Food for Thought: Jiri Tlusty

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    A few days ago, we took a brief look at some of Gabriel Desjardins’ statistical work from behindthenet.ca. Using the junior hockey performance translator, we managed to project the future AHL/NHL impact for some of the Leafs‘ bright young stars. The best and brightest of those stars is a 21 year old Czech forward by the name of Jiri Tlusty, a player who is going to take Leafs Nation by storm in the upcoming seasons. And now, I’m going to show you why.

    Those of you who have followed my writing since the site’s inception would know that I have made it no secret that I am a big fan of Tlusty and expect great things from the young forward. At a time when Fletcher and Burke were brought in to clean house, many of the team’s previously believed-to-be cornerstones ala Colaiacovo and Steen were ushered out the door. After being misused in his first NHL season, and yo-yo’ed back and forth through various levels, it seemed like many were beginning to quickly sour on the Leafs‘ 13th overall selection in 2006. Tlusty then got off to a slow start last year in the AHL, but come November/December we started to witness a slow turnaround, and I again preached the importance of patience. By the time March rolled around, the Tlusty bandwagon started to gain some more supporters, and I highlighted Tlusty and Stefanovich as the dynamic one-two scoring punch Leaf fans could look forward to in coming years.

    Well, this time I’m back again to toot the ‘ol horn and I’ve got a whole bunch more interesting numbers to blow you away. The following statistics are courtesy of Zeke from Hockey’s Future, who did some great work in sifting through AHL stats pages from the last 5 years to produce this collection. Below you will find all the players from the past 5 years who have managed to score at or above a point-a-game rate in the American Hockey League at the age of 20 or younger:

    R.Getzlaf (20): 17gms, 8gs, 33pts (82gms, 159pts)
    C.Perry (20): 19gms, 16gls, 34pts (82gms, 147pts)
    A.Radulov (20): 11gms, 6gls, 18pts (82gms, 134pts)
    D.Brassard (19): 42gms, 15gls, 51pts (82gms, 100pts)
    P.O’Sullivan (20): 78gms, 47gls, 93pts (82gms, 98pts)
    D.Krejci (20): 69gms, 31gls, 74pts (82gms, 88pts)
    B.Ryan (19-20): 56gms, 24gls, 58pts (82gms, 85pts)
    J.Tlusty (18-20): 86gms, 35gls, 88pts (82gms, 84pts)
    E.Staal (19): 77gms, 26gls, 77pts (82gms, 82pts)
    S.Kostitsyn (20): 22gms, 6gls, 22pts (82gms, 82pts)

    So again, to reiterate, those are the AHL totals for a very select group (PPG rate) of players up until the age of 20. An elite group to say the least. One player who JUST missed the cutoff was Kris Versteeg who scored 55 points in 56 games, another youngster who is very highly regarded league-wide.

    When you get down to it and manage to place Tlusty alongside his closest comparables, you start to get an idea of how good this kid really is. He’s shown bouts of tremendous skill at the NHL level, and those who followed him on the Marlies know he now looks like a completely different player under 11 minutes a game two years ago. Look for Tlusty to light up the ACC scoresheets in the not too distant future.

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