Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Michigan: The NHL's Farm Team

Michigan is the best at putting guys into the NHL and it's really not close.
compiled a list of every ex-NCAA player to play in the NHL this season. There are 279 former college hockey players who played at least one game in the NHL this season. Nearly 10% of those went to the University of Michigan.

The Wolverines led all schools with 25 guys in the NHL. The next highest? Boston College, North Dakota, and Wisconsin with 16 each. That's a rather sizable gap. FYS has 15 and Minnesota has 14. I don't see the list online, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Additionally, there are 197 guys who played college hockey this year whose rights are held by an NHL team. 13 of those are Wolverines. (That doesn't count Travis Turnbull who signed with the Sabres despite being undrafted.)

With Montoya up in the NHL now, you could officially make an entire team using former Wolverines:

Andy Hilbert
Andrew Ebbett
Jed Ortmeyer
Mike Cammalleri
Mike Comrie
Andrew Cogliano
Mike Knuble
Brendan Morrison
Max Pacioretty
Kevin Porter
David Moss
Eric Nystrom
TJ Hensick
Jeff Tambellini
John Madden
Mike Brown
Dwight Helminen

Mike Komisarek
Mike Van Ryn
Matt Hunwick
Jack Johnson
Aaron Ward
Kevin Quick

Marty Turco
Al Montoya

Not a bad roster.

So let that be a lesson to you young'uns out there. If you want to play in the NHL, come to Michigan :-)


Brent said...

That site is based in Minnesota, right? They must've heard that you linked to them with this information and buried it, because the only thing I could find similar to it was a listing of "state of hockey players" currently playing pro hockey anywhere on Earth.

I'd love to see that list of M players...I have to put up with a Goopher fan who gives me that "State of Hockey" crap all the time and keeps beating me over the head with ghost of Herb Brooks anytime we talk college pucks.

Donald Dunlop said...

The guy that did all the footwork/numbers at emailed his article to lots of bloggers and the full text is available at their website.

Nate F said...

Quantity may come from Michigan, but the quality lacks compared to UND.

UND's list:
Forwards: Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford, TJ Oshie, Jason Blake, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Bayda, Landon Wilson, Brandon Bochenski, Chris Porter
Defense: Matt Greene, Mike Commodore David Hale, Brian Lee, Matt Smaby

UND's former skaters have played an average of about 4 more games per person, scored 2.5 more goals, about 6 more assists, and are about 7 better on plus/minus compared to the former Wolverines you listed. Also, UND boasts the better player of the two teams in Parise, and an argument could be made that Toews is better than Cammalleri too.

I would put my money on UND's team to beat the Michigan squad, even with pulling in an AHL or ECHL goalie and AHL guys to fill out the roster.

I think the lesson to the young'uns should be that if you want to play in the NHL, go to Michigan...if you want to be a good NHL player, go to UND ;)

Packer487 said...

Brent, they were good enough to email me the link, so I've added a new post with the link to the PDF.

Nate: This could be a fun discussion! :-)

First off, there's no way in hell a UND team with an AHL/ECHL goalie knocks off a Michigan-alumni team with Turco in net. I know Marty had a rough season, but you're not throwing a guy from the Coast in there against a team with 4 lines of NHL forwards and having any kind of success.

Turco faces guys like Zajac and Oshie all the time. Even though Tambellini has had no success in the pros, he's still 10x better than anyone Lamoureux is seeing in the ECHL.

In terms of star power at forward, UND does have the edge (though Minnesota probably beats out both of us in that regard) with God/Toews to Cammalleri.

But Michigan has a pretty big edge on the blueline (with a stud defenseman in Komisarek alone) and in net.

Two stud forwards aren't going to be enough to beat a hypothetical team with a well-rounded roster and an NHL goalie in net. Especially after Komisarek breaks Parise in half and then eats Toews.

If you wanted to make the case that if Belfour was still around you'd have the edge, I might buy that. Maybe. But I think our "team" has enough scoring to counter God/Toews, plus a better defense corps (not insignificantly either) and a better goalie. Without Belfour in net, Toews and Parise would have to put up 10 to have any shot to win the match, because Lamoureux or Goehring would get lit like a Christmas tree.

Nate F said...

*I tried to make this comment last night, but it hasn't shown up, so forgive me for the double post if it does.*

Packer, a fun exercise, I agree.

No way in hell? I respectfully disagree. You say Michigan has a "pretty big advantage" on defense, due largely to the presence of Komisarek. Well, Matt Greene has put up numbers nearly as good as Komisarek has, and he's been able to stay healthy all year, so I don't think there's a sizable advantage there. As far as the rest of the Michigan D being better as well, I'm not buying it. Commodore matches up well with any of the others, and for the rest, I call it a toss up.

I do think a sizable advantage has to go to UND in their forwards. UND would roll out two very good scoring lines, whereas I can only see one decent scoring line for Michigan. UND's forwards seem to be much better defensively too. I realize the +/- is a flawed statistic, but UM's NHLers have a total of -61, while UND sports a +94.

