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New Jersey vs. Edmonton--The draft and how they use it.

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Old
03-21-2004, 11:13 AM
  #1
Lowetide
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New Jersey vs. Edmonton--The draft and how they use it.

Kevin Lowe's recent comments in regard to Jani Rita (he said something a week or so ago about him, and Guy's excellent article yesterday mentioned he's not on the outs with management) leave me wondering if the Oilers are perhaps changing the way their prospects come through the pipeline.

The only other player I remember playing in the AHL for as long as Rita was Jason Chimera, but I've never really gone back and looked. So that's what I did, and I also looked at New Jersey to see if there was a marked difference in terms of how each team develops prospects. I included NJ because of a recent comment from Pierre Maguire about the Devils prospects being more polished when they arrive in the NHL (no argument there).

I've broken this into 2 parts, 94-98 for the background previous to Kevin Lowe's coming on board, and 99-02 for a look at any changes in direction for the organization.

So, here's what I found out.

Did the Oilers develop more prospects than New Jersey through the draft?
No, I'd say they're fairly close to even, though. In the period 1994-98, New Jersey drafted 10 players who have gone on to have NHL careers, plus Mike VanRyn who didn't sign and Pierre Dagenais who developed late and after going through Florida and Montreal (can't really give them credit for those).

In the same period, Edmonton developed 8 players, plus Alex Henry who didn't emerge until leaving for Washington and Minnesota, and Ladislav Benysek who came over with the expansion Wild but that had little to do with the Oilers.


Which organization drafted more impact type players 94-98?
New Jersey drafted Patrik Elias, Steve Sullivan, Sheldon Souray and Petr Sykora in 94/95, then hit the jackpot again in 1998 with Scott Gomez. Edmonton drafted Ryan Smyth and Tom Poti in the same time frame. Both fine talents, but not as much talent coming to Edmonton as was going to the swamp in those years. Boyd Devereaux didn't turn into an impact player, but he was certainly drafted high enough to be considered same.


Of those impact type players, how many were fast tracked?
Elias wasn't fast tracked at all, he spent 134 games in the AHL before coming to New Jersey. He played in the AHL at age 19, which skews this alot, but Elias is a high quality player who spent one full season in the AHL at age 20 (24-43-67 in 57 games, making igor's ppg rule a winner). He became an NHL regular at 21.

Steve Sullivan became an NHL regular at 22, after 143 AHL games. Sheldon Souray spent just 89 games in the AHL, and was establishing himself at the NHL level at 21. Scott Gomez came right to the show from the WHL.

Petr Sykora is a very interesting case, and for guys like me wondering about Hemsky there may be something we can learn from Sykora. Petr Sykora was one of those IHL kids who came over before being drafted. After NJ took him in 1995, he played 5 AHL games and then came right to the Devils at age 19. He scored 18 goals for New Jersey, and then spent over half a season in the AHL as a 20 year old. He ended up playing 50 AHL games before becoming a regular at 21.

For the Oilers, Ryan Smyth spent 9 games in the AHL before starting his climb towards becoming an NHLer. He was 19, and the only 19 year old in the survey to play a large number of games in the NHL at that age. Tom Poti left after his sophomore year at Boston University and stepped into the NHL at 21. Boyd Devereaux spent 14 games in the AHL.

Anything to learn from those numbers? All Oilers spent little time in the AHL, a total of 23 games total. By contrast, the NJ players spent a total of 416 games in the AHL, or an average of just over 100 per player. This is a very small sample, but in that it shows an organizational bias, I think it has value.

What about the foot soldiers? How were they handled?
94-98, the Devils drafted several solid players like Lance Ward, Colin White and Willie Mitchell. They spent 158, 205 and 110 games in the AHL respectively. In Mitchell's case, its almost certain he would have spent more time in Albany if not for the trade that sent him to Minnesota. I also included Brian Gionta (37) in this group, although he isn't a perfect fit.

94-98, Edmonton drafted a few foot soldiers too, including Mike Watt (63), Georges Laraque (144), Fernando Pisani (172), Jason Chimera (237) and Shawn Horcoff (24). Watt and Horcoff are both college kids, and even though they spent little time in the AHL, they were 22 and 23 when they became regulars. Pisani is interesting because he is the oldest player in either group to establish himself as an NHL player (27). Shows tremendous heart and dedication imo.

Among foot soldiers, both organizations average over 100 AHL games. However, in Edmonton's case its 109 games, and in NJ's case the number is 128.


Anything we can learn?
94-98, if you were an Edmonton Oiler prospect with some offensive talent, you were fast tracked to the NHL. New Jersey? Chances are you were going to spend a season plus a little bit in Albany.

Certainly much of that had to do with the fact NJ was a terrific club in these years and the Oilers weren't but here's a question for you: Would it have benefited Ryan Smyth to spend a full season in the AHL? Would Tom Poti have been better off spending his junior season at Boston College ala Paul Martin (who isn't in this part of the survey but is on page 2)?

I'll do 99-02 and post it in this thread.

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03-21-2004, 11:33 AM
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Nice read lowetide, as always. I think if a team has quality established NHL players as NewJersey did during the mid 90's then their drafts can spend more time in the minors. A team in that position can afford such luxury, but in the case for the Oilers during that time period. there was'nt much in the bucket as far as prospects and players at the NHL level, so a guy like Smyth was fast tracked.

In the case of the system currently they can afford to have Rita spend more time in the minors (ala Chimera). However I would also point out that a player like Rita could probally benefit playing 1/2 a season in the AHL and 1/2 up at the NHL level.

GXL

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03-21-2004, 11:42 AM
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In an earlier thread where I asked Dawgbone to rate the RR defence he put Lynch ahead of Woywitka at the present time but had Woywitka with more potential. I asked him if he felt that had to do with a difference in commitment to development between the Flyers and Oilers organization and I think your comparison between how the Oilers and the Devils develop players is along the same lines. An organizational bias based upon long term strategy, if you will.

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03-21-2004, 01:01 PM
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Nice post lowetide.

A few things should be mentioned. The first being that the New Jersey Devils are a top-drawer, cup-winning/contending team whereas the Oilers are significantly worse. This means that the Devils probobly have the depth (ie: the luxery) of taking their sweet time with their prospects, whereas the Oilers do not if they want to keep injecting in the best talent they can.

I have noticed with my Canucks, as they started winning they were able to take their time. But when things were grim, we took no time at all, and ended up with more busts (Josh Holden anyone?). However, there are some exceptions.

Twins came in quick, and Ryan Kesler has played 24 games this year. He, I doubt, will ever play the 25th game, mostly due to Henrik Sedin coming back. But that's still a lot of games for a same-year draftee.

If you look at the recent Oilers guys, most come in quickly. Hemsky came in only a year after he was drafted, Stoll a year after. They are taking a bit of time with Woywitka, but it looks like he might be coming up this coming year too.

Which way is better? The way I see it, with scoring-line players, the quicker they show they are NHL worthy, the better. Guys like Sykora I believe benefited from getting a spot right away. Notice the Oilers and Canucks believe the same thing if you look at the Twins and Hemsky.

With muckers/grinders/big defensemen, it seems the opposite. Guys like Mitchell spent a lot of time in the minors, as has Jeff Woywitka and Bryan Allen. Maybe someday we can draw parrallels between Rafalki (albiet this is a different situation), Sopel, and Lynch? The only guys I can think of that are a bit different are Canucks/Oilers prospects Kesler & Stoll, as well as the Devils Gionta.

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03-21-2004, 01:33 PM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizral
A few things should be mentioned. The first being that the New Jersey Devils are a top-drawer, cup-winning/contending team whereas the Oilers are significantly worse. This means that the Devils probobly have the depth (ie: the luxery) of taking their sweet time with their prospects, whereas the Oilers do not if they want to keep injecting in the best talent they can.

I have noticed with my Canucks, as they started winning they were able to take their time. But when things were grim, we took no time at all, and ended up with more busts (Josh Holden anyone?). However, there are some exceptions.

I agree. The team needs to feel that they can afford long term investment before the players get the benefit of it.

If you look at the recent Oilers guys, most come in quickly. Hemsky came in only a year after he was drafted, Stoll a year after. They are taking a bit of time with Woywitka, but it looks like he might be coming up this coming year too.

You have to remember though that Stoll was drafted twice so he was really 3 years away from his draft year when he got here. Hemsky really remains the only exception and he has been a work in progress this season.


Last edited by theoil: 03-21-2004 at 01:36 PM. Reason: continuing incompetence with the italics function
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03-21-2004, 01:47 PM
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lowetide, wasn't Satan picked in 1994

if he was then thats 9 oilers, plus an extra impact player even though he was traded. or was that part factored in?

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03-21-2004, 02:03 PM
  #7
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The first post in this thread looked at 94-98 and the differences between Edmonton and New Jersey in those years. I think NJ is far more patient with ALL of their draft picks, impact players or not, and the results are impressive.

The Oilers 94-98 rushed their impact prospects to the NHL out of need, New Jersey didn't, probably because they didn't need to. Both teams seemed to require their depth players to spend a season+ at the AHL level.

Now, did anything change 99-02?


Did the Oilers develop more players than New Jersey through the 99-02 drafts? It's pretty even again.

