Reviewing the 2015 NHL Draft

It’s time to look back over the draft and assess my prognostication as well as that of the draft guides I used (I’m not interested in the declared intentions of the guides, but rather how they function as predictors).  Without further ado, here are the numbers (this isn’t about Player X at position X, so what’s below is simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
HP: 26/30
EOTS/FC/Bob McKenzie: 25/30
ISS/RLR: 24/30

As I’ve mentioned before, picking first round players is quite easy–there’s a general consensus on most of them and these numbers are typical.

Second Round
EOTS: 18/31
HP: 17/31
ISS: 16/31
FC/RLR: 14/31

These are very similar numbers to last year.

Third Round
EOTS/RLR/ISS: 8/30
HP: 7/30
FC: 6/30
Also typical numbers (as they are for the remaining rounds).  This first player not on my list (goaltender Mike Robinson).

Fourth Round
EOTS: 7/30
ISS/HP: 6/30
RLR: 3/30
FC: 2/30
Three players were taken who were not on my list (Andrei Mironov, Christian Wolanin, and Daniel Bernhardt).

Fifth Round
EOTS: 4/30
RLR/HP/FC: 3/30
ISS: 2/30
Team eccentricity began to hit here and 11 players were taken who did not appear on my list.

Sixth Round
HP: 5/30
RLR: 3/30
EOTS: 2/30
FC: 1/30
ISS: 0/30
Another 16 players were selected who don’t appear on my list.

Seventh Round
HP: 5/30
EOTS/RLR/FC: 2/30
ISS: 0/30
A final 15 players were selected that did not appear on my list.

Total (change from last year noted)
HP: 69/211 (-2)
EOTS: 66/211 (+6)
RLR/ISS: 57/211 (+4/+4)
FC: 53/211 (no change)

Despite a slight decrease, HP again had the most accurate by-round predictions (32%).  I improved in this regard (to 31%), but the more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted; ISS’ weird number has to do with the way their guide is structured):
EOTS: 165/211 (78%) +7%
HP: 160/211 (75%) +4%
RLR: 154/211 (72%) +8%
ISS: 151/220 (68%) +6%
FC: 146/211 (69%) +0%
I achieved my goal of picking the most players this year, which is gratifying (it’s also the highest percentage since I started doing this).  My sources and I had 29 players in common that none of us picked to be in the draft (close to 14% of the draft).

The highest ranked player not to be selected was mighty-midget (5’8) Dante Salituro; he was followed by center Nathan Noel, Swiss center Pius Suter (his second time through the draftm perhaps influenced by him signing with ZSC in the NLA in May), and center Tyler Soy.  In all eleven players selected by all sources for the draft were not selected (Lalonde, McBride, Huska, Kielly, Askew, McNiven, Hunt, Leveille, along with Soy, Suter, and Noel).  In terms of source ratings, Salituro and Chebykin were second-round talents for one guide each.  Virtually none of the CS catalogue of European players were taken after the top-30 or so.

For those who like completeness, here’s all the players selected who weren’t on my list: Mike Robinson (R3), Andrei Mironov (R4), Christian Wolanin (R4), Daniel Bernhardt (R4), Luke Stevens (R5), Niko Mikkola (R5), Sam Ruopp (R5), Karlis Cukste (R5), Matt Schmalz (R5), Dominik Simon (R5), Spencer Smallman (R5), Rudolfs Balcers (R5), Carl Neill (R5), Karel Vejmelka (R5), Luke Opilka (R5), Kris Oldman (R6), Brett Seney (R6), Adam Parsells (R6), Sergei Boikov (R6), Markus Ruusu (R6), Cameron Hughes (R6), Frederik Tiffels (R6), Mason Appleton (R6), Patrick Holloway (R6), Andong Song (R6), Colby Williams (R6), Tyler Moy (R6), Liam Dunda (R6), Steven Ruggiero (R6), Garrett Metcalf (R6), Bokondji Imama (R6), Ivan Chukarov (R7), Erik Kallgren (R7), Steven Lorentz (R7), Ivan Fedotov (R7), Markus Nutivaara (R7), Gustav Olhaver (R7), Jake Kupsky (R7), Matthew Roy (R7), Jack Becker (R7), Riley Bruce (R7), Joey Daccord (R7), Evan Smith (R7), Miroslav Svoboda (R7), Ziyat Paygin (R7), and John Dahlstrom (R7).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analysis and Predictions for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

The 2015 NHL draft is not far away so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and take a look at who will be selected.  What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down.  It’s worth noting that I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft–an area that lacks good comparative data and in pursing that it’s interesting and fun to make predictions.  Before we get into my list I’ll explain my reasoning and methodology.

