• Cult of Stu II

    by  • January 31, 2012 • Uncategorized • 9 Comments

    Lowetide has a typically thoughtful response up to my post yesterday and Bob Stauffer discussed it on the radio. Both guys made a similar point with respect to Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton. I’ll quote from Lowetide; you’ll have to trust me that Stauffer made the same point.

    I think the Oilers are icing a more veteran AHL team this season and have changed the way they’re going about their business. We’ll see how things roll next season, but it’s never a good sign when the guy you selected 31st overall in 2010 can’t make your everyday AHL lineup a year later.

    I have asked a couple of times about TOI totals for these two and HS numbers. I asked Todd Nelson and others about ice time, and the response has been “8-10″ early and “10-12″ later, so that strikes me as 4line plus they each have about 10HS. But it’s chicken/egg and should not be used as an excuse. I wanted to mention it because if they have 9 and 10 points in 10 minutes then it’s probably reasonable to suggest both would come a little closer to Hartikainen with more minutes. Doesn’t address why they aren’t getting those minutes, though. That’s what the 2nd half will tell us.

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tyler Dellow, but my opinion is that it’s much too early to make the call on these players. Added to the new approach from the Oilers organization, I think we’re going to have to wait and see on these players. It is extremely early to be burying them.

    So, basically, a new approach means that we throw out all of what history tells us. I should point out that Stauffer makes a point that I agree with – you throw ice time at your kids. He was, in effect, a bit critical of the idea of letting genuine NHL prospects play behind guys like Ryan Keller and I couldn’t agree more. Of course, you might have more losses then and you wouldn’t have the famed winning atmosphere. I’ll take TOI over winning atmosphere for developing hockey players any day.

    ANYWAY – I kind of anticipated the Lowetide/Stauffer objection. Let’s look at the list of guys who went on to be 200+ GP and 0.5+ PPG guys despite not hitting at least 0.75 PPG in the AHL in their age 20 season.

    That’s it. Morrow doesn’t really belong on the list – I’ve included him because I included everyone who played AHL games but I found the accusations from a few corners (not Lowetide or Stauffer) that I was playing games with numbers laughable – if anything, I bent over backwards not to correct factors that would make the hill look steeper, like the fact that some guys who would have made the NHL at a younger age were pushed back a year by the lockout or that adding the Atlanta Thrashers, Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets opened the door for a bunch of older guys to make the NHL. Including guys like Morrow makes things look easier than they are too – there’s a guy who had a bad PPG number in the AHL in a tiny sample, because he was effectively an NHLer.

    Add to that that all of the guys who are on this list are basically a moth’s fart in China away from falling off. Stoll (0.55), Dubinsky (0.56), Lombardi (0.51), Svatos (0.5) and Callahan (0.54) aren’t really elite offensive performers but you have to draw the line somewhere and they were just on the other side of being there. Pominville, Clowe and Ryder are the guys who really seem to have surprised by turning into offensive players. Clowe (175th pick) and Ryder (216th) just seem to me like classic late bloomers – nobody expected them to turn into players but they did.

    That leaves Pominville. Like Pitlick, Hamilton and, less importantly, Ryan Martindale, he’s a late birthday. I don’t really buy that this is a massive deal, although I’d rather have November and December babies having mediocre age twenty seasons than January ones as far as prospect status goes. He’s pretty much the totality of the case that these guys still have a shot of being in the upper echelon of forwards.

    Now, as for the argument that the Oilers are developing players differently: I just don’t buy it. I’m from the Hooper X school.

    Men need to believe that they’re Marco fucking Polo when it comes to sex – like they’re the only ones who’ve ever explored new territory. And it’s hard not to let them believe it. I let my boys run with it for awhile – feed them some of that “I’ve never done this before…” bullshit, and let ‘em labor under the delusion that they rockin’ my world, until I can’t stand them anymore. Then I hit ‘em with the truth. It’s a sick game. The world would be a better place if people would just accept that there’s nothing new under the sun, and everything you can do with a person has probably been done long before you got there.

    That last line; I think it’s true of prospects too. I am reasonably certain that the Oilers did not invent the idea of playing to win at the minor league level. I am sure that this idea has occurred to someone before. It’s not particularly revolutionary. It strikes me as implausible that, out of a group of 66 players, not a single one of them ended up in a similar developmental situation and had his age 20 numbers killed as a result. I thought Pominville might be that guy but his 2002-03 Americans put up 81 points in 80 games; they weren’t a great team holding him back, he just took a little longer.