New Jersey has sent 7 players to the NHL already, plus Andreas Salomonsson was an overager. However, Ari Ahonen hasn't played in the NHL yet, so it's 7 with the best prospect on the list (99-02) still to come. Edmonton has sent 7 players to the NHL, plus another 4 (Markkanen, Pisa, Luoma and Haakana) overagers.


Which organization drafted more impact players 99-02? This is open to dispute, and I can't think of anyone less qualified than me to make this call. Still as a starting point, let's include the Devils' Paul Martin and Edmonton's Mike Comrie and Ales Hemsky.

Of these impact players, how many were fast tracked?
Compared to 94-98, the Devils have been fairly aggressive with some of the 99-02 group. Paul Martin (and David Hale for that matter) spent three years in college and stepped into the NHL at age 22. From the 94-98 group only Scott Gomez came to the Devils faster than that (right out of junior, age 20).

The Oilers fast tracked Mike Comrie (or he fast tracked them, one of the two) as he arrived at 20 without a day in the minors. Ales Hemsky was fast tracked, but as has been documented many times, this was a special case.

So, of the three players who have already played in the NHL and look to be impact players from both 99-02 drafts, none have played a minor league game.


Anything to learn from these numbers? Its too soon to tell. Some of the guys drafted may end up being impact players on both sides (Stoll, Semenov, Hale, Ahonen that Suglobov guy). The Oilers fast tracking Comrie and Hemsky is in line with Smyth and Poti's fast tracking, and there's precedent for Martin (and Hale) in that Scott Gomez came quickly.


What about the foot soliders? How were they handled? First let me say I have no idea if David Hale is an impact player. I didn't include him in the impact list because there's no evidence that he's a better player than Semenov, and I don't think we can call Semenov an impact player yet.

So, New Jersey has sent Hale, Mike Commodore, Mike Rupp and Mike Danton to the NHL, and they're all useful players. They spend 0, 160, 196 and 69 games in the AHL respectively. That's a total of 425 games, or an average of 106 per player.

Edmonton has sent Jarret Stoll and Alexei Semenov to the NHL, and they're certainly useful players. They spent 76 and 115 games in the AHL, a total of 191 games or 96 per player.

Among foot soldiers, both 94-98 and 99-02 look pretty much the same for both organizations. If you are Kenny Smith or Barry Tallackson, 1.5 years in the AHL is very likely.

What about Rita? Since I mentioned Rita at the top, I thought it might be time for us to look at him again.

Are there any New Jersey comps for Jani Rita? If we look at all the players in each organization 94-02 who have played over 150 AHL games, we get this list:

Pierre Dagenais-297
Steve Kelly-287
Jason Chimera-237
Colin White-205
Michael Rupp-196
Jani Rita-194
Alex Henry-188
Fernando Pisani-172
Mike Commodore-160
Lance Ward-158

Guess what? They're all foot soldiers. So far, not one of these guys has managed to become an impact player. That's a list of 3-4line players and dmen.

If we say Jani Rita is an impact player, and look for player who might fit his profile, we get Patrick Elias (134 AHL games, began to establish himself at 21) and Mike Sullivan (143 AHL games, began to establish himself at 22).

However, let's look at their AHL seasons:

Elias
95-96 (age19) 74 27 36 63
96-97 (age20) 57 24 43 67

Sullivan
94-95 (age20) 75 31 50 81
95-96 (age21) 53 33 42 75

Rita
01-02 (age20) 76 25 17 42
02-03 (age21) 64 21 27 48
03-04 (age22) 54 16 22 38

I understand the hockey world has less offense than it did in the mid-90s, but do those numbers look in any way similar? igor, if you're still reading, how much is the difference between the two eras?


Anything we can learn?
The Oilers were fast tracking the impact players in both clusters, and they seem to be patient with the foot soldiers in both clusters. New Jersey seemed to be a bit more likely to be patient on both impact players and the secondary guys, although from Gomez through Martin/Hale they seem to be willing to bring a guy in if they feel he's ready. I guess we'll see with Parise (who could be signed by the time I finish writing this damn thing).

What about Rita dammit? He's either a very unique, slow developing impact player or he's a 3rd liner. There's no evidence I can see that he's going to turn into Patrik Elias. He hasn't flown through the AHL, and he hasn't dominated there either. He's shown flashes.

One final note: I didn't include Jason Bonsignore in this because he didn't play 100 games. That was my requirement for the 94-98 period. btw, he did play for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this season, going 5gp-2-5-7.

It is the first time in his pro career he's exceeded a point per game average.

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03-21-2004, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I didn't include Jason Bonsignore in this because he didn't play 100 games. That was my requirement for the 94-98 period. btw, he did play for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this season, going 5gp-2-5-7.