With the advent of the salary cap in the NHL it became paramount for all organisations to invest in their scouting operations and draft well. Teams could no longer simply buy their way out of trouble or plug holes with expensive free agents. That change has helped drive the cottage industry that is draft prediction, but the wide variety of sources are not created equal and few of those who provide their opinions will reflect on their subsequent accuracy. It is my purpose here to collate the best sources and provide insight into who will be selected.

This is my sixth year predicting the draft (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the entire class (well ahead of my sources).  When I talk about predicting the draft class, I don’t mean player X went in X round at X position–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (in the years I tracked it, the number was little higher than a quarter and when you subtract the first round it bottoms out completely).  These numbers and percentages are pointed at which players will be selected, period.  So back to the totals: in 2011 I picked 70% (again well ahead); 75% in 2012 (two points up on Red Line Report); 69% in 2013 (tied with Hockey Prospect‘s); and in 2014 I hit 71% (again tied with HP).  Overall I’m just over 71%.  For the sake of clarity, here’s the batting average of sources used over those years (excluding 2010 when I didn’t keep full data):
Me: 70%, 75%, 69%, 71% (avg 71%)
HP: 47%, 72%, 69%, 71% (avg 65%)
ISS: 60%, 70%, 65%, 62% (avg 64%)
FC: 44%, 71%, 68%, 69% (avg 63%)
RLR: 44%, 74%, 67%, 64% (avg 62%)

My method is to take the sum of reliable sources and produce a number (player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then added and averaged). This gives me a number I can use to compare that player to others. I then engage in further comparative analysis—for instance, if player X has a higher aggregate score, but player Y has the higher median score, the latter is given the higher position (so 11, 30, 31, 38 vs 12, 13, 16, 69). It’s worth noting that there is a difference between trying to assess who the best player is versus who a team will draft.  My interest is in figuring out who will be taken and given the available data draft guides are the only real way for me to do so–the percentages above aren’t critiques of the guides (that’s a separate proposition), since they are assessing talent not the decision-making of GMs, but simply showing how closely their assessments match those of NHL teams.

Determining my Sources of Data

While a wide variety of media and bloggers produce draft predictions (especially for the first round), not all are created equal. My preference is for guides covering the entire draft (since that’s my purpose here), but otherwise simply based on results. For that purpose I use the International Scouting Service (ISS), Red Line Report (RLR), Future Considerations (FC), Hockey Prospect‘s (HP), and Central Scouting (CS). I have used other sources in the past (Corey Pronman, McKeen’sThe Hockey Writers, The Hockey News, etc).

An important note: both ISS and CS have inherent comparative problems. Central Scouting does not create a master list—players are divided into North American and European regions, and further subdivided into skaters and goaltenders.  As such I don’t integrate their rankings in creating an aggregate number, instead I use it largely to help mediate between players with close scores (it’s also worth noting NHL teams have shown little interest in CS’ European assessments). ISS, on the other hand, separates only their goaltenders into a separate ranking. This separate ranking used to have draft positions associated with them (by round), but for whatever reason this year ISS hasn’t done that, making it impossible to include them in the aggregate score.

Notes

-Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), CS (Central Scouting), RLR (Red Line Report), HP (Hockey Prospect), and FC (Future Considerations)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders and defenseman in the player comments; any player listed as “undersized” means they are officially listed as 5’9 or shorter
-Ranking depth: CS 371, RLR 316, ISS 220 (200 skaters and 20 goaltenders), HP 211 (plus 187 unranked), FC 211.
-This draft is considered strong and deep (although not as strong as the 2003 draft).

First Round

My sources have 23 players in common for this round, with a total of 38 players selected for it; all have the same player slotted for both the #1 and #2 picks.

