For the second straight year, the Isles ended the trade deadline acquiring only a single skater. And for the second straight year, the skater the Islanders acquired was not a guy many had heard of, and if they'd heard of him, most people wouldn't have had the player anywhere near even the middle of their list of desired acquistions.
Last year's player, Tyler Kennedy, didn't work out. Course, the Islanders only gave up a 7th to acquire Kennedy, so the cost was basically nothing. This year, the Islanders gave up a 3rd round pick - still likely to turn into nothing, but high enough that the pick could very well turn out into an NHL player. Is Shane Prince another Tyler Kennedy?
I lead with the Kennedy comparison because I get the impression that's what you expect to hear - that Prince is another small (like Kennedy, he's listed at 5'11") forward with good corsi and bad scoring. As it turns out, he's a decent bit more than that.
Shane Prince has the signs of a good scorer - if he can get the opportunity:
We knew when Tyler Kennedy came to the Isles that he was not a scorer - Kennedy had a long track record of throwing tons of shots directly at the goalie and basically little else. Prince shows a lot more promise.
In the NHL, you'll hear that Prince only has 12 points in 42 games. What you won't hear is that he's gotten very little opportunities to score points. Prince has gotten basically no time on the power play (just over 9 minutes in total this year), the easiest time for a player to rack up points. He's been shuffled from line to line repeatedly - his most common teammate is Chris Neil (not a scorer), but even Neil doesn't even take up more than a third of his total minutes.
And even then, Prince has actually put up points at a good rate at even strength. At 5v5, Prince was fourth on the Sens in Points per 60, and his number would be 5th on the Isles - ahead of scorers like Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome and Frans Nielsen. Prince would be 3rd on the Isles (tied) in shots on goal per 60. All this is despite Prince shooting a poor 5.08% in the NHL, which would be incredibly low if it continues.
But evidence suggests it won't continue. Prince has spent the last 3 seasons in the AHL, where he has racked up points:
Again, scoring nearly a point per game at age 22 in the AHL isn't overly impressive, but it's what you expect from a very solid prospect. Prince shot 13.3% in the AHL, and while some of that may be power play time, overall it's above average and suggests Prince is likely to be an average NHL shooter. So more goals should come, improving his rate stats and counting stats even further. Prince's #s in juniors were also very solid, even if not elite.
In short, Shane Prince is already a good scorer on a per minute basis - he just hasn't gotten many minutes, time to acclimate to any particular linemates, or any power play time whatsoever. This is not a project who can't help the Isles now at scoring - this is a kid who likely can score NOW if the Isles want to give him that chance.
Shane Prince Drives Play Extremely Well
Shane Prince is a rookie. Shane Prince led the Senators in Corsi.
If you don't know what that means and why it's impressive, it basically means that when Prince was on the ice, the Sens took more shot attempts than their opponents, and the ratio of these #s was highest when Prince was on the ice. Prince drove the play into the offensive zone.
Basically, this year, Prince has made the Sens better by being on the ice, as you can see in these charts from Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com:
Now this is basically a sample size of a half season. And while corsi is a more repeatable statistic than say +/- (meaning it's more likely to continue and result in the team doing better), there's certainly room for Prince's #s to drop. We've seen this from several Isles over the last few years (Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome) and it's certainly possible Prince drops from being a super possession driver to something less in the future (and we don't have these numbers in the AHL). That said, it's unlikely he's a possession drag with these numbers - so at worst you have a guy who's neutral who has good scoring rate stats. At best, you have a guy who drives play, and helps the Isles get more chances for their better players.
One last note not related to this directly - Prince also draws penalties at a nice rate so far - he's drawn 10 minors while only taking 3. So unlike some other skaters, Prince will get the Isles extra power plays and take fewer penalties. (For whatever good those power plays will do this team)
Shane Prince is 23 and under team control for a while
Shane Prince is 23 - now the 2nd youngest forward on the team. He'll be a restricted free agent this offseason, with three years of team control to come, and shouldn't cost too much this offseason. So he's a young guy likely to get a little bit better, who already shown potential to be a really good player (think maybe 40 points, 15-20 goals, with plus possession play?). This is a prize for the present and for the future.
I don't know where Cappy will play him - he'll get starts when the team has an injured forward for sure, and maybe when Cappy is unhappy with someone. In my opinion, he should start over Nikolay Kulemin if everyone's healthy -- Kulemin is a good useful PKer, but he's been actually dismal everywhere else this year. That's unlikely to happen (and personality issues with keeping Kule and Grabbo happy may be a reason for it not to), but Prince should play.
And if he doesn't, the team still has time to evaluate him next year. There's a lot to like here. Even if you'd never heard of the kid before today.