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Deep Dive into San Jose’s Prospects, Part 2: Time’s Up

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Jeremy Roy, San Jose Barracuda
Credit: San Jose Barracuda

Who still qualifies as a San Jose Sharks prospect? That’s a criteria we established last week in Part 1 of this multi-part investigation into the Sharks farm system:

By our criteria, Noah Gregor isn’t a prospect anymore, but Alexander True is. By our criteria, the San Jose system currently has 33 prospects. If you didn’t, make sure to check out the introduction to this series.

Deep Dive into San Jose’s Prospects, Part 1: Introduction

As promised, we’re counting down from the least likely to make the NHL to the most intriguing prospects.

Let’s start with three San Jose Sharks prospects who we don’t expect to ever see NHL action:

Jérémy Roy – RD

Roy’s talent has never been in question. The Sharks traded a bundle of picks for the opportunity to select him with the first pick of the second round in 2015. Known as a modern puck mover, Roy scored at nearly a point-per-game pace his draft season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL or “the Q”).

Unfortunately, during his fourth season in the Quebec league he suffered an ACL tear and managed to tear the same ligament again the following year as an AHL rookie. It seems Roy was never quite the same after that. 

Before he tore his ACL after 20 games in the AHL, he had amassed eight points, good for 0.4 points-per-game. Since the beginning of the 2000-01 season, 461 defensemen under the age of 21 have played at least 20 games in the AHL, according to EliteProspects.com. Roy’s scoring rate, had he maintained it for the full season, was in the 73rd percentile relative to those other players, alongside names like Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, and Brent Burns. 

Since then, Roy has fallen to the bottom of the San Jose Barracuda depth chart. 

Sheng Peng looked at InStat’s tracked time-on-ice data earlier. According to their calculations, Roy averaged the second-fewest minutes each night of any Barracuda defenseman. Pick224.com, which estimates ice time using on-ice events and individual player shots, has Roy with the fewest minutes on the team. 

Now, Roy did play a bit of forward toward the end of the season, so his ice time as a defender artificially dipped some as a result. But, the fact the coaching staff felt obligated to try him at a different position, and that he was jumped on the depth chart by a handful of 25-year-olds, free agents, and players on AHL contracts are clear indicators that his time in teal is done. 

To add insult to injury, San Jose Hockey Now recently learned that Roy was among four Sharks youngsters who had been dangled on the trade block:

A pending restricted free agent, who by the end of his D+5 season had logged zero NHL games, Roy is all but guaranteed to never make the show. 

Jeffrey Viel, LW

Jeffrey Viel (full name Jeffrey Truchon-Viel, though it appears he now uses the non-hyphenated version publicly) is an undrafted winger whom the Sharks signed as a free agent following his final season in the Q. 

Not much is expected of undrafted free agents. Looking at his career scoring rates, it’s hard to see where the diamond in the rough might be.

Byron Bader, who runs the site HockeyProspecting.com, developed a model to help determine the likelihood a given player makes the NHL. Bader has laid out some thresholds based on NHLe rates (which tell us what percentage of a player’s scoring rate he might retain in the NHL). 

For example, “of the sample population of players to never record a 30+ NHLe, only 18% turned into at least average point-producers.” Bader’s personal NHLe research says that one point in the Q is worth about 0.24 points in the NHL and that one point in the AHL is worth about 0.54 points in the NHL. 

If Viel were going to be an undrafted surprise, he would have needed to have eclipsed 1.5 points per game in junior hockey or 0.67 points per game in the AHL. His best QMJHL season was a 1.1 point-per-game affair as a 20-year-old, and the 2019-20 AHL season saw him reach 0.56 points per game. 

Like Roy, Viel has not yet played an NHL game. And, like Roy, the 2019-20 season was Viel’s fifth year after his first draft-eligible season. Very few skaters, period, play their first NHL game during their D+6 year. For seventh rounders (which we’ll consider Viel for the purpose of this article), the number of skaters who make the NHL that late is effectively zero. 

In Viel’s favor is his improved scoring rate since his rookie AHL season, his solid goal total, and the lack of exciting prospects ahead of him. However, both InStat and Pick224 recorded the forward with middle-of-the-pack ice time. Barring an explosion in scoring whenever the AHL resumes, Viel will finish out his time with the Sharks organization as a depth minor-league player.

Jasper Weatherby – C/LW

It may seem harsh that Weatherby is in this tier of prospects. He was just drafted in 2018 and still has a couple seasons of NCAA eligibility left. If we use 2018 as his draft year, he still has some time. If we use his age-17/18 season as his draft year, Weatherby is entering his D+5 year whenever the NCAA resumes play for the 2020-21 season. 

The issue with Weatherby is that he was never a promising prospect to begin with. It took him until his age-19/20 season in the relatively tame BCHL to score at an exciting clip. With his stellar playoff run, his 1.40 point-per-game scoring rate is one of the 60 best age-19 seasons in the league since 2000-01. In such a weak league, that is equivalent to about eight NHL points in an 82-game season. 

Weatherby has taken on a bigger role in the North Dakota offense. During the 2019-20 season, he registered the second-highest proportion of shot attempts of anyone on his team. But, his win share (which “attempts to quantify an individual player’s contribution to their team”) was mild.

The big forward’s placement here has some to do with his development timeline and much to do with his lack of production at any stage of his career until he was older than his leaguemates. If he signs an ELC by the August 15, 2022 deadline, it would be a major surprise.

“Deep Dive into San Jose’s Prospects, Part 3: Last Chance” coming soon!

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Sheng Peng

Fabulous work as usual! But I’m not sure if NHLe projections will matter so much for somebody like Jeffrey Viel, who has a simpler path to the NHL as a fourth-line energy guy. From my sources within the organization, I’ve heard a ton of positive stuff about Viel, intangible stuff + leadership too. Can see him as the new John McCarthy. It’s my belief that Viel would’ve been rewarded with his NHL debut this year had the season not been cut short.

Victor Nuño

Interesting re: Viel. Without that insider info, I have to agree with Erik!

Sheng Peng
Sheng Peng

For sure, making your NHL debut with this year’s Sharks isn’t exactly saying a lot! But yea, I think he’ll get a long look next season. FWIW I don’t think the Sharks have a lot of guys like Viel who are close in the system, that’ll help him. Won’t be an impact guy by any stretch, but maybe he’s got a career at a 13th forward?

Jackson Edward

I’ve watched Viel go out of his way many times to defend teammates generate tempo. He’s a solid dude with definite 4th line NHL potential.

Sheng Peng

He’s a leader for sure, kind of guy that organizations love having around.

david barnard

Viel can challenge Kane for most PIMs.

Sheng Peng

It can be a good thing if it means that Evander takes less! Somebody else who will step up so he doesn’t feel like he has to.

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