The Century Mark: Jack Quinn and Juraj Slafkovsky

Alex Wyatt

2024-01-31

Welcome back for another edition of the Century Mark, where I aim to dive into some of the underlying numbers on a few players who are reaching the threshold of 100 NHL games played. My aim is to help you understand what the metrics mean, and if there’s anything in the tea leaves to help you decide if it’s worth continuing to invest in your player. Each edition I will also try to give an introduction to the tools you have at your disposal on the Frozen Tools page, by going under the hood in one of the many at your fingertips.

This month we take a look at Jack Quinn and Juraj Slafkovsky, two players who each raised an eyebrow or two with their draft position in their respective years. Now that both players have skated in at least two seasons and are nearing their 100 game milestones, let’s take a look into what we have in these players as they cross the Century Mark.

Jack Quinn. 22. W. Buffalo Sabres
When the Buffalo Sabres stepped to the podium with the eighth selection in the 2020 NHL draft, many poolies and prospect junkies were expecting them to call on an offensive dynamo from Switzerland. A dynamo who led the OHL in scoring, and at 2.14 points per game had the 3rd best rate in the last decade- behind only Connor McDavid’s 2.55 and Sam Bennett’s 2.18 marks. Instead, much was made of their decision to select Quinn, who at the time finished second in the league with 52 goals in 62 games. Surely, that type of goal scoring prowess would warrant consideration inside the top 10 of a draft, but the concern was that just a season prior, Quinn had a line of 12-20-32 in 61 games played, and now sat at 52-37-89 in 62. The concern was, with the seemingly out of nowhere production, was he worth picking over Rossi, and Perfetti for that matter. Now that Quinn nears 100 NHL games played- which on it’s own shows he was certainly a successful pick- we can see what his body of work shows.

Thus far over his three year career, since we will count the two game cup of coffee in 2021-2022, Quinn’s been a 42-point player, and has seen his pace tick up in his sophomore season. He hit double digit goals in his rookie year, and is pacing for more than 20 this year. His pace increase is a welcome sight for any developing rookie, but the gross games played are a small sample size given that Quinn started the year on the IR due to an injury to his achilles tendon suffered during training camp. His progress is all the more welcome as a sign of a strong recovery from a tenuous injury.

As mentioned in previous installments of this column, it is always a wise idea to take a look not only at the overall trajectory of a player’s stats, but to be mindful of his “per 60” measurements to ensure the growth in production isn’t a direct tie to more ice time. Sure, players have to earn the extra ice time with their strong play, but the per 60 stats allow you a quick and concise measure of how much hay a player makes during his time on the ice.

On Quinn’s advanced stat tab from his frozen tools profile, we can see that his points per 60 is identical to last year, and his shots per 60 have increased slightly. This implies that Quinn is providing a little more offense per time on ice than he was in his rookie season, above and beyond just the impact of his extra two and a half minutes of ice time per game. 

On the deployment front, we see that Quinn receives an extra half a minute in powerplay ice time, which represents a hike in the percentage of Buffalo’s powerplay time over last season, as well as a bit more penalty kill time as well. This is also encouraging, and for two reasons. One, the increase in his PPTOI represents an increase in the share of the time with the extra man, and not just that there are more bulk minutes over all to dole out. Secondly, and increase in penalty kill percentage also shows that head coach Don Granato is comfortable sending the youngster out in all situations. Remaining on the advanced stat tab, we can see Quinn’s offensive zone start percentage is very similar to last year, and over 50%, meaning that Quinn starts his shifts in the other team’s zone more often than not.

Stepping over to check on linemates, thus far into the seasons, Quinn has been lining up alongside Dylan Cozens and J.J Peterka for the vast majority of his even strength time. This is the same trifecta that Quinn found himself a part of for the lion’s share of his ice time at five on five last season as well. Familiarity is key, as he and his linemates will continue to gel together, and given the makeup of the Sabres, being a consistent trigger man for Dylan Cozens is a fantastic role for a young sniper to be given.

2023-2024

2022-2023

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself with Jack Quinn on your farm squad, you’ve got a solid player to bring up to your main squad when his minor league eligibility expires. Not only is his production solid right here and now, but he is a key piece to a young Sabres squad that oozes talent. That he finds himself a key piece of the top six, with a regular assignment next to two other key members of the youth movement in Cozens and Peterka is also exciting. Quinn has grown his resume since his draft with two strong AHL campaigns before making his way to Buffalo’s main roster. 

