Sunday Minor League Report (Desjardins NHLE)

Gabriel Desjardins is a Godsend for thinking hockey fans. His Behind the Net website is to the right of this post and does not begin to repay the debt I owe him. In March, I posted about his site and its value and honestly I think his work (along with the cutting edge stuff being done by some among the Oiler blogs) puts hockey squarely in the era between Pete Palmer’s unreadable book and the first few Bill James epic abstracts. The truth is out there.

Desjardins has a nice look at the USHL and its quality here. It’s typical of Desjardins that shortly after I think of something and wonder about it, he’s got something on the subject.

I’m gushing about the guy but people like me couldn’t pay to get this done without someone who could run the numbers and who cares enough to get it right. He makes things pretty simple for people like me, who can type on a computer and click the right prompt in order to get to very interesting information about Robert Nilsson.

My main interest in Desjardins’ work is his NHL equivalencies and this is the reason for this post. His original minors-to-majors work is my Bible (my wife and I have had arguments about how many times I’ve made her help me look for a lost printed copy. “Why don’t you just stop losing the damn thing!”) for the prospect stuff I do like comps.

Well, we know it works tracking backwards because the numbers are available. How does Desjardins NHLE work moving forward? This season’s Oilers give us a nice chance to have a look at several players from a few different leagues. Back in July, I posted a complete list of Desjardins’ NHLE’s for Oilers prospects and we’re far enough into the season to see if he’s “in the range.”

A few notes before looking at individual players:

  1. The numbers assume the same amount of icetime in the same situations. Same powerplay time, same EV time, same quality of linemates.
  2. Like Bill James MLBE, we’re talking about said player in his season dropped into the NHL. This isn’t a projection for the following season.
  3. We’re looking for seasons that are similar to each other, not identical. If a player ends up with a points-per-game total “in the range” I’m not going to quibble over goals and assists.
  4. For easy reading below, NHLE is NHL equivalency and NHLP is current NHL totals projected over an entire season.

Andrew Cogliano (college to NHL)

  • Current NHL: 30gp, 6-10-16
  • 82gp NHLE: 17-19-36 .439ppg
  • 82gp NHLP: 16-28-44 .537ppg

His NHL season so far sees him getting 10:40EV, 2:10PP and 1:13PK each night. Are these two seasons in the range? Yes. This is a very good match, with his playing time probably reduced this season but he’s a year older (19 last season, 20 now) and no doubt playing against softer competition.

Sam Gagner (Junior to NHL)

  • Current NHL: 29gp, 2-10-12 .414ppg
  • 82gp NHLE: 16-39-55 .671ppg
  • 82gp NHLP: 6-28-34 .414ppg

Gagner is 11:30EV and 2:26PP per evening, and he’s been on the PK but just a little. Based on his junior team (London) and our previous experience with Rob Schremp, I think it’s safe to say that the TOI totals this season are not similar to what he was getting in junior (Schremp’s minutes per game were rumored over 30 in his final junior year). It is therefore not a good match, and frankly I don’t know how to improve it without addressing time on ice. Would it be a benefit to begin working on a “TOI estimate” for junior and college play? We need Project Scoresheet.

Kyle Brodziak (AHL to NHL)
  • Current NHL: 29gp, 5-6-11 .379ppg
  • 82gp NHLE: 15-20-35 .426ppg
  • 82gp NHLP: 14-17-31 .379ppg

This is an excellent comp and really when we’re talking AHL-to-NHL we’re asking Desjardins to do far less work. Typically an AHL coach would run his bench in a similar fashion to an NHL coach and these players are at least 20 years old and so easier to predict. Brodziak gets 9:39EV and 2:51PP for the Oilers this season, plus a little on the PK.

Robert Nilsson (AHL to NHL)
  • Current NHL: 22gp, 3-7-10 .455ppg
  • 82gp NHLE: 10-27-37 .451ppg
  • 82gp NHLP 11-26-37 .455ppg

This is an exact match. I think these AHL matches are a perfect argument though that the more we know about TOI the more accurate we’re going to get on these matches. AHL TOI is extremely likely to be similar to Nilsson’s current numbers (10:49EV and 2:20PP), but junior numbers can be extreme compared to a more structured, pro style approach.

