Prospect Ramblings – Continued: Valuing pre-NHL top scorers

Hayden Soboleski


Continuing my look at how to value top scorers from different leagues when hoping for NHL success in this Sunday Ramblings…


Last week I took a look at the top scorers from three Canadian junior leagues over several years to see if any NHL success patterns emerged. I wont spoil the conclusions for you, but there were some very visible differences found in the case of players actually making it to the NHL or not. Based on these useful results, I thought I should do a similar investigation but on players coming from other leagues – the KHL and NCAA.


First – the KHL

This is slightly harder to do, since not all of the top scorers have the goal of playing the NHL. To make up for this, what I've done is select what I feel are the most relevant players for this study, essentially the most anticipated signees at the time based on their fantasy hockey history. I've also eliminated my delay time, since players are coming  with the intention of immediately pushing for an NHL position. To compliment this, stats are shown for the year in which they joined the NHL, not their career peak. This is by no means a complete or perfect investigation, but hopefully is satisfactory in providing some useful outcomes. Here we go.

 Signing Year  Player  KHL Points  NHL Points
 2015  Artemi Panarin  62 in 54 GP  77 in 80 GP
 Yevgeni Medvedev  16 in 43 GP  13 in 45 GP
 Nikita Soshnikov  32 in 57 GP  5 in 11 GP
 Steve Moses  57 in 60 GP  Never played
 Sergei Plotnikov  36 in 56 GP  3 in 45 GP
 Sergei Kalinin  25 in 58 GP  15 in 78 GP
 2014  Jiri Sekac  28 in 47 GP  24 in 69 GP
 Petri Kontiola  37 in 53 GP  Never played
 Evgeny Kuznetsov  21 in 31 GP  37 in 80GP
 Jori Lehtera  44 in 48 GP  44 in 75 GP
 Leo Komarov  34 in 52 GP  26 in 62 GP 


So what do we see here? For one – out of the "top" talents poached each year, a majority earned NHL time. Most players on that list played over half the season, and even if they didn't prove to be stars or key players, did have fantasy value in deep leagues. WIth that in mind, lets look at the offensive results – not a single player on that list had a better points-per-game in the NHL than they did in the KHL. Even those that are now star players. Kuznetsov has now become an all-world talent, but that first transition from the KHL was not met without a hiccup. My takeaways from this – if there's hype and KHL success, bet on the player receiving a good chunk of games played. But never assume the rate of scoring will hold up in North America, no matter how talented the player.


Next – the NCAA

This one I did the same as last week's study, since a large amount of players in the NCAA are drafted youngsters developing in a college program.

 Year  Player  NCAA Points  Peak NHL Points
 2011-12  Spencer Abbott  61 in 38 GP  0 in 1GP
 Jack Connolly  58 in 39 GP  Never played
 Austin Smith  57 in 39 GP  Never played
 Drew Shore  52 in 41 GP  13 in 43 GP
 Chris Wagner  51 in 38 GP  6 in 43 GP
 2012-13  Ryan Walters  52 in 39 GP  Never played
 Greg Carey  51 in 38 GP  Never played
 Danny Kristo  50 in 37 GP  Never played
 Drew Leblanc  50 in 38 GP  0 in 2GP
 Johnny Gaudreau  49 in 33 GP  26 in 62 GP 
 2013-14  Johnny Gaudreau  69 in 37 GP  78 in 79 GP
 Greg Carey  57 in 38 GP  Never played
 Kevin Hayes  56 in 37 GP  45 in 79 GP
 Brett Gensler  53 in 37 GP  Never played
 Kevin Goumas  50 in 38 GP  Never played


Thank goodness for the 2013-14 crop or else that chart would've been really depressing (actually, it still is). An important number not shown in that chart: of the 7 players who never saw NHL action ZERO are over 6 feet tall. None. 0%. Obviously Johnny Gaudreau is on the list too and proves that size isn't everything, but it is clearly a factor. I don't need to do much explaining on this one…Does scoring lots of points in the NCAA mean you will do so in the NHL, or even get in the game? Nope. But this isn't unexpected. The NCAA typically isn't seen as a league of elite scorers and top talents – it's viewed as a league for hard working players, who perhaps weren't enough of a "sure thing" when they were 18 to pass up a college education. Players brought out of the NCAA by those who drafted them do so because they believe their years of hard work on and off the ice at a higher maturity level make them reliable, so the fact that the league's top scorers aren't the ones names we recognize shouldn't be shocking.



I think we got some useful outcomes again this week. Top KHL signings and transfers aren't going to keep up the pace they scored at overseas, but are a good bet to at least see a decent amount of games, and thus shouldn't be shied away from in fantasy drafts. The NCAA is a different story – where I believe we showed that this league isn't valued for its scorers, and thus being a top talent here means far less than in other leagues when it comes to one's chance of cracking the NHL, let alone scoring in it. Again, no study is perfect, especially one this small, but there are lessons to be learned nonetheless, and hopefully this helps in your upcoming prospect drafts.



As always, thank you for reading and best of luck in your summer drafts! Happy Father's Day to all celebrating, including my own, who raised me to love the best sport in the world.

Hayden Soboleski



Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0
Miko Matikka 6.5 6.5
Nathan Smith 6.2 6.0
Jan Jenik 7.2 6.5
Ilya Fedotov 6.0 3.0
Noel Nordh 6.5 7.0
Daniil But 8.5 7.5
Julian Lutz 7.0 7.5
Dylan Guenther 8.5 8.5