Sunday Minor League Report

This is Riley Nash. He looks like Richie Cunningham, maybe a little like Archie Andrews. He’s a lean kid (I was watching an NFL game a couple of weeks ago, and one of the former players who was doing color was asked which pro sports athletes were the most well conditioned: “hockey players, no doubt about it”) and he can clearly play.

Nash was the guy Edmonton dealt two high picks for in order to move up in the draft in 2007, and he was their third 1st rd pick that day. I dropped in day after with my usual balanced thoughts on the subject and Riley Nash went to Cornell.

Where he’s been putting up points on a regular basis.

It’s important to remember Nash’s resume isn’t just about scoring goals, he’s a more complete player with a wider range of skills. In fact, among the first round picks under the Prendergast era (01-07), Nash would have to rank with Andrew Cogliano as the player with the widest range of skills.

Among the things we know based on pre-draft scouting reports:

  • A really well schooled, all-around player who can play it any way you want (RLR).
  • Well rounded player, competes hard every night (ISS).
  • Big, raw, naturally athletic kid who can skate, shoot and pass (RLR).
  • Utility player who can contribute in a variety of areas (ISS).
  • Also likes to get his nose dirty and really carried his club down the stretch (RLR).
  • Solid two way player (ISS).

So he’s from the Horcoff tree, size might be an issue (6-0 175, on draft day. Hope he had a protein shake this morning) and of course you can’t ever tell about work ethic or injury.

When we compare NCAA seasons, it is vital to take into account several things: the quality from division to division can vary, we don’t have any idea about time on ice totals, and usually freshman (especially 18-year old freshman) don’t play a lot. In the list below, we also have to factor in that Nash has only played 8 games so far this season and a slump could be just around the corner.

Since 1999, the Oilers have drafted 16 forwards who were freshman (age 18 or 19) in the NCAA. Some were drafted before going to college, others afterward but that’s the point at which we are measuring these kids. Freshman year, 18 or 19. Here’s the list, by points-per-game, with NHLers in bold:

  1. Riley Nash (18) 1.125ppg (8gp, 4-5-9)
  2. Mike Comrie (18) 1.048ppg (42gp, 19-25-44)
  3. Andrew Cogliano (18) .718ppg (39gp, 12-16-28)
  4. Brad Winchester (19) .545ppg (33gp, 9-9-18)
  5. Geoff Paukovich (18) .538ppg (39gp, 12-9-21)
  6. Dwight Helminen (18) .462ppg (39gp, 10-8-18)
  7. Colin McDonald (19) .432ppg (37gp, 10-6-16)
  8. Eddie Caron (19) .382ppg (34gp, 6-7-13)
  9. Joe Cullen (18) .345ppg (29gp, 4-6-10)
  10. Brock Radunske (18) .317ppg (41gp, 4-9-13)
  11. David Rohlfs (19) .302ppg (43gp, 7-6-13)
  12. Jake Brenk (19) .286ppg (21gp, 3-3-6)
  13. Chris Vande Velde (19) .237ppg (38gp, 3-6-9)
  14. Chris Legg (19) .217ppg (23gp, 2-3-5)
  15. Patrick Murphy (19) .136ppg (22gp, 1-2-3)
  16. Matt Glasser (19) .000ppg (12gp, 0-0-0)

Gabriel Desjardins has a formula to tell us what these seasons might look like at the NHL level. Desjardins suggests that an NCAA player will retain 33% of his offense moving from college to the NHL (this compares to 50% for the AHL). Here, let’s put this on a line using Andrew Cogliano’s college career and his current NHL season which we’ll roll out to 82gp:

  • 05-06: 82gp, 8-11-19 (.232) Age 18
  • 06-07: 82gp, 17-19-36 (.439) Age 19
  • 07-08: 82gp, 14-32-46 (.561) Age 20

Does that seem reasonable? Based on what you’ve seen of Cogliano to this point, could he have scored at a .232 clip at 18? Gagner is at .409ppg at 18 but Gagner’s Gagner. Anyway, to bring it back to Nash Rambler:

  • 07-08: 82gp, 14-16-30 (.366) Age 18

Listen, this is 8 games in and Riley Nash could go on a 25 game dry spell or he could have his role redefined or he could be getting Schremp-minutes (Rob Schremp played 30+ minutes a night often in his monster OHL season). Having said that, he’s “in the range” with the guys who ended up in the NHL and even though he is not a direct comparable to Mike Comrie, if Riley Nash ends this season as a comparable in the one dimension Comrie is really good at (points), then I think we need to start talking about Riley Nash as something different altogether.

