Predicting the career path of young players is always a difficult thing to do. All sorts of things, ranging from team need to linemates to coaching preference to injury – especially injury – can wreak havoc with a career.

That said, one of the more interesting ways to get an idea of where a young player is going is by looking for other players who have had a similar start to their careers. At the very least, it helps give a reasonable idea of what these players might turn into. I stumbled on to the idea courtesy of Lowetide, who has been doing these for a few years, and I think he borrowed the idea from baseball.

To start with, I’ve decided to try and find players whose early careers bear similarities to Montreal Canadiens’ forward Andrei Kostitsyn. I’ve been aided in doing so by the incredibly powerful search tool at hockey-reference.com, which helped me establish a list of names to whittle down.

To begin with, here’s Kostitsyn’s profile:

  • Andrei Kostitsyn
  • 6’ – 205lbs – 1st round pick
  • 22: 82GP – 27G – 28A – 55PTS
  • 23: 82GP – 25G – 20A – 45PTS

I’ve looked back over the past decade to find players who have had similar seasons to Kostitsyn at age 22 and 23. I’ve further narrowed things down by only looking at players in the same ballpark size-wise as Kostitsyn. I’ve arranged them in the order I think best matches our subject; feel free to bring up other comparables or to suggest a different order in the comments section below. The comparables are as follow:

  • J.P. Dumont
  • 6’2” – 200lbs – 1st round pick
  • 22: 82GP – 24G – 29A – 53PTS
  • 23: 82GP – 25G – 23A – 48PTS
  • Jussi Jokinen
  • 5’11” – 183lbs – 6th round pick
  • 22: 82GP – 17G – 38A – 55PTS
  • 23: 82GP – 14G – 34A – 48PTS
  • David Legwand
  • 6’2” 189lbs, 1st round pick
  • 22: 82GP – 22G – 40A – 62PTS
  • 23: 82GP – 18G – 29A – 47PTS
  • Scott Gomez
  • 5’11” – 200lbs – 1st round pick
  • 22: 82GP – 11G – 41A – 52PTS
  • 23: 82GP – 13G – 43A – 56PTS

J.P. Dumont, currently of the Nashville Predators, is the guy from the past ten years who most closely resembles Kostitsyn between the age of 22-23. Like Kostitsyn, he was a high pick, mostly a goal-scorer, and a 50-ish point guy during the start of his career. Both players emerged as NHL regulars at age 22; prior to that, both had shown flashes in NHL call-ups and had put up points in the top minor leagues.

The other players match up less well; Jokinen was never as highly regarded at a young age as Kostitsyn, while Legwand and Gomez both put up more assists and fewer goals. That said, I think we can see a fairly clear range for career potential here.

I have a pair of questions for Habs fans (and everyone else):

  1. Does Dumont seem like a reasonable comparison?
  2. If Kostitsyn went on to have Dumont’s career, would that be a disappointment, satisfactory, or better than expected?

Also, please let me know if you like or dislike this idea; if it’s popular I’ll probably continue and make this a series. Also, feel free to suggest other players for this sort of evaluation (preferably forwards, since the stats don’t track so well for defencemen).

Comments (10)

  1. I like this idea.

  2. I like the idea, you could probably narrow it down to position or base wingers off of other wingers.
    All players are different so I don’t think you could use previous stats to project a player as linemates and team playing style come into effect.
    Than there’s the whole playing era debate. JP starting at the height of the NHL’s trap system and AK coming in with the new rules change letting players play more freely.

    To answer your questions:
    1 – If we apply your stats and if JP’s head was an elbow magnet as well, than yes.

    2 – This is Montreal, he will be a disappointment if he doesn’t reach the 30 goal plateau. With AK and the Habs fans, the argument will always be “look who was drafted after him” Carter, Brown, Seabrook, Parise, Getzlaf, Kesler, Richards, Perry, Bergeron. ’03 was a ridiculously good draft. The ’96 draft well was so shallow that the bucket broke as it plunged in for a second helping.
    We’ve all seen a couple games where AK46 hasn’t come off an injury and has his confidence, in those rare occasions, he’s a scary player to behold that JP never possessed that sort of game control. As I said though, a couple of games :(

  3. Love the idea… keep ‘em coming. We’re big on this as its a great tool for fantasy GMs to know what kind of potential the young prospects have.

    How bout going back a little further and looking at stats from Junior/NCAA/Euro/Minors to help with the comparison?

    One guy I’d be interested to see what you come up with is Brandon Dubinsky as his Jr & AHL numbers don’t indicate he’ll be a big scorer but he seems to be exceeding expectations in the NHL… is it due to his linemates or is he a legitimate #1C?

  4. I like this idea. As far as Dumont goes, I think habs fans would be lucky to have a similar player. I think he is greatly under rated due to the market he plays in, and would be a annual all star if he played for the leafs/habs. Unfortinitly the one thing this dosnt reflect is attitude, which may be both of the kostitsyn brothers downfalls.

  5. Great idea!!!

    But as Sawyer wrote, Kostitsyn was a 10th rounder and only had 1 season wich we saw the sparks of the player he should be. If we look at who was miss during this drafted, the Habs didnt fair to well as I would prefer seing any guys mentioned rather then AK 46. He is a really good player, with great hans an a terrific shot…the only problems is, he plays 1 game out of 4-5.

    When you look into his stats, it seems pretty good, but most of those points came in the same game. He had a lot of multiple points game (2-3 points/game) So his 48 Points where done in probably 20-25 games. The rest of the times, he was closely looking like a ghost on the ice…

    Attitude is a big problem in his case, as it is for his youger sibling Sergei.

    But if he wants, he could be one of the Habs most dangerous player……IF he wants.

  6. You’ve come up with a good system; lots of work, but it can give good data for comparing players reasonably well. Glad I read the posts cuz I was going to say that there is no way,unfortunately, to consider certain mental traits,like one’s attitude. Josh B beat me to it- but it’s still true. No matter, you’ve found a good tool. Nice job.

  7. Josh/Jayare:

    Yeah, obviously this isn’t going to be a perfect system, but hopefully it gives us an idea of where a player *should* fall in.

    I’m glad to see this was popular; I’ll do more of it in the future.

  8. Not sure how you guys are about posting links, but I made some in depth player threads that might be of some interest

    AK46 – 07/08 & 08/09 seasons – primary & secondary scoring, how he scored (wrist shot, tip in, slap shot, etc), how the team did when he scored
    http://hfbroads.com/showthread.php?t=13157

    BGL – 08/09 season – Fighting record, impact on game that fight had, who scored when after his fight,
    http://hfbroads.com/showthread.php?t=13225

    Carey Price – 08/09 season – stats vs playoff & non-playoff teams, stats prior & after injury, stats for games with over 40 or 30 shots on net
    http://hfbroads.com/showthread.php?t=13265

  9. Sawyer:

    If they’re on-topic, no problem at all.

  10. Check out the same sort of idea here:
    http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10

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