Every Monday we'll be using the Snepsts System to search the NHL's history for players with comparable era-adjusted statistics to today's Jets, and featuring the analysis here at Arctic Ice Hockey. A description and example of the methodology can be found on Hockey Prospectus. To see how this worked for the Calgary Flames last season, visit Flames Nation.
To set objective scoring expectations, we've spent the last six weeks searching NHL's vast history for players with similar era-adjusted statistics as virtually every player on the Winnipeg Jets roster with sufficient NHL experience. But what do we do with those who have spent large parts of their recent career in the AHL?
This week we'll use AHL-to-NHL translations (NHL Equivalencies) to set expectations for the non-NHL regulars on the roster: Tim Stapleton, Ben Maxwell, Brett Festerling and Derek Meech.
Tiny, undrafted American winger Tim Stapleton got his first real taste of the NHL last season after 2 strong seasons in Finland and 3 in the AHL, and wound up scoring the final goal in Atlanta Thrashers history. This off-season he competed for team USA in the IIHF world tournament, and is poised to continue his stint as an NHL regular.
Vukota: 43 6 5 11
AHL: 73 30 29 59 (in 2009-10)
NHL: 73 7 7 14
Comparables: Toby Peterson, Craig MacDonald, Tim Jackman, Ryan Bayda
In 2010-11 he scored 19 points in 24 AHL games (roughly the same scoring rate as 2009-10), and just 7 in his 52 NHL games, which is unfortunately typical of the AHL-to-NHL scoring drop-off of older AHL players (he turned 29 in July).
Back when he was 26 he managed 79 points in 70 games, but even that would have only been the NHL equivalent of 25 points, given the precedent of players like John Pohl and Denis Hamel. At his age and size, Stapleton is most likely a low-scoring depth option should he manage to remain with the Jets all season.
23-year-old Ben Maxwell, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens for Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes, could finally be ready to stick as an NHL regular after three years in the AHL.
Vukota: 29 4 5 9
AHL: 49 11 30 41
NHL: 49 5 13 18
Comparables: Maxime Talbot, Jannik Hansen
The NHL equivalent of Maxwell's three AHL seasons have very consistently been in the 0.32 to 0.35 points per game range. Though he has scored just 2 points in his 32 NHL games so far, his AHL stats suggest he could contribute up to 25-30 if given the opportunity over a full season.
Brett Festerling, acquired from Montreal for goalie Drew MacIntyre last February, is a stay-at-home defenseman with good work ethic and leadership qualities, but not much in the way of scoring.
Vukota: 33 1 5 6
AHL: 53 3 13 16
NHL: 53 2 8 10
Comparables: Michael Sauer, Adam Pardy
Festerling, who I've long maintained should be moved to San Jose to play with Boyle, had his best AHL season scoring-wise, earning 0.3 PTS/GP – after three years consistently in the 0.18-0.21 range.
Previously his comparables were Niklas Grossman, Ryan Parent, Alain Nasreddine, Mark Fistric and Matt Jones, setting his expected NHL points per game closer to 0.15 than 0.2. Either way, if he makes the team it won't be for his scoring.
Signed in the off-season, Derek Meech is primarily a defensive-minded defenseman, but can play the wing as well. He was Dion Phaneuf's blue line partner in the WHL, and an extremely well-respected player: making an AHL all-star team, being named Detroit's 2007-08 rookie of the year, and even being petitioned to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup despite not playing a single playoff minute and just 32 regular seasons games. He could easily be one of this year's pleasant surprises.
AHL: 74 10 27 37
NHL: 74 5 14 19
Comparable: Jay Garrison
Coming off his best season in the AHL, and coming home to Manitoba, could surprise everyone with a 20-point season if he makes the team and everything falls into place. More realistically he'll spend only part of the season in Winnipeg, and get only enough 3rd-line minutes for a handful of points.
Finally we'll put it all together – next week we'll take a look at not just the expected output of the Winnipeg Jets, but also the best-case and worst-case scenarios.