The Projection Project is a new site that just went live a couple of days ago, and has become one of my favorite hockey-related websites in that short span of time. It's got a handy number of tools on it that let you either project or compare prospects, and with that in mind, I took a look at some prospects the Florida Panthers have in their system. Please keep in mind these are projections, and not clear cut analyses of these young and still developing players. I also excluded players who are already in the NHL.
Thoughts: The model seems to be really high on Corban Knight, as he has put up solid numbers in the AHL the past two seasons. I personally would take Grimaldi or Rau over Knight, but Knight might be the more NHL-ready player headed into next season. Also, the reason why Rau has so many comparables is because he had zero if I matched his stats by year, so I had to look at his cumulatively. I ran into this issue for a number of players, so if they have an abnormally large amount of comparables, just know that the number is correct, and not a glitch.
Thoughts: The model is really not a fan of Juho Lammikko, who I would probably put ahead of Wegwerth and Fidler. It is a big fan of Wilson and Clapperton, however, which is interesting because both of those players haven't exactly wowed with their numbers. In the case of Wilson, it does project him as bottom line player, which makes sense, but in the case of Clapperton, his projections are a little all over the place. If he does have the potential to be on a first or second line, then maybe some more attention should be paid to the diminutive forward from the Q?
Hawryluk isn't a bad pick up either, though Howden is starting to look like a bust. If I had to choose between him or Wilson in a call up next season, I'm giving Wilson a look before I give Howden one.
Thoughts: Not much surprise here. Matheson is the team's top prospect, followed by McCoshen, Downing, and Weegar. McCoshen hasn't seemed to improve at Boston College, which is probably why the model doesn't have his chances up as high as Matheson's, but he's still a good prospect. Weegar put up some great junior numbers, which explains why the model likes him, but he had a disappointing first professional season and if he doesn't rebound next year his NHL window really starts to close. Downing is really starting to emerge as a solid prospect, and he could end up being a steal in the fourth round. I figured Racine's chances would be higher, but he hasn't put up big numbers in the leagues he's played in, even if his defense has been solid. Brown looks to be a gamble, but he does have that size going for him.
So, overall, the Projection Project model has Corban Knight as the most likely player in the system to make it to the NHL, even though he may not have the highest ceiling. After him comes Rocco Grimaldi, Garrett Wilson, and Mike Matheson.
In a way, this comes down to which prospect is the most NHL-ready, as NHL-ready prospects have really high chances of making the jump, and soon. So I can accept the assessment of Knight being the team's most ready prospect, though I personally think Grimaldi is a guy who should be able to play in the NHL next season, and be better at it than Knight.
How about you? Who do you think is the team's most ready prospect? Let us know in the poll, or in the comments below!