The Journey: Projecting Sample Sizes

Brayden Olafson


Last week I hopped on the Dobber Prospects Radio show with Peter Harling to discuss various topics in the prospect world including the Dobber Prospects Fantasy Hockey League, the QMJHL, and the New York Rangers. In our discussion we touched on the future of one Ivan Chekhovich – a San Jose prospect who tallied 105 points in his final year playing with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

All things considered, Peter and I concluded that based on his performance in the Canadian Major Junior system, Chekhovich was likely to spend much of the next three years continuing to develop his game in the AHL, despite his outstanding point totals last year. Two factors however, brought hesitation to our conclusion – first, the Sharks pipeline is relatively shallow these days, outside of the apparent OHL’s least wanted defenseman Ryan Merkley, Chekovich might actually have the greatest NHL ceiling of what we would consider prospects. Secondly, after being eliminated from the QMJHL postseason, the Russian joined San Jose’s AHL farm club (the Barracuda) and had a great amount of success through the final five regular season contests and even into more meaningful games in the AHL playoffs. 

Which brings us to the question, and the main topic of today’s edition of The Journey. Our evidence in projecting Chekhovich as a player at the next level seems to be conflicting. On one hand, he’s a seventh-round pick who to me didn’t stand out like I thought he would have at the major junior level. On the other hand, he did manage to score over 100 points (as a 20-year-old), and truly make an impact in what I would consider to be a meaningful debut stint at the second-tier level in North America.

Chekhovich’s year-end in the AHL is truly what is most interesting about this whole scenario, and often something that fantasy owners will look for around draft time, even if it’s a small sample size. For myself in particular, these types of players become extremely interesting for one of my fantasy league’s format, which drafts all players who were not previously drafted into the league. When it becomes even more interesting, however, is when that same success is seen in a small sample size at the NHL level – then what conclusions can we draw?

The group of players who either entered the league late, or had a quick mid-year audition in the NHL is a far more interesting group than what I would pool Chekhovich with. That list includes the following list of rookies who had the most offe