I see some hype for Kaspars Daugavins and when looking at his stats I notice that
teammate Matt Caria is outperforming him by a considerable margin....Caria is 3 months younger and just an inch shorter. Can I get some feedback, please on Caria's NHL potential?
I don't know if Caria is *really* an inch shorter, not that it matters much. He played on the 1st line this year (deservedly) and before Donati was traded and he got hurt, it was looking more like he'd get 100+ points rather than just be stuck at 70-some beating out Daugavins (who was just getting his feet wet this year on the 2nd line).
I think Caria is definitely in that group of OHL guys where it's really hard to guess at his NHL potential. His skating isn't great, and he needs to add strength. But he has a real knack on offense, and he's pretty scrappy and willing to go anywhere on the ice. Those kind of traits can really help a guy who also commits to his training and skating. Or of course, he could fade away as so many other quasi-prolific junior players do and never even get a sniff of NHL attention. I've seen him 20+ times and I still don't have any real opinion which way it might go for him.
Daugavins garnered hype primarily because of his national team exposure, I believe. He has probably been a bit of a disappointment in St.Mike's relative to that "hype", but he certainly shows a lot of flashes of why the hype was there, and one has to assume that it's not easy for him coming over here and adapting to all the off-ice changes. Next year will be the key for him.
Caria could easily go in the later second round or early third this year if he can shake the whole second year of eligibility curse. He had a terrific second season and showed a lot of promise, including playing in the All-Star game. He seems to see the ice pretty well and is really good positionally, relying more so on that than flashy moves. I'm not sure how much being on the first line inflated his scoring, but I'd say 65% of the time it was more thanks to him than either of the other guys.
As for Daugavins, I don't think the off-ice changes were as big a factor as the on ice ones. He went from playing on the big ice with experienced pros to a rink thats not even regulation size and a team full of rookies (14) and guys who weren't taught many (if any) systems by their coach. A lot of the time they looked like they didn't know what they were doing. It's a huge adjustment to make from the passing game of european hockey. Most of the hype came from his gritty play in at the Worlds, but if you look at his stats, he's never really been a huge scorer, so I would think that a point per game in his first OHL season ain't too bad. He also possesses more flashy moves than the entire team combined. The only problem is he rarely gets a decent shot off after deking out entire teams.