Since most leagues have at least a month of regular season play done by now, I thought a good idea would be to look at how some of the Hurricanes players and prospects are performing in their respective leagues thus far. I've been posting weekly updates on the team's NCAA and junior prospects but some of the team's roster players such as Jiri Tlusty, Jussi Jokinen and Alexander Semin are playing hockey in professional leagues overseas and their performance is certainly worth tracking, as well. Since these players are all in different leagues for the most part, what I'm going to do is compare their performance using Gabe Desjardins' NHL equivalency translations to show what their performance would equate to if they were all playing in the NHL.
If you need a refresher, a translation factor is a number that shows the "difficulty" of each league in terms of how much easier or difficult it is to score at a certain level. Every player is expected to maintain a certain part of their scoring when they jump from one league to another, which is what the translation factor takes into account. For instance, a player jumping from the AHL would be expected to keep about 44% of their scoring if they played the entire year in the NHL instead. It may sound like a crude and simple method, but it really does a good job of showing the difficulty level of each league. This tool is even more helpful now because there are so many NHL-ers playing in different leagues during the lockout.
This is neccessary because league has a certain degree of difficulty and not all scoring lines are create equal across different leagues. It might be easy to get excited about a player from your favorite team dominating in a league overseas, but it may not be that impressive when you consider the talent level and difficulty of that league. Being a point-per-game player in the KHL is much more impressive than having the same scoring rate in the less-talented Swiss National League, for example. Therefore, it's important to take into account the difficulty of the league a certain player is in and how he would be performing if everyone was on the same playing field. Things could be a little different this season since the lockout has caused a massive talent increase in just about every league, but the talent level difference between each league is mostly the same when you look at which players are in each league. The KHL is still the best hockey league outside North America, followed by the Swedish Elite League, Czech Elite League and so on and so forth.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the performance of the Hurricanes players so far.
|Alex Semin||Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo||KHL||5||2||4||6||1.2||0.996||5||82|
|Andreas Nodl||Innsbruck HC||Austria||9||3||8||11||1.22|
|Erik Karlsson||Frolunda U20||SuperElit
Alexander Semin is leads the way here with 6 points in 5 games in the KHL, but it's worth noting that he has only played five total games so this probably doesn't mean much in the big picture. Semin initially joined Sokol Krasnoyarsk of the VHL, which is the second tier Russian hockey league, to play in his home town but he left after four games to play in the KHL. He has also missed some time with an illness according to reports online, so he has played in very few games in the KHL. We should get a better idea of his performance once he plays more games, but he's off to a fine start.
I mentioned Jiri Tlusty earlier in the week and how well he was performing in the Czech League and you can see that he would be on-pace for a very good offensive year in the NHL, too. Again, he is playing with good linemates and isn't anywhere near the rest of the pack compared to some of the other NHL players currently playing in other leagues, but that's not a big deal. Tlusty is never going to be that kind of player, but he has the tools to be an effective offensive player and he is doing that in the Czech league so far. We only have 15 games to work with, so it would be wise to wait and see how he does over an extended period of time before we get ahead of ourselves about his production. Still, it's hard to complain with what he has done so far.
A surprise on this list to some might be Evgenii Dadonov, who is still technically part of the Hurricanes prospect system since they decided to qualify him this summer. Dadonov is having a very good season in the KHL as his 17 points in 22 games would translate to 53 points in an 82 game season, which is great for someone who has yet to establish himself as an NHL player. I thought Dadonov showed a decent amount of potential when he was with the Florida Panthers, so I'm not terribly surprised to see him playing well with top-six minutes. He isn't a future star but Dadonov has at least been performing well in a professional league, which may interest some teams if he continues to improve. That being said, I think Dadonov will probably stay in the KHL for at least another year before returning to North America. One of the reasons why Dadonov is putting up better numbers in the KHL is because he can be guaranteed minutes there, and I'm not sure that will be the case in the NHL.
Jussi Jokinen has apparently returned to North America after a brief stint in the Finland's SM-Liiga, but he played very well while he was there, scoring at more than a point-per-game rate. There isn't much that can be said about his performance there since he played in only eight games, but it seems that most NHL-ers in this league perform well so it's not terribly surprising to see Jokinen get off to a hot start. According to Chip Alexander, Jokinen is looking at his options in Europe in case this lockout drags on even longer so we could have more numbers to work with soon. I think all of us would prefer to see Jokinen, along with the rest of the Canes, back at the PNC Arena, though.
The equivalency values for AHL players might seem kind of low but you have to remember that this is a minor league and the level of difficulty is much lower than that of most of the professional European leagues. The lockout may increase the AHL's difficulty level, but the quality of talent there is still lower than that of other leagues and professionals are expected to dominate there. The only player on the Checkers who has been able to do that thus far is Justin Faulk, which makes sense because he is basically an NHL-er at this point. Him, Justin Schultz and a few others have been leading the way in the AHL so far, and it's easy to see why for Faulk.
You can make the case for Bowman being dominant at this level, too but that's mostly because of his eight goals. He has the same translation rate as Zach Boychuk and Marc-Andre Gragnani where they would have roughly 36 points in an 82 game NHL season and while 36 points is nothing to sneeze at, it's far off from what they have doing in the AHL so far. Bowman has also scored on over 30% of the shots he has taken this year and when a shooting percentage is that high, it's usually the result of good luck more than skill. I'm not discrediting anything Bowman's done so far, I just think that his goal-scoring streak may come to an end in the near future. Bowman and Boychuk's production in the AHL so far this year would basically equate to what you would get from a borderline top-six player, which is fine for now since that is all they are expected to be on the Canes this year. I'm interested to see how these numbers look in a few more weeks when they have more games under their belt.