In our first post on NHL equivalency (NHLe) projections, we looked at how the Los Angeles Kings' four rookies performed in with the big club last year. Now, it's time to check out the next wave.
What is NHLe? Quoting from Robert P's NHLe roundups of years past...
Through the efforts of hockey analytics big-shots Gabe Desjardins and Rob Vollman (among others) we are able to approximate a prospect's NHL equivalent point totals. Each league has different equivalency numbers which you can adjust according to a players age. Obviously, NHLe has its limitations, but it is a useful way to do a quick and dirty analysis. It is basically just a way to put all prospects spread out in various leagues on the same playing field so that you can compare them against one another.
At most, only three or four guys on the chart below are going to show up in an LA uniform this season, so the situation is a bit similar to last year. However, there's value in calculating these for some of the lesser-known players in LA's system. For instance, two years ago, three players carried the top NHLe among Kings' prospects: the highly touted Tyler Toffoli, Monarchs' top-line center Linden Vey, and a lesser-known college player named Michael Mersch. Of course, Mersch went on to become the breakout star of Manchester's Calder Cup run. The top defenseman in NHLe that year was another surprising name, Colin Miller, who evolved into a top prospect and became a key piece of the deal that brought Milan Lucic to LA.
Of course, NHLe isn't totally predictable (or predictive) either. Miller's first season in the AHL saw him drop to seventh among prospect blueliners in NHLe at the end of 2013-14, while Vey's lofty 2013-14 NHLe gave way to a difficult rookie campaign in 2014-15. And as we outlined in our prior post, there are a lot of reasons why a player's NHLe won't perfectly display his NHL chances. Even so, it's a fun way to compare the prospects in our system.
SO. Check out our prospects' point totals in leagues across the world in 2014-15, and see how they translate to the NHL level.
2014-15 NHLe Prospect Rankings
|NAME||AGE||POS||LEAGUE||GP||G||A||P||P/Gm||NHLe G||NHLe A||NHLe P|
* no NHLe translation available
- Brian O'Neill led the way this season, projecting as a 0.5 PPG scorer. O'Neill, of course, is 27 and playing against considerably younger competition, but an AHL MVP award is nothing to sneer at. Last season, O'Neill had 47 points in 60 games. He needed to have a big year to give himself a shot at making LA's Opening Night roster, and he had one.
- Last year, the Kings had eight prospects at 30+ NHLe projected points. This year? Just three. Three of those eight moved to the NHL (Shore, Pearson, McNabb); one is basically out of the picture and isn't included; two jumped to the AHL and dropped below 30 NHLe; two repeated their performance.
- The repeats? Jordan Weal and Jonny Brodzinski. Weal racked up nearly a point per game during the regular season and was even better during the playoffs, so he's trending up. Brodzinski actually took a small step back in the points department without Hobey Baker finalist/future King Nic Dowd on his line. Maybe he didn't quite live up to sky-high expectations, but he's wisely leaving school a year early to see how he responds to AHL competition.
- The drop-offs? Dowd and Michael Mersch. Dowd's regular season was quietly productive, but after a Hobey Baker finalist season, the 25-year-old was going to find it tough to match his 2013-14 NHLe projection. Nonetheless, Dowd had a huge Calder Cup Final (including an OT winner) and has put himself in position to be an injury replacement next season. Speaking of huge playoff performances and OT winners: Mersch was pretty good in the playoffs too; his scoring rate there would translate to a 44-point NHL output, which would speak for itself. A repeat of his regular season performance would actually be disappointing at this point.
- Nick Shore's AHL performance projected him as a 40-point scorer before his call-up.
- Decent showings from a trio of 19-year-old OHLers who were drafted in 2014 as Spencer Watson, Matt Mistele, and Michael Amadio all exceeded a point per game in their post-draft season. Mistele carries bragging rights; he scored 50 goals in the regular season and playoffs as his Oshawa Generals won the Memorial Cup.
- The top defensive prospect in terms of NHLe points? Another OHLer who had a good season, Zachary Leslie. The 2013 6th-rounder didn't make the Monarchs' roster last year, instead heading back to the Guelph Storm and maintaining his offensive performance on a weaker team.
- The top 2015 draftee, not surprisingly: Alexander Dergachyov, thanks to his performance in the MHL (the KHL's AHL).
- Finally, two players who might be lower than expected: Adrian Kempe and Valentin Zykov. Kempe, of course, was playing in "a man's league," and he responded to his move to North America with eight goals in 17 Calder Cup playoff games. Zykov, meanwhile, will be at the pro level for the first time next year, and the Kings don't sound too concerned that he had lower scoring than expected during an up and down year.