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Behind The Numbers

Borgstrom, Donato, Terry among high-impact late-season roster additions

Statistical models suggest each could make immediate impression for new club

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

Henrik Borgstrom of the Florida Panthers and Eeli Tolvanen of the Nashville Predators are among the arrivals who could have the greatest impact on the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and, possibly, on the tournament itself.

Based on the various methods of estimating a player's contributions using previous scoring data in other leagues, here is a look the five players who could become much more well-known during the next three months:

 

Henrik Borgstrom, C, Florida Panthers

The Panthers are three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card with a game in hand, and Borgstrom could be just what Florida needs for that final push.

During the past two seasons, Borgstrom (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) scored 95 points (45 goals, 50 assists) in 77 games for the University of Denver. Historically, a player going directly from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to the NHL retained 41.0 percent of his scoring on average, which would result in an NHL equivalent of 18.4 goals, 20.5 assists and 38.9 points in 77 games for Borgstrom.

Since those averages are based mostly on older players, Borgstrom's upside, at age 20, could be even greater. Statistically, his closest comparable is Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks, who preceded him as the NCHC player of the year in 2016-17 while at the University of North Dakota. Boeser scored 94 points (43 goals, 51 assists) in 74 games in his final two college seasons. He joined the Canucks as a 20-year-old and had five points (four goals, one assist) in nine games at the end of the 2016-17 season. Boeser, out for the season after sustaining a back injury on Feb. 25, leads the Canucks with 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 62 games in 2017-18.

 

Ryan Donato, LW, Boston Bruins

With five points (three goals, two assists) in five NHL games, Donato (6-0, 181) is on pace to exceed his scoring projection and help the Bruins overtake the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have a one-point lead, for first place in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

Donato scored 104 points (60 goals, 44 assists) in 97 games in three seasons with Harvard. In 2017-18, he led the team with 26 goals in 29 games. No other Harvard player had more than 10 goals. He scored five goals for the United States at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

For players coming from ECAC, scoring projections can be modest. Based on a translation factor of 0.234, Donato's NHL equivalent is 14.0 goals, 10.3 assists, and 24.4 points in 97 games.

Statistically, a good comparison is Jimmy Vesey of the New York Rangers, who also played for Harvard. At the same age of 22, Vesey had 98 points (56 goals, 42 assists) in 95 games. Vesey spent one more season at Harvard, when he won the Hobey Baker Award, and then scored 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in 80 games as a rookie with the Rangers in 2016-17.

Video: BOS@WPG: Donato dangles, roofs nifty backhand

 

Jordan Greenway, LW, Minnesota Wild

The Wild are hoping that Greenway's arrival can help them retain their three-point margin on the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Central Division and make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

Greenway (6-6, 227), 21, scored 92 points (28 goals, 64 assists) in 112 games for Boston University during the past three seasons. Since a Hockey East player retains 37.6 percent of his scoring on average when going to the NHL, Greenway's NHL equivalent is 10.5 goals, 24.1 assists, and 34.6 points in 112 games, which is a 25-point pace across 82 games.

Statistically, the most similar former Hockey East players at roughly the same age and size include forwards Zach Sanford of the St. Louis Blues and Mark Jankowski of the Calgary Flames. Sanford has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 39 NHL games, and Jankowski has 21 points (13 goals, eight assists) in 68 games.

 

Troy Terry, C, Anaheim Ducks

With 91 points, the Ducks are tied with the Blues and Los Angeles Kings, and one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche in the race for the two wild cards into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

During the past two seasons, Terry (6-1, 174) scored 93 points (36 goals, 57 assists) in 74 games playing with Borgstrom at Denver. That is an NHL equivalent of 14.7 goals, 23.3 assists, and 38.1 points in 74 games.

 

Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Nashville Predators

Not all new arrivals are coming from college. Tolvanen, who signed his entry-level contract Thursday, spent this season with Jokerit in the Kontinental Hockey League. Tolvanen, 18, may have the greatest upside of the late-season additions and could help the Predators wins the Presidents' Trophy and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive season.

Tolvanen (5-10, 181) scored 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists) in 51 games this season, which is the equivalent of 28.2 points using the KHL translation factor of 0.742. That works out to 45.3 points across 82 NHL games.

A scoring rate of 0.75 points per game as a teenager is unusual in the KHL, making Tolvanen's historical comparisons quite flattering.

Tolvanen's closest match is Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals, who scored 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games at age 18. Kuznetsov spent three more seasons in the KHL, then scored nine points (three goals, six assists) in 19 games for the Capitals in 2013-14, and 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 80 games in 2014-15.

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