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Janko entered his final year of NCAA hockey looking to defend the Friars’ title. He started off strong, scoring nine points in his first six games, and 16 in his first 12 while breezing through the easy section of the schedule. In the grueling Hockey East, his production fell, scoring only two points in five December games. He picked himself back up, scoring nine in eight January games, and 11 in February to finish the regular season.
The postseason tournaments were incredibly disappointing for Providence. After breezing past Merrimack 3-1 and 2-0 in their best-of-three series (Janko’s final two points), the Friars suffered a disappointing triple overtime loss to UMass-Lowell in the semifinals. The heartache was exponential in the Frozen Four tournament. Despite being the highest seeded in their region, the Friars fell 2-1 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth. Jankowski played through the game with a severe illness, hampering his ability and later requiring hospitalization.
After being eliminated from the tournament, we had some minor drama with Jankowski putting the pen to paper. Eventually, the two sides came together and Janko signed a two-year ELC, and headed to Stockton on an ATO to try and salvage their season. Despite the Heat failing to capture a playoff spot, Janko turned some heads with six points in his first eight games of professional hockey.
This section is going to be considerably longer than previous player evaluations. In the four years Janko spent at Providence, all the numbers have been dissected, but little consensus has been reached. We’re going to try and cut through that noise, breaking down certain stats by section and look at the positives and negatives each stat can offer.
Possession and usage:
Based on Lambert’s count, we have some rare college possession metrics for Mark Jankowski:
The possession data, albeit for a quarter of his season, supports the argument of Jankowski as a two-way player. This is more concrete when you consider how good Jankowski was, by some astounding margins, relative to his team (+7.1% CF rel, +8.7% FF rel, +4.7% SF rel, and 33.2% GF rel).
Perhaps a bit more concerning is how he was used. You’ll notice that Janko also received 6.6% more favourable zone starts relative to his teammates (56.9%). This is somewhat concerning. Being sheltered this much takes away from his dominant possession stats, as he wasn’t getting the tough workload his teammates were. This also refutes the idea that Nate Leaman, Providence’s head coach, played Jankowski in a defensive role. Janko got the fortunate starts, but didn’t produce as much as you would like someone to with those zone starts.
Other nasty details include Jankowski’s puck luck. His on-ice PDO was 105.6, and his shooting percentage this year was 17.4%. Neither of these numbers are sustainable. Even if you argue that Janko is naturally a high percentage shooter, this year was exceptionally higher, as his career average is 13.2%. Scoring 15 goals on 86 shots is rare, and he won’t get by shooting only two shots per game in the bigs (he averaged 1.38 S/G in the AHL, a lower number than nine-pointer Morgan Klimchuk).
The final area of concern is ice time. On average for these nine games, Janko played 13.82 (about 13:49) minutes of ES time. Compared to his team, he was on the ice for a shade under 25% of EV ice time. Without data on other Providence players, it would be wrong to say that this is because Nate Leaman rolls four lines. Even so, it defies all hockey sense to deny your supposed best player minutes because of some notion that ice time must be evenly distributed (hockey is not communism). It’s also easy to guess that there’s something else aloof here, but we’ll comeback to that later.
The finer points of points:
Primary points have recently become a key tool in prospect analysis. With eye accounts varying about a player’s skill, the data about how points came to be is useful as it cuts out some of the noise from positive and negative camps.
At Providence, Janko was a primary points machine. 19 of his 25 assists in all situations were primary assists. Tacking on his 15 goals, that means 34/40 of his points were primary. At 5v5 ES, he scored 23 primary points (eight G, 15 A).
He partially continued this trend in the AHL, having been the primary contributor on four of his six points – the difference being that only one of those primary points (an assist) came at even strength. Again, not time for alarm bells, but perhaps we should also mention something about Jankowski’s special teams production.
Shorthanded, he’s done some stuff I suppose. He scored an assist in both college and the AHL. His area of expertise is more the powerplay. In the NCAA, he posted 10 PP points, all of them primary. In the AHL, his only two goals were PP goals (plus a secondary assist). This is a concern on its own, seeing as 25% of his senior points and 50% of his pro points were scored on the man advantage. Certainly having powerplay prowess isn’t a bad thing, but if it wildly inflates his point total, it can deceive.
Bringing us to our next topic…
NHLe and comparables:
Just to get this out of the way first, I would like to say that NHLe, like looking at total points throughout a season, is a contextless number. There’s a lot influencing the final number.
Back at M&G, I tracked all prospects’ NHLe on a month-to-month basis, and charted the results at the end of the year. Here’s the chart for Jankowski:
He started off very hot, but fell way down to Earth. However, it all counts in the end. Putting Jankowski’s points into context, we cannot claim he truly is a point-per-game player. Twelve of his 40 points came in three of his 38 games (game log here). He was held completely off the scoresheet in nearly a third of his games. Without including the fact that 25% of his points were PP points, it seems that Jankowski’s NHLe total is widely inflated by his three good games and powerplay usage, rather than deflated by Providence’s style of play.
