There is no doubt that Frank Vatrano has been tearing up the AHL. Having just taken over the AHL goal scoring lead in half the games of second place Mike Sislo. It seems every game we see tweets like this about Vatrano:
.@Frank_Vatrano of the @AHLBruins is the third player in #AHL history to score 3 unassisted goals in one game: https://t.co/6QKDaBOBa9— AHL (@TheAHL) March 6, 2016
Or reading about how he is the AHL player of the week (For just the second time, first since winning it the first week of the season)
With 30 goals and 43 points in 30 games this year, Vatrano has shot up the Bruins prospect ranks since signing his contract on March 13, 2015. Amongst AHL rookies, he is 8th in points, just 7 off of the leader Mikko Rantanen, who was drafted 10th overall in last year's draft. Vatrano is the only player in the top 25 of rookie scoring to have less than 40 games, with Rantanen having played 41, with the rest averaging over 50 games
Frank Vatrano, 2015-16 Providence Bruins: 29gp, 30-12-42— Jason Chaimovitch (@JChaimo) March 12, 2016
Camille Henry, 1956-57 Providence Reds: 29 gp, 31-16-47
These numbers he's putting up don't happen very often: The five closest comparables to Vatrano goal wise (Adjusted for era) range from 75 years ago to 7 years ago, with an average of 34 years.
I pulled all under 24 year old AHL seasons with 35+ points from Elite Prospects (there are 6576 in total) to see where he would rank in goals and points per game, and then looked at adjusting for era based on the number of goals per game of that AHL season. Vatrano is tied for the fourth most goals per game, behind Louis Trudel, Camille "The Eel" Henry, and Mike Millar, tying Brad Smyth and Len Hachborn. After adjusting for era, Vatrano trails only Trudel - who had 22 goals and 35 points in 22 games, just sneaking in on my admittedly arbitrary cutoff point. Points wise, Vatrano fares extremely well, finishing in the top .4 percentile of all seasons in terms of points per game, 25th all time adjusted for era. Even unadjusted, Vatrano is in the top 3 percentile, 188th overall in points per game.
Using the 35+ point seasons as a benchmark, here are the top 10 non Vatrano years for goals per game, and how those players fared in the NHL. I did not include Derek Grant or Teemu Pulkkinen in these, as they are still playing in the NHL, where the rest of the players have retired, or are not in the NHL, like Bochenski, who finished third in the KHL in points this year.
|Name - Year||Years ago||Games||Goals||Points||Pts/gm||Pts/82|
|Louis Trudel - 1940||75||305||49||118||0.387||31.72|
|Frank Vatrano - 2015||0||30||6||7||0.233||19.13|
|Brandon Bochenski - 2006||9||156||28||68||0.436||35.74|
|Alexandre Giroux - 2008||7||48||6||12||0.250||20.50|
|Camille Henry - 1956||59||727||279||528||0.726||59.55|
|Brad Smyth - 1995||20||88||15||28||0.318||26.09|
|Miroslav Satan - 1994||21||1050||363||735||0.700||57.40|
|Fred Thurier - 1941||74||80||25||52||0.650||53.30|
|Teemu Pulkkinen - 2014||1||Too early to tell|
|Mike Millar - 1987||28||78||18||36||0.462||37.85|
|Derek Grant - 2015||0||Too early to tell|
Looking at his season totals, with 20, 10, and 5 game averages to start to see some trends in his game.
One trend that should shock nobody: Frank Vatrano likes to shoot. A lot. He has been putting up his best shot totals of late, averaging 8 shots on net in each of the last 5 games, including reaching double digit shot totals twice.
When will we see Vatrano back in the NHL? Barring injury, he is blocked at left wing by Marchand, Eriksson, and Beleskey, as well as right wing by Stempniak, Pastrnak, and Hayes, so it could not happen until next season. Vatrano understands that "It's something I can't control. I've just gotta keep doing my thing down here. When the time is right for me to go up, the time is right."
For now, AHL goalies will have to dread facing him.
Here are the AHL era adjustment numbers used, for future reference