The most eagerly-anticipated prospect in Nashville Predators history signed a professional contract today, as Blake Geoffrion (who grew up in suburban Brentwood, Tennessee) joins his hometown team with a new two-year entry level deal. It includes a $170,000 signing bonus, and $765,000 salary at the NHL level ($62,500 in the AHL), with additional bonuses also in the mix.
Left Wing / Nashville Predators
Feb 03, 1988
Has a player ever entered the NHL with the pedigree that Blake boasts? Heck, just broaden that question - has anyone come into professional sports with such a combination of family history and individual amateur accomplishments?
No pressure, Blake!
There is the question, however, as to how high the expectations should be placed on Blake during his rookie pro season..
To help answer this question, we'll leverage the League Equivalency work from Behind the Net. In a nutshell, we can make a reasonable projection for a player moving from the NCAA to the NHL, based on how the Points Per Game figure drops for players making a similar transition. This translation factor was estimated at 0.41 a few years ago, so we'll run with that for now.
During his senior season at the University of Wisconsin, Blake piled up 28 goals and 22 assists for 50 points in 40 games, a 1.25 PPG average. Factoring in League Equivalency, that would translate to a PPG at the NHL level. Of course individuals can over- or under-achieve against that benchmark, but it gives us an idea of what's likely. As an example, Colin Wilson went from a PPG of 1.28 for Boston University in 2008-9 (55 points in 43 games), to a 0.43 PPG for Nashville last season (15 points in 35 games), although of course he had injury concerns.
The other factor at work here is how many NHL games we might expect Geoffrion to play next season. The Predators are famously patient with their prospects, and considering how different the pro hockey schedule is from college (in which players practice all week and play on Friday & Saturday), I wouldn't be surprised to see Blake spend at least a month or two in Milwaukee to get acclimated before making his NHL debut.
With that in mind, I'd pencil Geoffrion in for 40-50 NHL games in 2009-10, and 20-25 points. If he can accomplish those goals, that's probably to be considered a successful rookie campaign, and something to build on going forward.
Of course, things can change a lot during training camp (Joel Ward and Patric Hornqvist took major steps there over the last two years), and there is certainly opportunity to shake things up on the Nashville power play, where the team has struggled in recent years. It's possible that he could earn an NHL job right from the start of the season, but I wouldn't bet on it.
UPDATE: You can listen to Blake's first post-press conference radio interview, with the Thom Abraham Show, via the audio link below: