I will always use this photo when talking about Agostino. Always. In fact, I may just invent reasons to talk about Agostino just to use this photo.
There is a Dr. Strangelove-ian tendency to reference the Jarome Iginla trade when discussing Kenny Agostino, normally with an eye to the perceived lack of return that the Flames got for our dear Iggy. However, let’s try and put that to the back burner and look at one of Stockton’s most consistent performers this season after the jump!
Seriously, whoever did the draft photo shoots from 2010 deserves a raise. This one is amazing too. Agostino just needs a suit (w/ tails), a top-hat, and a cane and he’d be ready to rock.
Last season, Agostino had a very solid professional debut playing for Adirondack and we had him ranked as our 14th best prospect heading into this season. Agostino took another step forward this year and became one of Stockton’s offensive leaders. This season, Agostino finished with 57 points in 65 games, leading the Heat in points and assists. As you can see from the figure below, this season put Agostino in some pretty nice company in terms of AHL production:
Agostino’s offensive numbers are quite solid, especially considering the fact that Stockton struggled to score goals consistently, especially if your name wasn’t Derek Grant. Moreover, Agostino led the Heat with 42 primary points this season, and averaged 0.656 primary points per game. Here’s a look at how those totals stacked up compared to some of the other Flames call-ups on the Heat:
So, what do we make of these numbers? (aside from the fact that, again, Derek Grant is a monster. We will talk about him when his turn comes). In terms of primary points, Agostino was Stockton’s top producer, one point ahead of Hunter Shinkaruk (whose totals were combined with Utica and Stockton).
It is striking that Agostino’s production stems from his ability to get shots. The hallmark of Agostino’s game coming out of Yale was his ability to get pucks towards the net and continued that at a pretty good rate this season (2.7 Sh/Gm, an improvement from 2014/15 where he averaged 2 Sh/Gm). In terms of goal scoring, Agostino was able to convert his chances a little better this season (13 SH% this season vs. 11 SH% last season) which, in a small way at least, bodes well for his development as a pro.
WHAT KIND OF PLAYER IS HE?
In the games that I saw this year, I was really impressed with Agostino’s ability to take charge entering the offensive zone, something that I don’t recall being a part of his game in years previous. Though I don’t have the data to back this up, I would venture that Agostino might have been at or near the top of controlled entries this season for Stockton.
However, it seemed as though in the micro-sample afforded to him by the Flames this season, Agostino seemed to shy away from carrying the puck over the blue line himself. Instead, Agostino deferred to others around him or opted for chip and chase instead.
Whether or not he was instructed to do this, I cannot be sure, but it would have been nice to see him look a little more confident with the puck in training camp and exhibition games next season. Try to create offense, rather than simply a shooter. That being said, Agostino can really shoot the puck. Fast forward to 1:40 of this video to see him let the teddies fly with a great release on the powerplay:
While I attempted to see as many Heat games as I could this year, I didn’t see them all. As a result I sought someone who saw a lot of Stockton Heat action this season, the one-man tower of power media guy and play-by-play announcer Brandon Kisker. Here is a link to his twitter account, a must follow for Heat news.
Brandon had this to say about Agostino this season:
[Agostino] started slow but got going big time after Derek Grant’s injury on February 8. He had to lead the offense, and his line of Ago, Hamilton and Hathaway was pound for pound the best line combination for the Heat all season long.
We saw them all up in Calgary at one point too, and I know Kenny didn’t have the greatest of success in his two games with Calgary, going a dash-2 with no points and three shots.
And if I recall, he did get some time with some of the better players on the Flames roster too. I think that’s how he’s going to need in order to succeed in the NHL. You can’t be giving him third line minutes and caliber players. He needs to play with the likes of the Sam Bennetts, Joe Colbornes, Johnny Gaudreaus and Sean Monahans of the world. He needs to be in the game both offensively and defensively and I think toward the end of the season, he got into the game more and more in his own zone than his previous months with the Heat.
He’s a gifted player that I think made anyone he played with better. He will just have more success when playing with other talented players who can either get him the puck or he can get the puck to.
I agree with Brandon’s assessment that Agostino needs to be given a proper opportunity this season, but a top-six spot (as a call-up or otherwise) will be hard to come by for him, especially with Hunter Shinkaruk and Daniel Pribyl in the system now. I would think that Agostino may have to find a way to get pucks to the net and producing offensively even if he finds himself in a bottom six role as a call-up next season.
The bottom line is: Agostino needed to take a big step forward this season and did, at least in the AHL. He scored eight more goals and six more assists this year in two fewer games. For his efforts, Agostino was rewarded with two games with the big club this season and didn’t exactly force Treliving’s hand to keep him up with the Flames. The challenge for Agostino is for him to force his way onto the roster next year or risk being lost in the shuffle.