Sunday Minor League Report

This is Riley Nash. He’s having a wonderful freshman season for Cornell. The “Big Red” are having a good year with a young lineup and are led in scoring by the Oilers first round pick (23gp, 10-11-21). Nash has 6 powerplay goals and has shown a penchant for scoring unassisted markers.

I’ve mentioned him so often that there is a worry about boring the reader, but frankly the guy is such an exciting prospect it’s difficult to avoid the subject.

First a quick thumbnail sketch on player style. Redline told us on draft day he was “a really well schooled, all-around player who can play it any way you want. Big, raw, naturally athletic kid who can skate, shoot and pass. Also likes to get his nose dirty” and stopped just short of calling him an impact prospect.

I think we might be close to calling him one. Nash is scoring at a .913/gme rate on a team that has scored 59 goals in 23 games (2.57 goals-per-game) which compares to Kyle Turris who is ripping up the NCAA this season as well. Turris’ numbers are 26gp, 11-18-29, 1.1154/game on a team that scored 89 goals in 30 games (2.97 goals-per-game). In plain English, Nash is a part of 36% of his team’s goals and Turris has been in on 33%. I’m not implying Nash is as good or even “in the range” but taken as a whole we can feel pretty good about including Turris in a conversation with Nash this deep into the season.

How does Nash compare to other 18-year old college prospects, perhaps players we’re more familiar with? Here are the same stats for Nash and several former Oilers draft picks:

  1. Mike Comrie 1.05, 31%
  2. Riley Nash .913, 36%
  3. Andrew Cogliano .718, 19%
  4. Shawn Horcoff .575, 16%
  5. Brock Radunske .317, 10%

A couple of points: The fact that these 5 actually played in the NCAA as 18-year olds is a tell. A lot of draft picks are in the BCJHL, AJHL, USHL and other leagues at that point in time. Oiler examples would be Chris Vande Velde and Colin McDonald from recent years. Also, we don’t know playing time which would certainly have had an impact on Horcoff and Cogliano. Both of them played for deep organizations and had more established players in front of them. Nash had older players in front of him, but none of the pedigree Horcoff (Mike York) and Andrew Cogliano (TJ Hensick) battled for playing time as 18-year old kids.

Nash is probably the best offensive prospect Cornell has had this decade. Here are the scoring leaders (by season) for Cornell since 2000:

  • 07-08: Riley Nash (23gp, 10-11-21) .913, 36% A18
  • 06-07: Topher Scott (31gp, 4-21-25) .806, 27% A21
  • 05-06: Matt Moulson (35gp, 18-20-38) 1.09, 39% A22
  • 04-05: Matt Moulson (34gp, 22-20-42) 1.24, 38% A21
  • 03-04: Matt Moulson (32gp, 18-17-35) 1.09, 41% A20
  • 02-03: Ryan Vesce (36gp, 19-26-45) 1.25, 34% A20
  • 01-02: Sam Paolini (35gp, 15-18-33) .943, 28% A21
  • 00-01: Stephen Baby (32gp, 8-19-27) .844, 37% A20

The obvious reason to rank him ahead of the other players on this list is age. Nash is the ony teenager in the group. Among the group of players who did lead Cornell in scoring, Moulson looks like he may have a career.

Much has been made of Cornell’s shorter schedule and the fact the Oilers may be better served by turning him pro early, maybe even as early as this summer. He might be better off moving to the CHL, since it’s extremely unlikely the Oilers will have room for him at the big league level fall 2008 and the AHL is probably too big a leap for him.

Still, he’s the one teenager the Edmonton Oilers will have to make some good decisions on this summer. He’s also a first round pick covering the bet, which has become more commonplace in the Kevin Prendergast draft era.

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18 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report"

  1. CM says:

    Quick question unrelated to the topic. Souray has a no movement clause for the first three years of his contract. If he is sent to the minors for the 4th and 5th years will those years count against the cap? Now that would have a deep pocketed owner would this make any sence if we can’t dump souray before then?

    I was thinking about that for rolie but I think since he was over 35 at the time of signing his salary counts against the cap no matter what.

  2. Lowetide says:

    CM: I believe that’s the NJD rule and yes the Oilers could get out of it. The two things that make me wonder are Souray’s age in year 5 (will he be 35?) and if the length of contract might have an impact.

    We have a few people who know the CBA pretty well and should be along sometime today to help you with it.

  3. Devin says:

    LT and CM – I believe that the rule is when the contract’s signed, so since Souray signed at 31 I think we can bury him in year 4 with no cap implications.

    On Nash – LT, I am not up on my 19yr olds in the AHL rulebook, but wouldn’t Nash have to play CHL or NCAA next year no matter what? Could he play AHL in theory because he played a year of college? Pretty neat if one of Lowe’s weirdo moves ends up actually turning out for us.

