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Is Ryan Kujawinski Poised For Breakout Season in 2014-15?

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Ryan Kujawinski isn't necessarily a name that many Devils fans think about when they look towards the future of the organization. This post will take a look at how he performed last season and why he may just be a potential breakout candidate for the upcoming OHL season.

New Jersey Devils prospect Ryan Kujawinski #17 of the Kingston Frontenacs celebrates his third period goal against the Ottawa 67's with teammates.
New Jersey Devils prospect Ryan Kujawinski #17 of the Kingston Frontenacs celebrates his third period goal against the Ottawa 67's with teammates.
Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

Background

Ryan Kujawinski of the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) was the Devils 3rd round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Devils acquired the pick by trading the 39th overall pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for the 42nd (Steven Santini) and 73rd pick. The 6'2, 207 lbs, center had an up and down year as he was productive when healthy but missed over 20 games due to hand and knee injuries. Here are his statistics from Elite Prospects to further give a look into his background.

2013-14 Season

His basic and more in-depth statistics from his OHL page and Extra Skater:

Age GP G A Pts +/- PIM
18 45 23 18 41 3 39

eTOI/60 P/60 EVG EVA EV Pts EV P/60 PPG PPA PP Pts SHG SHA SH Pts GShr% AShr% PShr%
15.9 3.4 14 11 25 3.2 8 5 13 0 1 1 42.4 57.9 75.8

Scoring at nearly a point-per-game clip as an 18 year old in the OHL is both admirable and expected from a legitimate NHL prospect. When using Extra Skater's 18 and younger filter (min. 34+ GP) we can see that he stacked up well against his peer group. Amongst the 186 OHL players in their year 18 or younger season, Kujawinski ranked tied for 27th in Pts/GP, 27th in EV Pts/GP, tied for 9th in P/60, 9th in EV P/60, and 33rd in PShr%.

I decided to use a tiered system that Karen and Tom used in the past when evaluating Reid Boucher's OHL scoring on Kujawinski. The 5 tiers are comprised of the 20 OHL teams. I did not split them up into even groups of 4 due to some teams having closer point totals and I wanted to prevent them from being in separate tiers. For the 2013-14 season, the tiers are:

Team Tier Pts Team Tier Pts
Guelph 1 108 Saginaw 3 71
Erie 1 106 Peterborough 3 70
London 1 103 Owen Sound 3 70
Sault Ste. Marie 1 95 Plymouth 3 63
Oshawa 2 90 Niagara 4 57
Kingston 2 84 Mississauga 4 54
North Bay 2 82 Belleville 4 53
Barrie 2 77 Ottawa 4 52
Sudbury 2 77 Kitchener 5 49
Windsor 2 77 Sarnia 5 41

Here is how his scoring broke down by tier:

Tier GP G A Pts Pts/GP
1 7 0 5 5 0.71
2 10 6 3 9 0.90
3 6 3 2 5 0.83
4 20 14 7 21 1.05
5 2 0 1 1 0.50

Small sample size due to the injuries but it was nice to see that his scoring was spread out. Kujawinski took advantage of the teams in tier 4 but still posted a solid Pts/GP clip amongst the higher tiers which suggests that he isn't just taking advantage of the bottom feeders in the league.

Below is his 1st half/2nd half split:

GP G A Pts Pts/GP
1st 22 10 8 18 0.82
2nd 23 13 10 23 1.00

Admittedly, cutting his short 45 game season into a 22/23 split is a bit arbitrary but it is nice to see that his production was great in both halves and that he contributed despite having to overcome some injuries in the 2nd half of the season. Kujawinski spent a lot of time centering Henri Ikonen (6/154 '13 TBL) and Spencer Watson (7/209 '14 LAK) in the 2nd half of the season after he returned from injury and seemed to be a catalyst for the offense as his coach, Todd Gill, had some words of praise for him.

"He has been flying. He was the best player on the ice by a country mile. Battling on the boards, using his speed, using his shot, using his passing ability. When he is playing like that he is fun to watch.''

I really like reading that he battles on the boards as that is important in the Devils system and the NHL game in general. Combining that with his speed and skill makes him a very intriguing prospect. This and the tiered system suggests that he not only has the skills but is productive when healthy.

OHL Career

Kujawinski's late March birthday means that next season will be his age 19 year. As you can see from the table below he has improved every single season and looks on track to score at more than a point-per-game clip next year.

Season Age Team GP G A Pts Pts/GP
2011-12 16 Sarnia/Kingston 59 16 20 36 0.61
2012-13 17 Kingston 66 17 31 48 0.73
2013-14 18 Kingston 45 23 18 41 0.91
Total 170 56 69 125 0.82

I also thought it would be interesting to compare Kujawinski's Pts/GP output to current Devils and former OHL standouts, Reid Boucher and Adam Henrique. We will start off with Henrique since Boucher didn't play in the OHL until his age 18 year. At the age of 16, Kujawinski posted a 0.61 Pts/GP rate in 59 games while Henrique out performed him with a 0.71 clip in 62 games. In their respective age 17 seasons, Kujawinski put up a 0.73 Pts/GP rate in 66 games while Henrique put up a 0.67 Pts/GP rate in 66 games. In their age 18 seasons, Kujawinski produced a 0.91 Pts/GP rate in 45 games while Henrique put up an impressive 1.13 Pts/GP rate in 56 games and Boucher put up a 0.75 Pts/GP rate in 67 games. In their respective age 19 seasons, Henrique put up a strong 1.43 Pts/GP clip in 54 games while Boucher broke out with a 1.40 Pts/GP rate in 68 games. I don't think it would be fair to expect Kujawinski to put up a Pts/GP rate around 1.40 next year in his age 19 season but he should certainly be well over the 1.00 mark.

Some Video

There isn't a lot of video out there on Kujawinski but here is a highlight video that was published in November of 2012. In it you can see him (#17) showcasing his skills.

Your Take

What do you think of Ryan Kujawinski as a prospect and his potential? Do you think he will have a breakout season next year and move on to Albany the following year? Are you confident that he will become a regular NHL player down the road or do you think he'll be one of the many solid junior players not to make it at the NHL level? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading.