How are the Manitoba Moose vets performing?

The Moose are arguably the worst team in the American Hockey League. They get out shot a lot; they get out scored a lot. The team struggles to prevent goals and they struggle to produce them.

We previously discussed how the Manitoba Moose have been over reliant on their youngest players to produce offence.

While the Jets’ prospects and other young players on the Moose have not been exactly league leaders in scoring, there is a huge issue with the veteran players inability to produce as they should.

Is it due to the Moose’s choice in veterans though or is it maybe something else?

I wanted to take a look at the performance of the Moose non-rookie players, by comparing their point and shot productions per game relative to their historic output.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.17.13 AM

Players are listed in highest to lowest point total.

The blue and green bars show the skaters’ historic values, while the red and purple bars show their output this season.

It’s still a difficult visual though to see when players are over or under performing their typical norm. So, I then recreated the same graph but this time looking at the difference between this season and previous seasons.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.18.35 AM

I apologize for the label overlapping, as the options were limited and this was the “least terrible” one.

In theory, a player in a positive environment should see their current output being higher than their norm. This environment can be any combination of factors such as system, coaching, quality of teammates, etc.

Only five “veteran” players are scoring more than they historically produce. All five of them are playing their second or third season of pro-hockey, and very much still in player development phase of their growth curve.

Brenden Kitchon and JC Lipon are both in their third year, Austen Brassard is in his second, while Scott Kosmachuk and Ryan Olsen were merely rookies last season. None of these players are the veterans signed to help make the Moose competitive and help the younger players grow and develop.

John Albert, Patrice Cormier, Matt Halischuk, and Matt Fraser were all expected to produce, yet are averaging just 11 points with over half the season completed. Jay Harrison, Julian Melchiori, and Andrew MacWilliam were supposedly there to help create some stability to the back end.

It’s a difficult game to balance though. You need veterans to keep the team competitive and construct a positive learning environment for your prospects on the farm team. At the same time, you want sufficient ice time available for your prospects to play.

It was only two years ago that the Winnipeg Jets carried a competent farm team, a winning team. There was a tonne of potent AHL veteran depth on the team; Jason Jaffray, Andrew Gordon, Jerome Samson, Eric O`Dell, and Kael Mouillierat were top-scorers for the club. Adam Lowry, Ben Chiarot, Zach Redmond, JC Lipon, Brenden Kitchon, and Micheal Hutchinson were all able to develop their craft under this team; now four of these players have moved on to becoming regular members of NHL teams.

Developing players on the farm team is hard. There is a balance needed where too much veteran depth will eat away icetime needed for prospect development but too little depth can be crushing. No one likes to lose. No one likes being on the league’s worst team.

Next year the Jets will likely have fewer prospects graduating to the AHL. Brendan Lemieux and Nelson Nogier will be leaving the CHL, and the Jets will likely attempt to bring Tucker Poolman and Jamie Phillips over from the NCAA. We could even potentially see the Jets sign Tanner Lane and Marcus Karlstrom to AHL contracts, much like they did last summer with Aaron Harstad, Brennen Serville, and Peter Stoykewych.

While 4-6 players may seem like a lot, the Moose have carried 11 rookies on their roster at one point or another, although some have been redeployed to the ECHL.

With all this youth, the Jets and Moose will need to play it smart. It’s easier said than done, but the Moose need quality AHL veterans who can help carry the team to success and lead by example.

Another component that could help give the Jets an edge in prospect development is to watch and learn from what Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing in restructuring their developmental program. They have turned to take a more “baseball [like] approach” to their minor league system. No longer is the ECHL used as a place for prospects to die, but rather a way to help balance a large influx of youth while carrying quality veterans to help support the farm team. 

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    “The Moose are arguably the worst team in the American Hockey League”..well Garret…no argument there…they ARE the worst…their only saving grace has been Comrie…part of the organizational structure should lend itself to proper PROFESSIONAL instruction…how Chipman has regressed his once proud AHL flagship…you can’t have Triple A bantam coaching and expect a team full of Gretzky’s…if this is the “develop” model we’re in for a long stay south of the playoff line…

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      Easy answer : It matters not 1 wit…Detroit {for example) forces ALL their draft picks to spend at least 2 years in the A. THAT draft & develop model has led to 20+ years of continuos playoff appearances…the supporting cast is irrelevant…it’s the calibre of instruction and how it’s presented that leads to successful graduation of draft picks

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    I’m not sure your reasoning is sound MO.

    First of all Detroit is a pretty successful team but I doubt very much it’s because they “force” prospects to play 2 years in the AHL… In fact I would suggest that their prospects tend to require a little more time to develop because the franchise is so successful.

    When a team is constantly picking outside the top 15 as the Redwings do it would make sense that their prospects are probably less developed than say a Nik Ehlers, Mark Sciefele or Jacob Trouba. With that line of reasoning it would be understandable that Detroits prospects probably require a little more time to be NHL ready than teams that pick in the top 10 regularly.

    Everyteam pretty much drafts and develops… that phrase is one of the more amusing tossed around by the media.

    What the Redwings really do that stands out to me as the cause of such success is draft well compared to draft position. They draft late round gems and they drafted outside of (at the time) conventional logic.

    I cut the Jets some slack with their strategy because they seem to draft well compared to their peers. The oldest Chevy prospect is turning 23 this year and still a little way away from the prime of their career.

    As for the Manitoba Moose. Why would I worry about much there? It would seem that most of the actual Jet prospects are the ones doing the heavy lifting in the A… Comrie, Kitchen, Lipon, Deleo, Petan, etc. Etc.

    It would seem that my real worry should be about both the Jets and the Moose is that management is not doing a good job of finding quality veteran talent to fill out both rosters.

    • One issue people have when analyzing the “Detroit model” is that people ignore the fact that Detroit also has been the team with the worst draft picks going into the draft in terms of position.

      They were a successful team, and so usually drafted quite let. In addition, they used to have a tendency to trade their first round picks away for players to speed up the process of acquiring talent (and keep them from needing to “rebuild”).

      Detroit keeps their prospects in the AHL more from necessity than by plan. Notice that Larkin did not go through the AHL.

      You comment about giving lee some slack due to being a strong drafting team, but I think you’ll see Toronto being one as well… and also having a better AHL program, and quickly too.

      Your last paragraph is the half the point to this article. That the Jets struggle in finding quality veteran talent. And really, there is no need to. They didn’t HAVE to have shitty vets.

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      I don’t know who (whom?) you’re watching but I have no doubt Trouba, Scheifele & Ehlers were rushed…Scheifele was a complete non-factor in year 1, Trouba was OK in year 1 but has struggled ever since and the jury’s still out on Ehlers although he’s already gone through 2 of the longest scoring droughts of his carreer…ALL prospects need TIME to develop that is why the A exists and that is why Detroit is extremely successful: Tatar, Nyquist, Abdelkader, Helm, Franzen…et al…Larkin is the exception not the rule…the Jets, as a franchise are in desperate need of NHL leadership starting at the management level…

      • Ya… I don’t agree with you.

        I don’t think Scheifele was a non factor.

        I think Trouba was more than OK. I think Trouba has not struggled other than to produce assists, and a lot of that is the #stu factor.

        I think you are confusing Ehlers playing with Thorburn for being a scoring drought.