But we’ll accept the number we have: 31.93. Generally speaking, 30 is a benchmark number for NHLe-based projections. If you do not reach 30 NHLe by 20 in one of the bigger leagues (NCAA, CHL), then your chances of being an NHLer are decreased.
Based on data collected by FlamesNation’s Byron Bader, that will likely be the case for Jankowski. The Google Doc here lists all the players drafted between 2004-2014 who played in the NCAA and hit 30 NHLe, and at what age they hit that mark.
Looking at those who hit 30 NHLe after age 21.00, the data is not favourable to Jankowski. Only three of these players that hit this mark turned into average point producers (Alex Killorn, Craig Smith, Tommy Wingels). Five turned into 0.1-0.3 PPG producers (Joe Vitale, Justin Abdelkader, Colin Greening, Chris VandeVelde, Bradley Malone), and four turned into busts (though to be fair, all but one were over 22).
This is more or less suggests that Jankowski’s ceiling is a 3/4 C if he even makes it to the NHL. I know that some would rush to call him an exception, but he can’t be defined as one until he proves he is. Until then, he’s a middling prospect tracking to be a career AHLer.
I’m sure you’re familiar with our old pal Ryan Lambert! If you aren’t, Lambert is FN’s resident college hockey expert, specializing in Hockey East coverage and analysis. He’s written on Janko extensively since he has been drafted. I’ve previously linked to some of them, but here are more Lambert articles discussing Jankowski this year:
If you want to unite all three articles under one thesis, you could say this: Jankowski has had flashes of brilliance, but when considering the context of his senior season and his whole body of work, he is unlikely to repeat this at a higher level. I think I’ve echoed that enough through this article.
Here’s an alternate opinion from Brandon Kisker (via Taylor), play-by-play man for the Stockton Heat:
Finally a real nod to Mark Jankowski. Again limited action and you read so much about him, and I remember back when he was drafted and learning that he was the highest prep school athlete taken in the draft in NHL history. I think a lot of people thought he’d end up being a bust, and a lot of negative press about him was out there before he even took to the ice as a pro. Knowing and having read plenty, it’s hard to not get excited to see what the kid could do.
If he didn’t blow you away, you should stop watching hockey…
Janko was fantastic. Such smooth hands… SUCH silky mitts….
One of the real joys of watching him in the end was just seeing him buy some time by using his elusiveness to his advantage along the half-wall and shovelling passes across the ice to set up goals or grade-A scoring chances. Having 6 points in 8 games is huge for a kid that has to be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
I thought what he said during his exit interview was real positive too. He can’t be complacent with his success and knows he has some work to do.
Particularly, he needs to fill out a bit more
Hop on the
Jankowski bandwagon now folks before you get left behind.
We’ll say Janko has mixed reviews.
Perhaps some may argue that the silence regarding Janko is deafening. Unlike Jimmy Vesey, Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes, Justin Schultz (!), among many others to come out of the NCAA ranks, there has been considerably less hype from other teams for Jankowski. JankoWatch was only unique to Calgary.
This is certainly not a scientific method of judging a hockey player’s ability. In fact, it is the exact opposite of that. It does seem concerning though that nearly nobody (except anonymous internet folk) really saw the positives in Jankowski, or saw enough in him to merit discussion.
There really is no definitive answer for what Jankowski can be. Each side of the great Janko debate has plenty of ammunition (scientific or not) to counter the opposition. Despite the differences, I feel that we can all agree on a few statements for what Janko is now.
Jankowski certainly possesses a strong ability to generate assists and can be a possession driver. This is his strong suit, but that might be it. He has not shown an ability to generate shots at a consistent rate, and despite his lofty goal totals his shooting percentage and goal totals are likely to fall. We also must acknowledge that he was given favourable circumstances to succeed, receiving powerplay time and lofty zone starts (by Lambert’s count). Accounts vary on what matchups he received, but it certainly seems like he was not trusted with heavy workloads. This is especially concerning, as he was a senior and therefore older and more experienced than most he came up against. Jankowski certainly has skill, but the red flags surrounding him throws his NHL future into question.
What Comes Next?
Regardless of whether or not you believe in the Ten Year Plan, we can all certainly agree that Janko will spend almost the entire 2016-17 campaign with the Stockton Heat, barring any injury catastrophe. Jankowski is still low on the prospect depth chart, arguably behind Drew Shore, Bill Arnold, Freddie Hamilton, and Derek Grant in terms of NHL readiness (pending RFA re-signings).
Performance wise, who really knows what’s going to happen. He could add a few extra pounds to his figure and a smug grin on Jay Feaster’s face. He could also flounder and wind up with the Adirondack Thunder. Both routes are plausible. Based on previous data and trends, I feel that Jankowski could certainly hold his ground in Stockton, but nothing spectacular or deserving of a call-up this upcoming year.