1. Connor McDavid (1.00) – picked by all sources so there’s no analysis necessary
2. Jack Eichel (2.00) – Boston University player is also universally picked
3. Noah Hanifin (3.75) – the Boston College defenseman is slotted here by everyone (including CS) except ISS
4. Mitchell Marner (4.5) – in a dead heat with Strome (below); the crux seems to be whether a GM (Toronto) prefers a bigger man with slower feet, or a smaller one who is quick–I’m thinking the latter with the addition of Babcock in Leafs land, but I am picking against a slight preferences in sources (CS would normally be the tie-breaker)
5. Dylan Strome (4.5) – in a dead heat with Marner (above); CS prefers him; I have to wonder how much playing with McDavid has boosted his numbers
6. Ivan Provorov (7.0) – the Russian blueliner (currently plying his trade in the WHL) slots here comfortably, but the Russian factor remains a potential obstacle (although New Jersey, who currently has this pick, isn’t that shy with them); HP has him ranked lowest (9th)
7. Mikko Rantanen (8.5) – the top-ranked player in Europe according to everyone, the big Finnish winger’s rankings top out at this position, but he suffers far less variation than anyone who follows him
8. Lawson Crouse (8.75) – ISS has the OHL-winger at #4; there’s nothing bad said about the big man other than an implication that his ceiling is lower than those listed above him (scouts call him a safe pick)
9. Mathew Barzal (9.5) – the OHL-center is a bit like Rantanen in that he’s not ranked particularly high (8th from ISS is his best), but everyone except HP has him in the top-10 (they put him twelfth; CS also has him outside the top-10 in NA)
10. Pavel Zacha (10.5) – the Czech center (playing in the OHL) suffers from FC’s assessment (15th), but otherwise he places better than Werenski below (HP has him highest at 7th)
11. Zach Werenski (10.25) – FC puts the Michigan defenseman in the top-ten (7th), but otherwise he’s just outside that margin
12. Kyle Connor (14.25) – USHL-center gets a wide disparity of placements that puts him in a dead heat with Meier below; HP has him fifth
13. Timo Meier (14.25) – the Swiss-QMJHL winger has very steady numbers across the board
14. Travis Konecny (14.75) – the undersized OHL-center ranges from an FC high (11th) to an HP low (19th); there’s a universal concern about him being injury-prone (partially related to his size)
15. Nick Merkley (16.0) – the WHL-center has steady numbers ala Meier above
16. Evgeny Svechnikov (16.5) – the Russian-QMJHL winger also has a tight band of ratings
17. Denis Guryanov (18.0) – I’ve seen his name spelled with an “i” as well, but this spelling appears more often; the Russian winger spent most of this past season in the MHL and his ratings range from in the top-ten to the latter part of the first round (24th from both FC and ISS)
18. Jeremy Roy (18.25) – the QMJHL-defenseman is either near top-ten or towards the end of the round
19. Joel Eriksson Ek (19.25) – the Swedish center spent a lot of time with Farjestad in the SHL this season; HP has him highest (15th) while FC has the low (23rd)
20. Thomas Chabot (19.5) – ISS is highest on the QMJHL blueliner (#16)
21. Colin White (23.5) – USDP winger is the first player listed not selected by all sources to be a first-round pick; ISS has him highest at #15
22. Jakub Zboril (23.5) – despite the Czech QMJHL-defenseman having the same score as White above, his numbers are a bit more pedestrian (a high of #20 from FC); his higher CS ranking keeps him above Bittner below
23. Paul Bittner (24.0) – WHL-winger’s scores are split between the top-20 and the end of the first-round; ISS has the high (#17) and HP the low (#30)
24. Jansen Harkins (25.5) – there’s some variance in the rankings of the WHL-center; HP slots him in the second-round
25. Jake DeBrusk (26.75) – the WHL-winger is the last player picked by all sources to go in the first-round (all of them slot him towards the end of the round)
26. Brock Boeser (27.25) – USHL-center is a second-rounder for ISS (#35), but otherwise comfortably fits in the first, with HP putting him in the top-20 (#18)
27. Noah Juulsen (27.75) – WHL-defenseman has a high of #22 (HP) with FC putting him at #32
28. Ilya Samsonov (28.0) – Russian goaltender spent the year in the MHL; HP is the high (#21) with FC putting him in the second-round (#40)
29. Daniel Sprong (29.75) – QMJHL-winger is the first with only two first-round votes (FC and ISS)
30. Oliver Kylington (30.0) – Swedish defenseman has a very tight prediction band

Eight other players were slotted in the first-round; Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Bracco by two sources; Nicolas Meloche, Jack Roslovic, Alexander Dergachev, Gabriel Carlsson, Jacob Larsson, and Matej Tomek appeared in just one.  Bob McKenzie’s popular list differs from mine in terms of placement, although we have the exact same players in the top-ten; Carlo and Carlsson are in his first-round list, while Juulsen and Sprong are not.  For the remaining rounds I’ll keep details to a minimum unless there’s something specific to explain; it’s worth noting a number of players who follow have their overall number derailed by RLR (19 players, the majority European), which has me leaning towards removing them from my data collection.

