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Depth Defensemen or Future NHLer?

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In the last few weeks the Thrashers acquired two defensemen--Brett Skinner and Clay Wilson--who have mostly played in the AHL during their professional career. The general assumption is that these players are primarily ticketed for more AHL games. Both guys have shown some offensive upside and both could prove useful as callup or 7th defensemen down the road.

In my post on Rich Peverley I commented on how the Thrashers need to take advantage of what the folks at Baseball Prospectus call "near-free talent" available on the waiver wire and the minors. Rather than carry a depth guy making $1 million, a savvy team can save some cap expense by stocking a few decent guys in the AHL who would make the cap minimum in the event of a call up.

For the sake of comparison, I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison. All three players below are essentially the same age. All three play defense. All three have played more than two full seasons worth of minor league games. All three have scored about half a point per game in their AHL career. One of these players has been in the NHL all year and the other two have gone back and forth between the major and minor leagues. Which one is the NHLer?

Age AHL Games AHL Points AHL PPG
Player A 26 162 91 0.56
Player B 25 210 127 0.60
Player C 25 195 96 0.49

The purpose of the chart above is to illustrate that in terms of stastics there is not much of a difference between the guy who has been in the NHL all year and the two guys who are in the minors right now. So who are they? Player A is Oystrick, Player B is Clay Wilson and Player C is Brett Skinner.

While most of us fans assume that Wilson and Skinner were acquired to help the Wolves more than the Thrashers--both guys appear to have offensive skills that similar to the Thrasher #7 defenseman this year. The addition of the guys like Wilson and Skinner give the franchise some affordable insurance policies in the event of injuries at the NHL level. All three of these guys (Oystrick, Wilson and Skinner) would likely be exposed if given big NHL minutes but they could fill out the 3rd pairing in a pinch and they have puck skills as demonstrated by their point totals.