Now that it looks like Mikael Backlund has a pretty good shot to make the team out of training camp and perhaps get some meaningful minutes; it's time to look at recent comparables and how they fared in their 21 year old NHL year.
While not a complicated analysis (sorry RO I'm a simple guy), the point of comparing Backlund to recent peers is to give a broad sense of whether he is on the road to success, or he is another prospect that might be fizzling out.
Backlund was drafted 24th overall in 2007, so we have been hearing about him for over 3 years now. One year in Sweden, a year split between Sweden and the Kelowna Rockets, and last year as a rookie pro split between Abbotsford and 23 games in Calgary. Backlund is 21 years old and will be that age for most of this season with a March birthday.
Looking back at the previous 5 NHL drafts 2002-2006, there were 11 centres drafted between positions 20 and 26. The good news is they have all played in the NHL. They range from the very successful, such as Mike Richards, Travis Zajac and Ryan Kesler, and the very unsuccessful (so far) Rob Schremp and Brian Boyle. 7 of the 11 players are still with the team that drafted them, While each player would have had a different situation in his 21 year old season, averaging the 11 season should even out the data for a bird's eye view of progress.
The highest point total accumulated by these players in their 21 year old year is 47 put up by Claude Giroux last year in Philadelphia. The worst are the goose eggs put up by the aforementioned messrs Boyle and Schremp. Averaging the group gets us 10 goals and 16 assists. What is interesting to note that the player that looks to be the best of the lot at this point, Mike Richards, was very close to this group average in his 21 year old season.
|Draft year||Draft pos||Goals||Assists|
So the questions would be:
Is a 10 goal 25 point season by Backlund a success ?
If he performs better than average - does that project to potential all star ?
If he achieves less than the average - is it time to give up and move on ?