    That, basically, is my response to Lowetide and Stauffer: it seems impossible that not a single guy who went on to be an offensive contributor posted numbers like Hamilton and Pitlick but only because all of those guys were given were opportunity that Hamilton/Pitlick weren’t. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Hockey’s hockey. The world would be a better place if people would just accept that there’s nothing new under the sun, and everything you can do with a prospect has probably been done by someone long before you started controlling their futures. On that assumption, I feel comfortable saying that the difference between the numbers these guys are putting up and 0.75 PPG seems awfully unlikely to be opportunity.

    Lowetide commented on the timing of my saying that these guys aren’t going to be offensive contributors, correctly pointing out that it’s awfully early. The response to that is pretty simple: the data is what it is and it says that you don’t need to wait until they’re 23 or 24 to start saying that certain career paths are almost certainly not going to be the ones that they take. This stuff matters to the evaluation of MacGregor. He needs one more player to be a hit in order to say that he’s been something special with CHL F draft picks between 2008 and 2011. Produce a couple of lower third/fourth line guys and the Oilers have been averageish with the CHL to date. Not terrible, not great. Averagish.

    We’re going to talk about other positions and paths to the NHL in the coming days and weeks – the defenceman data is fascinating – but all in all, I think that the case that the Oilers continue to be an average drafting team is a pretty defensible one.

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    9 Responses to Cult of Stu II

    1. high hopes
      January 31, 2012 at

      “….a new approach means that we throw out all of what history tells us.”

      Doesn’t this sum up the Edmonton illusion of the past twenty years when it comes to sport teams? When the signs went up for the “City of Champions” one should have sensed trouble coming. How long did it take for the Oilers and the Eskimos to find the pretenders to the throne they hired? How long til they in turn hired the spin doctors to cover-up the travesty they were making of two hard won legacies, to convince the city that it was part of a tradition of excellence that it deserved because we were all such great sport fans. Somehow we had become complicit in this mess.

      An example from Staples yesterday on the Cult of Hockey site: “….the Oilers have been pushing the notion that there’s no better place to play if you’re into the “pure hockey experience,” a phrase I first heard from Oilers business boss Patrick LaForge.

      The pure hockey experience includes a fanatical fanbase that will support the team win or lose, a city where hockey is on the front of every sports section and at the top of every sportscast, and a crowd that is so hockey savvy it’s been referred to in the past as The Jury.”

      Really? A “pure hockey experience”? The Jury to what, a murder?

      In the midst of all this blather, the Oilers seem to have abandoned the hard work of finding new incarnations of the scouts, managers and players who once discovered greatness. But not to worry, if you have the sinking feeling that, in spite of the kids, you are watching a lousy team on the ice, the endless self promotion on the scoreboard screens assures you otherwise. If you watch Oil Change, you are convinced things are really changing.

      Whats most frustrating about this Brave New World is that you begin to sense that guys like La Forge spend half their time reading their own press clippings, written by the host of wannabes who emulate the Elmer Fudd prize for journalism himself.

      History is more than familiar with these kind of bubbles. Like the sub-prime disaster they require that everyone buy in and stop asking the hard questions.

      Keep up the good work.

    2. pitseleh
      January 31, 2012 at

      Tyler, I realize your study only went to 2004, but it seems to me that recently it’s become more prevalent that good young players don’t light up the AHL at 20 than it was before. Quickly looking through names, here’s a list of 0.5+ PPG NHL players that weren’t at least .75 PPG in the AHL in their age 20 season and haven’t yet hit 200 GP:

      Chris Stewart
      James Neal
      Patric Hornqvist (didn’t hit it in his age 21 AHL season)
      Brian Little
      Mason Raymond (didn’t hit it at 21)
      Brad Marchand will hit it by the end of the season if you include his playoff numbers.
      Michael Grabner will likely reach that threshold early next season.

      That’s 5 players and maybe 7 from the 2005 and 2006 drafts that would be included if your study was expanded. It might just be a fluke though.

      That said, it’s obviously not a good thing to have a prospect toiling at such a young age. Most quality players tear up the AHL at that age.

      • Tyler Dellow
        January 31, 2012 at

        Good post. Some comments.

        Brian Little was a full time NHLer at 20 and still put up .73 PPG in 34 AHL GP.

        Hornqvist – I’m not including Euro trained players in this. They may well have different timelines. I’m thinking the cultural adjustment alone would be a pain in the ass but I’ve yet to investigate.

        Raymond – didn’t go CHL route and is a marginal 0.5 PPG guy anyway. I haven’t done NCAA guys yet.

        Marchand makes the 0.75 threshold if you round up – 0.746 PPG in age 20 AHL season.

