At the beginning of the season, we used Gabe Desjardins' AHL Equivalencies to predict how the Phantoms' rookies could be expected to perform. We did this in the preseason, at the quarter point, and at the halfway point. Here, we wrap it up all nice and neat.
Things didn't go so well for the AHL Equivalencies at the halfway point, and things are still not looking so great at the end of the season. There is a very good explanation for this, and there is a pleasant surprise in there as well, so jump to find out how the Phantoms' rookies did in their first professional season.
First, some notes on the actual projection system. Trying to separate out goals and assists are quite difficult. For example, Mike Testwuide was projected to score over twice as many goals as assists, but this was mostly due to him receiving 68% of his points last year through goals. Same with Andrew Rowe.
With that said, the point totals don't even match up too nicely. The closest projection was Mike Testwuide's, followed by Eric Wellwood and Zac Rinaldo. The biggest busts were Shane Harper and Luke Pither, and only Testwuide's output was within 15% of his projection.
The good news is that Mike Testwuide's second half propelled him from missing his projection to exceeding it. Ben Holmstrom also had a good second half, going from 5 points more than projected to 13 points more.
If one is looking for an explanation for why so many of the projections were off, let's sort the table by the percentage each player fell short of their projections:
It is a bit confusing at first, but remember the percentage is given in terms of how far short they fell of their projection. So while Testwuide, Gustafsson, and Holmstrom have negatives here, it means they beat their projections by that amount.
What jumps out at you? The five biggest outliers were all undrafted free agents. Luke Pither spent most of the year on the Phantoms' fourth line, getting very little ice time. Andrew Rowe was eventually sent to the ECHL where he could gain some confidence. Lastly, Shane Harper only played 20 AHL games, but in the ECHL, he scored 45 points in 48 games. And in the playoffs, he has 7 points in 7 games. What does that tell you? Signing undrafted free agents is risky, and you never know what you're going to get.
Yes, Eric, I use conclusions in my stories too. What this shows us is that projecting how undrafted free agents will translate to the AHL is extremely difficult. Even when Shane Harper proves himself to be capable of scoring a point per game in the ECHL, he only gets 20 games in the AHL. Luke Pither got the Nikolay Zherdev treatment this year, though his may have been slightly more deserved.
For next year, it will be interesting to see if any of these trends continue. As of now, the Phantoms are looking at having 4 rookie forwards and 2 rookie defensemen, but Dave Labrecque should join them as well. Hopefully Shane Harper and Luke Pither are given more opportunities to show they belong in the AHL.