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Catching the Torch: Projecting Jeremiah Addison’s NHL chances

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In this week’s Habs prospect update: Projecting Addison to the NHL, London vs. Windsor, Jacob de la Rose’s resurgence, and more

Flint Firebirds v Windsor Spitfires Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

It’s usually not difficult to watch junior hockey and distinguish between the top-end scorers and those who aren’t. The statistics and the scouting often align, but in the case of Jeremiah Addison, they don’t.

Addison’s highest single-season point-per-game clip is 0.84—and he’s playing his fifth season (overage). Simply put, his production isn’t encouraging for his NHL chances.

On the other hand, Addison’s profile as a powerful shooter, quick skater, and dedicated defensive player with a robust style, reads closer to what seems like a quality scorer in the OHL.

So why is there such a disparity between Addison’s production and scouting profile?

The Production

The vast majority of junior hockey players who go on to the NHL are players who were scorers in junior hockey. This is link between junior scoring and NHL success has been examined time and time again.

In the case of Addison, not only has he not been a scorer at the junior level (0.85 career-high set last season), but he’s an overager, too. An overager is a player who turns 20-years-old before the January 1st of the season. The overage year is the fifth and final year of CHL hockey. Most legitimate NHL prospects do not play their CHL overage, and instead join the professional ranks.

CHL teams are only allowed to carry three overagers at a time, meaning there’s a maximum of 180 overagers in the CHL. Typically, there’s a fair bit less. For example, the OHL currently has 54 overage players (out of a maximum 60). For this season, overage players are players born in 1996.

Below is a list of CHL overagers who made the NHL since the 2004-2005 lockout season:

CHL Overagers in the NHL Since 2004-2005

NAME Overage GP Overage P/GP NHL GP NHL P/GP
NAME Overage GP Overage P/GP NHL GP NHL P/GP
Brendan Shinnimin* 69 1.94 12 0.08
David Desharnais* 61 1.77 446 0.57
Joseph Blandisi* 68 1.65 63 0.41
Tyler Johnson* 71 1.62 306 0.69
Jason Akeson* 67 1.61 15 0.13
Matt Calvert 68 1.46 340 0.36
Jonathan Marchessault* 68 1.40 116 0.58
Marek Hrivik 54 1.30 20 0.15
Craig Cunningham 71 1.23 63 0.13
Mike Angelidis* 68 1.15 14 0.14
Micheal Ferland 26 1.12 166 0.27
Shane Harper* 72 1.11 14 0.21
Rob Klinkhammer* 66 1.11 193 0.22
Justin Dowling* 63 1.06 5 0.4
Barclay Goodrow* 63 1.06 76 0.2
Derek Dorsett 61 1.05 495 0.24
Joseph Cramarossa 68 0.93 59 0.17
Jeremiah Addison 51 0.84
Frazer McLaren 66 0.61 102 0.11
“*” denotes player signed as a free agent, rather than drafted.

Not only is this a very short list, it’s from a pool of rough ~1,800 players (estimating that each league does not reach the 60 overager limit) in the past 11 seasons. Only two sub-point-per-game players have made it, one was a goon, and the other is Joseph Cramarossa, who hasn’t been good, to say the least. Not only did Cramarossa outscore Addison in P/GP, but he was second on his team, whereas Addison is seventh.

Other relatively close players, like Shane Harper, Justin Dowling, and Micheal Ferland either led a low-scoring team in scoring or were big scorers the season beforehand.

For an overage player to make the NHL, they generally have to be top-notch junior scorers. But even that isn’t even close to a guarantee of reaching the NHL.

Additionally, Addison hasn’t been anchored by an abnormally low shooting-percentage, either. Windsor’s SH% sits roughly league average, while Addison’s personal 17.14 SH% sits above the average.

So perhaps the scouting report can help make as to why Montreal signed Addison.

The Report

Addison is neither a highly-skilled player nor a gifted scorer. Instead, his values derives from his hockey smarts and intensity, demonstrated by his ability to get open, support teammates along the walls in all three zones, knack for disrupting the opposition’s breakout, and solid defensive zone awareness.

That’s not to suggest that Addison is lacking in puck skills, he’s not. Continuous improvement in both skating and stickhandling have enabled Addison to make moves in flight. His hands and edge work now move at roughly the same speed, making him quite effective near the boards and around the net. Addison’s one-on-one moves seem to always just miss, due to lack of separation ability in his skating.

