This is Colin McDonald. He’s a first year pro playing in Springfield for the Falcons. The scouting reports on McDonald have been fairly positive although his point total and plus minus don’t suggest a callup to the big team is in order anytime soon.
There is hope, though. When Fernando Pisani arrived in the AHL from Providence college at age 23, he went 12-13-25, +2 in 52gp (.481ppg). McDonald is playing his first year pro at age 23 and his stats (44gp, 9-10-19, minus 12 and .431ppg) are somewhat similar (except for the plus minus) so that’s good news. The bad news is that Pisani rocketed up the depth chart to become an NHL regular after just 120 more AHL games. Those of us who have watched Jani Rita, Marc Pouliot and JF Jacques know there’s nothing automatic about moving up the depth chart while proving yourself in the AHL.
Gabriel Desjardins’ NHL equivalencies come in handy when looking at long lists of prospects and since it’s the All-Star break I thought it might be time to look at these numbers again. You can get some background and last year’s full numbers here. To quote that post it’s important to remember these numbers nick the minor/junior numbers by many percent and follow the Gabriel Desjardins’ Equivalencies for each league, which is an “average” of several seasons and would probably go up or down using this past season’s results (either in the “average” mix or stand alone).
For instance, the OHL is a higher scoring league now but is still rated as being a tougher league to score in than the QMJHL (as an example). Desjardins’ number is in 82gp form, and assumes that said player would come to the NHL and play in exactly the same slot in the lineup and get exactly the same minutes. Age in brackets.
- Rob Schremp (21) 9-27-36 (up 5pts from 06-07)
- Marc Pouliot (22) 14-17-31 (down 5pts from 06-07)
- Liam Reddox (21) 12-14-26 (NR last season)
- JF Jacques (22) 11-14-25 (down 11pts from 06-07)
- Tyler Spurgeon (21) 3-22-25 (up 8 pts from 06-07)
- Sebastien Bisaillon (20) 6-13-19 (up 1pt from 06-07 Q)
- Slava Trukhno (20) 6-9-15 (down 24pts from 06-07 Q)
- Colin McDonald (23) 7-8-15 (up 2pts from 06-07 N)
- Mathieu Roy (24) 3-9-12 (down 8pts from 06-07)
- Troy Bodie (22) 6-5-11 (up 9pts from 06-07)
- Stephane Goulet (21) 3-6-9 (NR last season)
- Tim Sestito (23) 3-5-8 (NR last season)
- Fredrik Johansson (21) 5-2-7 (up 1pt from 06-07 SEL)
- Theo Peckham (20) 4-3-7 (down 9pts from OHL)
- Danny Syvret (22) 1-6-7 (down 7pts from 06-07)
- Bryan Young (21) 0-2-2 (up 1pt from 06-07)
At the end of last year the Oilers had several forwards bunched at the top in AHL Desjardins NHLE: Nilsson (37), Pouliot (36), Jacques (36), Brodziak (35) and then a step down to Schremp (31). This season Schremp is coming off an injury and has clearance which I think suggests a legit step forward for this player.
Let’s take a moment to see if the AHL equivalencies from last season have application for players now in the NHL. We have four examples to look at:
- Robert Nilsson 06-07NHLE 82gp, 10-27-37 .451ppg
- Robert Nilsson 07-08NHL 42gp, 6-16-22 .523ppg
Could these be two seasons by the same player? Certainly. Did Desjardins’ number suggest Nilsson would be successful? I think the number suggested he was one of several options that were quite similar in terms of skills and maturity and the Oilers chose him for a variety of reasons. Nilsson has delivered on the Oilers’ faith in him to this point.
- Kyle Brodziak 06-07NHLE 82gp, 15-20-35 .427ppg
- Kyle Brodziak 07-08NHL 51gp, 6-9-15 .294ppg
Could these be two seasons by the same player? Yes. Did Desjardins’ number suggest Brodziak could be successful? I don’t think the NHLE from last season indicated in any way that Brodziak was a likely option but he appears to have taken it upon himself to grab the job and hold onto it. I’d also suggest that much of the ppg difference has to do with playing time and role. I think Desjardins number did tell us he could play in the NHL.
- Tom Gilbert 06-07NHLE 82gp, 3-18-21 .256ppg
- Tom Gilbert 07-08NHL 52gp, 8-10-18 .346ppg
Could these be two seasons by the same player? Yes. Did Desjardins’ number suggest Gilbert could be successful? Yes. Gilbert has exceeded his promise but I think we could tell he was going to be a player one year ago before his season ending injury. Some kind of light seemed to go on at the NHL level and Gilbert has cut through the depth chart like a knife through butter ever since. I don’t think you can blame Desjardins for not reflecting that he’d be a top 4, he certainly got it right in terms of being NHL ready.
- Zack Stortini 06-07NHLE 82gp, 7-5-12 .146ppg
- Zack Stortini 07-08NHL 36gp, 1-2-3, .083ppg
Could these be two seasons by the same player? Yes. Did Desjardins’ number suggest Stortini could be successful? No. Just like Bill James Major League equivalencies can’t tell you which .199 hitting catcher handles pitchers and can peg second at midnight blindfolded, no statistical magic wand is going to give you an indication of the future for a Stortini-type.
I think Desjardins gave us good advice last spring. After writing that post in July I concluded “Based on these numbers, the players who are candidates to surprise in camp are Gagner, Trukno, Cogliano and Brodziak.”
And then I completely forgot to go back and look for training camp.
This time Desjardins is telling us Rob Schremp is ready, Reddox is a role playing third liner at this point and that Pouliot and Jacques have indeed taken the step backward we suspected. Also, Bisaillon and Spurgeon might actually be players if they stay healthy, Trukhno is struggling now that he’s seeing AAA curveballs and the Oilers have some guys in the AHL who will be elsewhere in the fall.