Is there Hope for Colin McDonald?

Bill James taught us about comparables (comps) and what they can tell us about specific prospects. If a #4 overall pick begins to sputter and make funny noises, Jason Bonsignore might be a comp. If the kid your team drafted in the middle of the first round starts to make ridiculous plays with the puck and make veterans miss while still a teenager, then names like Hossa, Middleton and others come to the fore.

It should be mentioned that not all comps go on to have long and productive careers. When we talk about using comparables and cite NHL players we are really talking about “best case scenario” for these players using logic and good sense.

There have always been surface things that tie Colin McDonald to Fernando Pisani:

  • Both were drafted out of tier 2 junior (AJHL and EJHL).
  • Both played 4 full years for Providence (NCAA).
  • Both had extended AHL careers (172-164 Pisani so far).
  • Both have good size for the NHL.
  • Both have good shots.
  • Both spent periods of time being “long shots” to make the show.
  • Both eventually gained some reputation as being checkers.

The foundation for comparables is math. Similarity scores. Did the fellow we’re looking at now perform at a level similar at the same age as the player we’re comparing him to? Let’s have a look at McDonald, Pisani and Brad Winchester’s college and AHL careers to see what’s happened.

College Numbers

  1. Fernando Pisani 147gp, 56-97-153 1.04points-per-game
  2. Colin McDonald 135gp, 43-34-77 .570points-per-game
  3. Brad Winchester 150gp, 40-44-84 .560points-per-game

Pisani’s college team averaged 131 goals per season, Winchester’s 129 and McDonald’s 93! Pisani is clearly the better player here, but if we factor in the strength of each team’s offense (and obviously these men contributed) McDonald’s college career is better than it appears above. McDonald scored 12% of his team’s college goals during those years, a number that compares with Pisani’s and is clear of Winchester.

AHL numbers

  1. Fernando Pisani 172gp, 55-62-117 .680points-per-game
  2. Brad Winchester 195gp, 65-40-105 .538points-per-game
  3. Colin McDonald 164gp, 26-24-50 .305points-per-game

Pisani’s AHL teams averaged 251 goals, Winchester’s 212 and McDonald’s 195. That’s a fairly large gap, but the offensive output for McDonald at the AHL level contributed to the poor offense and even if we make adjustments I don’t think he approaches Pisani (although Winchester improves greatly).

Conclusion? I don’t think Colin McDonald’s career thus far allows us to reasonably use Fernando Pisani as a comparable. Fernando began to emerge as a legit NHL prospect in 2001-02 (age 24), and McDonald has had a nice start to his AHL season this year (age 24). McDonald scored his 4th goal of the season last night (13gp, 4-1-5).

If Colin McDonald can approach Fernando Pisani’s AHL season in 2001-02:

79gp, 26-34-60 +24

we can begin talking about him as being a legit NHL prospect. However, we should keep in mind that (based on math) the foundation isn’t there and that a reasonable career for this player involves more AHL seasons, Europe and possibly a cup of coffee similar to the one enjoyed by his father Gerry in the early 1980′s.

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10 Responses to "Is there Hope for Colin McDonald?"

  1. spOILer says:

    To me, goal and assist levels have much more of an effect on comp than what school they went to.

    Pisani has never been a comp to McDonald, at least IMHO. McD to Winchester, yeah maybe, that I can see.

    And even if Colin racks up some nice goal totals this year, he still won't be Pisani till he learns how to pass.

    Would Bill James comp a 70 run, 100 RBI guy to a 100 run, 70 RBI guy?

  2. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: Excellent points. I would argue that they are very similar in terms of where you'd slot them in the batting order (both rw's who play against tougher opponents, both have good shots, etc) but Pisani clearly is a better overall passer, better instincts, etc.

    There was a time when the comp fit much better, but I do agree it no longer makes sense.

  3. Black Dog says:

    The one thing working for Colin McDonald is that the big club is dying for big men who can play a role (other than fighting I mean).

    Van De Velde and Nash are on the way but McDonald has this year, at least, on them.

    If he can get the call and then hold his head above water then he might surprise us all.

  4. Showerhead says:

    wake up hungover and drunk and go to the blog and there is no GDT and wish I were dreaming but there is no game tonight and now I am sad.

    now, how do we cure these things again? :P

    as for mcdonald, he looks decent every camp but those numbers fall too far behind the difference in team quality. also, why is everyone yelling? you guys are making my head hurt.

  5. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: Another good point. I estimated McDonald at about #20 on the forward depth chart in TC, but if we list just the rw's:

    1. Hemsky
    2. Nilsson
    3. Pisani
    4. Stortini
    5. MacIntyre

    6. Reddox
    7. Fretter
    8. McDonald
    9. Thomas (new guy)
    10. MacMurchy

    Then we're talking about a chance he sees playing time at some point (should injuries and ineffectiveness continue).

    btw, the Falcons depth chart is me making it up, have no idea what it really looks like.

  6. Woodguy says:

    Oilers just recalled Potulny and Reddox.

    Good bye Mr. McIntyre. (my guess)

    Good for you for not giving up on your dream.

    You outscored Ovechkin in a game last year an no one can take that away from you!

  7. Mr DeBakey says:

    Random Thots:

    ..McDoanld 4 goals, No PP time
    ..Only Linglet & Minard are better
    ..Chris Minard 23% shooting %
    ..Pisani is starting to look like dinner
    ..That makes me sad, but not hungover
    ..A bottle of beer, a bottle of water, repeat
    ..There's a lot of veterans on that Springfield team
    ..Daum sure is gentle with the guy asking the post-game questions.

  8. Black Dog says:

    LT – it works in his favour

    If they need a guy to score then its Potulny or Minard.

    If they need a guy to check then its Reddox and then I think he's next in line. Especially if they have more injury concerns on the wings.

    Especially with bigger players.

    Lets hope Potulny and Reddox can do something. Anything.

  9. Bruce says:

    Any word on how the Oilers are making room for two forwards? Horc on IR? Hemmer on IR? *shudders*

  10. geowal says:

    I'd kind of forgotten he was even still in the organization.

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