Flames Weekly Prospect Update: Heat Chill

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.

Last week, fancy table

Forwards

  • 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.

Defenders

  • 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.

Goalies

  • 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.

  • Stu Cazz

    One thing we have learned about Treliving he will without hesitation let go of prospects that are no longer in the mix and and quickly refill the cupboards….Carroll Culkin Poirier Shinkaruk Wotherspoon Morrisson Smith McDonald Mattson Bruce Kanzig good bye…wish you the best elsewhere…

    • oilersuck

      For the most part last year he just let go older players who generally couldn’t be considered prospects any more. Agostino is 24, Grant is 26, Shore is 25 , Elson is 24, Arnold is 24, Van Brabant is 25.

      So Morrison (24), Vey (25), Culkin (23) and Wotherspoon (23) might have something to worry about but the rest are under 23 and should be given time to keep developing.

      • supra steve

        100% agree. If Tre lets go of a 20 yr old goalie (who has 2 more years on his contract) and a 19 yr old 6’6″ D-man, and several of the others listed, he should be fired. I know he’s not going to, suggesting he should or would is ridiculous.

        Few may turn out to be NHLers, but the only way to find out is to let them play.

      • PrairieStew

        Looks like the only “miss” from the players dropped after last season is Agostino. He’s putting up big numbers in the AHL this year. He might still prove to be a bit part with some NHL team. The rest are proving elsewhere that it’s probably not Huska’s fault WW !.

        Derek Grant approaching 80 NHL games without a goal and his 27th birthday. Was the correct thing to move on from him for sure.

        • oilersuck

          In my opinion it’s only a “miss” if he winds up being a NHL player. He has a nice stat line in the AHL and he would probably make Stockton a better team, but The Flames probably think he isn’t going to be a NHL player. So instead those first line wing reps go to Poirier, Mangiapane, Shinkaruk, and Klimchuk. Hopefully it helps them and one or more of them have better NHL careers than Agostino.

          • PrairieStew

            Agreed. More time for those younger guys to find out what we have. If a guy is 23 or 24 as a forward and hasn’t made the step, he’s probably done as a prospect. I’m a little more patient with the defensemen though.

            I had hoped that Arnold and Agostino would be NHL players by now, so the fact that they are not (Is Arnold playing anywhere ?), shows that Tre made the right call in not extending them.

    • cjc

      I’m curious, because we don’t have much data to go on, what makes you think Huska is the problem vs. the players aren’t as great as we hoped?

      I don’t feel like I can either defend or condemn Huska at this point. Some prospects have graduated to the bigs (Ferland), others have moved up in limited roles (Hathaway, Kulak, F. Hamilton, Wotherspoon) and others have gone elsewhere, to varying degrees of success (Granlund, Baertschi, Jooris).

      However, it’s probably fair to say the following prospects did not/have not advanced under Huska: Poirier, Agostino, Wotherspoon, Morrison, Culkin, Reinhart.

      Jury is out on several (Shinkaruk, Klimchuk, Jankowski, Pribyl) while others still have a bit of runway left (Kylington, Andersson, Mangiapane).

      Despite the recent swoon, the Heat are still in a playoff spot and their record is far better than the last couple seasons.

    • Derzie

      Coaches. Big problem. I know it’s somewhat hasty but at this point I am done with the Treliving era. We are seeing decline where we should be seeing growth. Year over year. I don’t see good things from players or coaches at the AHL level or the NHL level. The majority of players in both systems are under-performing. I heard Treliving on the Fan the other day talking like things are going well. Rosy. They are not. Scratching a clawing and relying on loser points to squeak into a playoff spot is not my definition of success as a fan. When I watch Johnny play I get a sense that he does not like the situation he is in with this team. Trying to do things on his own. Glancing over at Chaisson with disdain and keeping the puck. Prime years wasted.

      • PrairieStew

        Wow. Very hasty. Yes Gaudreau, Bennett and Monahan could be progressing more, but I think the whole team went through some adapting to the new coaching systems. Would you advocate another radical change by firing the GM?

