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