The Hurricanes finally got involved in the college agent game the other day by signing Union College forward Jeremy Welsh to an entry-level contract hours after they were eliminated from the NCAA Frozen Four by Ferris State. Welsh was very good in the NCAA tournament for Union College as he was one of their best players with eight points in nine games.
Welsh is described by college fans and scouts as a big forward who has a solid shot and great offensive prowess. He was also known as one of the leaders of the leaders of this Union squad and is coming off quite a season with a career high 27 goals and 44 points in 40 regular season games. Some scouting reports also say that Welsh plays a somewhat physical game and uses his big frame to his advantage when battling for pucks and gaining position against defensemen.
Not everyone has access to watch every college hockey game, so the only information I know about Welsh's game is through stats, what scouts say and from my observations of him in the NCAA tournament. The scouts seem to think that he can be a solid contributor to the Hurricanes at some point and he was very impressive by the eye-test and through stats in the NCAA tournament. What does this say about his future, though?
The best that we can do to project a college hockey player's production at the pro level is to go by translations from Behind the Net hockey. It is tougher to score goals in the NHL than any other league in the world and each league has it's own difficulty level that compares how players from each league have performed in the NHL compared to where they came from. For the NCAA, the difficulty level is set at 41%, which means that players who jump from college to the NHL keep 41% of their scoring. That isn't true for everyone, but it is a decent way to predict future performance for college free agents like Welsh.
What we are going to do is look at Welsh's point totals from college and then use the .41 translation to see how many points he is projected to have in a year in the NHL.
Stats from HockeyDB.com
Welsh has scored 100 points in 119 games at Union College, which equates to .84 points per game. Factor in the .41 translation and he he expected to be a .34 point per game player at the NHL which would equate to about 25-30 points in an 82 game NHL season. He might do better than that, he could do worse but that's where the bar is set for now based on his college numbers.
That said, Welsh is still young and could be a better NHL player than the projections expect him to be and he is getting a chance to show what he can do tonight as Kirk Muller is putting him on the second like with Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner. I am very excited to see how he does tonight and in future years with the Hurricanes organization.