Last December, I did a mid-season assessment of Martin Marincin's offensive production in the WHL, using point/game and size comparisons with other high-profile blueline prospects to come out of the CHL in the past. He was on a ridiculous pace, scoring above point/game, on level with some of the elite offensive defensemen in the NHL today. - what made it more amazing was he was doing it with a large 6'4 frame. Most of the high-point producers in the CHL are smaller defensemen who have already grown into their bodies and can play the offensive game more easily than players 6'2 and above. Marincin's ability to produce this kind of output given his size made Oiler fans drool at the potential.
However, his production slowed as the season came to an end, as he went from 35 points in 33 games in December to 56 points in 67 games at season's end. Many have speculated as to why it happened. Was the first half of the year an anomaly? Was the 70-game schedule simply too much for a player who'd previously never played more than 40 games in a season? Were teams able to identify ways to stop him? Did the Prince George Cougars undergo any internal changes that limited his offensive role? It's hard to speculate at this point, but I think it's safe to say his first WHL season was a great success. Here's a re-do of that table from December, this time using his final statistics, and using only 6'2+ defensemen from the CHL over the past 10 years.
TOP POINT/GAME OF 6'2+ NHL DEFENSEMEN IN THE CHL AT AGES 18/19
These are still some spectacular stats, especially given the fact that Marincin was playing one of the weakest teams in the WHL. His point productoin at age 18 is up with some of the higher-profile 1st round picks from the past decade - just look at some of the names below his on the table! He still remains a high-profile offensive prospect for the Oilers, and looks to be a 2nd-round steal like Travis Hamonic (2008) and Shea Weber (2003) were in their drafts.
Apart from the late-season decline in production, there is one other negative for Marincin: he had the fourth-worst +/- rating on the team, with a -12 rating to finish the year. I know the Cougars are a bad team, but that doesn't look good for a guy being suggested as a future top-pairing guy. However, even Travis Hamonic was a -31 in his 18-year old season - and he's doing fine on the NYI blue line today.
So even with the doom and gloom expressed by some Oiler fans about Marincin's late-season struggles, it's still safe to say his rookie season in the WHL is one of the best 18-year old seasons for a big defenseman in recent history - Stu MacGregor certainly worked his magic in picking him up.