Flamesnation Player Evaluations: Kenny Agostino

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!

THE NUMBERS

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:

Ago ppg

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:

stockton ppg1

stockton ppg2

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. 

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Well, the rock star coach so many have been pining for is on the market. Do the Flames ditch Hatrs and go with Gabby?

    Biggest concern with him is that he doesn’t seem to connect with his superstars very well. Ovi hated his guts in Washington and how long ago did Getzloaf and Perry tune him out?

    As a mediocre talent as a player, BB might be one of those guys with “little man” syndrome who have it in for the studs. Can you imagine what kind of shell the sensitive Dougie Hamilton would crawl under after another BB berating?

    BB would be a bad fit for the Flames and their expanding stable of superstars.

  • freethe flames

    I think Agostino might be a great fit with Backs and Frolik if given a real chance. I would love to see him be given a chance with these two during the preseason. 200 ft player seems like he was capable of helping drive possession in the AHL, has some offensive upside. This could be a perfect fit.

  • McRib

    I wonder what Kenny Agostino thinks of Hartley’s “everything earned mantra”… He led our farm team in scoring two years straight and he gets maybe six shifts in two games with the big club this year…. Embarrassing, Hartley hates young players, so unbelievably done with him, not the coach for a rebuild.

    It has followed him everywhere he has gone, no difference in Calgary (I don’t even want to hear “he gave Johnny, Monahan, Bennett a chance”. We are talking about no brainers, he isn’t that dumb). He’s fine with playing Engelland 18-22 minutes a night though….

    Kenny Agostino has scored 100 points in the AHL over two seasons…. HE GETS TWO GAMES IN THE NHL!?!?! FOR A TEAM THAT FINISHED EIGHT POINTS OUT OF LAST PLACE!?!?!? How in the world was he so confident in this roster that he couldn’t give Agostino a game or two before the last month of the year when we had been eliminated. I mean if you see your roster struggling shouldn’t you try and make changes before April?!?!? Crazyness. Pittsburgh resurrected their season because of AHL call ups…. Come on. Worse case Agostino should have been called up at least to spark the veterans for a couple games. I could say the exact same thing about Poulin, Grant, Kulak, etc. The NHL roster wasn’t working out so you just roll with them every night!?!?!

    • Stu Cazz

      I like Kenny but he was obviously overwhelmed in his 2 appearances with the Flames. 4 takeaways alone in game 2. As a 24 year old you don’t get too many chances to impress…I hope its not over for him in the organization. Many of his competition that were called up out performed him when given the opportunity (Grant, Hathaway, Shinkaruk)…..

      • freethe flames

        2 games is hardly enough to assess anyone. That is why I would like to see him get a preseason with Backs and Frolik as I think their games would compliment his (if nothing else the Backs bump might help his trade value).

        Each of the guys you mentioned were given more than 2 games to find themselves and were put into a role that complimented their game. This organization needs guys like Agostino who can play in the AHL and be good and can be brought up if and when needed to play in the NHL. Next year guys like Grant, Agostino, Shore, Hathaway, Shinkaruk, Poirier, Arnold, Kulak, Culkin, and Tspoon, (3rd year or more AHL players) need to lead the Heat. Guys like Klimchuk, Carroll, Kylington, need to take a major step forward. Then add the rookies like Andersson, Pollock, Mangiapne, Jankowski and a healthy Gilles in net and this team will become more competitive. The cupboard needs to continue to get stocked. But for this to work we also need to create some room for these young men to get exposure in the NHL. This is how we need to rebuild this organization.