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Exciting Crop of Rookies Highlight Upcoming Season
Projecting AHL performance...
By Jason Kasiorek

With Training camp on the horizon, and much talk about all the new faces destined for Grand Rapids, hope springs eternal. A new coach and a nearly complete turnover of the roster buoy the enthusiasm. And while new bench boss Curt Fraser will certainly be a big difference in the success of this team, we can't help but wonder what it will look like on the ice.

In an attempt to combine my own observations with other scouting reports to produce some way to handicap the next wave I stumbled upon the work of Gabriel Desjardins. Desjardins, a master statistician, has done a series of research in the field of player equivalencies between leagues and using that information to come up with reasonable expectations of their performance at the next level. Without going in to too much detail (you can visit his website for all the details) I decided to use his theories to see what they would show if applied to Griffin's rookies over the last few seasons.

To make the numbers equal, you must first take what a player scored and figure out what that would project to over 80 games so that you can compare apples to apples. Let's use Darren Helm as an example:

In 2006-07 his last season of Junior in the WHL he posted 59-25-39-64 scoring totals. Using Desjardins AHL-E(quivalent) he would be expected to put up the following line in 2007-08 in the AHL: 80-15-23-38. Taking his actual 2007-08 scoring totals and projecting them over 80 games we end up with 80-19-18-37. I would have to say that is pretty dead on for what he ended up producing. Now these formulas don't consistently work for players in European leagues, so players like Ericsson and Ritola who were buried on the end of the bench in Sweden don't translate well nor do scoring stars like Hudler who played 30+ minutes a game in the Czech league. Here is a sample of rookies over the last few seasons and their AHL-E as it matches performance:

Actual Full Season AHL-E
2004-05 Brett Lebda 80-2-10-12 80-2-10-12 80-5-15-20
2004-05 Ryan Oulahen 75-9-10-19 80-10-11-21 80-15-17-33
2004-05 Eric Himelfarb 76-19-24-43 80-20-25-45 80-20-38-57
2004-05 Derek Meech 78-6-8-14 80-6-8-14 80-6-16-21
2005-06 Kyle Quincey 70-7-26-33 80-8-30-38 80-9-19-28
2005-06 Nick Martens 67-4-12-16 80-5-14-19 80-1-9-10
2006-07 Evan McGrath 59-6-8-14 80-8-11-19 80-20-41-61
2006-07 Jamie Tardif 30-9-6-15 80-24-16-40 80-23-17-40
2006-07 Tom Galvin 41-0-7-7 80-0-14-14 80-1-15-16
2007-08 Darren Helm 67-16-15-31 80-19-18-37 80-15-23-38
2007-08 Jakub Kindl 75-3-14-17 80-3-15-18 80-7-29-36

At first glance we can see that most of these players were in the ballpark of their projections. We know that Evan McGrath and Jakub Kindl were huge disappointments as rookies, and that Ryan Oulahen's Achilles heel has been that his offense is not up to the level projected. Kyle Quincey and Nick Martens played on that great offensive juggernaut in 04-05 that inflated those numbers a little, but still close.

Now let's look at the new group of rookies expected to don the Griffins colors for at least part of this season:

League 2007-08 AHL-E
Cory Emmerton OHL 54-25-36-61 80-17-24-41
Jan Mursak OHL 57-17-47-64 80-11-30-41
Justin Abdelkader NCAA 42-19-21-40 80-15-16-31
Logan Pyett WHL 62-20-34-54 80-11-19-30
Francis Pare QMJHL 69-54-48-102 80-26-23-48
Sergei Kolosov Belarus 47-4-6-10 80-1-6-7
Ville Leino Finland 55-28-49-77 80-22-38-60

Emmerton fought through an injury plagued season, putting up modest scoring totals, and if healthy should better the projection. While a player like Francis Pare put up inflated totals playing as an overager last season, and is likely to fall short of his projections. These numbers are not perfect, but a good starting point for predicting the scoring output of the next wave.