With a limited amount of top 100 picks, you have to make the most of what you have (as we’ll see this upcoming June). The Flames have made it a habit in recent years to seek out some of the prospects whose desirability relative to production is disproportionate, often to the extremes. If the odds aren’t entirely in your favour, might as well hit for a home run rather than a single.
Management is likely hoping D’Artagnan Joly can be that next home run, following in the footsteps of fellow sixth rounders Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Phillips. The lanky winger may not have been keeping scouts on the edge of their seats, but his solid production and strengths relative to his team make him one of the more interesting Flames prospects.
Joly has an interesting background, to say the least. He’s the youngest of seven siblings. He was named after one of the Three Musketeers, a name his brothers picked for him. That’s cool enough on its own.
From a hockey perspective though, he’s been relatively anonymous. Originally a QMJHL draft pick of his hometown Gatineau Olympiques, Joly was traded nearly 1,000 km away to Baie-Comeau, where he was pretty much forced into action for a desperate Drakkar team. He picked up eight points in 38 games during his rookie season.
The next year, his draft season, was much more promising yet still slightly quiet. Joly picked up 48 points in 66 games, not exactly an inspiring figure for a Q prospect. Although he had some very promising underlying numbers, cosmetic flaws and the overall rawness of his talent let him slip to the sixth round, where the Flames scooped him up.
Unfortunately, the major story of D’Artagnan’s season is injuries. He missed development camp, the Young Stars tournament, and main camp with an injury (not sure if it was the same one each time), and also the opening few games of the season. He also missed time due to being crosschecked so hard he needed hospitalization (released the night of, but still scary). In the playoff series against Halifax, he was also speared, earning the offending player (the innocent-sounding Walter Flower) a suspension. Not quite sure what the universe has out for him.
Otherwise, Joly had a very strong season. He started slow enough, but quickly started picking up points. Joly became one of Baie-Comeau’s main sources of offence, further developing his role as a playmaker. Notable evidence of this was his six-assist game against Moncton, but in general, he was pretty dominant in distributing the puck. He finished second in the league at all strengths and 5v5 for primary assists per game, ninth in AS primary points per game, and seventh in 5v5 P1/GP.
|GP||G||A||P||Primary points||5v5 Points||5v5 Primary points||NHLe|
Joly’s season got off to a slow start, likely injury related, but he heated up as the year went on. I guess one major critique would be that his NHLe was mostly underwhelming throughout the season. He was certainly better than the previous year, but generally speaking, hovering around 25 NHLe in your draft +1 year is not exactly great. It’s about 50/50 odds of being in the NHL and busting, historically speaking.
Of course, NHLe is merely a handy measuring stick without context. There’s a lot more that has to be unwrapped around that number, and it is thankfully positive for Joly. The guy only picked up 12 secondary points on the season, which is pretty bonkers. The majority of his scoring was 5v5 scoring too, which is pretty impressive. He was first on the Drakkar for 5v5 points and primary points per game.
I think the most impressive stat for Joly is his total contribution to team offence. Joly was involved in 38.57% of Drakkar goals, and 34.83% of those were at 5v5. To give you an idea of how significant this is, Joly ranks among players like Dillon Dube and Phillips in these categories. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t consider Dube and Phillips some of, if not the most valuable players on their teams. What I find more impressive is that Joly was the primary contributor on 31.76% of goals, and 30.47% of 5v5 goals. That would rank him third (behind Glenn Gawdin and Phillips) and second (behind Dube by .33%) in those categories among Flames prospects, respectively.
(I don’t keep track of playoff stats in these wrap-ups, but just to further the point, Joly had six primary assists, five of them coming at 5v5, in his series against the Halifax Mooseheads. Baie-Comeau scored 10 goals total, and six 5v5 goals. Joly was ludicrous.)
The cherry on top is that all of these players are a year or two older than Joly. They’re great players, but they’re also the seniors who are expected to run the show. Baie-Comeau had eight players older than Joly and he still led the offence. Joly being the gears of the Baie-Comeau offence is pretty promising. His boxcar stats would likely shock people had his team not been one of the quieter QMJHL outfits.
Joly’s list of comparables has its positives and negatives. Let’s start with the negatives.
Very few players who produced like Joly make it to 200 NHL games. 11.59% of players with similar AS production as 18-year-olds hit 200 NHL games, and that number dips to 8.79% for players with similar 5v5 production. When you cross reference both categories, that number jumps to 14.29%, which is slightly more promising.
This is his strongest year for comparables, by the way. In his age 16 and 17 years, those numbers were very, very low (in fact, he had just one comparable player hit the NHL based on his age 16 production). I think it could be QMJHL bias that impacts those numbers (smallest NHL representation of the three CHL leagues), but his production just doesn’t lend itself to NHL success.
The good news is that those few comparables eventually went on to great NHL careers. Joly’s AS and 5v5 numbers were extremely similar to David Krejci and Brad Marchand’s QMJHL numbers. On average, players with comparable AS production scored at a .54 PPG clip in the NHL, .55 for similar 5v5 players, and .68 for players who hit in both categories. Big names like Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Marchessault, and Yanni Gourde (not considered a success just yet, but certainly on the way) also compare favourably to Joly. I guess another similarity among all these players is that all of them were severely underrated: none were drafted in the first round, and two actually went completely undrafted.
Not to say that he is certainly destined for greatness; the percentages for success are still low regardless of the payoff of panning out. The point is just that Joly is quite clearly falling into line with the low-risk, high-reward expectations that were tagged on him before he was drafted. It’s hard to accurately chart a course for him because of the variance in his stat lines, but this is a very positive step in the right direction. If he can come back strong for one more season, it would be extremely convincing.
Joly is 100% headed back to Baie-Comeau for next season, no doubt about it. Too young for the AHL and, barring any crazy surprises, is probably not going to make the Flames out of camp. I’m sure everyone’s fine with that.
Hopefully, he can take another major step forward. Joly has steadily become a more and more impactful player as the years go by, and next year should not be any different. If he continues the exponential growth he’s seen from year to year, next year could be eye-poppingly good. His counting stats have been hindered by being on a not-great team, but the underlying numbers suggest a strong, playmaking forward that can put up points regardless.
He’ll be part of a young core with Ivan Chekhovich and Gabriel Fortier that can hopefully lead the Drakkar to greater things than 13th place. Could he break 100 points next year? Probably. Could he be a darkhorse for a WJC appearance? Who knows, but it’s certainly not out of the question. Sky’s the limit.