The puck explodes off Addison’s stick, and he sets up in high-danger areas. Unfortunately this power and release speed are not complemented with accuracy or an ability to change the shooting angle. This is perhaps the biggest reason why Addison never took his goalscoring to the next level in junior. He can wire the puck, but doesn’t deceive goaltenders before shooting it.

Head map is for shots on goal and the black dots represent the goal locations. (Image from prospect-stats.com.)

There’s also a notable lack of “finish” in Addison’s game. He excels at getting himself open for passes in the slot area, which is a testament to his smarts and ability to find quiet ice. However, he also flubs a significant chunk of these, whether that be by shooting it directly at the goaltender or fanning on the shot altogether. To get himself this many chances, he’s clearly doing something right.

From time-to-time, Addison will impress with a quick pass into the slot, or royal-road-crossing pass, but usually doesn’t attempt these plays. Addison is best on as a complementary piece on a line with playmaker.

As mentioned, Addison is a strong support player and an intense forechecker. His physical style with quick hands and low centre of balance makes him a hassle along the boards. He applies tons of pressure on the opposition’s breakout, and forces a number of turnovers. Sometimes slow to react in his own zone or on the backcheck, but for the most part brings above-average defensive value.

Conclusion

Essentially, Addison’s tools, such as his shot, resemble a scoring forward (at the junior level), rather than one who has never hit a point-per-game. His puck skills have seen considerable refinement in the past two season, but his finishing ability remains mostly stagnant. The execution is Addison’s biggest problem.

It remains unlikely that Addison makes it to the NHL. If the upside of signing a prospect is a small chance of becoming Derek Dorsett or Joseph Cramarossa, is it really worth it?

There’s no asset loss in signing prospects; however, there’s always risk through opportunity cost. That being, the signing of one prospect preventing the signing of other prospects due to the 50-contract limit.

Addison may defy the odds, and his toolkit ticks off more boxes than his production does. He has the necessary blend of skills to become a quality professional player. But will it be in the NHL?

Only time will tell.

Statistics from prospect-stats.com and eliteprospects.com.

CHL Playoffs

We begin with the marquee matchup: The London Knights versus the Windsor Spitfires; Victor Mete versus Jeremiah Addison and Mikhail Sergachev.

Through two games, the most impressive of the trio has arguably been Victor Mete. Mete has continued to accumulate big minutes, and thrive. Although Mete’s size is the obvious flaw, he’s had no trouble handling Windsor’s big, strong forwards like Logan Brown, Gabriel Vilardi, Graham Knott, and Jeremiah Addison. In fact, he’s done an job at excellent boxing them out, apart from a few instances. He could stand to be more assertive at the blue line, however.

In game one, Mete grabbed points on a pair of smart plays, as shown below. In clip one, Mete drops the puck back to Olli Juolevi after a slick feint, and then immediately goes and ties up the defending, giving Juolevi a bit more room to walk into the zone and snipe.

While the second clip isn’t the prettiest of goals, it demonstrates Mete’s ability to attack beyond flashy rushes. Mete recognizes that Windsor isn’t applying back pressure (hold on to that thought), and drops the puck back to his teammate. Mete immediately spins around, which enables him to track the puck, make himself an passing option, and create a mini-2-v-1 versus Sergachev. The result? Mete picks up a rebound with no pressure, and scores. It’s smart plays like these that have resulted in Mete’s offence taking the next step.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Sergachev has also played quite well. They have been a few defensive miscues, such as a slow puck decision resulting in a goal against in game two.

In game one, Sergachev kept trying to wind up his slapshot, but struggled to get it through traffic. He spent the first half of game two trying the same thing, but late in the second period, it clicked.

Rather than trying to overwhelm the goaltender, Sergachev used quick, hard wristers and crisp passing to create opportunities against the aggressive London DZ coverage. The result was back-to-back shifts that resulted in Windsor domination, as well as a goal and an assist for Sergachev.

While London went on to win the game and tie the series at one, it was another important reminder of how Sergachev has adapted in the second half of the season.

If there’s one thing that Sergachev, and Windsor as whole, could improve, it’s defending zone entries. As discussed in the Mete segment, Windsor’s forwards aren’t applying pressure (through backchecking pressure or closing off lanes) to the puck carrier. This is forcing the defenders to back off and relinquish the blue line, giving the dangerous London Knights more room to operate.

It was also a big week for Jeremiah Addison, as he signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens and scored a pair of goals in game one, including the overtime winner. However, Addison has handed a two-game suspension for charging at an opponent and laying a heavy crosscheck.