It is the first time in his pro career he's exceeded a point per game average.
Do you think we gave up too soon? Excellent post Lowetide and a lot of work I'm sure. We tend to value our players by their best 'flashes' even though evidence shows that very few manage to maintain that level with any consistency. And then there is Moreau. Early in the year when he was scoring on every second shot it seemed my brother was singing his praises to me and I told him I wasn't happy about it because it meant we were going to have to go 40 games without him scoring because he was a career 16 goal man. And here he is at age 27?28? being praised on HNIC for his play and he has 20 goals. I actually think that the difference between an average player in the NHL and a star mostly has to do with learning how to play your top game more often. Everyone of them has the potential to be on the highlight reel on any given night and the trick for them is to still play a good game when the stars are not correctly aligned and things are not going just right.

This is what drove me crazy watching Weight who could be so good some nights but when his game wasn't on he was invisible.

I know this is a little off topic from time in the AHL but I just think some guys continue to mature for longer periods than others. "The strongest growths in nature mature the slowest." Used often by me to my wife to give her hope regarding our teenage son's maturation process.

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03-21-2004, 06:59 PM
  #9
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Excellent stuff, LT

really a good guideline to, as you say, what we can really expect from Rita.

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03-21-2004, 10:06 PM
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Once again, a terrific thread Lowetide

I think you give me too much credit for figuring out how AHLers project ... I came up with my PPG as a 20 yr old theory about two years ago and ran the numbers at the same time, all in the early part of one afternoon when I really should have been doing real work. Just in rebuttal to the comments of someone who, IMHO, had certainly been huffing ether.

But this is compelling stuff you've got here. With some common sense applied I think a guy could really define some benchmarks for the young'uns, some determining factors. The business side of it factors in so heavily with these kids though ... kind of smudges the picture a bit.

I've got taxes to do, work to do, and a guest room to finish rigth now (turns out these things won't do themselves if you ignore them, and I have tried ) ... though if you're still interested in furthering the discussion later, I think its a great topic and I'd like revive the thread.

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03-21-2004, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
I think you give me too much credit for figuring out how AHLers project
Understood. So, you'll have that report when? Tuesday OK?

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03-21-2004, 10:56 PM
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great post lowetide,

just a question in general, what are the requirements to play in the AHL?

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03-22-2004, 12:13 AM
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Excellent post. Another day at the office for you, lowetide!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Anything to learn from these numbers?
Well I'll say I have to agree with igor that these should be revisited. Without trying to put words in igor's mouth, he probably feels its unreaonable to try to project from the junior level, but once players play significant amounts in the AHL the predictions might be usefully accurate.

Unfortunately I have little contribute. However
I have some niggling reservations about this sort of analysis, however, in regards to the implication that the New Jersey perhaps is a better player developer because they keep guys in the minors longer. I'm sure everyone has already thought about what I can say, but hopefully sharing my thought process will be useful to someone.

The AHL is a development league. I think you have to ask "what can they develop?" Some guys...Comrie, let's say...will be developing in the NHL because they're young and inexperienced. They might develop equally well in the AHL...or better...but that's an open question IMO. Young players can be expected to grow stronger, make mistakes, learn about pressure, develop their skills, improve their consistency, get used to a long schedule, adjust to the North American game, and so on. In the NHL, this development process is made painfully obvious. In the AHL?

Well in the AHL the development is hidden from the sights of the average fan. Two conjectures merit consideration at this point:
  1. An impact player can be expected to be a useful contributor at the NHL earlier than a "foot soldier". This heuristic says: you're in the AHL until your value to the team outweighs your liability.
  2. An impact player may be able to learn more rapidly at the NHL level due to, among other things, better competition. Foot soldiers, surely, can learn defensive systems and positioning nearly as well in the minors.
If these two conjectures land near truth, then perhaps they can, in combination, explain what teams do with their AHL?

Because of heuristic #1, weaker teams will tend to bring guys in earlier and the warts will be all the more obvious. However it remains to be proven, IMO, that the warts would be removed any better in the AHL. They may, however, be rendered less obvious through obscurity and lowered quality of opposition.

Of course, for Rita's case, conjecture #2 is perhaps the more relevant. The cases of Chimera and Pisani appear to suggest that if you have decent size, NHL speed, reasonable scoring ability, and the ability and drive to hone your game in the AHL, then eventually you'll turn into a depth player because you don't hurt the squad. BUT you have to have the size, speed, passable offense, and the necessary perserverance.

We know, beyond doubt, that Rita has three of these.

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03-22-2004, 07:55 AM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
I didn't include Jason Bonsignore in this because he didn't play 100 games. That was my requirement for the 94-98 period. btw, he did play for the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL this season, going 5gp-2-5-7.

It is the first time in his pro career he's exceeded a point per game average.
Team League Season GP G A S +/-
EHC Biel/Bienne Nationalliga B 03/04 9 9 3 12 - 6

He also dominated the Swiss Elite league for awhile until he got banned for attacking an offical.

