As the Bakersfield Condors prepare to play tonight (I will update the scores in comments section) all (or most) eyes will be on Zack Kassian—for good reason. Among the Condors forwards, he is the easiest hockey projection. He is an NHL player, full stop. For the rest of the forwards in California, it is a less precise assessment.
One way I look at minor league forwards is via even-strength points. We all know the difficulty of scoring when the game state is equal, and without impact offensive players it means a combination of skill, grit and hard work is the likely recipe for success. That dovetails beautifully with the skills NHL teams look for in complementary players.
Recently, I wrote about the prospects here on the blog, and a few commenters suggested this generation of players couldn’t be compared to the Brodziak’s and the Chimera’s. Today, I would like to spend a few minutes comparing today’s Condors with the men who played in Edmonton’s system a decade ago—using even-strength points as our measuring stick.
05-06 (EVEN-STRENGTH POINTS/PER GAME)
- Brad Winchester (24) 40, 10-8-18 .450
- Kyle Brodziak (21) 55, 9-11-20 .363
- JF Jacques (20) 65, 11-11-22 .338
- MA Pouliot (20) 65, 9-12-21 .323
- Zack Stortini (20) 64, 2-8-10 .156
This is a look at the 2005-06 season, with Jacques, Poo and Stortini all 20 and AHL rookies, Brodziak in year two, and Brad Winchester about to graduate to the NHL at age 24. Let’s compare this group to the current forwards in Bakersfield (who have played more than 15 games).
- Andrew Miller (26) 21, 5-5-10 .476
- Jujhar Khaira (21) 16, 3-3-6 .375
- Kale Kessy (22) 26, 5-4-9 .336
- Greg Chase (20) 16, 1-4-5 .313
- Mitch Moroz (21) 22, 2-3-5 .227
- Kyle Platzer (20) 28, 2-4-6 .214
- Braden Christoffer (21) 21, 1-3-4 .167
- Anton Slepyshev (21) 20, 1-1-2 .100
In this way, even though TOI is unavailable, we can see that Kyle Brodziak at 21 was doing about what Jujhar Khaira is now. Different era of course, however Brodziak’s team was scoring 2.94 goals-per-game, while Khaira’s Condors are at 2.96 per-game. So, maybe not so different after all. It is important to note that Brodziak brought other elements to his game (he was a two-way center) but a player like Khaira has some elements of his own.
I think we forget about what actually happened back in the day, or we merge ideas into one and then recall them as gospel. A point-per-game at the AHL level (at age 20) is often mentioned as the sign of a future NHL player, but I recall it being the definition of a player who would eventually play on a skill line successfully. Either way, in the AHL this season (among those with 15 or more games) the only point-per-game man is Mikko Rantanen (who is 19). I suspect the AHL houses more than one future NHL role player, hope you agree.
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) January 3, 2016
Zack Kassian played a lot last night, wonder if his wheels turn tonight at high speed. My goodness he had a glorious chance to score late in the game, missed a wide open net.
Lineups (one forward short)
- Hamilton – Ford – Kassian
- Jones – Currie – Kessy
- Moroz – Roy – Chase
- LaLeggia – X – Christoffer
Miller, Platzer and Slepyshev are not playing. Disconcerting for the Russian to be out, he needs to get the party started. Laleggia was a D last night, although he is more rover than anything.
- Reinhart – Oesterle
- Simpson – Musil
- Gernat – Nikitin
Fun item: ALL but Simpson and Gernat have played in the NHL for the Oilers, suspect we see one or two of these guys in the show before April. If you watch the game tonight, check out Oesterle and Laleggia, they have Jetsons rocket shoes.
Another thing to watch for? How many of these lefties can play RH side. Sekera and Davidson have done it this season in the NHL, and Musil does it tonight (and has in the past many times). I seem to recall Davidson playing RH side with Oesterle last season, but the college man is playing off wing tonight with Griffin Reinhart.
- Laurent Brossoit
He is 2.55 .926 and one would guess not far from another NHL cup of coffee.