This is Viacheslav Trukhno. The young man has been struggling his first pro season after laying waste to the QMJHL (Slava scored 198 points in his final 120 games of junior). Trukhno currently ranks 8th among Falcons forwards in scoring, and he is tied for 51st in rookie scoring in the AHL.
He should be better than he is showing currently and since we don’t know his ATOI totals that may also be a factor. However, making excuses for prospects is a tiring exercise so let’s try something else.
Let’s ask this question: have the Oilers had a recent example of a prospect with Slava’s skill set who started off slowly but then began to develop as a pro player?
We are somewhat limited in that we don’t have partial seasons so a turnaround mid-season may have happened for some players that we’re not able to identify.
Having said that, I went back over the past 10 minor league seasons for Oilers prospects and looked for:
- Multi-dimensional players who struggled offensively in their first AHL seasons and,
- Established themselves in the NHL in a skill role.
First, here’s the list of 20-year old AHL forwards over the ten year period (listed by ppg total) without regard to skill set or whether or not they’re Trukhno comps:
- Schremp (06-07) .768
- Stoll (02-03) .711
- Pouliot (05-06) .692
- Sarno (99-00) .687
- Jacques (05-06) .677
- Torres (02-03) .625
- Brodziak (04-05) .571
- Rita (01-02) .553
- Spurgeon (06-07) .441
- Trukhno (07-08) .394
- Chimera (99-00) .359
- Hinz (99-00) .278
- Baum (03-04) .270
- Henrich (00-01) .205
There were two players in the study that I excluded. Both Daniel Cleary and Michel Riesen played in the AHL as teenagers, which skewed their 20-year old numbers so I took them out. For the record, Cleary (1.28) and Riesen (.822) clearly benefited from the AHL time at age 19. There were actually several teenagers (Laraque and Zach too) but I wanted to make this as clean as possible. I’ve placed in bold the guys who ended up as NHLers.
What can this tell us about Trukhno? I’m not sure. Chimera is a guy who established himself as an NHLer but it took him forever (he played well over 200 AHL games before making it to the show full time) and he didn’t get to 1/1 at the AHL level until his third season in the minors. At a guess, if we did this little excercise with all 30 teams we would probably come up with fewer than a dozen Chimera’s.
Trukhno needs to step it up if he’s going to have an NHL career. I believe that’s the message here.