The purpose of this exercise is to attempt to identify the top goal scoring prospects currently in the Dallas Stars system based on their goal totals away from the power play. The logic behind this is that powerplay ice time is no guarantee at the NHL level. We want to see which players have produced not on the power play given that these guys will predominantly be playing at man power situations other than the power play.
The most ideal way to do this is to look at goals per minute. Unfortunately ice time statistics are hard to come by in the minor leagues. So we're going to look at non-PP goals per game as an indication of goal scoring ability.
Gemel Smith, Colton Sceviour, Cole Ully, and Remi Elie lead the Stars prospects in total goals. We can't in good faith call Sceviour a prospect given than he turns 25 in less than a month, but his non-power play production is definitely impressive. Given how good he has looked in the NHL when given a chance this season he definitely appears to be a solid producer for the big club soon.
Let us gear our focus to the kids. Smith, Ully, and Elie have gotten press for their productive seasons. Smith and his 37 goals in have gotten the most play, but notice who leads the group in non-power play goals. The mildly ignored Nick Paul and Branden Troock. Paul has 22 in 67 games. Troock comes in with 19 in 58 games.
Should we overlook those two because of a lack of power play production? Certainly not, but we need more information to determine why the production isn't there. Given their even strength production they clearly have goal scoring ability though.
On the other hand it's much too early to throw Matej Stransky, Curtis McKenzie, or Brett Ritchie into the "limited offensive upside" pile. Those AHL players being at the bottom of the list is indicative of how much more difficult the AHL is compared to the CHL leagues. As these prospects matriculate up through the system it becomes increasingly difficult for them to separate themselves from their competition.
Stransky's season is definitely a big red flag, but it's too early to write him off. He does need to figure things out in the relatively near future or else the buzzards will begin to circle. The Stars need him to take a step forward in the 2015 season if he hopes to remain on the prospect map.
McKenzie is one player Stars fans need to be wary of when it comes to offensive expectations. A good portion of his production has come on the power play, but expecting him to see much NHL power play time is probably unrealistic. He has a skill set to suggest that he can be a valuable bottom six player which is certainly good, but how much offensive upside is there at even strength?
Valeri Nichushkin, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin are locked in for power play time long term. Alex Chiasson, Cody Eakin, and Sceviour have received time also. The Stars are likely to want to add at least one, and probably two, top six forwards as they develop into a championship caliber team. Power play time simply isn't going to be there on a large scale. So even strength play is going to be very important for this group of prospects.
The Stars have a handful of prospects who have been successful away from the power play, but it's very important to note that the production for the top six is in a spread of about .02 goals per game. None of the goal scorers really stand out for their production. The stable is full of solid offensive players, but this exercise should confirm what we already know. The system is deep, but expectations should be realistic. The star prospect is already in the NHL.