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13 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report"

  1. godot10 says:

    If the Maple Leafs begin a fire sale, do we want Darcy Tucker, say to play with Horc and Hemsky.

    Say, give them Torres and Schremp and a pick.

  2. Lowetide says:

    I’ve always liked Tucker, but imo Torres is one of the guys you keep. I know he’s gone 15 games without getting a base hit but you know he’s been playing with a concussion-recovering Stoll and a few guys on the other wing who have had a few chances to do something and haven’t.

    The Oilers need to ADD a few NHL players, not make any sideways moves.

  3. Dennis says:

    1: I’d trade a 14 plus 16 package for a guy to play with Penner, someone who’s not making more than 5 mill a year and is signed for the next two or three years. Is there anyone out there like that? I’m still a 14 guy but you can only take so much and 16 looks positively done at EV. I dunno, maybe we should just write this year off for him but there’s a danger in signing him and him coming back next year to absolutely prove that he’s done OR someone signing him this summer to an offersheet and us losing him for nothing.

    2: Nash is from the BCHL, right? I think it’s someone else’s point but there are a few guys coming from there lately, no? Zajac and Turris in particular, right?

    3: If Nash’s head was bigger, he could defintely pass for the missing Sedin brother.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: You asked yesterday where the Pitkanen article was I’d referenced, forgot to pass along.

    http://edmsun.canoe.ca/Sports/Oilers/2007/11/24/4681684-sun.html

    In the article, Stauffer says:

    Speaking of Pitkanen, I have the sneaking suspicion that he will not last the season as an Edmonton Oiler.

    Just don’t know if Pitkanen is the right fit for Edmonton – kind of like Joffrey Lupul wasn’t last season.

    I find it strange they haven’t signed him to a contract yet, since we can all agree he should be a big part of the future on D. I’m thinking this might be a salary cap issue, because if he asks for 3.5/4yrs do the Oilers have the money?

  5. Devin says:

    Dennis- for 1- Marc Savard? Boston needs a faceoff guy and Stoll for whatever reason has the reputation as a 2-way C. Savard has proven he can demolish soft minutes and might fit for a couple years if our strategy is to have Cogs play 2nd EV fiddle to Horc. Boston needs D too, so maybe a 16 + Smid deal would net you something interesting.

  6. Bank Shot says:

    Single A is the new Soviet Block of the scouting world and the Oilers are on it like a fat kid on a Cheeto.

    When I watch Calgary prospects I typically try to find any fault I can. I just tear those poor kids’ game apart. It’s instinct. I assume Calgary fans are the same way.

    Part of the reason I am so excited about Nash is that a Flames fan and Cornell (Which doesn’t churn out too many mouth breathers from what I hear) Alumni CalgARI has nothing but good things to say about him.

    “I figured I’d be hearing from some of you guys about Nash sooner or later. I graduated from Cornell last spring and covered the team for three websites and two newspapers for the four years I was there. I work in Connecticut now so I’m still able to catch a lot of the games.

    I saw their exhibition game against U. of Ottawa a couple weeks ago which was Nash’s first action at the college level. Ottawa is definitely the worst team Cornell will play this season and Cornell pounded them 8-0. I was shocked at how little Nash stood out in the game, recording no points.

    Fast forward a couple games to this weekend and he was far and away the best player on the ice in each of the two games they played against Yale and Brown.

