Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jeff Tambellini

An interesting player, this Jeff Tambellini. He's still young at 22, but his birthday is coming up soon. He made the Islanders team out of camp, after receiving kudos from the coaching staff for arriving in tremendous physical condition. Then he had a poor game in the opener, a blowout loss to Phoenix, and was returned to the minors. Granted the Islanders have a veteran forward lineup, there's just not much space there for a young player to fit in.

Dan Marshall, coach of the Islander's AHL affiliate, was pretty happy to see him coming there, and he pegged him pretty well in this quote from the Connecticut Post.

Sound Tigers add top prospect in Tambellini
by Michael Fornabaio,, Oct. 18, 2006

BRIDGEPORT — The deep forward corps of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers picked up another sharpshooter last week when Jeff Tambellini came down from the New York Islanders.

It's the other contributions Tambellini can make that excite coach Dan Marshall. "A goal scorer who backchecks is pretty rare," Marshall said. "That's a bonus."

Tambellini looks to be a player from the same tree as Horcoff. There is a remarkably extensive history of the player assembled here. Like Horcoff he absolutely tore up the BCHL and went on to play college hockey (Tambellini played for Michigan, Horcoff for Michigan State). Tambellini lead the team in scoring as a freshman, the first to do that since Comrie, both registering 44 points in their first year of NCAA hockey.

In his sophomore year there is a big drop in production, I can't find an explanation for this, though at first blush it looks like he stopped producing for the middle part of the season. I'll assume an injury factored in here, but I don't know.

In his junior year he was dominant. 57 points in 44 games, and an almost impossible +30, which of course lead the team. He's been a PP producer at every level too, so he must have been on the ice for only a handful of goals against at even strength in this season.

Presumably he is a smart hockey player, he is certainly a clever person, the list of scholastic awards is extensive.

In his first year as a pro, L.A. head coach Andy Murray was not impressed with him in camp and sent him back to the AHL. His season as broken down below:

2005-2006 AHL Manchester Monarchs
56 games played.
39 points at even strength.
24 goals against at even strength.
Damn good, in fact best in the AHL by this metric. And the closer you look the better it gets.
His team is +22 at even strength when he is on the ice and -1 when he isn't.
He had a mix of linemates and appears to have made a lot of others on that team look good on the stats page.

And now this season, again far more points at evens than goals against:

2006-2007 AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers
46 games played.
26 points at even strength.
19 goals against at even strength.
His team is +12 at even strength when he is on the ice and a whopping -43 when he isn't.
Playing on a weaker team this season, still, he's clearly separating himself from the field. No regular on this team is a plus player when they aren't playing with Tambellini. And he added 25 points on special teams as well.

2006-2007 NHL New York Islanders
15 games played.
6 points at even strength.
4 goals against at even strength.
He was +4 at even strength during limited icetime, about 8 minutes per game.

Of course the NHL numbers are far too small of a sample to draw any conclusions from. Still, he didn't get murdered or anything, in fact the opposite just going by the results. Again with more points than GA. In any case it's getting to the point where you have to acknowledge that he is either a damn good hockey player or the luckiest bugger around.

I've watched for him in a couple of Isles games that I saw recently. Nolan didn't use him much, and there isn't much flash to his game, he's quick and hard on the puck and looks to be a player to me. I didn't get the chance to use his shot much, apparently a strength of his game. Granted I'm clearly in "saw him good" country here.

As far as these difference-maker numbers go ... these are not in the same category of results that Spezza and Staal put up in the AHL at a younger age, it would be wildly optimistic to compare him to those guys, but he's not a mile behind, and he's a mile ahead of the AHL numbers guys like Lupul, Stoll etc threw up ... granted they probably weren't as motivated in that lockout year either.

It makes a guy wonder about the effect of opportunity. Lupul was a higher draft pick and found himself getting NHL icetime early, playing "his game" much to the chagrin of Anaheim head coach Mike Babcock, and knocking out some decent counting numbers on the way to a gross overpay this September.

Comrie jumped through the Van Ryn loophole and played the holdout card on his way to a financial bonanza.

Anson Carter saw the writing on the wall with Crawford's Avalanche team and demanded a trade (after just one camp if I remember right). Not to dis Anson, few have squeezed more cash out of their skillset than him, credit where credit is due, and I would have done the same. Carter would make a very good agent one day if he decides to go that route.

