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Entry-Level Expectations, Part III: Patrick Harper

With a new season upon us, there is a new class of Predators prospects whose exclusive negotiating rights with the team expire at the end of the year. I am doing a four-part installment assessing the likelihood of these players receiving entry-level contracts.

The first two installments can be read below:

Vladislav Yeryomenko

Hardy Haman-Aktell

In part three, I’ll be detailing the segmented collegiate career of forward Patrick Harper, to date.

What’s New Since Draft Day?

NCAA 38 13 24 37 99 8
NCAA 20 8 13 21 8 0.8 36 6
NCAA 38 6 14 20 12 0.394 50 6
NCAA 18/19
F Rank T-339th T-137th T-214th T-54th 80th T-141st

Harper was picked out of prep school in Connecticut in the fifth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft committed to play at Boston University. His freshman season was a smashing success; he finished with 37 points in 38 games, which was second on the team to Clayton Keller. Harper turned a hot start that season into a spot on the Team USA at the World Junior Championships, where he was mostly absent from the score sheet while winning a gold medal.

His sophomore season started similarly; Harper notched 21 points in 20 games to start the year and added four points at the World Junior Championships en route to a bronze medal. But, after 20 games, he was sidelined from the Terriers’ spring run due to an undisclosed respiratory illness.

Returning to the line-up last fall, Harper was expected to contribute heavily for another good Terriers squad. The team disappointed straight from the start and Harper didn’t score until December 14 and didn’t add his second goal of the year for over another month.

Harper finished the year tied for fifth in team scoring with a modest six goals and 20 points.

Expectations for 2019-20

Harper was named an assistant captain earlier this summer for a Terriers team that will welcome an infusion of top-end talent including Trevor Zegras, Robert Mastrosimone, and Alex Vlasic.

“He’s a great scorer, playmaker and offensive threat. We believe we have the most dynamic guy in the league in Patrick Harper.”

Harper’s 78 collegiate points are best among the returning roster by a significant margin; Captain Pat Curry is second with 47 points in three full seasons.

BU head coach didn’t hesitate with his optimism about Harper in an interview with The Daily Free Press in May. Harper will undoubtedly be counted on to lead this team offensively and shouldn’t have trouble doing so with a return to good health and added firepower in Zegras and Mastrosimone.

What Does History Tell Us?

I once again enlisted the help of Bryan Bastin to visualize the path to entry-level contracts that Harper’s peers have taken.

(Note: To view the entire viz and experiment with the data, visit it here. In the data above, ‘Draft Year’ is defined as that player’s draft day to June 1 the following year; ‘Draft Year + 1’ is June 1 the year after their draft day to June 1 the following year, etc. The notable disclaimer is that ‘Draft Year + 5’ indicates players who waited until free agency on August 15th after their senior year and signed immediately with another team).

There is obviously a strong correlation between being drafted high and scoring an entry-level contract within the first year or two. Collegiate players drafted in later rounds are more of a guessing game for a variety of reasons, but Harper’s peers have shown they are more likely to play out their collegiate careers and then sign or not get a contract offer at all.

Nashville has a okay track record of finding decent college players. Stepan, Moy and Murphy are certainly duds, but Vesey is an NHL player, Balisy is a solid AHL player, and Pitlick is a legitimate prospect; who knows what could have been had it not been for Novak’s extensive injuries.

Much like the other prospects I’ve profiled in the past week, Harper has a monumental season ahead of him. It’s not unreasonable to think he could get close to Rem Pitlick’s points-per-game mark last season, and it will take something similar to score a contract. The skating and offensive skill are undeniable; a season like that will likely put concerns over long-term illness effects on the back burner.

All stats are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and goterriers.com.

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