Were you aware there is a frozen tools page for players’ AHL tenure? Check out Quinn’s here.

The majority of information you can find about a player in the NHL will also be available for their time in the AHL. There is only one page, compared to the multiple tabs for NHL players, but offensive production, PIMs and shots on both a bulk counting basis, and per game rates for quick analysis. I also appreciate seeing the primary and secondary assist breakdown as well. Though Quinn’s personal AHL page doesn’t show line combinations as he hasn’t been in the AHL for some time, you can see who your target player is lining up for his shifts with. 

At this stage of the game, Quinn is an easy keep, and likely someone you won’t get your hands on at post draft hype discounts, but if you see a competitive manager leaving him on his farm squad, and you have a useful rental player to build a package around, he’d be worth inquiring on acquiring if you’re in the build stage of your team’s life cycle.

Juraj Slafkovsky. 19. LW. Montreal Canadiens.

At the start of the 2022 draft year, many would have been shocked to see Slafkovsky the first called to the podium, although Slafkovsky made a case for himself throughout the year and had many pundits split by the time the Stanley Cup was awarded. Though he blew apart the perceived consensus that began the year, plenty still believed that first off the board would be Shane Wright, including Shane himself, it appears.

Where we stand today, Slafkovsky leads all players drafted that year in games played, goals, assists, points and PIMs, and he finds himself barreling towards the Century Mark. Let’s take a look at the type of player he’s shown himself to be in the NHL thus far, and what your plans should be if you hold him, or wish to acquire him.

Slafkovsky’s appeal as a top of the draft talent is obvious. He’s 6-4, 240 lbs, shoots hard, drives the net, and is also known for his silky mitts. I recall some of the initial hesitancy with him being selected over Shane Wright—and even at times Simon Nemec—was his excellent showing in tournaments but less dominating presence in league play. For instance, Slafkovsky was sixth in points per game by a U19 player in the Liiga in his D0 season, usurped by fellow draft classmate, Joakim Kemell who nearly doubled his per game output. 

He started off his career with the big squad right out of training camp, seeing sheltered ice during limited minutes, skating alongside Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson. He put up four goals and six assists in 39 games before being injured and missing the remainder of the season. It was at this time that the discussion about whether it made sense to have him start in the NHL immediately vs honing his craft in the AHL was the wise move. Hindsight is 20/20, and any decision as it pertains to the deployment of high end draft picks- especially those in pressure cooker markets like Montreal- receive a great deal of scrutiny.

Though he did start the season seeing time with Dvorak and Anderson again, he quickly started seeing deployment with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. He’s getting over two minutes of powerplay time, and is steadily creeping towards twenty minutes of time on ice as the season progresses. This type of progression in linemate quality, deployment, and production is potentially the sound of any remaining buy low window closing. If he can make the most of this increased responsibility, the naysayers will quickly morph to bandwagoners.

Individually, we see Slafkovsky has already surpassed the games played of his rookie season, and a nice ten point lift to his point pace. His powerplay deployment has nearly doubled, and has gained another four minutes in general. These are good signs for a player who is still 19 years old, and jumped right to the NHL after his draft. Sure these aren’t Connor Bedard, or Connor McDavid numbers, but I don’t think even the biggest Slafkovsky supporter was pegging him to hang with ‘The Connor’s’ in terms of offensive output.

Where Slafkovsky is going to be the biggest benefit to your fantasy squad will be the categories he impacts beyond just offensive prowess. He’s pretty much stapled to Caufield and Suzuki now, and the ice time has leapt up enough to expect those peripheral stats to continue to pop. 

All in all, Slafkovsky is showing us thus far he’s a perfectly viable player, is getting choice deployment on the top line in Montreal, and has the frame and physicality to be a difference maker for your fantasy team- especially in multicat leagues.

You will have a long wait for him to hit his 400 game breakout threshold, and if you aren’t patient enough, or it isn’t viable for you to wait that long, you might want to shop Slafkovsky. Be smart and don’t give him away, as you’ve likely got a 60-70 point player who will shoot and hit, and take penalties. Category coverage is key, and he will fill buckets for you. He’s already producing decently enough, and there is more to come. 

Thanks for reading, and we will see you next month.

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