Monday, March 10, 2008

Riley Nash - Curb that Enthusiasm...Just A Little


Men’s Ice Hockey 2007-08 All-Ivy

First Team
F - *Lee Jubinville, Princeton (Jr., Edmonton, Alberta)
F - Nick Johnson, Dartmouth (Sr., Calgary, Alberta)
F - Sean Backman, Yale (So., Cos Cob, Conn.)
D - *Mike Moore, Princeton (Sr., Calgary, Alberta)
D - Sean Hurley, Brown (Sr., Rutland, Vt.)
G - Kyle Richter, Harvard (So., Calgary, Alberta)

Second Team

F - Colin Greening, Cornell (So., St. John's, Newfoundland)
F - Brett Wilson, Princeton (Calgary, Alberta)
F - Riley Nash, Cornell (Fr., Kamloops, British Columbia)
F - Mike Taylor, Harvard (Sr., Maple Grove, Minn.)
D - Evan Stephens, Dartmouth (Fr., Bessemer, Mich.)
D - Dave MacDonald, Harvard (Sr., Halifax, Nova Scotia)
G - Zane Kalemba, Princeton (So., Saddle Brook, N.J.)

Honorable Mention

F - Topher Scott, Cornell (Sr., Buffalo Grove, Ill.)
F - Ryan Garbutt, Brown (Jr., Winnipeg, Manitoba)
D - Tom Dignard, Yale (So., Reading, Mass.)
D - Alex Biega, Harvard (So., Montreal, Quebec)
G - Ben Scrivens, Cornell (So., Spruce Grove, Alberta)



-Clearly indicates a weak conference. Hands up, how many players besides Riley Nash did you recognize?
-A further look reveals that only 5 out of the 18 above listed names have been drafted. Riley Nash (1st), Nick Johnson (3rd), Alex Biega (5th), Colin Greening (7th), Dave McDonald (7th).
-Nick Johnson put up 35 points in 35 games (1 PPG) in his 18 year old season. It appears his University career is almost over, and he may never play in the NHL.
-Numbers similar to Kris Chucko (24th overall, 2004 draft) at 17 years of age. Chucko then put up 21 in 43 at the University of Minnesota at 18 years of age. The question becomes - what sort of numbers would Nash post playing against the best in the NCAA?
-Riley Nash didn't make the Team Canada World Junior squad. Hell, he wasn't even invited to the try-outs. Andrew Cogliano made it at 18.

-The scouts. Many had him ranked as a 1st round selection, and that should speak for the confidence they have in his ability.
-Strong praise from his coach in Salmon Arm (BCHL) - lead team in scoring, albeit not to extent of Travis Zajac
-Hyperbole or not, he has impressed the Oilers brass, most notably Kevin Prendergast.
-An excellent ''all-around game'' from numerous sources.


Perhaps Riley Nash is just putting points (29 in 32 GP) against nobodies. Look, I'm not saying he won't be an NHL player - it's just that his numbers have to be looked at in context before declaring him guaranteed top 6 material. Perhaps he has the top 6 upside - I'd like to believe so. It will be an interesting development in the upcoming years.

How about Chris Higgins (Yale University) as a comparable? (Credit to Choppystride at Lowetide's for the suggestion) Higgins put up 31 in 27 games at 18. Then 41 in 28 games the next year. He followed that up with 2 years in the AHL, before finally finding a role in the NHL (Montreal). Given the fact Nash is clearly playing in a weaker conference, is it reasonable to expect him to be posting a PPG mark ''well north of 1" next year, akin to Chris Higgins? And make Team Canada World Junior Squad (he'll be 19)?

Your opinion is valued.

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