I was excited to see Will Bitten get his first taste of OHL playoff hockey, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. The skilled buzzsaw scored the only two goals of game one, both in typical Bitten fashion: Hover in a scoring area, and then dart after the puck.

While Bitten went pointless in 5-4 Hamilton win in game two, he certainly made his presence felt with slick passes, crushing hits, and skillful net drives.

For more on the playoffs, check out the latest CHL Playoffs Update by Andrew Zadarnowski.

NCAA/USHL Highlights (Evans Watch)

It was do-or-die for Jake Evans and Notre Dame this week, as the NCAA Regionals kicked off. Win both games, they make it the Frozen Four, lose one, and the season is over.

Against Minnesota, Notre Dame erased a two-goal deficit, on which Evans grabbed one assists with nice dish into the slot while under pressure. Moments before Notre Dame over the lead with another Jake Evans primary helper, Evans stole what looked to be a sure goal right off the Minnesota attackers stick, and then made three clearances on the penalty kill.

The victory setup a meeting with UMass-Lowell, the team that eliminated Notre Dame with a dominating performance in the Hockey East tournament. The game was tied at 1-1 entering the third, and Notre Dame came out flat. After what seemed like nine minutes of extended pressure, UMass-Lowell took 2-1 lead. The next shift, Notre Dame clicked and took over the remainder of the period.

Evans came up to two huge backchecks to thwart chances, and then grabbed an assist on the game-tying goal following an end-to-end rush. It was a classic “take a hit to make a play” sequence, as Evans was belted behind the net but still got the puck in front. Notre Dame would go on to win in overtime 3-2, booking their trip to the Frozen Four on April 7th.

AHL Highlights

If you already closed the book on Jacob de la Rose, it’s time to open it back up again. Not only does de la Rose co-lead all IceCaps in March scoring with seven points, he has arguably been their best player since mid-February. This isn’t the first scoring run that de la Rose has gone on this season. He had a 10-points-in-14-games stretch just before an NHL recall on January 14th. Although de la Rose is amidst his third North American professional season (and fifth 12 in total), he’s just 21-years-old.

There’s nothing too flashy about de la Rose. He keeps his game simple: Skate, support, and shoot. He’s a compact, powerful skater, which enables him to disrupt on the forecheck and backcheck. He takes direct routes across the ice, and thrives in the corners and boards.

But what has separated de la Rose in these two recent runs from the dry spells that have previous plagued him is playing with the puck. De la Rose’s skating and smarts aren’t just demonstrated when he’s hunting for the puck anymore; now he’s making plays with it, too. When he engages along the boards, he doesn’t look to endlessly cycle it; he’s looking for a pass or a lane to drive to the net.

Of course, the biggest concern remains his shot on goal generation. Just 1.66 SOG/GP is underwhelming, although lately it seems like he’s missing the net a fair bit. Regardless, he’s getting himself into scoring position. If he continues to improve the shots (and subsequently, increased production) will follow.

Jeremy Grégoire is also experiencing a scoring surge; albeit of smaller scale. The once promising junior scorer has struggled mightily to generate offence at the professional level.

With three goals and 15 shots on goal in the last six games, Grégoire’s production is heating up. He has been unspectacular, but solid in a minimal role with the IceCaps, but every now and then shows flashes of goalscoring ability.

Grégoire’s stat line of nine points in 54 games is disappointing, but there are encouraging signs. Hopefully, he can turn this into an extended scoring run.

Finally, Daniel Audette broke his 27-game goalless drought. All-in-all, it was a three-point weekend for Audette, who also co-leads the IceCaps in March scoring with Jacob de la Rose.

Audette, along with the de la rose, Grégoire, and Max Friberg, has been instrumental in the IceCaps recent 7-3-1-1 run despite Hudon and Terry combining for just six goals.

Goaltenders

Charlie Lindgren’s statistics weren’t great this week, but his play was. Lindgren was in net when IceCaps blew a four-goal lead, but it’s tough to blame him. The IceCaps defensive structure was ripped wide open, and basically gave free passage to the net. From the third period and on.

Lindgren responded with a pair of tremendous performances versus Hershey, but also racked up one win to show for it. In the first of the matchups, Lindgren let in two uncharacteristic goals. But the end of the night, he was the IceCaps to player. He stopped all 20 shots he faced in the periods two and three, and made some incredible stops along the way.