Tom Gilbert (AHL to NHL)
  • Current NHL: 30gp, 4-5-9 .300ppg
  • 82gp NHLE: 3-18-21 .256ppg
  • 82gp NHLP: 11-14-25 .300ppg

A nice match again. Gilbert is getting 17:14EV, 1:59PK and 2:19PP for the Oilers, and that might be a little more than he was getting in the AHL last season (shared minor league team).

Denis Grebeshkov (RSL to NHL)
  • Current NHL: 25gp, 0-4-4 .160ppg
  • 82gp NHLE: 10-23-23 .280ppg
  • 82gp NHLP: 0-13-13 .160ppg

His TOI totals are amazing considering the lack of production (13:36EV, 3:20PP, 1:10PK) and that he is third overall among defensemen on the team’s PP (Souray, Pitkanen). However, his AHL-to-NHL equivalency at age 21 was .333ppg so there may be talent there that we haven’t seen get results yet. I’m inclined to think the equivalency is accurate and that the player is not performing to an established level (and would offer last year’s RSL season, .280ppg, and the 21-year old AHL season, .333ppg, as proof).

As a group, how do these look to you? Accurate?

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7 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report (Desjardins NHLE)"

  1. Devin says:

    Great stuff LT. You mention Brodziak at 2:51 PP — that’s actually his SH TOI/G. Not sure if that affects any calculations. This really shows we have a good number of young players who are chipping in. Nilsson in particular is a strange one – his ESP/60 has come on of late, and his GA is very respectable. I wonder if it’s just a hot streak or whether he’s settling to a pace we can expect moving forward.

  2. KlingonHockey says:

    That nuance about getting the same amount of icetime really throws things off for the juniors. No way in hell that’s going to happen for an 18 year old. He might match those NHLE numbers, but be -120 by the end of the season, if he’s lucky enough not to have his little body destroyed by repeated poundings from grown men. That sounds really bad; no sense in denying it: Gagner would get raped playing 20 minutes a game.

    What if you just apply the NHLE to icetime as well? 0.671^2 = 0.450. That’s closer, but without good analysis I could just be fudging numbers and engaging in numerology.

    More quick ideas: In the NHL, after the first round of NHLE he’s 55pts, which is good enough for 2nd liner. But that’s with 25 minutes of icetime, which he’s not going to get because more is expected from a first liner. At 55pts, he’d be playing ~15 minutes a game. That bumps his scoring down to about 33 points. But that makes him a third liner! Maybe you do it recursively and adjust again, from 15 minutes to 10 minutes, or stop after the 1st round and say it’s good enough. I’m just brainstorming.

    I’m surprised the NHLE isn’t given in PP/60. That would make this a lot simpler.

  3. doritogrande says:

    I vote for the inclusion of the “London Clause”, which would in effect take a quarter off expected point totals by players coming out of the London system.

  4. Scott says:

    I don’t know about the whole London thing. It seems that Pat Kane would be at least hitting his projection, and probably surpassing it. That said, he’s in a role where that’s more likely to happen. I think it’s a matter of recognizing the limits of the projection rather than trying to “fix” it by cutting the projection by a somewhat random one quarter or one third. The suggestion of points/60 is probably best, but not doable given the data… I’m prepared to live with the limitations until/if the data becomes available, because it certainly seems that the projections have some value. It doesn’t take a genius to look at Gagner and see that he’s not going to be getting the same ice as a rookie in the NHL that he did as a star in the OHL.

    As for Cogliano, I don’t know that he would be getting much different treatment now than at Michigan. Wasn’t he on Michigan’s second scoring line? If true, I would think he’d probably be taking on lesser lights there too, unless he was specifically given a tough checking match-up. It seems fair to me to suggest that he’s outperforming his projected counting numbers to this point. Good for him.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Good points all. A few notes:

    klingonhockey: GREAT name, love it. How would I post NHL eqivalencies in PP/60? I don’t have the information from the minor league/junior numbers so matching them with the following season’s NHL numbers seems to me to be mixing apples and oranges.

    Scott: I think you’ve made an excellent point. Just because it has some limitations doesn’t mean it has lost any value at all.

  6. Doogie says:

    I think it’s about as accurate as you’re gonna get until the CHL, NCAA, and AHL start logging ice time the way the NHL does. From there, though, there should be some way to separate out the EV, PP, and SH times, find separate rates for each, and prorate them from there based on Desjardins’ established methods.

  7. jon says:

    Nilsson perhaps hitting 40 points this season? That’s crazy talk, who would ever envision such madness? ;)

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