Desjardins NHLE for CHL

This is Alex Plante of the Calgary Hitmen. He’s one of the more controversial draft picks by the Edmonton Oilers this decade. With all kinds of skill still available, the Oilers once again drafted what appeared to be a “need” selection in Plante.

Other recent examples might be Devan Dubnyk and Taylor Chorney.

There has been some talk amongst fans about the possibility of Plante not being signed and falling back into the entry draft. Should Edmonton follow proper procedure in this area, they would be rewarded with a mid-2nd round pick in a deep and quality draft this summer.

I suspect the Oilers sign Plante. He lost an entire season to injury and his skating is going to be an issue, but the things that got him drafted in the first round (size, skill, reach) are still there.

Plante is one of a very short but impressive list of CHL players who are in the Oilers system this year. Their collective Desjardins numbers are excellent. For those new to the process, this is an estimate of production based on the player getting the exact same treatment in the NHL as he does in his current league. Same minutes, same time on the PP, same quality of linemates and on it goes. Per 82 games.

Sam Gagner’s NHLE was rock solid, and I think (as I did with the NCAA) it might benefit to look at the past two seasons before posting this year’s numbers:

2006-07
  1. Sam Gagner: 16-39-55 (17)
  2. Slava Trukhno: 10-29-39 (19)
  3. Ryan O’Marra: 14-13-27 (19)
  4. Fedrik Pettersson: 10-14-24 (19)
  5. Sebastien Bisaillon: 4-14-18 (19)
  6. Theo Peckham: 5-11-16 (18)
  7. Alex Plante: 3-13-16 (17)

Gagner would come directly to the NHL and post a 79gp, 13-36-49 season, which is a stellar comp for his NHLE at age 17. Trukhno hasn’t shown the potential suggested here, and the other forwards didn’t deliver enough offense to imply a quick rise through the ranks. Among defenders, it’s interesting to note that Theo Peckham (not a kid with an offensive reputation) ranks pretty well in the group.

2007-08

  1. Jordan Eberle 15-11-26 (17)
  2. Philippe Cornet 9-9-18 (17)
  3. Milan Kytnar 3-5-8 (18)
  4. Jordan Bendfield 2-7-9 (19)
  5. Alex Plante 1-1-2 (18)

Eberle was well back of Gagner (which is no surprise, Gagner’s junior numbers were superior to Hemsky’s and he’s tracking ahead of 83 as time rolls on) but that’s a nice season in a tough league at that age. Not much else to talk about in this season, Plante’s injury buggered his season and Kytnar was a kid in a defensive role. Cornet looks like a tweener here.

2008-09

  1. Jordan Eberle 14-16-30 (18)
  2. Philippe Cornett 11-17-28 (18)
  3. Milan Kytnar 10-14-24 (19)
  4. Alex Plante 3-13-16 (19)

A year on and things have changed. Eberle stalled after the WJC’s and even though we can make allowances for team etc, the numbers serve as warning in terms of expectations. We shouldn’t expect him to have a big training camp and make the big club in the fall, even with a pretty strong AHL debut this spring. He is not an impact prospect similar to Gagner, Hemsky or Mike Comrie.

I think we can fairly address that question by placing Eberle’s NHLE against other kids at age 18. This is across leagues and seasons, so is not reliable beyind being a discussion point:

  1. Sam Gagner 13-36-49 (Note: actual NHL season)
  2. Ales Hemsky 12-30-42
  3. Mike Comrie 15-20-35
  4. Marc Pouliot 14-18-32
  5. Jordan Eberle 14-16-30
  6. Riley Nash 11-19-30
  7. Philippe Cornet 11-17-28
  8. Andrew Cogliano 10-14-24
  9. Shawn Horcoff 8-11-19

This gives us a nice estimate about Eberle’s upside offensively. Guys like Cogliano and Horcoff don’t perform well by this metric, but that makes sense. Their playing time in college as freshman would be considerably less than a player like Eberle (or even Nash, who isn’t fighting for minutes at Michigan State). The things that strick me from this list are that Pouliot left a lot of offense on the tarmac due to injury and that Eberle trails all the pure skills guys by enough for us to be concerned.

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