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Impact of the minors

04/29/2009 9:22 AM - Chris Etheridge
I walked into the MetroCentre yesterday morning with assistant coach Ted Dent. At some point the conversation turned to Pat Foley’s comments during the Blackhawks’ game on Saturday about the job that former Chicago Blackhawk and current Quad City coach Ryan McGill is doing developing prospects for the Flames. The Rockford IceHogs also got a nice mention, as did Chicago assistant coach and former Rockford IceHogs bench boss Mike Haviland, who was himself “developed” through the Chicago Blackhawks system.
Out of curiosity, I ran some numbers yesterday to see how many players came up through the system and what kind of impact they have on their teams.
I started off by defining any player who was drafted by the team they are now playing for, signed a minor league deal before making his NHL debut with an affiliate, or was drafted by another team but traded before making his NHL debut as a “system” player.
Here’s what I mean:
Kris Versteeg was drafted by the Boston Bruins but traded to the Chicago organization before making his NHL debut. He’s a Chicago "system" player.
Warren Peters was not drafted by any team but was “discovered” in the ECHL by the Flames organization and made his NHL debut with Calgary this year. He’s a Calgary system player.
So with that explainer, here’s what I came up with (using the 2009 Stanley Cup playoff roster and not including injured players or those who have not played yet in the postseason):
  • Calgary: 10 system players (seven developed from draft picks, one undrafted, two straight from juniors to the pros)
  • Chicago: 12 system players (nine developed from draft picks, one through a minor league trade, two straight from juniors to the pros)
  • Vancouver: 10 system players (eight developed from draft picks, two minor league free agents who were developed in the system)
  • St. Louis: 10 system players (nine developed from draft picks, one through a minor league trade)
  • Detroit: 14 system players (five drafted from overseas leagues but never played in the AHL, seven developed from draft picks, one minor league free agent who developed in the system, one who developed in the system and returned to the team after going through free agency for several seasons)
  • Anaheim: 8 system players (seven developed from draft picks, one drafted from an overseas league but never played in the AHL)
That’s only six teams, but it kind of gave me an idea of what kind of impact the minor league system can have. This little study does not take into account the impact of developing a player and then trading him or the cost of developing a player compared to signing a free agent, but it does show how having a robust minor league system can help make a strong NHL team.
One more note of interest: The seven Calgary position players that came up through the system (not counting the two who came straight from juniors and one goalie) combined for 91 points in 2008-09. The nine Chicago skaters that met those same criteria combined for 243 points in 2008-09.


So Long Quad City

04/28/2009 2:02 PM - Mike Peck

The league made it official on Tuesday at the AHL’s Board of Governors' Meeting that the Quad City Flames will be no longer. The Quad City franchise will be relocated to Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Abbotsford is located adjacent Vancouver. Also announced by the league were teams in Austin, Texas and the relocation of the Philadelphia Phantoms to Adirondack.

So this brings up the question of division alignment for the 2009-10 campaign.

If the league sticks with a four-division format for next year, my guess would be that Austin would be added to the West and Abbotsford to the North Division.  This would mean both divisions in the Western Conference would have eight teams and both Eastern Conference Divisions would feature seven teams.

The Adirondack team will more than likely remain in the East Division, which Philadelphia played in.

With 30 teams, this also means that the AHL will have full active membership in ’09-10 which is pretty impressive considering the economic times.