When the Rangers signed Kyle Jean to a contract over the summer, not many were sure what to expect. After all, Jean wasn’t exactly lighting the lamp in the CCHA, finishing with 36 points in 77 games before coming on board with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee to the prospect development camp. But four games into his AHL career, Jean is one of the more dominant forces on the ice for the Whale, netting three goals and three assists.
Because of this hot start, many are anointing Jean as the next Dan Girardi. It’s easy to see the similarities, as both were undrafted free agents that managed to find a spot within the Rangers organization. Girardi clawed his way up from the ECHL, while Jean has found a more direct route from within the AHL. That said, it has been just four games.
There are many things to like about Jean. He is scoring, he is a force on the ice, and he is showing he can dictate the pace of a game in the AHL. But let’s remember another former Wolfpack/Whale that could do that as well: Corey Locke.
Locke, like Jean, was someone who could light up the score sheet in the AHL. In his last four seasons in the AHL, before he left for Finland and the SM Liga, he was averaging more than a point per game. That point-per-game pace got Locke exactly nine games in the NHL. Nine. That’s it.
Let’s look at someone a little closer to home, Kris Newbury. Newbury doesn’t average a point per game, but he routinely puts up 60 points per year in full AHL seasons. Newbury, as we know, is not a noted scorer, but he can still put up numbers in the AHL.
The point here is that while numbers are flashy, it doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t even tell half of the story. There have been countless players that have led the NCAA, WHL, OHL, QMJHL, etc, in scoring and have not managed to make it to the NHL, or even sniff pro hockey.
What Jean does have going for him is that the organization has been very high on him since bringing him in for the development camp, and he has done more than just put up points. He has played a relatively complete game at the AHL level so far. There is absolutely a reason to be excited for this kid, but I would like to see how he does over the course of a full season.