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Updated NHL Equivalencies Part 1: The European Based Prospects

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Today’s post will take a look at the NHL Equivalencies for the New Jersey Devils prospects that were based in Europe last season. It will feature the updated NHLe factors recently released by Emmanuel Perry of Corsica.

2017 NHL Draft - Portraits
Jesper Boqvist has produced well in the SHL when healthy which suggests he could very well have a bright future in the NHL.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

I’ve had an interest in NHL Equivalancies for quite some time now. I’ve written about it on this site a few years ago and it’s a stat that I’ve felt is necessary to include in my prospect updates. A quick reminder that NHL Equivalencies (NHLe) were developed by Gabriel Desjardins of Behind the Net to give us an idea of how a player outside of the NHL would perform in it based on his counting numbers (points). It’s also an interesting way to compare prospects across different leagues. Desjardins outlined his methods on assigning NHLe values to various professional and junior leagues in this post. While you still have to look at a lot more than just statistics to evaluate prospects, NHLe is a useful tool since prospects that tend to produce at the lower levels are much more likely to make it to the NHL. The formula for NHLe is as simple as ((Points/Games Played)*82)*League NHLe Value.

Recently, Emmanuel Perry of Corsica released his updated values on twitter as well as this site. Not only did he have updated numbers but he was able to include a lot of lesser known leagues in there. This is especially helpful for when it comes to tracking European prospects that aren’t always playing in a top division league. Today, I wanted to take a look at the New Jersey Devils European based prospects to see how they performed in 2017-18. I’ll do the North American based prospects the following week and include a comparison of all the prospects in the system. Let’s take a look at how these prospects performed.

Name Age (as of 2/1/18) Pos Team League GP G A Pts Pts/GP NHLe
Aarne Talvitie 18.99 C Blues U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga 44 34 25 59 1.34 10.62
Eetu Pakkila 18.35 LW Karpat Jr. A SM-Liiga 59 26 22 48 0.81 6.44
Fabian Zetterlund 18.45 RW Farjestads BK SHL 35 3 4 7 0.20 10.46
Fabian Zetterlund 18.45 RW Timra IK Allsvenskan 8 2 3 5 0.63 14.60
Fabian Zetterlund 18.45 RW Farjestads BK J20 SuperElit 5 5 1 6 1.20 10.99
Jesper Boqvist 19.27 C Brynas IF SHL 23 3 10 13 0.57 29.55
Jesper Boqvist 19.27 C Brynas IF J20 SuperElit 4 0 5 5 1.25 11.45
Mikhail Maltsev 19.91 C SKA St. Petersburg KHL 18 0 5 5 0.28 16.99
Mikhail Maltsev 19.91 C SKA-Neva St. Petersburg VHL 25 5 12 17 0.68 19.07
Mikhail Maltsev 19.91 C SKA-1946 St. Petersburg MHL 7 2 0 2 0.29 3.90
Nikita Popugaev 19.21 RW Prince George WHL 13 2 5 7 0.54 6.84
Nikita Popugaev 19.21 RW CSKA Moskva KHL 12 0 1 1 0.08 5.10
Nikita Popugaev 19.21 RW Zvezda Chekhov VHL 14 3 2 5 0.36 10.01
Nikita Popugaev 19.21 RW Krasnaya Armiya Moskva MHL 3 1 1 2 0.67 9.10
Yegor Sharangovich 19.67 C Dinamo Minsk KHL 47 4 8 12 0.26 15.62
Yegor Zaitsev 19.76 D Dynamo Moscow KHL 28 0 2 2 0.07 4.37
Yegor Zaitsev 19.76 D MHK Dynamo Moskva MHL 7 2 1 3 0.43 5.85

Finland

Aarne Talvitie’s strong final season in the Finnish junior circuit yielded him a 10.62 NHLe. That was the 3rd highest NHLe in the Jr. A SM-Liiga last season and puts him in the middle of the pack among the Devils European prospects. He’ll be off to Penn State for college hockey this fall and I look forward to seeing how adapts his game to the NCAA.

Eetu Pakkila is slightly younger than Talvitie and put up a 6.44 NHLe in Finland’s top junior league. That ranked 32nd among the players in the Jr. A SM-Liiga last season. I imagine he’ll spend the majority of the upcoming season in that league while maybe getting into a few games for Karpat’s senior team in the Liiga. He did manage to earn one appearance at the top level last year.