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03-22-2004, 08:14 AM
  #15
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Great post lowetide. A very interesting read.

One thing that interests me (but I don't have the time to investigate now) is a comparison between Canadian/American kids vs. European kids, and how long they spend in the minors. My logic guesses that, on average, a European spends more time in the minors compared to a North American. There are obvious contributors: adjusting to a new language, new culture, new surroundings, living away from family and friends, a different style of hockey, playing more games, and the list goes on I'm sure.

I wonder what kind of effect this has on the development of European players. Do these factors slow their development, or do they develop faster because they have fewer distractions?

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03-22-2004, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H-Bear
Great post lowetide. A very interesting read.

One thing that interests me (but I don't have the time to investigate now) is a comparison between Canadian/American kids vs. European kids, and how long they spend in the minors.
also, the difference between college kids and junior kids. Comrie (2 seasons college vs. .5 WHL, where he clearly had nothing more to prove), Hale, Martin, and Gionta all had short trips to the NHL. Commodore had a long one, Pisani had a *very* long one but he's an outlier.

Part of that, no doubt, is the fact that the college kids are, on average, older. But I think some of it is the fact that college has more of an emphasis on D, so they come ready to backcheck. Comrie seemed to get *worse* after a year or two in the league--the farther away he got from Berenson the less he cared.

I'd just be interested to see some numbers, to see if the whole "NCAA doesn't prepare you as well" thing can be punctured with stats.

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03-22-2004, 06:34 PM
  #17
Lowetide
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkymoses
I'd just be interested to see some numbers, to see if the whole "NCAA doesn't prepare you as well" thing can be punctured with stats.
I've always felt the opposite to be true, and the Oilers are an extremely good example.

Mike York and Shawn Horcoff, both college trained guys (wrong team I know FM) both showed some flashes of defensive brilliance early. First time I ever saw Shawn Horcoff on the ice he marked his man, gained position and skated him to the corner as the pucked zipped by the net. He looked like Davey Keon I swear.

York, too, even when he was a rookie in NYC made such smart plays (and passed the puck so extremely well. Mike York is a really wonderful hockey player) and always seemed to have position.

But both of those guys spent four years learning how to play the game at the college level. They played (between them) a grand total of 27 AHL games before getting their NHL shots.

On the other side of the coin, two Oilers who left school early (Poti and Comrie both left after their sophomore seasons) are still working through their problems without the puck.

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03-23-2004, 04:07 AM
  #18
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Great Post Lowetide!It's good reading when you're stuck in the great white north doing nightshift and having to listen to the Oil make a playoff run on the internet with the lowest connection known to man.And I'm not ready to give up on Rita yet.He has to much natural talent and willing to play the body to wish him the best with another team.


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03-27-2004, 07:19 PM
  #19
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Sorry to take so long to get back to this LT (I haven't even had a chance to read most of the threads I've missed yet, Jeebus, is this board ever active lately!)

I think it is an interesting proposition, and worth looking at a bit closer.

As you know, much has been done to assess the value of prospects. Largely by academics, and it is largely crap IMHO. But still interesting.

I think the main hurdle in assessing the value of prospects are the rules of the league. Specifically the treatment of CHL players, and their ineligibility to play in the AHL until they are 20 (in the majority of cases). When a team drafts a young player, and they start showing real talent ... it is clearly in their best interests to develop them as quickly as possible. It is a valuable commodity with increasing value and increasing cost associated. And the clock is ticking.

The CHL is a poor place to develop high-end talent IMO. The AHL is a very good place to develop high-end talent. But because of the rules ... most gifted players get shunted into the NHL before they are ready (SEE HEMSKY). It usually isn't a bad decision ... just the lesser of the evils, because the alternative is to return to the CHL where they can be dominant players without having to work to correct their weaknesses.

But the best projector of future performance is past performance (in hockey and life) and with a level playing field (such as the AHL) a solid pattern will certainly emerge. Its just a matter of applying common sense and considering the type of player. Hell, just by applying the "Points-per-game for 20 yr old AHL forwards" rule ... a GM could have built a helluva NHL team at low cost in the 90's (Demitra, Palffy, Perrault etc. etc.)

Anyhoo ... to come up with some reasonable way of figuring the odds of a kid becoming a contributing NHLer one day ... a guy has to look back and see the repeating patterns in the past.

To this end:

Scrape all of the NHL players from, say, 1980 onwards, into a database. (I can do this really easily, simple stuff ... just dumping hockeydb.com's stuff and filtering it a bit)

Compare their AHL results to their NHL results (points, goals, games played ... whichever) and quantify the obvious trends. Come up with the odds of a guy like Rita becoming a .5 PPG player for example. This, I'm not so sure how to do ... how do you automate finding the AHL/IHL numbers for a player and list them is a standard way? I dunno Maybe someone on here who is more clever with programming could lend a hand.

