Leading up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had solidified his name at the top of the draft rankings and is favored to go first overall in all predictions. After that it was anyone’s guess as to where everyone else would land when teams stepped to the podium to announce their selection. Nugent-Hopkins was selected first by the Edmonton Oilers, Gabriel Landeskog second by the Colorado Avalanche and then Jonathan Huberdeau by the Florida Panthers.
Huberdeau had climbed the draft rankings in his second season with the Saint John Sea Dogs, thanks in part to winning the Memorial Cup and being named tournament MVP. Not only did Huberdeau help his team to the championship in the playoffs, he also put up great numbers in the regular season (43G 62A 105P) in just his second season in the QMJHL.
Gabriel Desjardins has designed a formula in finding league equivalencies when transitioning from juniors (OHL, WHL, QMJHL) as well as select European leagues, to the NHL. I used this formula along with each players career junior numbers in determining what they should have, or will record when moving to the NHL.
In order to find the league equivalency for the number of goals a player could score in the NHL, you would take their goals per game average and multiply that by the number listed on the chart under the players respective league. In Huberdeau’s case with the QMJHL the number is .28, you would then multiply that answer by 82 (the number of games in a full NHL season) to get the projected number of goals he would score. Keep in mind that things such as luck do not factor into the equation, such as pucks deflecting off the player’s back, or a goaltender scoring on himself after making an initial save on the player (these things happen afterall).
I took the average goals and assists per game from each player and used the chart to find their projected statistics, then compared them to actual statistics. Since Huberdeau hasn’t played in the NHL yet, but is scheduled to play this upcoming season we won’t know the outcome until that happens.
However, according to the statistics with the formula Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was projected to score 10 goals and 21 assists in his rookie year. Actual numbers came out to 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points, obviously as stated above “luck” factors into the final outcome. Landeskog’s predictions were lower, putting him at 15 goals and 11 assists in his first year. The outcome would have him finish with 22 goals and 30 assists on the year, in which he won the Calder Memorial trophy as top rookie.
Huberdeau’s projected statistics have him coming in just under Nugent-Hopkins (31 points projected) with 29 points. The formula has Huberdeau finishing his rookie season with 12 goals and 17 assists, factor in luck and linemates and he could score 20+ goals and 30+ assists.
Obviously this is all hypothetical, but the formula has been known to work with many other NHLers in the past. There’s a lot that could factor into Huberdeau’s success however, such who he plays with. Currently he’s expected to start on the second line next to Peter Mueller. If Mueller manages to stay healthy the two could make for a deadly combination for goaltenders to face. Also keep in mind that in preseason last year Huberdeau lead all Panther skaters in goals and power play goals, which could continue into his rookie season.
Huberdeau also averaged nearly two points per game last year with Saint John, his skills are improving on the ice and having another season to condition himself could help tremendously. This article is not meant to take away from the accomplishments Nugent-Hopkins or Landeskog have achieved this past season, it’s only a prediction for Huberdeau’s output in his rookie season. There may not even be an NHL season, which could see Huberdeau in the AHL, as I wrote in a previous article; where he could mature nicely leading into his first professional season in the NHL.