From Dec. 17 to Jan. 17, the Stockton Heat only won three of 11 games and have nearly fallen out of the playoff race at the official halfway point of their season. Dragged down by all around declining performances, they are cautiously holding onto the seventh seed in their conference. It’s not a pretty picture.
- Dillon Dube had himself a hell of a week, scoring six points in three games. He victimized the Victoria Royals in particular, completing a hat trick early in the second during a 9-2 victory.
- If we’re looking for positives, Morgan Klimchuk was one of the better Heat forwards over this particularly painful stretch. He was the only Heat prospect forward to have multiple points this week.
- The person taking the brunt of the Heat’s slide is Andrew Mangiapane, who has only scored three points since the fall began. His NHLe was almost 10 points better back then.
- Mitchell Mattson added three points in three USHL games, which is pretty good.
- Matt Phillips has also been slowing down recently, relative to his standards. What I mean by that is that he only scored twice in three games this week.
- Just as soon as he came back, Daniel Pribyl is gone again with some sort of injury. It’s a tough break for a promising player who’s had his entire season derailed by IR appearances.
- Hunter Shinkaruk is also still out.
- Another problem for the Heat is that they can’t generate offence from the blueline like they used to. The Swedish duo of Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington didn’t produce a thing last week, causing a big impact on Stockton’s goalscoring efforts.
- Not helping that is Ryan Culkin being sent down in favour for Keegan Kanzig (who is rotating as a seventh D with Kayle Doetzel). That move should’ve probably been the end of Culkin’s NHL dreams, but he immediately registered five assists in three games with the Adirondack Thunder. Perhaps he still has a chance.
- For the first time this season, Adam Fox was held scoreless in an NCAA game. Even worse, he was held scoreless in two as Harvard put up uninspiring performances against Union and RPI. The RPI loss was particularly embarrassing, as RPI is 4-20-1. Harvard was ranked #2 and lost 4-0.
- Elsewhere, Adam Ollas Mattson and Riley Bruce scored goals this week. One of those one-in-a-billion things.
- Tyler Parsons is back ripping it up in the OHL. He’s sixth in adjusted GSAA across the league.
- However, among the 29 OHL goalies who have faced at least 400 shots, Parsons is 22nd in HDSV%. Concerning.
- It appears that Mason McDonald is hurt, having missed games in the last two weeks.
The Vey test
There’s a new website out there that tracks some AHL stats, simply called “AHLStats.” Created by Matt Pfeffer (of P.K. Subban trade notoriety), the site tracks some cool data that I don’t. The one I want to focus on is WAR.
Wins Above Replacement has become an essential stat in baseball, and is slowly making its way into hockey. Taking into account a few metrics, WAR will tell you, quite simply, how many wins a player provides over the course of a season. The higher the number, the better. If you’re in the negatives, you’re actually hurting your team and can be replaced easily.
(Just a few caveats: this stat is still in an experimental stage, and without the inputs of other advanced stats like corsi, fenwick, zone starts, XGF%, what have you, it may not be giving you the full picture. For the purposes of this section, it will work nicely, but don’t take these things as definite signs that someone is/isn’t an NHLer right now. It is also impacted by GP, so someone like Pribyl who has missed considerable time may not have a WAR that reflects who he is as a player.)
Today, we’re going to use WAR as a litmus test. We’re taking Linden Vey’s WAR and setting it as the new baseline. Seeing as Vey is pretty much a replaceable NHLer, the thought here is that if an AHL player is better than him by WAR’s standards, that player can probably slot in nicely on an NHL fourth line. If he’s below, he still needs time in the minors.
So Vey has a WAR of 1.28. That breaks down to…
NHL ready (+ 0.20):
- Rasmus Andersson (2.58)
- Tyler Wotherspoon (2.17)
- Mark Jankowski (1.70)
- Oliver Kylington (1.54)
Need a little work (+/- 0.19):
- Andrew Mangiapane (1.38)
- Hunter Shinkaruk (1.07)
- Morgan Klimchuk (1.01)
Need a lot of work (-0.20 -> -0.59)
- Hunter Smith (0.70)
Help (-0.6 -> – 1.0)
- No one
Sinking (-1.0 or more)
- Austin Carroll (0.27)
- Daniel Pribyl (0.19)
- Ryan Culkin (-0.12)
- Kenney Morrison (-0.31)
- Emile Poirier (-0.32)
I would feel that this is mostly right so far. The Stockton core is lead by the players in the first two tiers (Shinkaruk’s recent absences are quite noticeable), and everyone else has been accessory to this point. Perhaps it completely represents or misrepresents your views on the prospects. It’s a loose model so far, but I’m interested in how it holds up for the rest of the season.
Until next time, pals.