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What to Expect, When You're Expecting Rookies

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There are a couple of rookies who have a legitimate shot at making the Thrashers roster this fall. In particular Brett Sterling, Jordan LaVallee, Nathan Oystrick, Tobias Enstrom and Mark Popovic could all see some time in Hotlanta this coming winter. How many points might these guys put up in a Thrasher uniform? I'll give a quick run down.

What I have done below is provide projections for each potential rookie based upon historical patterns. For example, If you look all players who have made the jump from the AHL to the NHL the historical pattern is when they reach the NHL they score at about 45% the rate they did in the AHL. So I have taken their AHL rate multiplied it by the 0.45 and then multiplied by 82 games to give us a quick projection number.

Below are the projected NHL stats if they were to play a full season in 2007-08.

Brett Sterling
AHL Scoring Rate: 1.26 points per game
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.57
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 47 (in a full 82 game season)
Now I think this might be a bit high unless Sterling gets a regular time on the power play unit. It also assumes he is a regular top six forward which is a dangerous assumption given Hartley's line scrambling proclivities. But I still like Sterling's chances of exceeding Scott Mellanby's 36 points as a rookie if he is given regular ice time.

Nathan Oystrick
AHL Scoring Rate: 0.59
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.28
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 22 (in a full 82 game season)
Oystrick was one of the top scoring defensemen in the AHL last year but I doubt he would see much power play time this coming season. I'd take the under on that number.

Jordan LaVallee
AHL Scoring Rate: 0.43
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.19
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 16 (in a full 82 game season)
LaVallee would be a checker in the NHL and that projected point total looks about right (very Slaters-esque) to me.

Mark Popovic
AHL Scoring Rate: 0.62
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.28
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 23 (in a full 82 game season)
Both Popovic and Oystrick finished high in AHL defensemen scoring race, but this is something of a career high for Popovic and I doubt that he would get 23 points in the NHL.

Tobias Enstrom
SEL Scoring Rate: 0.51
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.51
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 42 (in a full 82 game season)
If Enstrom makes the team it will be because of his offensive contributions. He took a giant leap forward last year in the Swedish Elite League and while I am optimistic about his NHL point scoring potential I think a 42 point projection is at least 10 points too high.

Chad Denny
QMJHL Scoring Rate: 1.10
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.31
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 25 (in a full 82 game season)
Junior scoring rates translate into lower NHL scoring rates than AHL numbers do. Even after making this adjustment, Denny still projects to a very respectable 25 points based on his performance last year. I doubt he is ready just yet, but I am eager to see what sort of numbers he puts up in Chicago this coming year.

Boris Valabik
College Scoring Rate: 0.18
NHL Scoring Rate: 0.08
Projected 2007-08 NHL points: 7 (in a full 82 game season)
Offense has never been a strength of Valabik and if he were a NHL regular expect something very Vishnevski-esque in terms of his output.

Summary: Enstrom and Sterling offer the most in terms of offensive potential as NHL rookies next year. I'm really looking forward to NHL Camp in a couple of weeks.