Does that make sense, Lowetide? Is that the sort of thing you were driving at?

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03-30-2004, 04:52 PM
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
Sorry to take so long to get back to this LT (I haven't even had a chance to read most of the threads I've missed yet, Jeebus, is this board ever active lately!) ?
I read this the day you posted it, but couldn't reply. I agree there are so many posts each time its hard to get to them. When I retire (its a way off, for any smartasses I'll probably just read HF and listen to Van Morrison.


Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
I think the main hurdle in assessing the value of prospects are the rules of the league. Specifically the treatment of CHL players, and their ineligibility to play in the AHL until they are 20 (in the majority of cases). When a team drafts a young player, and they start showing real talent ... it is clearly in their best interests to develop them as quickly as possible. It is a valuable commodity with increasing value and increasing cost associated. And the clock is ticking.
I agree that rule is wrong. It hurts the prospect most of all, and benefits no one really. Hull didn't get to keep Hemsky anyway, as an example.


Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
The CHL is a poor place to develop high-end talent IMO. The AHL is a very good place to develop high-end talent. But because of the rules ... most gifted players get shunted into the NHL before they are ready (SEE HEMSKY). It usually isn't a bad decision ... just the lesser of the evils, because the alternative is to return to the CHL where they can be dominant players without having to work to correct their weaknesses.
The IHL used to be a good tweener kind of league, I remember many guys actually getting drafted out of there when it was alive (Radek Bonk is the one i can think of off hand, but there were more).

The experience of Hemsky strengthens your argument against the CHL being a poor place for high performance development, but I also wonder if the scouting department and Lowe were at cross purposes. I remember when they took Hemsky on draft day he said something like "the scouting department assures me he's a gritty player" or some such. Now don't call me on this because the exact words escape me. However, I remembered it when reading Guy's article about KP and the funny story around drafting Hemsky. In that article, Prendergast said Lowe hadn't seen him good, and imo there may have been some question marks about him. Lowe has always said he wanted gritty "Ryan Smyth" type players.

I don't want it to come out like "I'm going to hold my breath until Hemsky plays on the 1st line", but imo if we look at the other wingers on this team (Smyth, Torres, Dvorak, Pisani, Moreau, Laraque, Chimera, Isbister, York), the only one who is of a similar style is Dvorak and he does some things Ales doesn't do (shoot for one).

Not saying Hemsky's a lost cause, just suggesting that bringing him up when they did hasn't changed the fact that he may be ill suited to the Oilers style under Lowe/MacT. We'll see.


Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
But the best projector of future performance is past performance and with a level playing field (such as the AHL) a solid pattern will certainly emerge. Its just a matter of applying common sense and considering the type of player. Hell, just by applying the "Points-per-game for 20 yr old AHL forwards" rule ... a GM could have built a helluva NHL team at low cost in the 90's (Demitra, Palffy, Perrault etc. etc.)

Anyhoo ... to come up with some reasonable way of figuring the odds of a kid becoming a contributing NHLer one day ... a guy has to look back and see the repeating patterns in the past.

To this end:

Scrape all of the NHL players from, say, 1980 onwards, into a database. (I can do this really easily, simple stuff ... just dumping hockeydb.com's stuff and filtering it a bit)

Compare their AHL results to their NHL results (points, goals, games played ... whichever) and quantify the obvious trends. Come up with the odds of a guy like Rita becoming a .5 PPG player for example. This, I'm not so sure how to do ... how do you automate finding the AHL/IHL numbers for a player and list them is a standard way? I dunno Maybe someone on here who is more clever with programming could lend a hand.

Does that make sense, Lowetide? Is that the sort of thing you were driving at?

Yes, absolutely. Bill James MLE is based on pure math funneled through ballpark effects (Home Runs at Ducey x .4(AAA equivalent) x.84 (Ducey effect compared to average MLB park) and the number is an educated guess.

I don't think you can apply that to hockey (as we've dicsussed) due to the variables (Ice time, TYPE of ice time, linemates), but if we could establish that an AHL player (age 23) with a .75 PPG in the AHL has a 80% chance of playing at the NHL level based on a 10 year study, then that has some value.

Plus, we'd probably end up with more fun questions. Are Rita's 20 goal AHL seasons equivalent to 8 on the third line in the NHL, of 12 on a 2line. I bet he'd score more than that if an expansion team took him and didn't have more attractive alternatives. That's a huge factor imo that effects any study. The Habs had lots of guys like that in the 70s, and if you did a study on the Habs minor league system some very good NHL calibre players wouldn't really show up (Peter Sullivan had a 40 goal AHL season, followed by 2 30 goal and 1 40 goal season in the WHA, but played only 126 NHL games).

