I’m fascinated by Ryan Kuffner’s future in the Edmonton Oilers organization. He’s at an age (24) where Tyler Pitlick was wrapping up his Oilers career. Would Pitlick have been retained in a Holland administration? I think so. Let’s have a look at this Kuffner fellow.
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2019-20 AHL stats: 36, 6-5-11, 5-3-8 evens; EV GF-GA 13-14
1 Why are you starting with this guy? Holland signed him out of college (multiple teams pursued Kuffner) and then traded for him at the deadline. There’s a new sheriff in town, it behooves us to see how he conducts business.
2 Are you seriously considering him an NHL hopeful? In preparation for the ‘reasonable expectations’ series, I always establish a depth chart by position.
3 Yes? Among signed players who should be under control next season, I have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Andreas Athanasiou, James Neal, Jujhar Khaira, Joakim Nygard, Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Ryan Kuffner. That’s eight men. If Ostap Safin plays LW he’s in and around Kuffner, who is not close to an NHL spot.
4 What does he have to recommend him? Kuffner was a big scorer in college, at Princeton. During his senior campaign in 2018-19, Kuffner’s 22 goals led the ECAC and ranked fourth in the nation.
5 How expensive is Princeton? If you have to ask the question….
6 So he had one good year? Not at all. Kuffner recorded 152 points (75-77-152) in 132 games with Princeton. He was also a member of the ECAC All-Academic Team in each of his first three seasons (2015-18).
7 What did Holland see in him? Kuffner’s NHLE’s in college were 14.8, 24.3, 33.2, 32.6. You never know with college free agents, some turn into useful players and Kuffner was a bet Holland felt worthwhile. Not Drake Caggiula territory but worth a contract.
8 What did Holland see in him? He had 75 goals on 485 shots in 132 games. That’s a 15.5 shooting percentage and 3.67 shots per game.
9 So he’s a shooter who scored no goals in 10 NHL games and six goals in the AHL? He’s a player with an identifiable skill, meaning there’s a path (however unlikely) to a higher career level.
10 Oh my God you think he’s going to play in the NHL! No, but he’s a better bet than a meh prospect who doesn’t have at least one dominant skill. Plus, Kuffner’s skill has a high degree of difficulty.
11 Okay, his AHL numbers, please. In 32 games with Grand Rapids, he scored 6-3-9 on 44 shots. He posted 1-1-2 on the power play, 5-2-7 at even strength. His shooting percentage was 13.6 and he averaged 1.38 shots per game. In Bakersfield, he played four games, posting two assists, one on the power play and one at evens, seven shots, 2-1 goal differential at even strength.
12 Scouting report? Volume shooter. Mark Hillier from dobber prospects said Kuffner has good size, is smart and quick with a nose for the net and finds the open spots to receive passes.
13 What role will he play in Bakersfield? He didn’t get much power-play time in the AHL during his freshman season, suspect the Condors will see what he can do. I also believe he’ll play on a skill line, possibly behind Benson and ahead of Gambardella.
14 Let’s get back to this ‘dominant skill thing’ and have you explain it. I think the DRW were more likely than Edmonton to draft a player who had an identifiable skill that could be projected as his path to the NHL. A good example came in 2012’s second round. The Oilers drafted Mitchell Moroz No. 32 overall, a player Craig Button described at the time as “a player who enjoys the physical game. He’s a very good skater.” Moroz scored 16 goals and 25 points in 66 WHL games during his draft year. Detroit took Martin Frk 17 selections later, Corey Pronman saying “he has one of the best shots in the draft with a one-timer that rockets off his tape that is equivalent to the shots of elite finishers.” Frk also scored 16 goals and posted 29 points, but in 34 QMJHL games as he lost half a season to injury (he suffered a concussion in the pre-season that kept him out until December).
15. Sure, that’s an example but a one-off right? Actually, there are many examples. In 2009, DRW drafted Tomas Tatar 20 picks after the Oilers picked Anton Lander.
16. Can you turn the tables? Yes, the Oilers had a fabulous 2015 draft while Detroit’s was poor.
17 What is the last great Detroit draft? It looks like Holland-Wright left the DRW with a fantastic 2018 draft. First four players are trending well.
18 Happy Canada Day, you jerk. You too. We’ll get through this together. I’ve never been happier to be a Canadian. Blessed.
Kuffner Projected 2020-21 AHL stats: 50 games, 14-14-28 .56 points per game