Revisiting NHLE

In the summer, we talked about writer Gabriel Desjardins and his NHL equivalencies. The original post is here. That was mid-July, and 6 months later we have at least half a season of actual stats to view and compare against the projections. The hard numbers are impressive–across the board. 

This time around I’m not going to spend too much time explaining Gabe’s processes, but would encourage you to read his article on the subject here. Gabe has always been generous in sharing his work and this "math toy" projects very well. Here’s a look at this year’s Oiler kids.

NHL FORWARDS (per 82gp)

  1. L Taylor Hall Projection: 17-29-46 On pace: 27-24-51. The NHLE did a good job (so far) of projecting overall points, although Hall is scoring more than projected by his junior success. I’d say this was a successful prediction, but would also suggest that Hall’s recent move to the 1line may mean a surge in points during the second half of the season.
  2. R Jordan Eberle Projection 22-24-46 On pace 18-29-47. The NHLE was extremely close in the case of Eberle, who is currently injured but should be back in the lineup soon. As with Hall, these are actual NHL number’s we’re projecting.
  3. L Magnus Pääjärvi Projection 16-22-38 On pace 8-21-29. This projection is off from the other two NHL kids, owiing at least partly to time-on-ice and quality of linemates. The Swede gets less PP time and 4 minutes less in terms of overall playing time per evening. Having said that, the projection is at least "in the range".

AHL FORWARDS (per 82gp)

  1. L Linus Omark Projection 20-15-35 NHLE 23-17-40. Omark is slightly ahead of the projection but the original projection gave us an idea about him as a player. I did not include his NHL stats.
  2. C Chris Vande Velde Projection 13-21-34 NHLE 6-3-9. The first major miss and with this player it probably spells trouble. His NHLE number came from his final college season and Vande Velde is older than most of the prospects on this list. I understand he’s playing a checker’s role in OKC, but for him to be this far away from his own pace in NCAA hockey sends up warning signs. We don’t know how much he played in college hockey and we know if was more of a feature role. If Vande Velde doesn’t recover offensively in the second half, and if he can’t deliver more offense in 11-12 then he’s probably going to stall out in the AHL.
  3. L Philippe Cornet Projection 10-17-27 NHLE 4-6-10. Cornet has missed his Desjardins number by a mile too, but there are reasons behind it. Cornet has been a healthy scratch many games and is rarely in a feature role. In his last 4 games, he’s 3-1-4 +3 for OKC because Cornet’s playing on a more featured line. I think he’ll close the gap before season’s end if he can stay on his current line.
  4. L Teemu Hartikainen Projection 12-14-26 NHLE 11-12-23. A solid projection by NHLE. He’s 6-10-16 +7 in his last 17 AHL games, so a callup to the NHL isn’t out of the question for this impressive rookie. One of the players in the system who has done the most to impress this season.
  5. C Milan Kytnar Projection 8-14-22  NHLE 3-7-10. Kytnar has played a depth role and done some penalty-kiling for the big club, but even considering those two items the young man is off the pace from his projection.
  6. L Liam Reddox Projection 9-9-18 NHLE 18-14-32. Enjoying a more featured role with OKC, Reddox played very well in all areas and earned his way back to the NHL (at least for a time).
  7. R Colin McDonald Projection 6-5-11 NHLE 17-6-23. McDonald is enjoying his finest pro season owing mostly to playing on a line with elite level AHL players (Giroux, Moran) during much of the year. He’s among the league leaders in goals scored this year and might earn another shot in the NHL if he can keep it going.
  8. C Ryan O’Marra Projection 6-3-9 NHLE 3-21-24. O’Marra (like McDonald) is playing in somewhat ideal waters this season and his offense reflects it. O’Marra played well enough to get a recall to the NHL, although some of that owes to the Oilers having so few right-handed centermen in the organization.

Junior, College and European Forwards (per 82gp) 

