Frozen Tools Forensics: Top Prospect Watch
Given that it sounds like the NHL is thinking about delaying the playoff plan, and potentially shortening preseason it gives us a bit more time to dive into some numbers from 2019-20. Prospects certainly aren't my area of expertise (go to Dobber Prospects for that), but there are some really interesting options in Frozen Tools that help us take a look at what is happening in the league.
As indicated Frozen Tools has a helpful report here and it is, as usual, titled in a way that describes exactly what it is. The Top 200 F Prospects report pulls 200 forward prospects but has some really interesting features. If we run that report, and export for some editing (to help make it fit) we get to see the top-ranked prospects who have some NHL experience under their belt. This is great because while I don't know much about translating prospect performance, I can take a look at how they have performed in the NHL to date.
|Top 200 Rank||Name||Pos||Team||GP||G||A||PTS||PPP||SOG||Hits||Blocks||TOI||PPTOI||Upside||Certainty|
In addition to the general performance stats, the two columns that I really like are the Upside and Certainty columns (the report also gives links to their Dobber Prospects Pages, which is left off here, but extremely helpful). These two columns are a rank out of ten that the guys over at Dobber Prospects put together. A ten in Upside is superstar material, and a ten in Certainty is a guarantee that the player will be in the NHL for the next season. Our top ten players with NHL experience all have very high certainty rankings, which makes sense as it is sort of built into the equation here.
You can see the top-ranked players above, but you can also sort by upside to see who the upcoming highest flyers might be.
|Top 200 Rank||Name||Pos||Team||Upside|
For the purposes of this article though, I wanted to dig into a few players with larger sample sizes and see how they performed and how they were used. Quick caveat here – all of these players are young and this first season isn't necessarily a reflection of the player they will grow into.
|Top 200 Rank||Name||Pos||Team||GP||G||A||PTS||PPP||SOG||TOI||PPTOI||Upside||Certainty|
Necas put up 36 points in 64 games for Carolina. He leads this list in total points as well as point pace. For comparison, his .56 points per game pace puts him in company with Dylan Larkin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Anthony Duclair, and Anthony Mantha, which gives him the 35th-ish most productive point pace for a rookie in the last five seasons (Just as a reminder that means this group also contains guys like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin, Elias Pettersson, Patrik Laine, and Mitch Marner.)
His overall time on ice was reasonable at just over 14 minutes on average, but the good news is that that time increased over the course of the season. Each quarter saw a steady rise in time from under 14 minutes to over 14.5. Additionally, some of that time was power-play time – though only about 14 seconds. By the end of the season, he was getting most of his shifts on a solid second line with Vincent Trocheck and Nino Niederreiter. Unfortunately for Necas getting up to the top line will be difficult as Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov appear to be locked in at the moment, but with both Justin Williams' and Trocheck's spaces on the top power-play potentially available he could see a nice increase in power-play deployment.
Dach's 23 points and .36 points per game numbers were hardly impressive. His rookie pace compares to those of Kevin Labanc and Casey Mittelstadt, ranked around 115th overall for the last five years. The good news for Dach is that overall average definitely doesn't tell the full story.
Dach started the season with hardly any power-play time and just over 11 minutes a night of total ice time. By the end of the season, he was getting almost two minutes of power-play time (some of that on a unit with Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Jonathan Toews) and between 15 and 16 minutes total time on ice. Unsurprisingly the latter half of the season saw his point pace tick up to .44 points per game (which would have ranked 47th among all rookies in the last five seasons).
The Blackhawks have been shuffling lines for years trying to kind combinations to spark their various odds and ends. The key for Dach for the next few years is to find a way to end up playing with Kane, or at least Toews or DeBrincat. The hope is that he can pull something of a Dylan Strome and get the time and linemates he needs. As that core of Kane (31) and Toews (32) get older though there will likely be space for Dach to pick up additional ice time.
Glass is on the low end of games played with this group at just under 40. His 12 points in 39 games certainly isn't a breakout performance. His .31 pace puts him in the company of J.T. Compher and Filip Chytil (about 150th in the last five seasons).
In several ways, Glass is the exact opposite of Dach and Necas. All of his time on ice numbers declined as the season wore on. If we just look at averages, he saw a drop from almost three minutes of power-play time to about one and a half. His total ice time dipped from just over 14 minutes to just over 12. He also played in significantly fewer games in the third quarter, suiting up for just two. Some of that can be worrisome, perhaps the coaching staff didn't like what they were seeing, but there is a very concrete explanation for a big chunk of the decline.
At the beginning of the season, Glass started off with six points in his first nine games. That was the same time period where he was getting almost three minutes of power-play time and almost 16 minutes of total time on ice. What else was happening during that time period? Well, he was lining up with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty both at even strength and on the power play. That happened because of an injury that prompted the coaching staff to bump Paul Stastny to the third line and replace him with Cody Glass. Once everyone was healthy though Glass reverted back to a bottom sick/healthy scratch kind of player.
It is a little worrisome just how much game time (and actual games) he lost towards the end of the season, but he did demonstrate that when he gets the opportunity he can produce. The trouble is Vegas' top six seems to be pretty locked up. Alex Tuch, who has more of a track record than Glass, consistently struggles to break in and get that deployment. He will grow and develop as a player, but he really going to need a change in the lineup to get a good shot.
That is all for this week. Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there.
Want more tool talk? Check out these recent Frozen Tool Forensics Posts.
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