  4. Bank Shot says:

    I’m pretty sure Nash can play in the AHL next season.

    I’ve heard the biggest thing Nash needs to do is bulk up though, so another year in college could be not so bad.

  5. Ryan Budney says:

    Small comments: Cornell has had a lot of 17 and 18 year old players. If you browse through hockeydb you’ll find a bunch: Chartrand, Holowatiuk, Sancimino… Brad Chartrand would certainly make a “low marker” based on age at Cornell and stats, but they’re otherwise probably not very comparable players.

  6. Josh says:

    I’m pretty sure the deal is between the AHL and CHL and does not involve any other league. So as long as the player has not played CHL he can play AHL at 18.

    Smid did it because he was from Europe.

  7. PunjabiOil says:

    Doesn’t he play in the weakest NCAA division? Would that help inflate his stats?

  8. speeds says:

    LT: In a previous thread, you asked about Pouliot, re: his qualifying offer etc.

    Yes, to keep Pouliot’s rights they will have to offer him a 5% raise, ~ 989.5K per year. According to section 10.2.a.iii, a player must have played 180 games in the last 3 years AND played 60 games the season previous AND not cleared waivers last year, to have to be given a one way QO. If I’m interpreting that correctly it means that Pouliot need not be given a one way QO (the AHL portion of the QO has to be at least as much as he is making in the AHL this season).

    Having said all that, they can negotiate before July 1st, and get him signed before they even need to make a QO, so yes, if they wanted to they could easily approach Pouliot and say “We’ll give you a one way deal, 2 years, 600K per year. What do you think?” with the understanding that if Pouliot doesn’t agree to such a deal, they can send him a QO and he may end up in the minors once again next year.

    CM: Yes, after the third year of the contract, the Oilers could send Souray to the minors and not be charged his cap hit. Then again, at that point he may be more tradeable, given his salary will be 4.5 mil with a 5.4 cap hit (cap hit probably not too relevant to a team not spending to the cap).

    re: Nash – the Oilers could definitely sign him and send him to the AHL. Additionally (let’s call it the Smid rule), as long as Nash does NOT play 10 or more games at the NHL level in the 2008/9 season it would NOT waste a year of his entry level contract – it would slide a year and he would still have 3 years left on his entry level contract.

  9. Lowetide says:

    PJ Oil: I have asked that question of a few people who know the league a little, and have been told although it is a lesser division the gap isn’t so large that the numbers should be heavily discounted.

    Vague answer I know, but that’s what was passed along.

  10. speeds says:

    Additionally, it could just be that the league itself is low scoring.

    Not in any way is this meant to compare Ovechkin to Nash as a player, but Ovechkin went from 27 pts in 37 games in the RSL to 106 pts in 81 games in the NHL.

    I haven’t looked at the scoring totals of Nash’s league at all though, just tossing an idea out there.

  11. Dennis says:

    Nice digging Speeds:)

    Not sure if Lowe’s a guy thinking ahead to look at a contract for Pouliot in that regard but if you believe him, I really think you’ve touched on a great idea. If you believe in him, you’ve got a guy locked in making not much more than the min. Plus, that’s an easy contract for someone to take on if they sicken of him and send him down and try and bring him back up.

    I also like the idea of Nash playing in the A next year as well. He’s having a helluva year in his first year and it seems to me that he’s be NHL ready a heckuva lot quicker by spending his 20 year old season in the AHL.

    And that’s what it’s all about.


  12. Black Dog says:

    I thought it was all about Nash getting a quality education.

  13. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: No. Not at all. If an education were important Don Cherry would have gone to college.

    Or at least high school.

  14. PunjabiOil says:

    I also like the idea of Nash playing in the A next year as well. He’s having a helluva year in his first year and it seems to me that he’s be NHL ready a heckuva lot quicker by spending his 20 year old season in the AHL.

    He’ll be 19 next year.

  15. Master Lok says:

    Hmm… where’s all the posters who were yelling and screaming about the Nash pick at the draft? Seems quieter these days.

  16. Bruce says:

    Hmm… where’s all the posters who were yelling and screaming about the Nash pick at the draft? Seems quieter these days.

    Under the same rock with the Stortini bashers, I reckon. Funny thing, when some Flames fans started bashing Zack on the Battle of Alberta site the other night, who jumped to his defence but our own esteemed Lowetide, with MC79 backing him up. They did such a thorough job that I, staunch and vocal Zack defender since early days, didn’t bother saying a word.

    Now if only the Oilers would win another five Cups, maybe even the Lowe-bashers would pipe down at least a little. :)

  17. Dennis says:

    Pat: I’m all about the value of an education but if I was the GM of a team and Nash was my property and he was playing in that Conf; I think I’d suggest he spend next year in the AHL.

  18. Black Dog says:

    Gentlemen. I keed, I keed.

    Certainly love the sound of this keed.

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