Anyway, I love this stuff, and I think it has alot of value.

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03-30-2004, 06:02 PM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Yes, absolutely. Bill James MLE is based on pure math funneled through ballpark effects (Home Runs at Ducey x .4(AAA equivalent) x.84 (Ducey effect compared to average MLB park) and the number is an educated guess.
Ya know, I've read a bit of James' stuff. Inspired by you, Matts and others. And I really disagree.

The more I read it the more I think that Roger Nielsen lead hockey far ahead of baseball in the use of data. Baseball has a swack of stats available ... most are useless, many are established and overvalued ... but at the end of the day the objective is to win.

I believe that Nielsen had a sharper sense for cutting through to what really mattered. And an understanding of the effect of competition on results ... and which results were important. And which seemingly unrelated events were in fact related and mattered. Bowman is a less ofrthcoming guy ... but a clever analyst nonetheless IMO ... how can anyone be surprised that Hull and Federov never played a shift together when Bowman was behind the bench? ... hard to say (because he'll never tell you) but to me it seemd he played the odds very well, that's my sense anyways.

I haven't watched much baseball since I was a kid, just a bit in the playoffs now usually. (my dad was a huge Expos fan, that Black Monday thread a while back brought back some sharp memories for me ). But to win you need to outscore the other team ... and it seems pretty obvious that pitching makes a huge difference, in that if pitcher B is just a bit worse than pitcher A ... he'll probably give up a lot more runs. Mid-relievers are usually crap and tired starters are usually soft targets. So the best way to improve the results of your hitters (and improve their trade value) is to maximize their exposure to lower quality pitching. So try and get players that (all other things being equal) force the pitcher to throw more (by facing a lot of pitches, getting on base, not hitting into double-plays and not getting caught stealing). Get the starter to 100 pitches by the 4th or 5th and you'll win most games ... and your hitters will put up numbers that will make them look better than they really are. The Yankees look to have a really patient line-up to me ... and i don't think they used any stats gurus, did they? (Granted they have $ to burn).

Shoot me down if I'm wrong ... but that's just common sense, no? And on the flipside ... I'd carry fewer fielders and pick up a couple extra middle relievers ... cheap guys with really good numbers against just either LH or RH batters.

Again ... feel free to flame if that's off-base. But the baseball analogy always rears its head on here ... so I thought I would poke it with a stick

BTW: I heard a DePodesta interview on The Team 1260 a little while ago. Interesting guy ... I thought he was going to be a math dude, but he came across as more of a businessman to me. I still think a guy like this has a lot to learn from a guy like Don Zimmer (and I get the impression he thinks so too), but I also suspect that the sports operations side still has room for improvement by applying more fundamental business strategies to the decision processes. JMO, and a remarkably uneducated one at that.

Quote:
Plus, we'd probably end up with more fun questions. Are Rita's 20 goal AHL seasons equivalent to 8 on the third line in the NHL, of 12 on a 2line. I bet he'd score more than that if an expansion team took him and didn't have more attractive alternatives. That's a huge factor imo that effects any study. ...
Ya, the quality of the results is dependent on the quality of the information going in. And without ice-time info and a break-out of EV, PP and PK numbers ... it will be pretty crude methinks.

If there are AHL/IHL databases out there that have more detailed info than hockeydb.com, and if that info can be scraped of into a spreadsheet easily and automatically, and in a useful format ... then I think the conversation can be moved forward. But until then ...

This is more the kind of stuff that mudcrutch and oilswell are into ... but I'd think you'd be looking for players that are going to help you win ... not necessarily just point-getters. If scoring were the only criterion ... Czerkawski and Selivanov would be highly sought after and Lehtinen could be had for a 2nd rounder. :lol

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03-30-2004, 07:13 PM
  #22
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James sure taught me alot, about the importance of considering age when discussing a prospect (Robin Yount had an unimpressive rookie season, but he was a baby), the massive impact of platooning, and the pitcher's k/w rating being a good indicator of future success.

James looked at stats in a different way than was prevailing wisdom. For instance, there are players who had long careers in the 60s who wouldn't play today.

Matty Alou, for instance, hit well over .300 most seasons, but with little power, plus he rarely walked and didn't steal much. Pitchers would come into baseball and reel off 14-2 seasons but with a k/w ratio of 42/34, and falter the next season (Charles Nagys dad for the BoSox in the early 70s, there were many others).

I think the real impact of Bill James isn't what you read today, its how it has changed the way we look at stats. When I was a teenager, I'd get this in a newspaper:


NY 000 000 120 3 7 0
SD 100 000 000 1 1 3

Seaver (W, 14-3), Strom (8), McGraw (9) (S, 11) and Grote; RJones, McAndrew (7)(L, 1-7), Spillner (8) and Ivie, Dietz.

