that’s April 7 and 9 and that’s the end of the NHL season anyway.
LONG STORY SHORT?
The earliest Jankowski can conceivably sign an entry-level deal with the Flames is March 25 or 26, and that would be dependent on his college team – which won the NCAA title last spring – losing in the first game of their single-elimination playoffs.
The more likely scenario is Jankowski’s team making it to the Frozen Four tournament in mid-April and Jankowski signing a contract after the NHL season is complete.