Is Fehr The New Flash?

"...You give guys chances and it's up to them to seize the moment, take it and run with it. And not be known as a guy who is a good player and who has potential. I hope [Eric Fehr] seizes the moment and proves, like Tomas Fleischmann did, that he's a solid NHL player." - Bruce Boudreau, via Capitals Insider

In the wake of the news that Chris Clark is likely going to spend the rest of this season on Long Term Injured Reserve, we here at Japers' Rink (and when I say we, I include visitors and not just those of us who write stories) discussed what the Capitals should do with their new-found salary cap and roster space.  As coach of the team, Bruce Boudreau doesn't necessarily have that luxury, and instead opted to (as a coach should) paint Clark's injury as an opportunity for a promising young player on the team to establish himself, saying he wanted Eric Fehr to prove himself in the way Tomas Fleischmann had already done.

The comparison immediately struck me as a fair one; I have found myself thinking Fehr's flashes of talent, and his inability to seem to put it all together and produce at the rate he seems capable of, are eerily reminiscent of last year's Tomas Fleischmann on more than one occasion.  As with Fleischmann, Fehr's overall talent isn't the question - you don't score 109 goals in your last 142 WHL games and average better than a goal every other game in the AHL at 21 without a decent amount of skill - but rather he will be able to harness the talent and become a productive NHL player.  On his part, Fehr seems to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, notching a goal and an assist in Tuesday night's win in Newark.

Of course, anecdotal observations are one thing and statistics are quite another.  Here's how Fehr's 2008-09 production stacks up with Fleischmann, both for this season and 2007-08:



Age GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG SOG PCT TOI
Tomas Fleischmann, 2007-08
23 75
10
20 30
-7
18 1
0
1
107
.093
946:40
Tomas Fleischmann, 2008-09
24 43
15
10 25
-6
12 6
0
4
83
.181
652:05
Eric Fehr, 2008-09
23 31
5
8 13
4
14 1 0
1
70
.071
340:19

Pretty decent comparison, isn't it? But look what happens if you look a little deeper into the numbers, starting with Time On Ice, where the last table left off.



TOI TOI/G PP TOI/G Prod G/60 A/60 P/60 QCP QTM
Tomas Fleischmann, 2007-08
946:40 12:37 1:39 31:33 .64 1.27 1.90 -0.01 -0.15
Tomas Fleischmann, 2008-09
652:05 15:09 2:47 26:08 1.38 .92 2.30 0.02 0.09
Eric Fehr, 2008-09
340:19 10:58 0:57 26:14 .88 1.41 2.29 0.02 -0.23

By the numbers, Fehr does pretty well for himself.   Thus far in 08-09 Fehr has more goals, assists, and points per sixty minutes than Fleischmann did last year and more goals and points per game despite playing less often and with less-skilled teammates. His plus-four is also markedly better than Fleischmann's minus-seven from last year.  Even comparing Fehr to Flash this season, in what's supposed to be Fleischmann's breakout year, doesn't leave Fehr too far behind: he's racking up points at nearly the rate as Fleischmann despite averaging significantly less powerplay time and significantly less-skilled linemates.  Fehr's also way ahead this season when it comes to plus-minus, which is especially impressive given his linemates don't tend to score very often.

What do you make of the Fehr-Fleischmann comparison?  Is Fehr right now at a comparable point to where Fleischmann was a season ago?  And, more importantly, can Fehr make the same kind of leap Flash has and be a legitimate top-six NHL forward next season?

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