August 18 2013 01:24PM
During the 2010-11 season, the Detroit Red Wings employed 37 players with their AHL club (Grand Rapids). It's interesting to look at the makeup of those 35 players--prospects, AHL veterans--suspects--and compare that group to the bunch Edmonton sent to Oklahoma City same year. Does it offer us some clues about how Detroit develops their players?
THE GRIFFINS 2010
For our purposes, I'm going to use 24 years old as the 'prospect cutoff', meaning players 25+ aren't considered prospects unless there are special circumstances (goaltender, injured player, NCAA grad). Here's how the Griffins 35 man roster broke down in 2010-11:
- 19-to-24 year olds (19): This included several names we're now familair with, including the mercurial Joakim Andersson (43 NHL games now, he's a solid 2-way talent--typical Red Wing); offensive buzzsaw Tomas Tatar (27 NHL games now, he's just emerging at age 22); Brian Lashoff (31 NHL games now, interesting tool box but raw skills mean he's no sure thing); Thomas McCollum (1 NHL game now, slow developing goaltender who doesn't look like he's going to be a #1, and may not have much of an NHL career); Gustav Nyquist (40 NHL games now, an impressive offensive prospect with a great opportunity); Brendan Smith (48 games now, the jewel of the minor league system then, and despite slow development, is still well thought of and much is anticipated); Jan Mursak (46 NHL games now, skill player who was passed by others but had enough talent to play in the NHL at 22); Cory Emmerton (now 121 NHL games, two-way forward who looks like he'll have a decent career despite a lack of offensive ability); Jakub Kindl (now at 147 NHL games, he's an NHLer although we don't know that he's going to be a heavy minutes defender), and they also have a (now) AHL vet named Frances Pare who is posting consistent numbers--though likely shy of the NHL.
Of the 19 players aged 19-24 on the Griffins in 2010-11, 9 of them (47%) have played in the NHL. More important, guys like Andersson, Tatar, Nyquist, Emmerton, Smith and Kindl have provided the club with inside solutions to roster problems. That's a massive advantage, a GM can look two or three years down the road and let veterans go on a team timeline. Smart, smart hockey club.
- 25+ year olds (16): Jamie Tardif (2 NHL games now, this past season with Boston at age 28); Derek Meech (144 NHL games now, but only 18 since 2011); Doug Janik (190 NHL games now, but only 16 since 2011); Joey MacDonald (122 NHL games now, and 50 of those since 2010 fall).
These are the minor league veterans who serve as mentors for the kids and play the tough opposition (in most cases) until the youngsters can take on more of the chores. MacDonald looks like he's caught on to a major league career, but that's not terribly unusual for goaltenders (they often blossom late, or at least get their opportunity later on).
That Griffins team had 35 players roll through town, and 13 of them (37.1%) contributed at the NHL level (mostly for Detroit).
THE BARONS 2010
To repeat, I'm going to use 24 years old as the 'prospect cutoff', meaning players 25+ aren't considered prospects unless there are special circumstances (goaltender, injured player, NCAA grad). Here's how the Barons 38 man roster broke down in 2010-11:
- 19-to-24 year olds (23): Colten Teubert (24 NHL games now, Oilers cut him loose this summer); Phil Cornet (now 2 NHL games, Oilers cut him loose this summer); Teemu Hartikainen (now 52 NHL games, Oilers chose to retain his rights but he's now in the KHL); Milan Kytnar (1 NHL game now, Oilers cut him loose long ago); Alex Plante (now 10 NHL games, Oilers cut him loose this summer); Mark Arcobello (now 1 NHL game, minor league free agent signing has a chance); Jeff Petry (156 NHL games now, he's a legit NHL player of good quality); Chris VandeVelde (now 28 NHL games, Oilers cut him loose this summer); Taylor Chorney (61 NHL games now, but just 5 since summer 2011); Ryan O'Marra (33 NHL games now, just 9 since 2011 summer); Linus Omark (65 NHL games now, currently attempting to get away from the Oilers); Zack Stortini (257 NHL games now, but 1 since 2011 summer); Liam Reddox (100 NHL games, none since 2011 summer).
Of the 23 players aged 19-24 on the Barons, 13 of them (56.5%) have played in the NHL. That's a slightly higher percentage than Detroit's but that could be explained by losing teams turning over rosters more quickly in search of success and consistency.
More important, and this is incredible, 11 of the 13 (84.6%) have either been cut loose from the club or are chewing on the rope night and day in an effort to get their release. That's an insane, insane number. Only Mark Arcobello and Jeff Petry remain, with Teemu Hartikainen banished to the hinterland to think about what he's done (or didn't do, more likely).
Incredible. Comparing this list to the Detroit list above, I'm not certain we can blame the scouting department but am absolutely certain development should be under the microscope. Fascinating results since the Barons rolled into OKC. The team has had some on ice success, is that the reason for the poor showing?
One thing we'll know soon enough: if this bunch who were castaway are any good at all, we should be hearing about some nice beaches they've washed onto all over the hockey world.
- 25+ year olds (15): JF Jacques (166 NHL games now, but only 6 since spring 2011); Colin McDonald (52 NHL games now, 50 since spring 2011); Shawn Belle (20 NHL games now, but 0 since spring 2011); Jeff Deslauriers (62 NHL games now, but just 4 since spring 2011); Richard Petiot (15 NHL games now, but 0 since spring 2011); Alex Giroux (48 NHL games now, but only 9 since spring 2011); Martin Gerber (229 NHL games now, but none since 2011 spring).
Of the 15 players 25+ on that team, 7 (or 46.7%) played in the NHL. That's not surprising overall, because a weak team will bring up a veteran and Gerber or Petiot are typical examples.
However, Colin McDonald's career didn't really get started in Edmonton, and they drafted him (spending a dear pick in a deep draft), spent time and effort in developing him and then cut him loose--sound familiar?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
This is kind of galling--the Red Wings are better at developing their picks in the AHL and many of their best kids aren't the first rounders--I think we knew that much. However, of the players Edmonton employed in OKC in 2010-11, Edmonton threw pretty much everyone overboard, many of them this summer.
The new GM wants to put his stamp on things, I understand it. In fact, I don't really disagree with the decisions to offload Teubert, Plante, VandeVelde and Cornet this summer. I am disheartened by the Islanders getting a perfectly useful player for nothing (Colin McDonald) and that the Oilers can't seem to develop these players in the minor leagues.
Whatever Craig MacTavish has planned, one would hope this development issue is front and center.