As one might expect … it's much easier to find examples of prospect projections that proved erroneous than to find examples of a prospect morphing into his expected conclusion.
More tend to spoil than turn into that dream player that everyone lauded on draft day.
Fans tend to be very optimistic about the future, and nowhere is that more true than when grade points are dolled out to prospects during an off season.
Every first round pick is destined to be a star; that enigmatic late round pick from the Ukraine is a can't miss number one goaltender, and all those really big kids are guaranteed to be the next Chris Pronger.
Then reality sets in.
The average NHL team only finds two to three players in any one draft year that actually go on to play. Conversely Calgarypuck.com's prospect section tends to project twice that many players per draft year to play average or above roles.
So clearly when we look back, like I say, it's quite simple to find examples of projection failure. For that reason alone I won't rehash players from last year's "Off the Mark" feature – I think we've beaten the Rico Fata / Daniel Tkaczuk mess to death.
Off the Mark 2003
Matthias Johansson (2002) – 2.8
A 2.8 rating isn't all that high in the grand scheme of things, but in this case it clearly missed the mark with the seasoned Swedish defensive winger. Johansson came over to the Flames for training camp last fall, made the team, but then fell out of favour with Darryl Sutter. Later in the season he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with Micki Dupont in exchange for Shean Donovan. This summer Johansson wasn't qualified, a sign that his NHL career may have come to a screeching halt. With only 58 games and a less than savory finish to his season it's safe to say that Johansson didn't live up to his just below average prospect rating.
Jesse Cook (2002) – 2.6
While we are in no position to fully assess the continued upside of Jesse Cooke the hockey player, we believe it is safe to assume that he didn't live up to his 2.6 rating or claim to the club's third best defensive prospect last summer since the club let him walk after training camp. Cook wasn't able to secure NHL employment with any of the other 29 NHL clubs after being released by Calgary and finally settled in the ECHL with the Lexington Men of War. It's a long road from there Jesse!
Levente Szuper (2002) – 3.4
Not to pick on Levente Szuper as his career is far from being labeled over, but we can't let Calgarypuck.com readers off the hook for naming the club's fourth ranked prospect seven months before the team cut him loose. Whoops. Szuper is a talented goaltender, one that could still rise up and bite the team on their proverbial butt, but in today's terms he's a man without a team, a far cry from last summer's estimation.
Work in Progress
Some players are well on their way to their expected roles; they've graduated to the NHL and are continuing the learning process necessary to convert potential skill into actual performance. The fact remains however, that these players still aren't contributing to their Calgarypuck.com Prospect ranking level and because of that they're still not off the hook.
Jordan Leopold (2002) – 4.3
Jordan Leopold is likely a lot closer to the 4.3 mark than many may realize. The explanation of a 4.0 in our scale going into the process read as "a solid player; 1st/2nd line, 2nd/3rd defencemen". Granted Leopold is holding down a roster spot on a perenial non-playoff team, but at season's end he did appear to be in that top pairing. It will however be a number of seasons before the Gopher graduate can lay claim to the role of the average NHL level 2nd defenceman.
Chuck Kobasew (2002) – 4.2
On a developmental scale, Chuck Kobasew is still a notch or two below the more seasoned Jordan Leopold. All signs for training camp 2003 point to the Boston U product assuming a second line role with the team, a role that does seem to match his 4.2 rating. But a spot on a roster and actually fulfilling the role to the expectation level of that spot are two very different things.