Last season, we ran regular prospect updates here at Raw Charge from our resident curmudgeonly junior hockey expert, Seldo. But this year, he’s had, I don’t know...a real life to take care of or something? So because of that, I’m going to try to fill the void with some semi-regular check-ins on how the prospects are doing. As usual, you can get more frequent coverage over at Bolt Prospects.
I am not an expert on prospects and I don’t have a chance to watch much junior hockey so these reports will be more of a quick look based on the data available. For more in-depth coverage, keep an eye out for Justin’s coverage of Syracuse, Tracey’s coverage of Orlando, and Lauren’s coverage of junior hockey.
The first chart shows points per game for each player. This gives us a quick look at how they are playing but also has limitations because what a player’s scoring rate means can be very different depending on the league and the age of the player.
Gabe Fortier is off to a strong start scoring over a point per game in the QMJHL. Lauren covered his season so far here in discussing whether he deserved an invite to camp for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. Radim Salda is also having a solid year in the Q and will likely be playing for the Czech team at the WJC.
Another name that stands out a bit is Ryan Lohin. He’s put up a point per game pace in the NCAA through his first twelve games as a junior. If he continues that pace, he might sign an Entry Level Contract next summer and head to Syracuse.
To try to account for the quality of the league in which players are playing, the next chart shows NHL equivalencies based on the adjustments provided by Corsica. In this chart, a point in a league that is close to the NHL in quality will be worth more than a point in a league that is not.
Not surprisingly, we see players in the AHL at the top of the list here. Carter Verhaeghe has been great in Syracuse playing often on the top line with Cory Conacher and Alex Barré-Boulet who also makes an appearance. Those two are scoring at or above a point per game in the AHL and that’s impressive. On defense, Erik Cernak was playing great in Syracuse before making the jump to the NHL where he looks like he more than belongs.
While the NHL equivalencies are helpful, they don’t account for the age of the player. One way to attempt to do this is to see where a player ranks among players the same age in the same league using percentiles.
Using this approach, Fortier and Salda look much better than they did using the equivalencies. Both are among the leaders in the Q in points per game among players in their age range. Cole Guttman and Sammy Walker also get a bump for putting up good numbers in their freshman season in the NCAA. Both are smaller offensive forwards picked in the late rounds in 2017. Walker has made enough of an impression to get an invite to USA Hockey camp for the WJC and Guttman is playing just as well if not better at Denver.
Dmitri Semykin deserves some attention too. He was the player the Lightning picked in the third round in this year’s draft that sent all the pundits scrambling. Last year, that was Alex Volkov. And he’s now a bonafide prospect. Semykin could follow a similar path as he is tied for second in scoring among nineteen year old defenders this season in the MHL, which is the second-tier league in Russia below the KHL.
One final name we have to mention is Alexey Lipanov. Lauren took a deep dive into his play earlier this season and the trend hasn’t changed. For a player his age in the OHL and picked as highly as he was, he is not performing where he should be. Of all the players in the system, his lack of progress is the most concerning.
Overall, the Lightning have a healthy if unconventional group of prospects. With only three players in the CHL, keeping tabs on players is harder. But the players in the NCAA are doing well and Semykin looks solid in the MHL. We’ll do our best to keep you updated on their progress over the rest of the season.