  1. R Toni Rajala Projection 11-15-26 NHLE 11-11-22. Young man started slowly in the Finnish elite league (called the SM-Liiga) but has turned it on a little lately. He’s certainly in the range as a prospect in terms of expectations.
  2. C Robby Dee Projection 13-12-25 NHLE 15-20-35. In Gabe’s look at equivalencies he’s always careful to impress upon the reader that age is a major item when looking at these numbers. Robby Dee will be 24 in April, so his strong NCAA showing might not be enough to get him an NHL contract. We’ll see.
  3. C Ryan Martindale Projection 8-16-24 NHLE 16-21-37. One thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to junior age players (17-20) is that they are still developing. This means huge leaps in scoring can occur (which leads to things like draft steals, etc) as is the case with young Mr. Martindale. He’s enjoying a breakout season at exactly the point we’d hope for him and because of it we can expect a much better player than his draft number implied just a few short months ago. Martindale turned 19 in October, so we should not assume he’ll have a giant step forward next year in the OHL. In fact, I’d guess he might turn pro in the fall.
  4. C Anton Lander Projection 9-12-21 NHLE 14-15-29. This is the one forward on the list of players outside the NHL we should be following this season. He’s playing well and from what we read is moving up the TIMRA depth chart (SEL). Lander might be an Oiler next season. Colin Fraser might want to pick up the pace.  
  5. C Tyler Pitlick Projection 9-8-17 NHLE 11-15-26. He started slowly in Medicine Hat but Pitlick is enjoying a strong run recently (7-13-20 +3 in his last 18 gp). Like most of the Oilers CHL kids, he could play pro hockey next season.
  6. L Curtis Hamilton Projection 7-8-15 NHLE 11-21-32. Big season from Saskatoon Blades winger. 0-4-4 in 4gp since coming back from the World Juniors. An impressive improvement over his projection.
  7. L Drew Czerwonka Projection 2-4-6 NHLE 7-11-18. With the Oilers having so many CHL prospect to follow, a guy like Czerwonka might get lost in the shuffle. However, considering his skills outside of offense, he should be a player worth watching over the next few seasons.
  8. R Cameron Abney Projection 2-3-5 NHLE 3-4-7. On pace with expectations.

A couple of things. When I say "projection" in this case those numbers are based on last season’s numbers. So, it’s a "line in the sand" for their offensive ability placed in NHL terms. Taylor Hall’s number (46) and Linus Omark’s number (35) are on the same line, from the same column. Also, we don’t have access to TOI and linemates, etc. This has a major impact on these seasons and more evidence is required before we can make a decision on most of them.

Winners? Hall, Eberle, Pääjärvi, Omark, Hartikainen, O’Marra, McDonald, Reddox, Martindale, Lander, Pitlick, Hamilton. Czerwonka too, he deserves to be on the list. You could go many seasons without seeing this number of good arrows.

Down arrows? Vande Velde, Cornet (with an explanation), Kytnar,

Defense next Sunday.

  • book¡e

    Foot injuries – hard to say. The foot injuries could be unrelated to the other issues, but maybe the guy just was born with genetically inferior feet. Maybe weakeness elsewhere didn’t allow him to ‘protect’ the other parts of his foot. Hard to say. Injury after injury suggests that the guy is fragile.

    As mentioned by Tyler – NHLE’s are most valuable when comparing a prospect from one league to another.

  • m_kennedy13

    Well, with all due respect to the Oilers, they’re neither the most truthful nor the smartest organization in the world. It’s not in their interest to have it be thought that the injuries are related.

    LT – I hear you on defenceman suffering injuries. At the same time, when a guy pivots and his foot falls apart, it’s awfully suspicious.

    • I agree that it is suspicious, and even more troubling due to management’s track record. However I feel compelled to mention that it is not entirely impossible for fluke injuries like this to happen.

      60 pounds or so ago I was supposed to play basketball for my university and suffered a freak injury in preseason that was the beginning of the end of the sport for me. I pivoted hard driving up the middle and somehow dislocated my two biggest toes and severing both tendons as well. There was no contact, nothing remotely unusual about the play, and I had no history of any sort of foot knee or leg injuries prior to that day.

      You are definitely right in that most likely the issues are related, but chances are slightly better than it might seem that it really was just a weird injury.

    • Lowetide

      Yeah, agreed. NHL teams seem to be running through defensemen quicker with the new rules too, although that’s just my brain talking (I have no evidence).

      Remember when they traded Niinimaa? Buddy didn’t last long in the NHL after that (played for two more teams iirc) but he never seemed the same player.

  • m_kennedy13

    The Oilers stated multiple times I believe that the ankle injury is completely unrelated from the foot injury.

    That said nobody really knows except for Whitney, his doctors, and a few other select people. Even they can’t be 100% sure, as how do you prove things such as what Brownlee brought up.

  • I suspect, because I’ve seen it many times before and experienced it myself, that these damaged ankle tendons are related to Whitney’s foot problems.

    Yeah, I’m sort of stunned LT hasn’t written a post about Dizzy Dean or something with respect to Whitney. Pretty well known problem when you start screwing around with parts of the body that deal with forces.

    Depressing though.