Second Round

31. Brandon Carlo (31.75) – WHL defenseman
32. Jacob Larsson (45.75) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
33. Nicolas Meloche (34.0) – QMJHL defenseman
34. Jack Roslovic (35.5) – USDP center
35. Jeremy Bracco (36.5) – an undersized USDP winger; he’s given a higher ceiling by those who like him (FC and ISS)
36. Anthony Beauvillier (36.75) – QMJHL winger
37. Filip Chlapik (39.5) – Czech center in the QMJHL
38. Gabriel Carlsson (40.5) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
39. Vince Dunn (41.25) – OHL defenseman
40. MacKenzie Blackwood (43.66) – OHL goaltender
41. Yakov Trenin (44.75) – Russian QMJHL forward
42. Zachary Senyshyn (46.0) – OHL winger
43. Jordan Greenway (47.25) – USDP winger; HP’s low rating doesn’t impact where he lines up in the numbers
44. Thomas Novak (48.5) – USHL center
45. Travis Dermott (49.5) – OHL defenseman
46. Jonas Siegenthaler (54.25) – Swiss defenseman in the NLA
47. Christian Fischer (50.0) – USDP winger
48. Guillaume Brisebois (51.5) – QMJHL defenseman
49. Robin Kovacs (54.25) – Swedish winger in the Allsvenskan
50. Austin Wagner (51.75) – WHL winger
51. Nicolas Roy (54.5) – QMJHL center; HP has him in the third round
52. Julius Nattinen (57.0) – Finnish center in the Mestis; split opinions, with half putting him early in the second-round and the others slotting him in the third
53. Nikita Korostelev (59.25) – OHL winger
54. Matthew Spencer (59.75) – OHL defenseman
55. Alexander Dergachyov (60.75) – Russian center in the MHL; wide variance on his talent-level
56. Mitchell Stephens (66.75) – OHL center
57. Jeremy Lauzon (62.0) – QMJHL defenseman
58. Roope Hintz (62.25) – Finnish winger in the Liiga
59. Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson (63.75) – Swedish center in the USHL
60. Dennis Yan (64.25) – QMJHL winger; wide variance (early second to fourth)
61. Rasmus Andersson (67.0) – Swedish defenseman in the OHL; an ISS casualty, he’s the last player with three second-round selections

The second-round includes an extra-pick due to compensation for Chicago (they weren’t able to sign 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes).  Four other players received two second-round placements (Ryan GroppParker Wotherspoon, Alexandre Carrier, and sort-of Daniel Vladar–it’s hard to know what ISS goalie rankings really mean).  My list varies from Bob McKenzie’s with the two first-round players mentioned above along with Gropp, Vladar, Erik CernakGraham Knott, Callum BoothRyan Pilon, and Gabriel Gagne.  So our variance through the two rounds is 7 players.  Excluding McKenzie, another 22 players have at least one second-round placement.

Third Round

62. Ryan Gropp (67.25)
63. Gabriel Gagne (90.5)
64. Daniel Vladar (67.66)
65. Parker Wotherspoon (69.5) – defenseman; hurt by HP’s rating
66. Mitchell Vande Sompel (69.25) – defenseman
67. Erik Foley (70.0)
68. Matej Tomek (70.33) – goaltender; rankings are all over the place (from first to fourth round)
69. Alexandre Carrier (72.5) – defenseman
70. Keegan Kolesar (74.5) – beats Pilon on aggregate
71. Ryan Pilon (74.25) – defenseman
72. Graham Knott (75.75)
73. Callum Booth (74.66) – goaltender; other than Bob McKenzie no one has him in the second-round (he is CS’ #2)
74. Glenn Gawdin (79.75)
75. Erik Cernak (80.75) – defenseman; rankings all over the place
76. Michael Spacek (84.0) – hurt by HP’s rating
77. Brendan Guhle (80.75) – defenseman
78. Adam Musil (84.25)
79. Blake Speers (84.75) – beats Ahl on aggregate
80. Filip Ahl (84.75) – beats Looke on aggregate
81. Jens Looke (84.75)
82. Denis Malgin (86.75) – undersized
83. Ethan Bear (85.25)
84. A. J. Greer (88.0) – rankings all over the place
85. Thomas Schemitsch (89.5) – defenseman
86. Vladislav Gavrikov (93.25) – defenseman
87. Dante Salituro (93.0) – undersized; huge variance of opinion; the first player not in the draft for all sources
88. Dmytro Timashov (97.0) – undersized; beats Noel on aggregate
89. Kirill Kaprizov (98.75) – undersized; also beats Noel on aggregate
90. Nathan Noel (96.75)
91. Sami Niku (100.25) – defenseman

