Mid Season NHLE: How the Canadiens prospects are performing offensively.

Ever since Joyce's now (in)famous article made an off-hand remark that the Canadiens had no prospects I got the urge to check out how the pipeline is doing, at least from a superficial points standing. Before looking at the results we should go over what NHLE is and isn't to avoid confusion.

What NHLE is:

- A translation of what the average relationship between the counting stats (goals, points) of players in NHL feeder leagues and their counting stats in the NHL in following seasons.

- Its a tool for tracking scoring of prospects and comparing them across leagues.

- Tends to be fairly accurate at guessing the ballpark levels of offense a player might provide if they make the jump to the NHL next season.

-A good way to keep track of a player's performance from year to year as they shift from league to league.

What NHLE is not:

- Universally a good indication of a player's offense. It tends to get very pronounced flaws for players outside the typical range of age an NHL prospect that is following a typical development process will be playing at. 20+ year old CHL players or 24+ year old AHLers don't tend to be as good as their NHLE number.

- It also makes no statement about the relatively likelihood of a player to translate well (i.e. retain most of their scoring) or poorly (i.e. not score nearly as well in a higher league) beyond which league they played in. For example, this season Louis Leblanc has scored at a better NHLE rate in the NHL itself than he has in lower leagues like the AHL and CHL, while Gaberial Dumont's production has cratered ever since graduating into the pro game.

- A flat out comparison of which player is better than the other. There is much more to hockey than scoring.

We will be looking at Montreal's prospects including all those that are playing (which excludes Nash, Trunev and Cichy) at a league were justifiable comparisons may be made (excluding Pribyl) who are performing at a level that shows the glimmer of an NHL future (excluding the bottom of the AHL depth chart).

AHL Players

AHLer's tend to be the closest to the NHL, serve as the deep bench for the NHL team when there are injuries and their NHLE's tend to be the most accurate. Over the past year Montreal has graduated 6 players from the AHL into the NHL roster (Pacioretty, Desharnais, Eller, White, Subban and Weber) a number of whom have become impact players. Players with a strong likelihood of a good NHL career tend to be top-six forwards or top-4 defenseman in the AHL while playing there at ages 19-21, although late bloomers happen.

Games

Goals

Points

Goals per Game

Points Per Game

NHLE Goals 82

NHL Points 82

Palushaj

24

11

25

0.46

1.04

16.54

37.58

Engqvist

24

13

22

0.54

0.92

19.54

33.07

Leblanc

20

7

14

0.35

0.70

12.63

25.26

St. Dennis*

29

3

16

0.10

0.55

3.73

19.91

Fortier

20

6

11

0.30

0.55

10.82

19.84

Desimone

38

7

18

0.18

0.47

6.65

17.09

Avstin

38

6

12

0.16

0.32

5.70

11.39

Dumont

29

6

9

0.16

0.32

5.70

11.39

Masse

36

6

11

0.21

0.31

7.46

11.20

Nattienen

26

2

7

0.08

0.27

2.78

9.71

Mitera*

38

1

7

0.03

0.18

0.95

6.65

NHLE of .44 used. * indicates defenseman

Palushaj looks impressive here but he has a problem. He's a high performing prospect who is at an age were the elite scorers of his cohort would likely have made the NHL. As a 22 year old player above .8 ppg his translation factor has been found to be more like .31 then the .45 that is typically used. A much less impressive 26.48 is his points translation by this method. Likewise, Engqvist is a high performing 24 year old meaning his results should be similarly reduced.

Looking at other stats, Leblanc is leading the way with a very impressive 3.6 shots per game, one of the highest rates I've seen in a 20 year old AHL player in recent seasons. He was a big shot producer in the CHL as well and given how the ability to produce shots has been shown to be very important to offense in the NHL, this bodes well for the young man's future. Palushaj's 3.29 and Engqvist's 2.38 round out the AHLers exceeding 2 shots per game. It should be also noted that Leblanc was on a well earned 29 point pace when he played in Montreal, with no powerplay time and limited minutes.

This is not an impressing group here. Beyond the 4 top players (Leblanc, Palushaj, Engqvist on forward and St. Dennis on defense) there is very little to suggest an NHL future. And only Leblanc seems to have a decent chance at playing higher than the bottom of the lineup. The greatest talent is otherwise is likely Avstin but his game still seems to be lost in translation.

CHL

The CHL is the premier junior (under 20) league in the world which has the greatest level of competition and the most NHL graduates. Players that become NHLers tend to be the stars of their respective junior teams. Only the most exceptional graduate from the CHL (because the AHL is not an option because of an NHL-CHL agreement) before their eligibility is up when they turn 20, one or two seasons after their initial draft eligibility. Since the quality of competition level of the CHL is much lower and the players in this league are on much steeper development curves, CHL point equivalence tends to be much more variable then that of the NHL

Games

Goals

Points

Goals per Game

Points Per Game

NHLE Goals 82

NHL Points 82

Gallagher

30

28

55

0.93

1.83

22.19

43.60

Bournival

20

19

33

0.95

1.65

22.59

39.24

Holland

42

17

61

0.40

1.45

9.63

34.54

Archembault

40

14

36

0.35

0.90

8.32

21.40

Beaulieu*

33

8

29

0.24

0.88

5.76

20.90

Ellis*

40

11

34

0.28

0.85

6.54

20.21

Dietz*

45

7

24

0.16

0.53

3.70

12.68

Tinordi*

25

0

8

0.00

0.32

0.00

7.61

NHLE used .29. * denotes defenseman.