    His coach in Salmon Arm compared him to Travis Zajac with better skating. That is a very nice comparison and pretty accurate. Nash’s puck skills are among the best in college hockey. That was evident last night when he went 1-on-5 against Brown’s whole team. He dangled through each and every one of them and then the deked out the goaltender. Bear in mind, I was standing with a handful of guys who have been watching Cornell hockey for 30 years and have seen many NHLers pass through. Each and every one of them said after the goal that Nash could be better than Nieuwendyk. Whether he turns out to be or not, Nash is being mentioned in the same breath as Nieuwendyk and it is only four games into his college career. The goal he scored last night was very similar to the one Toews scored a couple weeks ago against Colorado.

    Nash thinks the game at a level above nearly every player at the college level. He is one of those gifted minds who sees the play develop well before it ever does. He does this thing on offensive zone faceoffs which he almost freezes the puck under his stick in the dot, drags it back, confuses everyone, then just walks in all alone on the goaltender with the puck.

    Nash has a little bit of an awkward stride. He stands a little straight-legged so his overall speed is not great, but he has deceptive quickness for sure.

    He is centering Cornell’s top line with two pretty good players. One of them, Colin Greening, an Ottawa draft pick, is another player I think could end up playing in the NHL. He is just a sophomore too. The two of them, if they stay at Cornell and play together for a couple years will become one of the top duos in college hockey.

    Nash has good size, though he could certainly fill out his frame a little bit. He had a reputation of being a pretty physical player in the BCHL but I haven’t really seen much of that. He did knock a guy flat on his ass last night on an open-ice hit though.

    If he can work on his stride and first step a little bit, Nash could be a high impact player at the NHL level. His hockey sense is extremely good as are his puck skills. He also plays a pretty mature game and is pretty good in the defensive zone. Cornell plays a very detail-oriented game and they give up very few goals or chances and that comes from the teaching of the little things that are really needed at the professional level. Cornell’s emphasis on this is what has separated them from the pack over the last decade.

    Please don’t hesitate to seek me out for more questions about Nash as the season progresses. He is a really special player and I look forward to watching him blossom with Cornell. He is certainly the most explosive, dynamic forward I have seen at Cornell in the 20 years I have been watching them. It will also be interesting to see how he performs when his brother returns to the lineup. He is a sophomore defenseman who is injured though expected to return in the next few weeks. Although just a year apart in age, this is the first time they have ever played on the same team. Maybe that is why Riley chose Cornell over more-esteemed programs like North Dakota and Denver. On another note, they are actually one of three pairs of brothers on the team now.

    Hope that helped.”

    SQUEE!

  7. Lowetide says:

    THAT is a beauty scouting report. And from a Flames fan? I’d a like to die.

  8. Dennis says:

    Lain, if they let Pitkanen walk, that makes the Pronger trade even worse.

    I don’t believe a word that comes from Stauffer, but the whole “Pitkanen might not be here long” is something I’ve thrown around since the summer passed and he wasn’t inked longterm.

    Also, with so much money tied up in Souray, and Gilbert’s emergence, the Oilers could, in their own mind, easily spin him walking away.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: I can see them dealing Pitkanen at the deadline, then. Why let him Larry Walker?

  10. jon says:

    I remember screaming at the TV when Lowe traded two good picks to move up to 21, and then losing it when he seemingly went off the board to pick a described checking line player. However, initial reports seem to be positive. Hell, if he got us another Horcoff in Nash it’d be hard to deny that this regime’s drafting has improved consistently every year.

  11. Dennis says:

    Larry Walker, LT?

    Are you TRYING to drive me nuts?:)

  12. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: lol. WALKED FOR NOTHING!!!!!

  13. Master Lok says:

    The one time that Lowe actually trades up in the draft – the fans drill him for it. And it turns out to be Riley Nash. Yes, I re-read your “usual balanced thoughts” the day after draft and even saw my own comment wondering how Dennis called it 0/15 and why everyone was blasting the selection. I’m gonna sound like S2H here – but when Lowe does nothing in the draft – he gets killed. When Lowe *finally* trades up … he gets killed. All I hope is that Nash pans out – at least he’s starting well.

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