Summer 2007: Unranked
If I were king, ATOI would be available from every league league that funnels talent to the NHL. Although the stats we now have tell us part of the story, time-on-ice is the “at bats” portion of the equation and without it we’re left to guess.
When it comes to Vande Velde, the guesswork is pretty much impossible. In this first NCAA season (at age 19) he got 9 points in 38 games (.237ppg). This season (15gp, 6-6-12, .800) he’s stepped up big time but we need to put it into context and cannot with great accuracy without time-on-ice.
So, what do we do? Well, if you follow North Dakota hockey blogs you’ll know Vande Velde is on the top line with Ryan Duncan (Hobey winner in 06-07, 15gp, 6-9-15) and T.J. Oshie (15gp, 8-7-15 and one of the best players in the NCAA) which is a nice place to land. Of the 20 goals scored by that line so far this season, 8 were on the powerplay (2 by Vande Velde).
In March of 2005, Redline Report wrote: As for the state Class AA championship, Academy of Holy Angels won the title game 6-4 over Moorhead. Despite his Moorhead side losing the state final for the second year in a row, centre Chris VandeVelde was really a “wow!” throughout the weekend. He had eight shots, a goal and an assist in the Spuds’ 4-1 semifinal win over Duluth East, and versus Holy Angels, he scored a goal and had two assists despite the Stars’ attempt to stifle him and his offensive mates. He has an incredibly long reach and is uncanny playing in traffic. When he got his skating legs going, he was nearly impossible to push off the puck, in an almost Keith Primeau–like fashion. Like Oshie, North Dakota has VandeVelde slated for the fall of 2006, and until then, he’ll skate for the Lincoln Stars.
He is described as a power forward with a nose for the net, and his NCAA numbers this season are rock solid. However, without knowing the jump in minutes season over season (at a guess I’d say he’s gone from 7 minutes a night to over 20) it is impossible to give him full measure for the step up. Desjardins’ NHLE puts him at about 22 points over 82 NHL games if he was in the big leagues now at the same minutes and the same calibre linemates (1line with a team’s best wingers) which is clearly not good enough.
He’s 20 years old, playing with two of the best wingers in U.S. College hockey and has the same point total as Oilers defense prospect Taylor Chorney. I think it’s probably a stretch based on what we currently know to project him as a future top 6 forward without knowing the minutes.
Still, he definitely deserves to be among the Oilers top prospects, in the mix with the “boom or bust” and “future role players” under the organizational umbrella.