Desjardins NCAA

The NCAA season isn’t over yet but we’re in the home stretch. Cornell lost last night, leaving only Chris Vande Velde still going among the top flight Oiler prospects in college. Dean Millard is convinced Nash should turn pro and get to Springfield A-SAP. I’m not certain that the Oilers AHL Snafu team is the right spot for any kid turning pro, and Nash’s situation is somewhat different in that he has expressed that finishing college now is a strong option.

Vande Velde is a different story, as he is completing his final college season. His signing (and heading to Springfield) is more certain than in the case of Nash. Let’s go back over the last few seasons in terms of Desjardins NHLE’s and see how everything lines up for the current group.

2006-07
  1. C Andrew Cogliano 17-19-36 (19)
  2. R David Rohlfs 11-11-22 (22)
  3. D Taylor Chorney 6-15-21 (19)
  4. R Colin McDonald 10-3-13 (22)
  5. D Cody Wild 5-7-12 (19)
  6. C Geoff Paukovich 5-7-12 (20)
  7. C Chris Vande Velde 2-4-6 (19)
  8. L Matt Glasser 0-0-0 (19)

Cogliano would turn pro the following season and post 82gp, 18-27-45 numbers. His second season was much closer to his Desjardins estimate and this year Cogliano has taken a step back offensively (although a late surge is repairing the numbers to some extent). Chorney looked like he might be able to bring some offense to the show and McDonald looked like a fringe offensive player. It is interesting to see Chris Vande Velde’s numbers at 19 years old.

2007-08

  1. C Riley Nash 11-19-30 (18)
  2. C Chris Vande Velde 12-13-25 (20)
  3. D Cody Wild 4-19-23 (20)
  4. D Jeff Petry 2-17-19 (20)
  5. D Taylor Chorney 2-17-19 (20)
  6. L Matt Glasser 5-3-8 (20)
  7. L Robby Dee 1-3-4 (20)

Nash replaces the graduating Cogliano at the top of the list and Vande Velde becomes a regular. The college trio of defenders looks about equal, with a slight edge in this season to the recently departed Wild. Most interesting here is the age of these prospects; all but Nash are at an age when the Oilers would have been making a decision on signing them if they were CHL prospects.

2008-09

  1. C Riley Nash 12-22-34 (19)
  2. C Chris Vande Velde 14-13-27 (21)
  3. D Jeff Petry 2-10-12 (21)
  4. C Robby Dee 6-5-11 (21)
  5. L Matt Glasser 3-3-6 (21)

Nash had a nice season at 19-years old, in the range with Cogliano’s a couple of years before. Vande Velde shows slight improvement and Petry has a tough season.

2009-10

  1. C Riley Nash 13-26-39 (20)
  2. C Chris Vande Velde 13-21-34 (22)
  3. D Jeff Petry 4-22-26 (22)
  4. C Robby Dee 13-12-25 (22)
  5. L Matt Glasser 2-3-5 (22)
  6. D Kyle Bigos 4-6-10 (20)

Nash had a nice season for Cornell, although it should be mentioned that most of the really good college kids are at the pro level when at 20. Vande Velde’s season is solid, but we should remember that 4th year college kids (especially the 22-year olds) should dominate college. Shawn Horcoff’s 21-year old NHLE was 11-41-52 and he was in the NHL halfway through his first pro season (2000-01). Still, Vande Velde’s progress has been impressive.

Petry (now signed by the Oilers, he played in Springfield last night) looks like a match for Chorney offensively and from all reports has a much better chance to become an effective defender at the pro level. I think the Oilers sign Vande Velde and possible Dee. Glasser gets passed over, Bigos will go back to college. Petry is already signed and that leaves Nash. I think we should be prepared for him to commit to another Cornell season and that may mean he’s dealt sometime during the summer.

It would be a mistake. From this list, Nash and Vande Velde are the forwards with a wide range of skills (and Petry is similar in this way). The rest of the college group should be considered window dressing, with those three prospects worth developing. If Nash does turn pro (as Millard has suggested should happen) I believe a lot of people will be surprised by this kid’s level of skill and ability. Some of them may even be Oiler employees.

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