In net is the only real separation between the two teams, with UM having the benefit of an All-Star caliber goalie. That said, I don't think UND would have to put up 10 goals just to stay in the game because of an AHL netminder (and Lammy is an AHL caliber goalie, he's trapped in a deep St. Louis system and would probably be up with the AHL club with any other team.) That would mean their save pct would likely drop from an AHL avg of around 90% to something like 60%. Unrealistic.

Here are some lines I put together for our two "teams", using AHL players (*) where needed. 3 lines, F and D, for each team, plus 2 extra skaters, and two goalies.

Parise, Zajac, Stafford
Blake, Toews, Oshie
Bayda, Johnson, Wilson
Extra: Porter, Bochenski
Lee, Greene
Hale, Commodore
Chorney*, Smaby
Goehring, Lamoureux

Moss, Cammalleri, Knuble
Cogliano, Morrison, Ebbett
Nystrom, Madden, Brown
Extra: Comrie, Hilbert
JMFJ, Komisarek
Hunwick, Van Ryn
Quick, Ward
Turco, Montoya

These teams look even to me overall, with the slight overall edge going to the Wolverines simply because of the goalies.


Brad said...

Looks good, except I would sub Hobey winner Kevin Porter for Mike Brown. He played part-time for the Coyotes and looked good.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest, most of these guys would make the NHL no matter where they went to college. It may make for a nice chest beating moment for a fan but the reality is these talented prospects could pick many other programs and still do just as well for an NHL career. The simple fact is the top college programs recruit a higher share of NHL draft picks and it is only natural that this leads to more NHL alums. Are you honestly going to tell me a guy like Jack Johnson wouldn't be in the NHL right now if he had gone to a small school like Bemidji?

Let's keep it into perspective. These college programs are mainly piggybacking on the developmental efforts that went on before these kids ever hit a college campus. College programs help the process along a bit but the truth is many of these guys would make it no matter what school they attend.

Packer487 said...

I think Komo is significantly better than you're giving him credit for. He's an all-star defenseman (granted it was the fan vote that got him in, but he'd be in the conversation without the fan voting) and was the "toughest" guy in the league based on hits and blocked shots.

Greene might be having a good season, but he's not Mike Komisarek.

Regardless, "no way in hell" might have been a little strong, but you've got a 3-time NHL All-Star goalie at one end and a borderline AHLer at the other end. That's going to make a HUGE difference.

I mean, you figure that Turco's probably stopping around 90% of shots from NHL forwards--the likes of Alexandre Ovechkin and Jarome Iginla night after night.

Lamoureux is stopping 92% of the shots from the likes of Milan Gajic.

Even if he'd only have an 80% save percentage against NHL forwards, you're still talking 6 or 7 goals in a typical game (considering the defense corps he'd be playing behind of isn't anything special). Maybe they wouldn't have to score ten, but they'd still have to score more than you could expect Turco to give up.

I think if those teams played 10 times, Michigan would win 8. Almost entirely because of the edge in goaltending. If Belfour was still around and playing at a high level, it'd be more like 5-5, IMO. But you can't underestimate the difference between a quality NHL goalie (even one who had a rough season like Turco) and a borderline AHLer.

Packer487 said...

Oh, Anon, I do agree that a lot of these kids would have made the NHL whether they ended up at Michigan, American, the OHL, the WHL, or played for Catholic Central.

Jack Johnson didn't need to come to Michigan to make the NHL. The league would have found him.

But take a guy like Jed Ortmeyer. He wasn't drafted, he was what? 20 when he got to Michigan? He's no star in the NHL, but he's still made a crapload of money playing hockey (and has a degree to fall back on) and I think Michigan and Red's coaching probably played a big role in his improvement as a hockey player.

The league will find the top-notch talent, no question. But there are plenty of guys who won't get there on talent alone (or need to continue developing to have a shot). And I do think Michigan has helped them along.

Jack Johnson would have made it no matter what. But David Moss? You never know.

I would agree that recruiting more NHL draft picks means you're going to have a better chance of putting guys in the NHL, but lots of other schools have a high number of draft picks year in and year out, but Michigan is far and away #1 with putting guys in the lead. Only ten schools have put more guys into the league total than our lead on the second best team on that list.

It means they're clearly doing something right. Yes they recruit well, but it also means guys continue to develop when they come here.

Nate F said...

Chorney played his first two NHL games this weekend...put UND at 17 (yeah, I know...still 8 shy of Michigan)

Anon, way to suck the fun out of a nice conversation in which we were basically saying "hey, nice to see the guys we used to watch make it in the NHL"

Sure, a number of these guys would have made it regardless of where they played, as Packer said. But, there is a reason that schools like UM and UND and minnesota produce so many NHL players. They can take the borderline NHL caliber players and turn them into regulars in the NHL.

Packer gives a nice example in Ortmeyer. From UND, I look at guys like David Hale, Chris Porter and Matt Smaby. I think going to UND helped each one of these guys significantly.

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