CHART: Recent Scoring Leaders – Canadian Junior Leagues

Can you identify these players?

Below is a compilation of regular season scoring leaders from the last several years of the three Canadian Major Junior Leagues. The first player from each year is the points leader; if there is a second player, it is the goal scoring leader or player tied for the point scoring lead. If there isn’t- the points leader was also the leader in goals.

Legend:

Row Colors:
Blue = Graduated to NHL
Green = Still in development
Orange = Past average NHL ready age; not a definite bust
Red = NHL bust

Purple Text = Los Angeles Kings property

Notes:

The two biggest trends to take away from this information are fairly obvious, but here they are anyway:

  1. Players who produce at a younger age are always drafted high, and are usually successful in the NHL.
  2. Players who are larger are far more likely to have an opportunity in the NHL.

Regarding a player’s size, I’m still not sure if this is fair or not. Oscar Moller was a terrific example of size discrimination in the NHL. He was always regarded as highly talented by fellow players and most scouts, and the Kings obviously liked him, but were always hesitant to dress him for being smaller in stature. Obviously now, it’d be near impossible to say the Kings made the wrong decision on Oscar, but I still contend that he wasn’t given a fair shake.

My biggest problem with this is that when a team drafts a player at age 18, they shouldn’t reasonably expect him to grow much more, so if they’re never going to dress a player because of his size, then why draft him at all? This thinking is clearly the reason why the smaller players, though talented, often don’t get drafted.

Other notes:

  • The OHL seems to be the best indicator for NHL success.
  • This bodes very well for Tyler Toffoli.
  • Should we be concerned that Toffoli’s production dropped slightly from 10-11 to 11-12? Though it was marginal, players seem to develop exponentially from 18 to 19, and every year for the next few. The hope then, due to Toffoli maturing and the league average age staying roughly the same, would have been for Toffoli to score another 20 points or so in 2011-12. But the trend of the league over the least year fews seems to be that of forward numbers decreasing a bit overall.
  • Tanner Pearson appears to be quite the steal at pick #30 in 2012 as the third overall point scorer in the OHL last season.
  • Lest we not forget about the Kings ownership of prominent WHL scorers in the smallish Linden Vey, Jordan Weal, and the small Brandon Kozun. Except:
  • Emerson Etem. Etem was the Long Beach-raised prospect who the Kings passed over in 2011 for Derek Forbort, who’d better turn into a top 4 defenseman, because Etem posted the highest Goals Per Game in the W in over 10 years (since Mike Comrie in 2000-2001). 
  • If it isn’t painfully clear that offensive ability in Juniors doesn’t always translate to the NHL, Brad Richardson put up 97 points in 2004-05 in the OHL.
  • He’s not the only example, just the most familiar. Rob Schremp lit the OHL on fire with the same amount of points as Patrick Kane the year after. Both are about the same size. One has a Stanley Cup winning goal, the other, a roster spot in Sweden (Schremp was 19, however).
  • Watch out for Sean Couturier. Maybe not this season, but he is due to break out soon. He was terrific against the Penguins in the first round of this year’s playoffs, playing important minutes and came up quite large.
  • Don’t forget about Jeff Skinner. Scoring 50 in the O at age 17 is no small feat.
  • I still have high hopes for Linden Vey, who spent last season in Manchester and finished third on the team in points. He did score 6 points in 4 playoff games, however. 
  • Justin Azevedo led the Monarchs last year, but at 5’7″, will likely never see the light of day in the NHL. Expect him to follow in Moller and Holloway’s footsteps and head to Europe sometime soon.
  • I hope same isn’t true for Brandon Kozun, but at 5’8″, nothing else seems likely.

That all said, again, I like Tyler Toffoli’s chances of success in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. The biggest question is, “When?”

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