    • Lowetide

      Tyler: I wrote about it here:

      http://lowetide.blogspot.com/search/label/whitney

      and that post includes this:

      What about that foot thingy? Wikipedia calls it a “foot boner” injury but I’m not a doctor so can’t comment. Pause. It looks like he had some issues a few summers ago and then had surgery in August 2008. I don’t know that it is an issue at this time (or if the other foot will need to be realigned too) but “defense” and “injury” are in the same sentence so often it is rarely news until they can’t play in a game. It may impact the length of his career but he’s 27 and should have several productive seasons to come. Anyway, me writing about medicial stuff is farce squared so lets move on.

      Which is as far as I’m willing to go. Defensemen get hurt so often most people who follow hockey accept an injury as unique and unrelated to the past (unless it’s something like Orr’s knee). This may be a chronic thing but the NHL has plenty of defensemen who can’t play a full season.

      • EasyOil

        With regards to Chris VV, check out C&Bs “Top 25 Under 25” list – they have Vande Velde ranked fairly low, but included an interview with Neal Livingston, their OKC-based columnist.

        He says the while VV isn’t putting up the numbers expected, his defensive play is a massive part of the reason for the success of the Barons excellent PK unit. His face-off ability is also as good as advertised. I wouldn’t write him off yet, not at all.

          • EasyOil

            Of course I should add that this is all Neal Livingston’s personal view of VV, but through repeated viewings, and Neal is no slouch when evaluating players. Chris VV could end up adding no offence, and turn into the new O’Marra, albeit one with better wheels. But to be honest, VV has often been compared to Pisani, in that he is a defensively capable, possible future third liner who makes it to the NHL late (Pi’s didn’t make his debut until after four years at college and two in the A). Although Pisani was a little more offensively potent (though by no means a force, at least not in his first AHL season), nothing has dissuaded me from thinking that Vande Velde could still make it as the Oiler’s third/fourth line C.

  • Gabe’s NHLE isn’t really a true “predictor” anyway – it’s a way of putting guys onto the same level. If you see a guy with an NHLE of 12/82 or something, you can rest assured he’s not ready. With that said, I’d guess that over time, Desjardins’ thing would serve as a better predictor than most people who didn’t have a very good feel for how this stuff works.

    Not to threadjack but since Robin is in this thread – did you ever find out if the Oilers knew about Whitney’s problems before they traded for him? Second surgery in a year on his foot does not sound good and you sort of wonder if it’s a case where each surgery solves one problem at the cost of another problem.

    • Lowetide

      Tyler: Agreed. NHLE tells us that Hall and Omark had enough offense entering this season, which is not the same as being able to help your team win.

      And when a player shows over several seasons he’s ready (Omark’s NHLEs have been solid since 06-07) then the organization must feel there’s another reason why he can’t play.

      Omark (and Schremp before him) had issues that kept them from the NHL when Gabe’s numbers suggested they were ready–or at least ready for an audition.

    • Yes, they knew of the defects with his feet and I suspect, because I’ve seen it many times before and experienced it myself, that these damaged ankle tendons are related to Whitney’s foot problems.

      People who’ve had knee problems/surgeries often put extra wear and stress on other joints — ankles or hips and the related ligaments and tendons — because they change their walking/running/skating stride to compensate.

      I can’t say for sure that’s the case here, but everything points to that.

      • m_kennedy13

        If I can impose, Robin, can you ask a question to Renney for me (2 actually):

        (1) Why does he keep playing Smid on the PP? I’m genuinely curious here, I’ve never seen a lot of offensive instincts in Smid in the past, I don’t really see him making smart or quick reads when he’s on the PP now either. What is he seeing that I’m not? Or is he simply a better option than the remaining D, Chorney included?

        (2) Kind of related, but has Renney considered running a PP with 4 or 5 F’s, see how that works? If he has, why not – does he just not see any forwards that he feels can play the point? Is he particularly worried about chances the other way?

        • Wax Man Riley

          I believe he has tried. I think 2 games ago (Hall’s first game at center), I saw Pääjärvi on the point during the PP. I could be wrong, and maybe he was just covering for a pinching Gilbert

          • Wax Man Riley

            I didn’t actually see that DAL game, but I did read a lot of the post game stuff and don’t remember hearing about Renney running a 4 F PP unit.

