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Meet Ryan Potulny: First In Line for 14th Forward

Ryan Potulny, as readers of this site may remember, was the return on the blockbuster Danny Syvret to Philadelphia trade. He's not a guy that most of us who follow the Oilers are terribly familiar with, but he has some things working in his favour; things that make him more likely to win a roster spot than most of the other end of roster types, most notably that he needs to clear waivers to be sent to the minors and there's no reason at all to believe that he would. Let's take a look at what he's done over the course of his career to date.

Potulny's boxcar numbers (to steal a phrase from Lowetide because, hey, he's worth stealing from) look like this:

Draft-1: USHL-60GP-23G-34A-57PTS
Draft+0: USHL-54GP-35G-43A-78PTS
Draft+1: NCAA-15GP-6G-8A-14PTS
Draft+2: NCAA-43GP-24G-17A-41PTS
Draft+3: NCAA-41GP-38G-25A-63PTS*, NHL-2GP-0G-1A-1PTS
Draft+4: NHL-35GP-7G-5A-12PTS, AHL-30GP-12G-14A-26PTS
Draft+5: NHL-7GP-0G-1A-1PTS, AHL-58GP-21G-26A-47PTS

*To put those 48 goals in perspective, the second leading scorer for the University of Minnesota that year was Phil Kessel, and he managed 18.

Looking at those numbers, the simple fact is that Potulny's a goal scorer. I rather suspect that the big increase in AHL GP this past season had more to do with a vastly improved Flyers roster than with a big step back for Potulny; at first glance his AHL numbers seem to support that given that they're pretty consistent from one season to the next.

Now, the problem with doing statistical analysis of prospects is that we don't have much of the data on the AHL, NCAA or USHL that we do on the NHL. For that reason, I'm going to use Potulny's 35GP in 2006-07 as the big indicator of where he was at that time, particularly since it doesn't seem like he's been improving by leaps and bounds since then.

In 2006-07, Potulny played 384:56 minutes of ice-time, averaging 9:15 per game at even strength and 1:41 on the powerplay. He scored 11 of his 12 points at even-strength (this is encouraging, given that he won't see much powerplay time in Edmonton) and it works out to a 2.04 PTS/60 clip- he can score even better than straight goals/assists show, since they don't take icetime into account. Unfortunately, in his 1:41 per night on the second powerplay unit, Potulny managed only one point, scoring at a 1.02 PTS/60 clip, which is brutal and can probably be attributed to a) playing 2nd unit on a poor powerplay and b) minute sample size (58:00 minutes). As I noted earlier, he probably won't see much powerplay time, so it isn't terribly relevant.

He hits a bit (19 in 35 games, per RTSS) and blocks shots, but physicality is by all accounts a very minor part of his game. Despite a reputation as a legitimate face-off guy, he went 121/278 in his 35 games, good for 43.5%. It isn't quite Cogliano bad, but it sure isn't good.

Desjardins doesn't say good things about Potulny, either. The good news is that he's only one of four regulars (Forsberg, Knuble and Gagne were the others) to keep his head above water (2.29GFON/60, 2.29GAON/60) at even strength. The bad news is that he ranked 15th in terms of quality of competition and 6th in quality of teammates among forwards. He was put in an absolutely beautiful position to succeed, although to his credit he scored at a reasonable rate and didn't look out of place against 4th line competition.

A couple of other interesting things about Potulny:
*In February of 2003, Potulny was on a partial breakaway and both he and goalie Layne Sedevie went hard for the puck. They collided, and Sedevie suffered a concussion and ligament damage to the vertebrae in his neck. Sedevie went on to play NCAA, and was last seen with the Youngstown Steelhounds of the CHL. He was a legitimate prospect prior to the injury.
*In November of 2003, Potulny underwent knee surgery and missed the majority of the season.