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Using AHL data to predict NHL success

July 20, 2015, 11:10 AM ET [67 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
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It isn't always easy to predict the NHL success of AHL players but Josh Weissbock of CHLstats.com and CanucksArmy.com has come up with some baselines to do just that.

Josh said it best in that last tweet: "Probabilities not destinies". There are always outliers in this kind of work, but if you have a solid baseline to draw from you can better predict future happenings.

Age certainly plays a role in the probability as one would expect.

Where do some of the Penguins forward prospects stack up with this information? I looked at the 2014-15 seasons for the forwards that saw some regular time in WB/S (or elsewhere in AHL). Their age is how old they were when the season started.

Nobody on this chart falls into those benchmarks for probable future success, but it does have two players that are caught in-between that statistical jump from 21 to 22 years old. Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson are a year late with their offensive rates and remain the best bets among this list of forwards to find future NHL success.

Tyler Biggs was a meaningless throw-in to the Kessel deal. Bobby Farnham is what he is (not an NHL player).

It will be interesting to see Jean-Sebastien Dea's 2015-16 AHL season to see if he can significantly bump up his rate of offense.

It remains to be seen if Oskar Sundqvist can make the NHL roster next year, but if he doesn't he needs put up good AHL numbers to justify the hype surrounding him as a future NHL player.

For those wondering about Ty Loney after his impressive showing at development camp: He is entering his 23 year old season and to this point has five AHL games with four points.

And just for reference Beau Bennett last played regularly in the AHL during his 20 year old season in 2012-13 where he had a points per game of 0.72.

Moving on to the defensemen:

Here is how recent Penguins defense prospects fared using 2014-15 AHL data (unless otherwise noted):

Derrick Pouliot is way ahead of schedule which speaks to his pedigree. He will be an NHL regular for quite some time.

Brian Dumoulin is at the stage of his development where he has to make the most of his opportunity this year. He is slightly behind the benchmark of probable NHL success which falls right in line with the current assessment of him as an NHL player, an unknown.

Scott Harrington is likely tracking towards the answer to a trivia question: "What AHL defenseman did the Penguins throw in to land superstar Phil Kessel?"

The other throw-in to the Phil Kessel trade that Pittsburgh received was Tim Erixon. He played the entire season last year in the NHL for Chicago, Columbus, and Toronto. I used his 2013-14 season from the AHL which was his 22 year old season. As you can see he had really good numbers. Not a bad guy to have as a 7th defenseman or first call-up from the AHL.

Something to keep in mind with development camp fresh in our memories:

It isn't easy to make the NHL and most people tend to overrate their prospect pool. Having baselines is a good way to temper expectations and be more realistic with evaluations.

Thanks for reading!

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