Much has been written about the advantages of even strength production as a proxy for future performance. On a basic level, we can ration how most play happens without a man advantage and therefore would be the most valuable situation to observe to tease out the best performers.
While the NHL level has an abundance of information for us to dissect and analyze, it’s tougher to find more than basic box score stats for minor or collegiate leagues.
To help with this issue, I was able to scrape box scores from TheAHL.com to gather even strength goals, assists, and +/- for every player this season. The following list contains the top 10 even strength points per game leaders who have played in at least 25 games this season and are under the age of 25. This should give us some insight as to who are some of the young players to keep an eye out for, along with insight as to whom is benefitting from man advantage situations.
(All stats through 1/12/2015)
10. Austin Madaisky, D, Springfield Falcons
P/GP = 0.79
EV P/GP = 0.54
The only defenseman to feature on this list, Madaisky earned his spot on the roster for the 2015 All-Star Classic. Clearly known for his offensive capabilities, he leads his team and sits 14th in the league in points. While he’s been on the ice for 34 Springfield even strength goals, he’s also been on the ice for 26 goals against, the most out of anyone on this list.
9. Jordan Weal, C, Manchester Monarchs
P/GP = 1.00
EV P/GP = 0.54
After a solid rookie season putting up 70 points in all 76 games (good for 5th in the league), Weal has impressed by following up by currently sitting at 4th in the league in points with 37 and also an invitation to the 2015 All-Star Classic. The small-framed forward has seen ample minutes on the power play, scoring 5 PP goals, which equals his even strength scoring tally.
8. Shane Prince, LW, Binghamton Senators
P/GP = 0.82
EV P/GP = 0.56
Known for his fast feet, Prince has been hot as of late for the Senators. He generated 22 points in 21 games from November to December. He’s also 2nd on this list with 2.5 shots per game.
7. Andreas Athanasiou, C, Grand Rapids Griffins
P/GP = 0.64
EV P/GP = 0.56
Athanasiou, our first of three featured rookies, has adapted quickly to his first full AHL season. His skating ability, even strength point production, and rapid development keep him as a player to keep an eye out for.
6. Yanni Gourde, LW, Syracuse Crunch
P/GP = 0.73
EV P/GP = 0.59
The Lightning took a gamble on Gourde, signing him to a two-year deal last March, and it has paid off thus far. At even strength, 69% of all goals scored when Gourde is on the ice are for the Crunch. The small forward is also 2nd on his team in points.
5. Alexander Khokhlachev, C, Providence Bruins
P/GP = 0.87
EV P/GP = 0.60
Khokhlachev is the chief playmaker on this list, with 0.43 even strength assists per game. While he’s known for his puck distribution, he leads this list with 2.9 shots per game. With this set of versatile skills, he was able to rattle off 9 goals and 14 points in 12 games in the Calder Cup playoffs last year.
4. Mark McNeill. C, Rockford IceHogs
P/GP = 0.88
EV P/GP = 0.60
The former 2011 first round pick finds himself near the top in even strength points per game in one of the deepest organizations. After knee injury in mid-November, he continues to be a vital part of why the IceHogs sit first in the Midwest Division. Watch out for him to be a likely candidate to be called up to the Blackhawks in the 2nd half of the season.
3. Emile Poirier, RW, Adirondack Flames
P/GP = 0.77
EV P/GP = 0.61
Poirier is our 2nd rookie to feature on this list. He’s a speedy winger with great hands that earned a spot in the 2015 All-Star Classic, despite missing the first month while recovering from a shoulder injury.
2. Jayson Megna, C, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
P/GP = 0.62
EV P/GP = 0.62
A big player in every sense of the word, Megna caught fire later in his career and hasn’t cooled down since. He’s got the most event strength goals per game played on this list with 0.42. Despite his high output for W-B/Scranton Penguins, he’s only tallied 1 assist in 12 games for the big club.
1. Charles Hudon, C, Hamilton Bulldogs
P/GP = 0.89
EV P/GP = 0.63
Not enough can be said about Hudon. He’s a smart two-way player that earned his way into the 2015 All-Star Classic. Despite questions about his small size, Hudon currently sits 5th in the league in points. Did I mention he’s only a rookie?
As with all hockey stats, context is king. We would ideally like to use Time On Ice per 60 minutes rather than Games Played for our rates, but until that information is available to us, this will have to do. Additionally, I decided to lump “even strength” to include 5-on-5, 4-on-4, and 3-on-3 situations, when 5-on-5 data may hold the most valuable information for future use.