Prospect Ramblings: Which League Is Best for Developing Prospects?

Hadi Kalakeche

2021-10-19

Welcome to my first-ever ramblings, where I’ll be writing down my thoughts on the NHL’s prospects once a week. I’ll be using the ramblings to let you in on some questions I ask myself often, regarding NHL prospects, amateur scouting and player development.

 

Starting off:

A little over a week ago, a trusted member of the analytics community, CJ Turtoro, tweeted this regarding the AHL:

It was accompanied by this article, which outlined the difference between the increase in NHLer and Star probabilities in prospects that join the NHL, versus the decrease in those same projections when prospects join the AHL (visualized below).

The article continues to state that the AHL is, in fact, last out of all 95 tracked leagues in terms of the average effect on a prospect’s NHL projections, and Turtoro argues that the developmental value of having a prospect play in the NHL has far more potential for growth, as they learn to play at the level they’re aiming for.

This question has been at the back of my mind ever since the Canadiens’ Jesperi Kotkaniemi was sent down to Laval after a shaky start to his sophomore season in 2020; does sending down prospects who are struggling do anything for their game in the positive sense, or are they better off playing through the rough patch while using their NHL team’s large array of resources to sort their shortcomings out?

Also, if prospects don’t develop in the AHL, and if they’re not good enough for the big team, where do you develop them? Is there one league that’s better than all the others, or does it function on a case-by-case basis depending on the prospect?

 

Now, I have no data to back it up, but here’s the only hypothesis I’ve come up with so far: leagues with international ice surfa