        We’ll see if Grabner is a 0.5 PPG NHL guy. I’ve gt my suspicions that he isn;t.

        • pitseleh
          January 31, 2012 at

          Right, totally forgot this was CHL only.

          Also interesting how there seems to be a disproportionate number of ‘power forward’ type players – Stewart, Neal, Morrow, Clowe, Callahan and Dubinsky fit into that grouping to varying degrees.

      • Mike
        February 1, 2012 at

        Tyler, I realize your study only went to 2004, but it seems to me that recently it’s become more prevalent that good young players don’t light up the AHL at 20 than it was before

        Is it possible that this is due to the lockout and salary cap? Without doing any research whatsover, it seems to me that teams are playing their high-end prospects at a younger and younger age, meaning that the talent pool in the AHL at age 20 is reduced. A drop in scoring seems like a logical consequence.

    3. CC
      January 31, 2012 at

      The crazy thing about statistics for young players is you can skew the data to how you want to frame your issue. As in the last post it was noted that Hamilton and Pitlick had late birthdays. Here is analysis that shows that Hamilton and Pitlick are on-target.
      Below is a AHL PPG average for players born between Sept – Dec, drafted between 2000 – 2008, that played in the CHL and turned pro the year after their draft year.

      Late 1st Rounders:
      Chris Stewart (.57), Nick Foligno (.69), Max Pacioretty (.78), Zach Boychuk (.69), Tyler Ennis (.94)
      2ND OR 3RD Rounders
      Cal Clutterbuck – (.32), Colby Armstrong – (.24), Jason Pominville – (.47), Stephane Veilleux – (.45), Matt Stajan – (.39), Greg Campbell – (.38), Erik Christensen – (.35), Tom Sestito – (.35), Oskar Osala – (.49), Nick Spaling – (.44) & Luca Caputi – (.68)

      The truth is we don’t know if they are going to be Colby Armstrong or Tom Sestito. My expectation for both of these prospects was 3rd liners that could play occasional top 6 minutes, so my opinion is they are tracking well. The analysis shows they are likely not top line players. They are young players playing in a mens league, next year will tell more of the story about what type of players we have.

      BTW – James Neal went back to the CHL for his 20 year old season. Then in his 21 year old season only posted 37 points in 62 games.

      Good topic though. Keep up the great work.

      • Tyler Dellow
        January 31, 2012 at

        You can also skew your analysis by not bothering to try and do what I did.

        To start with: “on-target”? That’s your phrase, not mine. I’m talking about what their performance says they’ll be down the road. I’ll happily concede that the most likely outcome is bust and the least likely is 200+ GP and 0.5 PPG+. It’s true of pretty much all CHL F drafted outside the top twenty. Drafting guys who do that doesn’t make a guy a Magnificent Bastard though.

        Let’s look at your list. I’ve added their NHL PPG and GP so far to it.

        Chris Stewart (.57) (238, 0.66)
        Nick Foligno (.69) (321, .41)
        Max Pacioretty (.78) (169, .5)
        Zach Boychuk (.69) (69, .26)
        Tyler Ennis (.94) (107, .59)
        Cal Clutterbuck – (.32) (275, .33)
        Colby Armstrong – (.24) (419, 0.48)
        Jason Pominville – (.47) (508, 0.8)
        Stephane Veilleux – (.45) (438, .23)
        Matt Stajan – (.39) (577, 0.48)
        Greg Campbell – (.38) (487, 0.26)
        Erik Christensen – (.35) (358, 0.44)
        Tom Sestito – (.35) (18, 0.28)
        Oskar Osala – (.49) (3, 0.00)
        Nick Spaling – (.44) (147, 0.22)
        Luca Caputi – (.68) (35, 0.26)

        So Pominville, Tyler Ennis, Max Pacioretty and Chris Stewart look likely to be 200 GP+ and 0.5 PPG+ guys. I mentioned Pominville above. Ennis and Pacioretty both scored over 0.75 PPG as twenty year olds in the AHL.

        So again – not sure what I’m supposed to have skewed or what this shows.

    4. Mike
      February 1, 2012 at

      I just posted this in the last thread, but out of fear of being overlooked, here it is a second time:

      Stauffer makes a point that I agree with – you throw ice time at your kids. He was, in effect, a bit critical of the idea of letting genuine NHL prospects play behind guys like Ryan Keller and I couldn’t agree more

      To play devil’s advocate, isn’t it a normal part of the development curve that the up-and-coming rookie finds a way to unseat the incumbant? If Hamilton can’t unseat Keller, how on earth does he replace Jones or Petrell or even Ben Eager?

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