        The glass is half full in my estimation. Best players under 25. Some good goaltending and defense prospects in the system, a very young AHL team. 5 picks at World Juniors this year. About to drop 2 expensive contracts of older players at the end of this year.

        You know it’s supposed to be hard right ? There are 30 teams and all have access to the same resources. This is not the CFL where you can mathematically expect to win the championship at least once a decade, and should more frequently as the largest market in the league that actually gives a rip about the CFL.

        Every year, each team drafts 7 guys and then probably signs 2-3 more amateur free agents. That’s 10 new guys per year. If you can graduate 3 guys out of those 10 per year you’d be doing awesome. That’s still a 70% fail rate. I think we tend to expect every pick to develop in to something and it just doesn’t happen; even for winning teams.

        Take Chicago as an example – drafted players who have played more than 60 NHL games 2005 Skille, Blunden, Hjallmarson 2006 – Toews, 2007 – Kane, 2008 – Ben Smith, 2009 Dylan Olsen, Brandon Pirri , Marcus Kruger, 2010 – Kevin Hayes, Joakim Nordstrom 2011 – P Danault, Saad, Shaw, Clendenning, Dahlbeck 2012 Teravainen. That’s just 17 players in 8 years. Granted 2 are amonng the top 20 players in the league, but there’s a bunch of slugs in there too.

        Flames over the same period just 9 players, but there is 3 from 2012 about to break through, one from 2013, 14 and 16 already making it, which cant be said for Chicago.

        Flames are not relying on loser points – Edmonton is.

        • freethe flames

          I don’t think I agree with either of you. Derzie is far to critical and you are to optimistic. We are 2-3 forwards short on the big club and these are in the top 9. No one one on the farm has shown they want a job in the top nine; no one. That’s not to say that Mangiapane or Janko might not pick it up but at this moment they are not forcing GG to call them up.

        • Derzie

          I’m not advocating firing the GM now. Too early and disruptive, but my confidence in him is way under 50%. Trends belong to the GM and they are all trending down except for the 2-way forwards. Loser point or not, the Oilers are now better than us and that makes me physically ill. We have a few nice prospects that in the right system will thrive. They are not thriving now.

          Good points about the grad rates but without me doing research, ours feels well below average right now. And graduating to eat popcorn shouldn’t count as a proper call up. Also, Chicago spent years trading away picks and contending so they probably did better than expected.

  • Newbietwo

    There is no way he gives up a prospect that cost him a second rounder or a first rounder just like that..he will work his magic in a trade if that is the case

  • Parallex

    Pfeffer’s WAR is incomplete.

    He only has WAR calculations for Skaters (no measures for Goaltenders), nor does he explain how he determined what a baseline “replacement” level AHL player is (I assume ECHL transfers… but I hate assuming), nor how many games a replacement level team would win (for reference in MLB a replacement level team would is assumed to have a winning % of about .294), nor what kind of variance we can expect on the pythagorean expectation for wins (AKA what amount of deviation should be considered “normal”).

    That’s not to say that I don’t think Pfeffer’s project has value… but I wouldn’t call it WAR and I’d be concerned about it being based so much on GF% without quantifying (and then normalizing for) goalie performance.

    • Parallex

      Agostino was actually the one guy they let go that I wanted them to keep. He’s fast and appeared fundamentally sound in the few NHL games I saw him play. I got a Curtis Glencross “vibe” off of him for lack of a better word.

      • Stu Cazz

        “Fundamentally sound” ?…..in the 2 games I watched him play at the Saddledome he had 4 takeaways in each game and was flustered and overwhelmed. As a 24 year old that is not good for building an NHL career.

        I liked the kid but he is one of many that is dominate at the AHL level but cannot make the transition to the NHL….it was time to move on.

    • I’m saving a discussion on this for later (read: I haven’t finished researching), but the Heat are getting outshot more often than not so that factors in. I also imagine that defensive instability (call-ups, injuries, less than ideal selection) is hurting them.