By D'Arcy McGrath
May 7, 2001
American Hockey League by definition is a developmental league.
good portion of each farm team's roster is comprised of younger players being
groomed for the next step.
teams have a healthy mix of up and coming players as well as career AHL hockey
players making a good living, playing the game they love.
make up of each roster represents a very important catch-22 for NHL
organizations; too many veterans on the roster take spots away from developing
prospects. Too few veterans will likely result in losing season after losing
season, an atmosphere that can stunt the growth of youth.
should the line be drawn?
the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins state "we may have missed the playoffs
this year, but look at the AHL, our future is bright"?
all depends on the structure of their AHL franchise.
At the Best
2001 AHL playoffs are down to the semi-finals with four teams still in the hunt
for the Calder Trophy.
Eastern Conference Final features the Saint John Flames (Calgary) and the
Providence Bruins (Boston), while the Western Conference Final features the
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh), and the Hershey Bears (Colorado).
four franchises all have successful developmental systems, or they must
considering their success in the playoffs.
the four teams are very different in experience and make-up.
table below shows the average age for each team, which includes every player
that has played at least on game in the 2001 playoffs.
a cursory glance it appears the Calgary Flames have the best argument of a
bright future, with an average age of 22.9, relatively young by AHL standards.
The other three teams are more firmly placed in the mid-twenties in average age.
simple average is flawed in delivering any real conclusions however, there are
too many ways to arrive at the answer. For example, if the Saint John Flames had
three 20 year olds each play one game apiece in the first round before being
scratched the rest of the playoffs, their numbers might be skewed.
help partition each roster, Calgarypuck.com has used the following age
team made up of the first three categories would be very young, and prone to
mistakes, but have a brighter long term future for the NHL club.
an AHL club made up of the final two categories would be consistent, but offer
little upside for the NHL parent to utilize.
table below shows the make-up of each of the four teams by percentage of each
Saint John Flames have 92% of their roster in the first three categories, or 92%
of their roster 25 years or under. The Penguins farm club is the next closest,
having 68% of their roster in the youngest three categories. The oldest final
four AHL club is the Providence Bruins, with only 45% of their roster in the
youngest three categories.
42% of the Saint John roster under the age of 23 there appears to be some
optimism on the horizon for a struggling Flames organization.
does that tell the whole story? What role or impact does youth play for each of
order to round out our analysis, we take a look at production from each category
within each team's roster.
example, a team with a low percentage of prospects on their roster may have a
significantly higher production rate from these few players.
table below shows goal production from each classification for each team.
the Saint John Flames 36 playoff goals to date, 73% or 26 goals, have been
scored by players 23 years or younger. That's an incredible statistic when you
consider the role experience often plays in the playoffs.
This group is comprised of Sergei Varlamov (9), Steve Begin (8), Derek Walser (5), Daniel
Tkaczuk (2), and Blair Betts and Rico Fata, with a goal apiece. Every one of these players are a threat to crack the NHL Flames roster next fall, with only Derek Walser and his contract shedding some doom on the subject.
Penguins farm team has the next largest impact in this area with 46% or 18 of
their 39 goals coming from up and coming players. Digging deeper it can be found
that one player, Milan Kraft has scored 12 of these 18 goals.
Does This Say?
do these numbers suggest for the Flames organization?
more than likely it suggests the Flames have one superstar prospect on the farm,
a star that has to be given a chance in the organization soon.
star could very well be head coach Jim Playfair.