            A quick and fast look at the NHL game sheet makes it seem like the PP units were:

            !st Unit: Gilbert, Petry/Foster, Hemsky, Hall, Penner

            2nd Unit: Gagner, Paajarvi, Omark, Gilbert/Smid/Peckham, Petry/Foster

  • Lowetide

    Gabe’s NHLE isn’t really a true “predictor” anyway – it’s a way of putting guys onto the same level. If you see a guy with an NHLE of 12/82 or something, you can rest assured he’s not ready. With that said, I’d guess that over time, Desjardins’ thing would serve as a better predictor than most people who didn’t have a very good feel for how this stuff works.

    Not to threadjack but since Robin is in this thread – did you ever find out if the Oilers knew about Whitney’s problems before they traded for him? Second surgery in a year on his foot does not sound good and you sort of wonder if it’s a case where each surgery solves one problem at the cost of another problem.

  • Rob...

    I agree with Brownlee that the numbers don’t look as accurate as I would expect from ‘statistical analysis’. Predictive modeling is a different sort of animal though. Given the number of variables involved it is actually impressive that calculations can come up with numbers that are at least as accurate as well honed hunches.

  • m_kennedy13

    William Quist update (remember him?):

    Drafted 157th overall, 6th round 2007

    6’5″ LW 203lbs
    Age 21 (22 next July)

    Playing for Nybro Vikings in the Division 1 league in Sweden (2 leagues lower than SEL – team was relegated there 2 years ago for playing like the Oilers).

    2010-11 stats:
    27 GP 12G 6A 18pts 27pim

    Sort of a “where are they now” bit. Info. from Eliteprospects.com .

  • m_kennedy13

    Bunz is a very talented goalie. He’s on a good team which sometimes can make goalies look better then they are. Bunz really is good though.

    He had some struggles earlier in the year, but recently has been just lights out and probably one of the best goalies in the WHL in the past month.

  • m_kennedy13

    a lg dubl dubl: Gilbert’s game is at a much higher level for sometime now. He had a rough start to the season and I think some are still evaluating him at that low level when he clearly isn’t there anymore.

    • Lowetide

      Bunz is having a helluva run and is now 4th in WHL SP (.916). He’s a real prospect at this point imo, by that I mean he’s someone we can assume will get a pro contract and three years to show his abilities in the AHL (or higher).

  • m_kennedy13

    Lowetide: I guess Sunday is a pretty good day to catch up. Just blame it on the late night hockey on Saturday.

    Robin Brownlee: Pretty sure you can get in depth information off of his site for how he calculates his predictions.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I hope your right Mr Kennedy in that Foster will get traded at the deadline, I was hoping he’d fit in nice and really help the pp this yr but like Gilbert has failed miserably, even with another yr on his contract it is a reasonable one that maybe a team like the Wings or even the Lightning might take a flyer on in thier drive for the playoffs.

  • LT: I know you’re a believer in Desjardins, but, honestly, when I look at the projections you’ve listed for Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi, I’m not seeing an overall degree of accuracy that can’t be found in any hockey pool in the city, including ours.

    Stumblebum Wanye, of all people, had Hall slotted for 45 points. He had Eberle for 50 — and he was right on that pace until missing this last stretch of games with an ankle injury — and he had Paajarvi for 39.

    What’s his system?

    • Lowetide

      Robin: Desjardins’ NHLE suggested that a CHL player will take 29% of his offense with him to the NHL. It isn’t exactly 29%, as the WHL and OHL are .30 and the QMJHL .28 based on his most recent article on the subject, but the Q is a stronger league now based on their scoring numbers in that league.

      So the 17-29-46 projection for Hall was based on multiplying #4’s OHL numbers by .30 and then placing them in 82 game form so we could compare across players and leagues.

      As for the group estimates and Wanye, I suspect he was looking over your shoulder and lifted your work. 🙂

  • O.C.

    Nice read.
    With this strong a crop of fwds, trade possibilities are a luxury the team has not enjoyed for 15 years

    More D and stoppers will be drafted and or traded for.

    (Oil have zero goal prospects other than Roy?)

  • m_kennedy13

    Another late morning for you eh Lowetide? Need to make that coffee stronger I guess.

    Two things.

    1) I’m very skeptical of Martindale. He is in the top 10 in scoring in the OHL, and his numbers have looked great. The issue is his two linemates are 1 and 2 in scoring in the OHL. I haven’t watched enough of the 67’s but when I get the chance it doesn’t appear to me that Martindale is the straw that’s stirring that drink.

    2) This trade deadline I can’t help but think that Foster could be dealt to Washington or New York. Both are playoff teams with dreadful powerplays that might want his bomb from the point. Too bad that he has an extra year or there would be no doubt in my mind he’d be on his way to one of those two teams.

    Great read as always LT and much appreciated.