The Vancouver Canucks have reportedly dipped their toes into the NCAA free agent market again. John Buccigross is reporting that Western Michigan centre Griffen Molino will sign an entry-level contract with the Canucks.
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) March 27, 2017
Due to Molino being 23-years-old per section 9.1 and 9.2 of the NHL/NHLPA CBA, the entry-level contract will be two years.
At this moment, there is no word on if the ELC will start this season or if the Canucks will defer it to next. But it would be the prudent thing to do to have the ELC start for the 2017-18 season, and have Molino sign an ATO with Utica for the duration of this season.
The 6’0″ and 185 lbs forward just completed his sophomore season with Western Michigan where he posted 33 points in 40 games for the Broncos.
He hasn’t followed the ‘standard’ development curve as he played in the CCHL for one year, then the USHL for two before making a move to the NCAA. That combined with an early birthday (January 21) means that Molino leaves college at 23 with only two years under his belt.
Molino’s previously attended the Detroit Red Wings (2016) and the New York Islanders (2015) development camps.
The Trenton, Michigan native was one of the players I profiled earlier this month as a NCAA free agent. I included Molino, as reporters indicated there was a possibility teams sought him as a free agent on a few occasions.
In my piece, I make clear that this isn’t a player I would target as a priority signing. There are a few reasons for that.
Molino’s age was a factor (he will be 24 years old in the middle of next season) as we’ve seen the development curves of forwards means that he is already in his peak performance. Given that he hasn’t been able to put up huge points in the NCAA, likely means that he will not be able to do so at the NHL level.
He is tied for 76th in NCAA scoring and falls below the top 100 players in point per game pace. His 2.3 shots per game are also well below the top 100. Those are concerns.
Molino led the Broncos in shooting percentage but ended the year in 3rd in goals.
That is re-affirmed by pGPS, as it shows that 2.7% of comparable players went on to become NHL players. That number was 1.8% when I profiled him earlier this month.
There is a chance that he is a late bloomer who followed an alternative path to get where he is. He played on the top line for Western Michigan and was effective at times.
Through my handful of viewings of their games, as they play in the NCHC, Molino was noticeable to some degree. He wasn’t dominant in any way, but he was effective at the NCAA level despite those statistical flags.
As we’ve seen this season, this organization desperately needs depth at every level. Molino may present the Comets with some more options next season rather than relying heavily on AHL vets. (which is something I have been advocating for).
As always, there is no asset risk in taking these dice-rolls on players. But you do have to be extremely careful on how many of these risks you take. Every team is limited to 50 NHL contracts. Using those 50 contracts as effectively as possible is an important part of your organization.