Prospect Ramblings: Can World Championship success predict a breakout?

Hayden Soboleski



The IIHF World Championships have begun, giving fans of teams eliminated from NHL Playoffs one more chance to catch their favorite players before the long off-season. Canada is going for the three-peat, after missing out on a medal for five years prior to this run of golds. Our very own Paul Zwambag gave a quick overview of some players he's keeping an eye on earlier this week, and there's plenty of coverage available for readers looking for the more up-to-date scoring info (check out the official website for the tournament here).


One thing I'm always thinking about when these tournaments full of talent happen is whether a successful tournament is an indication of a future breakout in the NHL. Brad Marchand's dominance in the World Cup last summer foreboded his jump from 61 points to 85 in the following campaign. Mark Schiefele's point-per-game effort in the World Cup also ended up with him having his best season yet, jumping from 61 points to 82 points (not a cut-and-paste error, Marchand and Schiefele actually had stat lines that similar!).


But these were World Cup performances only days before the NHL season began, meaning that players could get hot and stay hot, boosting their season total.  Do dominant performances in the Spring World Championship mean the same thing? In addition, these players are not considered prospects anymore. Studying them would be intriguing but considering that I'm writing for DobberProspects, I'm going to limit my scope here. Let's see how last year's participants fared:


 Player  2016 World Championship Pts/game  2015-16 NHL Pts/game  2016-17 NHL Pts/game
 Sam Reinhart (CAN)  0.40  0.53  0.59
 Max Domi (CAN)  0.10  0.64  0.64
 Ben Hutton (CAN)  0.20  0.33  0.27
 Dylan Larkin (USA)  0.90  0.56  0.40
 Auston Matthews (USA)  0.90  –  0.84
 Frank Vatrano (USA)  0.80  0.28  0.41
 JT Compher (USA)   0.30  –  0.24
 Tyler Motte (USA)  0.30  –  0.21
 Hudson Fasching (USA)  0.20  –  0.10
 Alex Wennberg (SWE)  1.00  0.58  0.74
 Patrick Laine  1.20  –  0.88
 Sebastian Aho (FIN)  0.70  –  0.60
 Mikko Rantanen (FIN)  0.20  0  0.51


So what does this mean?

The above table of numbers can be a little hard to interpret. What I'm looking for is evidence of players having a good tournament, followed by a jump in their NHL numbers. There seem to be two examples of this:

– Alex Wennberg (a 3rd-year NHLer)

– Frank Vatrano (a 2nd-year NHLer)


To counter this hypothesis, let's look for pl