Thu May 10 03:15pm EDT
Brendan Shinnimin's dominant performance down the stretch led to a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. It's unfortunate, but I doubt he makes that team any time soon, but virtue of the fact that the NHL has become a young man's game, and the general theme among top scorers who make it to the pro ranks "score early, score often".
A while ago I compared Emerson Etem to other dominant WHL scorers since 1997, and, using a similar method, I'm looking to compare recent junior players (I went back to 2008) and adjust their point totals for both league and year. One goal in the 2012 WHL (where there were 6.74 goals per game), for instance, is worth more than one goal in the 2011 OHL (which had 7.26 goals per game).
The closest comparable to Shinnimin is Yannick Riendeau, an undrafted winger who put up 126 points, scoring 58 goals, for the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 64 games back in 2009. Riendeau was a consistent scorer throughout his "Q" career but broke out at age 20. He's now a point-per-game player in the ECHL with the Reading Royals.
The era adjustment all boils down to how a player does relative to Jeff Skinner's 2010 season, when he scored 50 goals and 90 points in 64 games for the Kitchener Rangers. Every Buzzing the Net ranking is obliged to incorporate Jeff Skinner in some aspect, and adjusted for league and era, Shinnimin had 59.8 goals and 138.2 points for the Tri-City Americans last season, which would rank him 1st in scoring since 2008.
One problem, however: Skinner was 17 at the time, and Shinnimin is an overage player. The top-10 consists of five 20-year olds: Shinnimin, Riendeau, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Yanni Gourde and Adam Hughesman. Pierro-Zabotel, the only one other than Riendeau who wasn't in junior this year, is also in the ECHL.
It's rare for players who played their 20-year old season in the junior ranks to make the NHL. No top CHL scorer has in quite some time. Most of those players are snatched up and are playing in the professional ranks before they hit 20 to hone their skill-set against larger men in the AHL or reaping rewards for the team that drafted them in the NHL. Examples there include John Tavares, Mathieu Perreault, and Jordan Eberle.
The other thing we need to adjust for is games played. Much of the best talent is scooped up every December to compete in the World Juniors, leaving some of the older guys behind to rack up goals in their absence. By normalizing every player's games played to 64 games (Jeff Skinner in 2010) we can find out who were the most dominant scorers each year.
Tavares in 2008 and Sven Bärtschi from this season are tied with 128 PRS (or Points Relative to Skinner). Keep in mind Tavares was 17 at the time, and Bärtschi is 19.
Here they are, sorted by age. The 16-year olds:
Only three of them were top-20 scorers in the respective leagues in the last five years, but the one who has made the NHL is already arguably a star. This bodes well for Nathan MacKinnon, whose 78 points in 58 games were judged to be more impressive than Hall's 84 in 63.
That slacker Alex Galchenyuk is far behind this season after losing pretty much all of it due to injury.
|2011||QMJHL||Jonathan Huberdeau||Saint John||42.5||100.3|
|2011||WHL||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||Red Deer||29.6||98.3|
Two top prospects from this season and three from last season, so a pretty impressive showing by the 17-year old age group. The guys who have broken in are already stars, unfortunately, Ryan Ellis hasn't been able to keep up his torrid junior scoring pace. Of course, he falls under a different category since he's a defenceman.
The Philadelphia Flyers control 30% of this list, but unfortunately, it's only Jakub Voracek who has become a regular NHL scorer. He had 49 points this season in Philadelphia plus 10 more in the playoffs. Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn are waiting for their NHL breakouts. Cody Hodgson had 41 points in 83 games this season and Taylor Hall is still Taylor Hall, but Taylor Beck and Brandon Kozun are AHLers, and Christian Thomas is likely to end up there next season.
Repeat names on the list include Tavares and Ellis. Claude Giroux is one of the best players in the NHL right now and Mathieu Perreault has become a very good player in Washington, but that's about it for NHL talent. As Neate reminded me, Brett MacLean played with Tavares in 2008, so his stats were bumped up. Justin Azevedo and Chris Terry are both AHLers. Mark Stone ought to be in the NHL next year, as should Bärtschi.
Finally, the 20-year olds. Spot the NHLers:
A disturbing trend is the amount of hyphenated names making their way into hockey.
Oh, I also looked at Sidney Crosby to compare, whose dominance with Rimouski was the reason I began paying attention to the junior ranks:
He was 16 and 17 those years, if we want at all to compare him to MacKinnon and Tavares at all.