Sweden

Jesper Boqvist had the highest NHLe of any Devils European prospects with a 29.55 NHLe based on his injury shortened SHL season. The SHL being a top league tends to translate well to the NHL which is why his 13 points in 23 games are so valuable. Just for the sake of being complete, his 4 game stint in the SuperElit (Sweden’s top junior league) yielded a NHLe of 11.45. In terms of players under the age of 20 in the SHL, Boqvist’s NHLe ranked as the 4th best which is really encouraging. Based on the leagues that he’s played in the most since the age of 16, it is worth noting that his NHLe has steady climbed from 7.85 in J18 Elit play in 2014-15, to 13.98 in SuperElit play in 2015-16, to 14.75 in the Allsvenskan as an 18 year old in 2016-17, and now to 29.55 in 2017-18. He has one more year left on his contract with Brynas IF and seems poised to play an important role in their top 6 and PP. That also seems to be a great opportunity for him to further develop his skills. Hopefully he stays healthy and productive this upcoming season and can make the jump to the NHL in 2019-20.

Fabian Zetterlund also seems to stands out well with a NHLe of 10.46 based on his 35 SHL games, 14.60 based on a successful loan stint in the Allsvenskan (2nd tier), and 10.99 after 5 games in the SuperElit. That 10.46 NHLe put him as the 14th best under 20 player in the SHL (minimum 10+) appearances. Like Boqvist, Zetterlund’s NHLe has been trending up which is a welcome sign for a player likely to be more of a secondary scorer if he makes the NHL, with his role being that of a physical, two-way 3rd line winger. Zetterlund still has another year on his contract with Farjestads BK and I hope to see him earn a consistent middle 6 role with some PK duties.

For the sake of comparison, Jesper Bratt had a 11.17 NHLe as an 18 year old in the Allsvenskan in 2016-17. While Bratt is still an outlier when it comes to unheralded players breaking into the NHL at a young age, it’s nice to see that Boqvist and Zetterlund’s numbers are respectable when compared to Bratt’s. I would not be surprised to see either Boqvist or Zetterlund competing for a spot with the Devils at training camp or the following season. Though I think another season in Sweden could be beneficial to their development.

Russia and Belarus

All of the Russian prospects played across various leagues. Mikhail Maltsev had a 16.99 NHLe after appearing in 18 KHL games. His NHLe jumped up to 19.07 after 25 VHL (2nd tier) games where he spent the majority of his season. His very brief 7 game stint in the MHL (top junior league) led to a NHLe of 3.90. That 19.07 NHLe based on VHL play was the top mark among all players under the age of 20 in the VHL (minimum 10+ appearances). This upcoming season will be a big season for him as he really needs to earn a full time spot on the KHL roster despite SKA being a stacked team.

Nikita Popugaev had a chaotic season, appearing in 42 regular season games across 4 teams and leagues. He started out with a streaky 13 game stint with Prince George of the WHL before where he had a 6.84 NHLe. He ended up returning to Russia on a two-year, three-way contract and ended up spending time between the KHL, VHL, and MHL. In 12 KHL games he walked away with a 5.10 NHLe as he hardly saw the ice for CSKA. In 14 games in the VHL he put up a more respectable 10.01 NHLe which ranked 8th among under 20 VHL players (minimum 10+ games). His extremely brief 3 game stint in the MHL saw him earn a 9.10 NHLe. This past season was far from ideal for the power forward who has yet to scratch the surface of his potential. Hopefully 2018-19 brings him better fortunes as he looks to earn a spot on the CSKA roster.

Yegor Sharangovich had a productive year with Dinamo Minsk in KHL action, putting up a 15.62 NHLe after 47 games. That NHLe ranks 5th among players under the age of 20 in the KHL last season and would be 2nd best if you put a minimum cut off after 25 games played. Regardless, it was encouraging to see that he was a full time, productive player in a strong league like the KHL last season. Sharangovich really has been a late bloomer seeing his production jump from a NHLe of 6.96 in the Belarus 2nd Division in 2014-15, to 5.46 in MHL action in 2015-16, then to 13.94 in the Belarus top flight in 2016-17, before reaching his 15.62 NHLe last season in the KHL. It seems he’s likely to make the move to North America this offseason and perhaps end up in Binghamton to get acclimated. He seems like he could be a bit of wildcard sort of prospect.

Yegor Zaitsev isn’t known for his offensive game as a defense first defender. Hence why NHLe doesn’t love him with just a 4.87 mark after 28 KHL games for Dynamo Moscow. He was a bit more productive in juniors with a 5.85 NHLe after 7 games in the MHL. While scoring at levels below the NHL, even for defensemen, can be an indicator of future success, I’d still be more curious to see what Zaitsev does on the ice to prevent the opposition from scoring.

Your Take

How do you feel about NHL equivalencies? Is this a statistic that interests you? Are there any prospects that surprised you with their NHLE’s? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading