In previous articles we’ve explored the CHL usage of the
many members of the Canadian World Juniors roster, including the goaltenders, defencemen
and the top 6 forwards. Today we look at
the remaining forwards and compare their usage.
Read past the jump for our analytical coverage of these
Canada typically likes to fill their bottom six with players
to fill specific roles based on whatever is on their wishlist that year. In previous tournaments, Canada was much worse for
this but this year their choices weren’t too bad.
The most questionable choices on this list
would be Lawson Crouse and possibly Frederik Gauthier. This is even further exacerbated when players
such as Michael Dal Colle, the 3rd best
OHL player by points/game, were left off the roster.
Above is a usage chart that gives a snapshot view of the
bottom 6 supporting cast. The x and y
axis show the players’ Quality of Competition/Teammates which we can estimate in the CHL. The circle size shows each
players’ estimated time / game while the colour shows their even-strength
relative goal-for %. From a quick glance Jake Virtanen has very low ice time – most likely a by-product of the small
sample size of only 20 games – something to keep watching for the season.
Robby Fabbri – OHL – Guelph
The St. Louis Blues drafted Robby Fabbri, in the 1st round
of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, after having scored 84 points in 58 games. The 5’10” 170 lbs. 18.93 year-old is working
to surpass those totals this year having scored 38 points in his first 22 games
played with the Guelph Storm, one of the bottom-5 teams in the
Fabbri plays against some of the toughest competition of all
forwards on Team Canada yet still manages to find one of the highest Quality of
Teammates in the OHL – likely because he is seemingly attached at the hip with
Tyler Bertuzzi. Fabbri plays heavy
minutes each game, with a large amount of time on special teams, as Guelph
leans heavily on him and has walked away with a +22.69% even-strength relative
goals-for percent. His adjusted
Points/Game have Fabbri posting numbers similar to Jordan Eberle, Valeri Bure
and Brad Richards.
Nick Paul – OHL – North Bay
I recently wrote about Nick Paul at Silver Seven Sens and
what the reasonable
expectations are from him. The
Dallas Stars drafted Paul in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, 101st overall and then
traded him to Ottawa as part of the Jason Spezza deal. Currently he is listed as 6’3”, 198 lbs and
19.78 years-old, in his draft year he produced a meager 28 points in 66 games
and improved that to 34 points in his first 27 games with the North Bay Battalion.
Compared to his CHL peers, Nick Paul is facing very strong
competition while getting help from above average teammates. Paul plays top line time but compared to Canada forwards is
at the bottom of the list. He still
emerges with a +10.25% even-strength relative goals-for%, likely coming from
the fact that North Bay is a top possession team in the OHL.
All in all his adjusted Points/Game
comparables don’t hold well for him as the 10 nearest players have a total of
about 50 games played in the NHL.
Lawson Crouse – OHL – Kingston
I honestly can’t figure out why Lawson Crouse is included in
the roster this year, because he doesn’t seem to offer much to the team. His list of notable skills and assets is the same as why
he will likely go in the first round
this summer: he is big. Money Puck at Canucks
Army wrote a great article summarizing everything about him.
As a 17.52 year old, playing with the Kingston Frontenacs, Crouse is scoring at a 0.67 points/game rate through his first 24 games. Relative to his Hockey Canada peers Crouse
faces some of the weakest competition, has large support from his teammates,
plays less minutes and walks away with a -7.41% even-strength relative
Brayden Point – WHL – Moose Jay
Brayden Point was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NHL
Entry Draft likely due to his smaller size at 5’ 8” and 160 lbs. In his draft year this 18.80 year old scored
91 points in 72 games good for 1.26 Points/Game. This season Point has scored 44 points in 29
games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, one of the bottom-5 possession
teams in the league (1.52 Points/Game).
Brayden Point is currently 6th in the WHL in
scoring rate. He does face some of the
weakest competition of all Canadian forwards on the roster and has some support
from some of the strongest teammates. Point plays some of the highest even-strength time while getting heavy
special teams time and emerges with a +19.82% even-strength relative goals-for
percent. Point’s adjusted Points/Game
have him 39th in the CHL since the 1990s and some of his closest
comparables include Mike Zigomanis and Colton Yellow Horn.
Nic Petan – WHL – Portland
Nic Petan follows similar path to Brayden Point in that he
scored an obscenely high rate in his draft year, but because of his smaller
size he went down the draft list. Petan,
the 19.85 year-old, 5’9” and 170 scored 120 points in 71 games with the
Portland Winterhawks in the 2012-2013 season (good for 1.69 points/game).
This season Petan’s scoring has slowed with a mere 33 points
in 26 games. Part of this is due to the
fact that Portland has fallen to the bottom third of the league in possession
combined with the fact Petan faces the toughest competition of all regulars in
the WHL. Petan gets significant playing
time and is still able to walk away with a +2.36% at even-strength. His adjusted Points/Game rate have Petan
sandwiched between Drouin’s 17 and 18 year old season.
Jake Virtanen – WHL – Calgary
The Canucks in the 2014th NHL Entry Draft with the 6th
overall selection selected Jake Virtanen. Canucks Army seems to suggest he was more of a PR move as he was a local
boy and many top end forwards were still on the board (Nikolaj Ehlers, William
Nylander). He scored 71 points in 71
games and has had Redditors cite him as a “Jeff Carter with more grit”.
The 18.37 year old is one of the youngest drafted players at
the World Juniors, and is currently listed as 6’ 1” and 208 lbs. This year he has played 20 games having come
back from a major shoulder injury and has scored 23 points.
Virtanen plays against some very strong
competition and is receiving little help from his teammates and plays very
little ice time – likely a result of the small sample size of games played and recovering from a major injury, but
is worth watching for Canucks fans. Virtanen still has a +8.26% even-strength relative goals-for %. His adjusted Points/Game rank Virtanen as one
of the 548th best prospects since 1990.
Frederik Gauthier – QMJHL – Rimouski
Frederik Gauthier is the token QMJHL forward selected for
his previous experience on team Canada rather than being one of the best
forwards (let alone best QMJHL, or Rimouski, forwards). Gauthier was drafted 21st
overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft as a project
pick, after scoring 60 points in 62 games.
This year Gauthier is currently playing for Rimouski, the second best
possession team in the QMJHL. So far
Gauthier has scored 14 points in 15 games and is doing that with a 17.0
shooting percentage. His scoring numbers
and his shooting numbers do not bode well for Gauthier and he does not do well
to even stand
out in his own league.
However, Gauthier does
play against above average QMJHL competition and barely has above average help
from teammates. Gauthier likely plays on
the second line on Rimouski as the second centre behind Alexis Loiseau and his
even-strength relative goals-for % is a +1.36%.
For fun, a usage chart of the top and bottom 6 forwards.