All three guys had solid seasons, but keep in mind (1) that they all have yet to play professionally; (2) they put up great numbers against teenagers; (3) the CHL recent track record with their scoring leaders is mixed, at best, at that ability translating in NHL.
I agree there but these 3 were far and away the best CHL players as D+1 players and bourque was D+2 but put up the best numbers per game. If we look at a random year, I’ll choose 2015 because I like that year, the leader in PPG from the OHL who was in their D+1 year was Robby fabbri. The leader in PPG from the WHL who was in their D+1 year was Brayden point. The leader from the QMJHL who was in their D+2 year was Ivan barbashev. Mind you bourque averaged half a point more per game than barbashev, johnston averaged about .1 more than fabbri had, and stankoven had .3 more PPG than point did. As you said prospect development is all over the place but all three are currently NHLers and producing at different levels. Even at that though, the WHL has been the best at producing NHL talent imo based on the leaders of D+1 players. Here are every leader in PPG from the WHL for their D+1 year from the last 10 years.
Brendan leipsic 1.8 PPG
Nic petan 1.8 PPG
Point 1.4 PPG
Barzal 1.5 PPG
Sam steel 1.98 PPG
Aleksi heponiemi 2.1 PPG
Ty smith (d man) 1.2 PPG
Dylan cozens 1.7 PPG
Jake neighbors (Covid year but he played well nonetheless) 1.7 PPG
Logan stankoven 1.75 PPG
Obviously very hit or miss but imo we have to compare the situations as well and not just the numbers. Leipsic petan and Ty rattie was the best line in the CHL when it was doing its thing. Each player fed off of each other and are all fringe NHL talents now but because they gelled well together and were all fringe NHL talents, they did their thing. Point had one teammate who was on his line who produced close to him and that player was two years older and produced less than point. Barzal produced 18 points higher than his closest teammate and that teammate was a mid round pick who is currently playing in allsvensken. Steel had eye popping numbers but his next closest teammate was a D+3 player who produced one point less than him. Steel is an okay NHLer but not what he was projected to be after that season. Heponeimi wasn’t even the leader on his team in points and had 2 other players older than him cross the 100 point plateau. Ty smith was a d man and isn’t really too comparable to the others on this list. That being said he was second on his team in points and was easily the best player on his team. Cozens was 17 points ahead of his next closest teammate and has been a good NHLer so far. Neighbors was on pace to beat his next closest teammate by over 30 points in a full season but it was a covid shortened season so take it with a grain of salt. Finally stankoven, he was 40 points higher than his next closest teammate.
Now if we look for a pattern here, the best players at the NHL level and the real stars were far and away the best player on their team and lead their team in points by a large margin. The 4 busts out of the 7 (neighbors, stank, and cozens we can’t count as busts of stars yet), all were not far and away the best player on their respective teams and were apart of super lines which consisted of fringe NHLers but because there was 2-3 of them on those lines, they were able to outperform their competition and destroyed the score sheet. We can do this for johnston and bourque as well and the short of it is, bourque outperformed his closest teammate by an estimated 30 points adjusted for a full season. Johnston outperformed his closest teammate by 40 points as well. Johnston and stankoven I am much higher on than I am on bourque. That being said, the same trend still exists with D+2 players as well.
QMJHL D+2 PPG leaders
Dimitri jaskin- 1.95 PPG- 17 points over the next best teammate
Anthony mantha- 2.1PPG- on pace for 40 points over next best teammate
Ivan barbashev- 1.67 PPG- 2nd best player on team behind Conor garland
Conor garland- 2.1 PPG- just under a whole PPG better than the next best player
Daniel sprong- 1.9 PPG- on pace for 20 points more than next closest teammate
Vitaly abramov- 1.95 PPG- on pace for 25 more points than next closest teammate
Max comtois- 1.9 PPG- .2 PPG more than next closest player
Alex kovanaugh- 1.9 PPG- .4 PPG more than next 2 closest (same phenomenon but this time it is with two players putting in work)
Dawson Mercer- 1.6 PPG- .1 more than next closest. I take it with a grain of salt as it was a covid shortened season but it is definitely an outlier as Mercer had a good rookie year in the NHL.
Bourque- 2.1 PPG- .45 higher than next closest. I am high on bourque because his stats are comparable to garland as the difference between 1 and three on bourques team is a whole PPG. Sure he has bourgault on his team but he still manages to be better than him. Bourgault stats were also much worse without bourque.
Johnston was a whole .5 PPG higher than his next closest teammate and as seen in barzal, point, and cozens so far, that produces better players, especially in a D+1 year.
I predict Dylan guenther will be a bust. His numbers with vs without neighbors speaks loudly. He is an 18 year old who i would argue, is carried by neighbors but I could be wrong.
If you look at any given CHL Product who was a star, they produce so much better in their D+1 year than their teammates do. The 2014 Draft class CHLers consisted of guys like Drai, Bennett, point, reinhart, dvorak, domi, bertuzzi, dal colle, ehlers, and virtanen. The two biggest busts of this draft in dal colle and virtanen both were not far and away better than their teammates. It’s not an exact science but those players who are a few steps above their teammates are the ones who wind up being stars.
1) a large gap in point production between 1 and 2 leads to star NHLers
2) johnston, stankoven, and bourque all have a giant gap in their production
3) from any given year, you can predict how good a player will do based on their teammates production compared to said players production.
4) it’s a very good bet on all three of these players to be future stars. I would rank them johnston, stankoven, bourque. All are displaying the signs of being legit NHL stars.
5) given these facts, this is one of the most valuable trios of prospects in the league. Could all walk out as busts but I highly doubt it. Trends would show otherwise.
Finally, if you do take the time to read this, I thank you, if you don’t, I will probably turn it into some form of published media if I refine it lol.