This is David Rohlfs at his first pro training camp last fall. During his college career in Michigan he became known as a versatile (forward or defense) player on a very good club during his 4 years in college and turned pro last fall at age 23. The fact that he has been playing in the ECHL most of this season (at that age) is a tell. His “arrows” are pointing in the wrong direction because at that age most prospects are done developing and starting the battle in Double A means you are well down the depth chart.
Does it mean there is no hope for Rohlfs? No. It does mean that his climb up the charts will be epic if he’s going to make it. Recent college players who spent the majority of their first seasons in the ECHL after turning pro with Edmonton are Brock Radunske (now in Europe) and Eddie Caron (no longer in organized hockey). There are reasons to believe Rohlfs will have a better pro career than either player.
Prospect progression and applying logic to the math of the game can usually tell you which players are going in the right direction. Also helpful are comments from coach and managers. For Rohlfs there are positives: he’s huge, an excellent skater and uses his size well in important places on the ice (source: Kevin Prendergast). He also impressed at Oilers rookie camp in the fall and his ECHL numbers imply he’s been a pretty good player for Stockton (56gp, 14-15-29, -4 and tied for 58th in rookie scoring in the double A league).
There are recent examples of players who start their careers in the ECHL and progress swiftly. In fact the idea of a Double A league is an excellent one, giving prospects a chance to compete at the pro level (longer season, older and more talented opposition) after coming out of junior or college ranks. Recent Oilers examples would be Liam Reddox and late this season the light seems to have gone on for Stephane Goulet.
David Rohlfs is one of the Oilers early in the decade “Coke Machine” draft picks and like most of the others has size as his main calling card. His fluid skating makes him an attractive prospect even if he isn’t a big scorer. He is not a major prospect in the system and the fact that he played most of this year in the ECHL tells us his future is probably going to be in the minors or in Europe.
Some other “up arrows” for Rohlfs:
- Spent 4 years at Michigan, helping them to the NCAA Frozen Four in all four seasons
- Named to the All-Big Ten Conference academic team his last three seasons (2004-07)
- A career +56 rating with Michigan.
- Led Michigan with a +33 rating in 06-07.
- A finalist for the CCHA conference Best Defensive Forward award as a senior
- You can see him score goal in front of a lot of people in Stockton here.