They called them linescores. You'd get maybe 15 of them from both leagues. The Sporting News had the boxscores, but even then there would be much info missing from them. You'd get ab, r, h, bi, then any errors, doubles, triples , home runs, errors, and then the pitching line. Often they wouldn't list runs and earned runs, making it all a mystery.

And the announcers didn't give any info that was really pertinent. If a veteran was having a poor season, they'd say "Ron Santo has been hitting them hard, but they keep finding leather." Meanwhile, hindsight might show Santo had been on a downhill run for three years previous.

THAT's what Bill James did. He'd say, "you know, we shouldn't be surprised that Ron Santo only hit 7 homr runs last season. He'd been traded from the friendly confines of Wrigley to the huge Comiskey park, and that alone cost him most of his power" or some such.

I bought my first Bill James book in 1984. I'd been playing and watching baseball for 15 years by then, and listening to my dad tells stories about baseball dating back to the 40s Yankees (he'd come back from the war and travelled to New York before coming back west).

No one ever said to me "a 19 year old rookie who hits .220 with 9 home runs in 500 at bats will probably have a better future than a 24 year old rookie who hits .270 with 22 homers in the same at bats".

Until Bill James.

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03-30-2004, 08:33 PM
  #23
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Igor

it's too bad you strayed from baseball. It would be nice to see what you'd do with the Expos stats. I post over at Fanhome and it's a constant battle between statheads and non-statheads. A mostly friendly one, mind you, but it's mostly used to evaluate guys who might be able to help the club or credit or discredit prospects.

A guy like Earl Weaver was a big fan of platoons but hardly anyone uses them this year even though you'd get a pitcher to only throw to RH or LH batters. I think it's that managers are afraid of egos when dealing with positional players. Right now former Trapper Sledge looks to be a lock and he's a LH batter and former Yank Rivera is a RH batter. Seems to be the perfect scanario for a platoon but I haven't heard Frank mention it.

As for wearing the pitchers down, yeah that's more to get into the pen though because with every team carrying six relievers and some team seven it's very unlikley you can wear a starter down to the point of really hammering him.

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03-31-2004, 12:19 AM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matts
...
A guy like Earl Weaver was a big fan of platoons but hardly anyone uses them this year even though you'd get a pitcher to only throw to RH or LH batters. I think it's that managers are afraid of egos when dealing with positional players.
...
Well I don't follow baseball any more, just can't get into it. But even though I wasn't an American League guy ... I was a fan of Weaver in the late 70s, early 80s. He really thought the game well IMO ... had different ideas and explained why he was doing what he was.

And the first guy to use radar guns on pitchers I think ... or at least the first to use them well.

In an era when small-ball was the rage ... he liked the 3-run home run, some players who could get on base and a few guys that could hit for power. Managed on the defensive side in the same way ... guarding against the big inning.

He used to really shorten up his starting rotation as well ... I don't think many pitchers now would be willing to go on just 3 days rest in July and August ... probably shortened the careers of some guys ... but the Orioles won a lot of games.

What ever happened to Weaver anyways ... is he still alive.

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03-31-2004, 12:44 AM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
...

No one ever said to me "a 19 year old rookie who hits .220 with 9 home runs in 500 at bats will probably have a better future than a 24 year old rookie who hits .270 with 22 homers in the same at bats".

Until Bill James.
Good stuff. I've never really been into evaluating prospects or anything, just not my gig (yet I choose to post at HF ). Other than to question some things that really seem far-fetched on a couple occasions ... I've never been moved to dig into it.

So I take your point that James had a big impact on the way that baseball fans and mgmt looked at prospects. It seems I'm not giving the guy enough credit.

Some of his probability stuff ... forecasting the success of teams or players ... much of that is just badly done IMHO. And what's probably coloured my opinion even more is the fact that everyone and their brother has tried to copy his calcs and apply them to hockey ... which is ridiculous. The way that wins, losses and goals happen in hockey is just completely different ... and IMO a lot of James' stuff in this vein was off-base in the first place.

James' 'pythagorean theory' is so wrong it shouldn't have to be discussed. But there are people at hockeyresearch.com who have been trying to make it fit to hockey results for ages ... good Jebus, its just madness . It just doesn't make basic sense.

James has an equation for pitcher-vs-batter as well (this dude has gotten a lot of credit for some real basic probability calcs). And he's used math that would be exactly the same as for a game of darts (i.e. If you and I decided to throw some darts for a tenner ... and the rule was we each threw a dart, whoever got a bull won. If we both got bulls (or both missed) its a do-over). I'm not sure that is the best analogy for a pitcher-batter match-up ... but I do know that it is a terrible analogy for a hockey game ... and it doesn't stop people from writing essays on the subject.

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