And at this point I think that all the smart money is on Tambellini being a better NHLer at the age of 28 than any of the guys mentioned above at the same age. And chances are that he'll have earned a hell of a lot less cash on his route there.

On the subject of the Islanders, if you don't already check out Greg Logan's very popular blog, you should. It's terrific stuff, he covers the Islanders for Newsday. Hopefully this sets the future trend for other NHL beat writers.

And while I'm at it I'll steal a Ted Nolan quote from there, and make Dennis, Tyler, Riversq et al into fans of his at once. This after the Ranger game on Sunday: “Well, it was a one-goal game -- one fluky one and one four-on-three in overtime,” coach Ted Nolan said, referring to goals by Rangers Colton Orr and Michael Nylander. “I thought we outplayed them. We outchanced them. Sometimes, as much as you want to execute, it comes down to luck and bounces."

Note: All the numbers used here do not include empty net goals, and are about a week old.


Blogger Black Dog said...

Interesting player and interesting post Vic.

In a thread over on LT's the discussion is why a guy like Schremp is the way he is and some genius (actually me :)) commented that if you're 18 and want to get laid then scoring 50 goals and being a minus is a better way of going about it then scoring 15 and being the guy on the ice at crunch time - who cares, right?

Which also reminds one of an article about the Leafs today and how they are improved because they have a bunch of kids who don't have big numbers but are willing to do the little things it takes to win. Unlike the old days when they had a bunch of guys with big reps and bigger cheques cruising around.

Now the question is, amongst the Oilers' prospects, is there a Tambellini type. Because we could surely use a few.

Brodziak? Cogliano?

Dreamer? :)

3/28/2007 1:14 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I was hoping the Oilers were going to get Tambellini in the Smyth deal once I heard it was NYI, mostly because I recall your analysis of his 05/06 AHL season from one of the boards quite awhile ago and because I've been looking at his numbers myself for awhile.

Somehow I doubt Lowe couldn't have had this player in the Smyth deal. Of course we know that the Isles were shopping around that package to other teams, so I wonder if he bothered to inquire further at all.

Anyone else amazed that the Oilers have traded two elite players and have received relatives in return? I don't know why that just came to me yesterday, but that's a pretty ugly fact.

3/28/2007 2:17 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

One other thing... That was Crawford's Avs team in 1996 and they were fresh off a championship.

BTW, is it just me or is Crawford a little nuts these days? Seems to me he makes a lot of strange decisions.

3/28/2007 2:23 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

RiversQ: Of course you're right about Crawford, I just corrected the post.

I've always liked Crawford as a bench coach. That's an L.A team that is clearly rebuilding though. I'll have to check out some Kings games ... how is he going nuts?

3/28/2007 8:03 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Pat said:
Now the question is, amongst the Oilers' prospects, is there a Tambellini type. Because we could surely use a few.

Brodziak? Cogliano?

I don't know, Pat. Brodziak looks like a good player to me, not very fast though. I don't know that the guy will be able to generate enough offense to really make a difference though. I guess time will tell.

The picture that LT paints of Cogliano would put him in the same family of players for sure. A ways away yet though I'm sure.

3/28/2007 8:09 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

I've always liked Crawford as a bench coach. That's an L.A team that is clearly rebuilding though. I'll have to check out some Kings games ... how is he going nuts?

I think read somewhere that he was one of the big reasons Cloutier got that ridiculous contract.

3/28/2007 8:16 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Yeah I haven't paid too much attention to his bench stuff, but like PDO said I think he was pretty involved with retaining Cloutier's services.

As far as the bench stuff I can remember, I've never been a big fan of his. I really can't stand teams that run picks and his teams have been doing that down low since 1996. Smart guy though. I suppose if the NHL has a blind spot for that sort of thing you should exploit it.

BTW - Vic do you mind if we toss the word verification? I think the removal of anonymous comments should filter enough. I'm just lazy mind you...

3/29/2007 10:03 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

BTW - Vic do you mind if we toss the word verification? I think the removal of anonymous comments should filter enough. I'm just lazy mind you.

Ya, sure. I didn't even know it was on.

3/29/2007 10:53 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

On the one hand you'd think that a guy like Nolan would be all over this guy, ie he rides Blake and Smyth and while young Jeff is still a fledgling outscorer, that is the kind of player he looks to be albeit not to such an extent. On the other hand I guess he had such love for the Simon and Asham's that he couldn't fit in Jeff.

4/04/2007 11:33 am  

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