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Bastian, Speers, Gignac among least productive U21 AHLers in 2017-18

May 19, 2018, 10:37 AM ET [13 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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It's been almost a month since the New Jersey Devils' season reached its end and business has been awfully quiet since.

As such, I've had plenty of time to do some digging – with a focus on prospects – and some of the findings have not been encouraging.

I recently wrote about how Marian Studenic and Colby Sissons were probably being a little overhyped​ by some in the online community. Studenic has a good shot, and non-stop motor, but his ceiling is probably as a role player while I'd be quite surprised if Sissons developed into a top-4 defenseman.

Then I looked at how Michael McLeod's 5v5 numbers compared to a bunch of other former 1st rounders​ who spent their 19-year-old season in the OHL and, well, not good.

McLeod averaged 2.47 estimated points per 60. Tanner Pearson (3.07) is the only player who averaged below 3.34 and turned into a top-6 forward so it doesn't look great for him.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news *again* but several of New Jersey's graduating forward prospects struggled immensely in their first AHL seasons.

In 2017-18, 64 U-21 forwards played at least 20 games in the AHL. Nathan Bastian, Blake Speers and Brandon Gignac – the only three players in the system to meet the criteria – were all at or near the bottom of the list in 5v5 scoring efficiency.

Gignac only played in 21 games but .34 points per 60 and a 20GF%...yikes. Speers and Bastian fared better in both regards but the end results were still pretty poor. That's not exactly what the Devils were hoping for, or expecting, considering they invested a 2nd or 3rd rounder in each prospect.

This isn't to say none of them will ever crack the NHL, only that there is a long way to go before it's remotely realistic.

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