Both Gallagher and Bournival are stars in their respective leagues but Gallagher's production is particularly impressive. His scoring is at the same rate in the same league at the same age as Oilers young star Jordan Eberle and follows on 2 years of impressive production from the young winger. 43.6 NHLE points is the 3rd highest for a Habs junior prospect at 19 years of age in the past decade after only Sergei Kostitsyn (49.9) and Riberio (48.9). At this point the only concern must be his dimunitive size. Despite being picked in the 5th round he is one of the strongest offensive producers from his draft year.

Cammalleri trade throw-in Holland has had major improvements year to year and isn't that far off the pace set by the two leaders. However there is legitimate concern that his offense is a result of much stronger teamates rather than his own merits. Archambault however is not performing well, even as the youngest of the 4 and the only one with another season of junior eligibility.

Beaulieu leads the defensive group, as befits the highest draft choice but Morgan Ellis's excellent campaign is certainly cause for hope in the 5th rounder's future. Dietz is also outperforming his lesser draft status, keeping pace with 10th overall pick Duncan Seimens, who is on the same team and about the same age. Tinordi's offense is lacking but as it was made plain from his strong World Junior's showing, he makes up for it elsewhere.

Gallagher, Bournival, Holland, Beaulieu, Tinrodi and Ellis all look to join Hamilton in the AHL next season in a strong injection of talent for a team that's running low on native ability.

NCAA

The NCAA is between AHL and CHL in quality of play, which neatly reflects the relative ages of player in that league. Prospects there range in age from about 18-22, with better players tending to turn professional after one or two seasons while lesser ones stay longer to develop.

Games

Goals

Points

Goals per Game

Points Per Game

NHLE Goals 82

NHL Points 82

Walsh

8

3

10

0.38

1.25

12.61

42.03

Kristo

23

12

25

0.52

1.09

17.54

36.54

Qualier

18

7

19

0.39

1.06

13.07

35.49

Kishel*

22

3

15

0.14

0.68

4.58

22.92

Bennett*

26

3

15

0.12

0.58

3.88

19.40

Pateryn*

26

2

12

0.08

0.46

2.59

15.52

MacMillian

23

4

9

0.17

0.39

5.85

13.16

Didier*

22

0

2

0.00

0.09

0.00

3.06

NHLE used .41. * denotes defenseman.

Dustin Walsh's points are encouraging but with so few games it may but be a hot streak. Both Kristo and Quailer are doing fairly well as 21 year olds at over a point per game, which is encouraging as both have had notable set backs in their career. On the other hand both aren't doing so well that you could say that an NHL career is a very strong likelihood. Both will be likely making their cases as 22 year olds in Hamilton next season.

Kishel is pointing up points but as a 22 year old defenseman who is only known for his offense. His likelihood of an NHL future is questionable. Pateryn is doing well enough that the AHL is his likely destination. Mac Bennett looks to be the gem of the group, playing a top-pairing role as a 20 year old in a strong program. If there is an NHLer in this group he's the most likely candidate. Didier isn't doing much but he's also in his first season of college. Patience is warrented.

SEL

Games

Goals

Points

Goals per Game

Points Per Game

NHLE Goals 82

NHL Points 82

Nygren*

36

6

15

0.17

0.42

10.66

26.65

NHLE used .78. * denotes defenseman.

The Swedish Elite league is a genuinely good and competitive adult professional league. Probably much stronger than the AHL. Nygren isn't matching his previous season's stats (.69 PPG) but that was such strong run it would be difficult for most prospects to match it. As it stands he is currently the strongest offensive defenseman in the Canadiens prospect system.

Top 5 by position

Forward

League

Age

NHLE Goals

NHLE Assists

Gallagher

WHL

19

22.19

43.60

Bournival

QMJHL

19

22.59

39.24

Palushaj

AHL

22

16.54

37.58

Kristo

NCAA

21

17.54

36.54

Quailer

NCAA

21

13.07

35.49

Defense

Nygren

SEL

21

10.66

26.65

Kishel

NCAA

22

4.58

22.92

Beaulieu

QMJHL

19

5.76

20.90

Ellis

QMJHL

19

6.54

20.21

St. Dennis

AHL

25

3.73

19.91

The jewels of the system become much clearer here, with Gallagher and Bournival leading the way on forward despite their young age. Likewise, Beaulieu and Ellis are impressive junior defensemen, although Nygren is leading the pack by a considerable margin. This method however misses probably the best forward prospect in Leblanc, who has the distinction of being the only one here that has demonstrated the ability to score at the NHL level, which is worth much more than projections.

Overall the current AHL crop looks weak but they are going to get a major infusion of talent next season with Gallagher, Bournival, Holland, Kristo, Quailer, Beaulieu, Ellis, Pateryn and Tinordi as likely to move to the professional ranks.

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