Fourth Round

92. Connor Hobbs (95.66) – defenseman; despite decent ranks from elsewhere, HP doesn’t have him in the draft
93. Brent Gates (101.5)
94. Kyle Capobianco (102.5) – defenseman
95. Andrew Mangiapane (103.0)
96. Pavel Karnaukhov (104.0)
97. Simon Bourque (105.25) – defenseman beats Aho on aggregate
98. Sebastian Aho (104.75) – worth noting this is the Finnish forward, not the Swedish defenseman also eligible for the draft with the exact same name
99. Kevin Stenlund (108.0)
100. Pius Suter (108.0)
101. Dennis Gilbert (110.75) – defenseman
102. Jesper Lindgren (110.75) – defenseman
103. Joseph Cecconi (110.75)
104. Mathieu Joseph (106.66) – only listed by three sources
105. Tyler Soy (111.75)
106. Samuel Montembeault (114.66) – goaltender; he’s difficult to slot given ISS’ meaningless ranking
107. Andrew Nielsen (115.25) – defenseman
108. Conor Garlard (116.75) – undersized
109. Jonne Tammela (119.0) – gets the edge of Borgen by his consistent rankings
110. Will Borgen (117.33) – rankings are all over the place, including not being listed by one source
111. Cooper Marody (122.0) – beats Gabrielle on aggregate
112. Jesse Gabrielle (121.0) – beats Bednard on aggregate
113. Ryan Bednard (119.0) – goaltender
114. Adam Marsh (123.5)
115. Brendan Warren (124.0) – rankings are all over the place
116. Anthony Richard (124.0) – undersized
117. Brad Morrison (125.0) – divided opinions on him
118. John Marino (125.75) – defenseman; beats Sideroff on aggregate
119. David Kase (148.25) – undersized
120. Deven Sideroff (125.25) – similar split as Morrison above
121. Anthony Cirelli (125.33) – wildly variant rankings and not listed by one source

Fifth Round

122. Ales Stezka (126.5) – goaltender; beats Herbst on aggregate
123. Liam Herbst (126.0) – goaltender
124. Jack Sadek (126.75) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions on him
125. Loik Leveille (128.75) – defenseman; as above
126. Radovan Bondra (131.75) – beats Rykov on aggregate
127. Egor Rykov (129.0) – defenseman; not listed by one source
128. Jake Massie (129.66) – defenseman; not listed by one source
129. Jean-Christophe Beaudin (130.33) – not listed by one source; HP has him in the second-round
130. Dryden Hunt (131.75) – very tight ratings for this late in the draft
131. Samuel Dove-McFalls (132) – not listed by one source
132. Nikita Pavlychev (134.66) – not listed by one source
133. Chaz Reddekopp (135.75)
134. Nicholas Boka (137.75) – defenseman; beats Saarijarvi on aggregate
135. Vili Saarijarvi (136.66) – undersized; defenseman; not listed by one source
136. Adin Hill (139.33) – goaltender; split opinions on him
137. Aleksi Saarela (139.5)
138. Veeti Vainio (140.5) – defenseman; split opinions where he’s either a third-rounder or a late pick
139. Christian Jaros (141.25) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions
140. Veini Vehvilainen (143.33) – goaltender
141. Matt Bradley (145.0) – not listed by one source, but everyone who does puts him in this round
142. Grant Gabriele (145.66) – defenseman
143. Troy Terry (145.75) – widely divergent opinions
144. Marcus Vela (148.25) – very similar rankings for him
145. Michael McNiven (152.66) – goaltender; gets a boost from HP
146. Gustav Bouramman (153.33) – defenseman; not listed by one source
147. Felix Sandstrom (155.0) – goaltender; rankings all over the place
148. Lukas Jasek (156.25) – three sources slot him in the fifth
149. Jeremiah Addison (156.5) – beats Askew on aggregate
150. Cameron Askew (156.5) – varied opinions
151. David Cotton (157.75) – as above (HP is high on him)

This is the first round where we start to run out of players unanimously selected to be taken in the draft; that situation only gets more exaggerated the deeper we go.  At this point only 5 players remain whom all sources agree should be taken in the draft (Kielly, Huska, Gennaro, McBride, and Lalonde; as such I won’t note every occasion where a player isn’t universally selected going forward).

Sixth Round

I’ve privileged players who appear in three or four sources over those in just two (the latter begin at #174).

152. Cavan Fitzgerald (180.75) – defenseman
153. Stephen Desrocher (159.0) – defenseman
154. Justin Lemcke (196.25) – defenseman
155. Ryan Larkin (161.66) – goaltender; CS gives him the edge over Pearson
156. Chase Pearson (161.66)
157. Lucas Carlsson (164.66) – defenseman; beats Hansson on aggregate
158. Petter Hansson (164.33) – defenseman
159. Jake Jaremko (166.33) – undersized; almost slotted in the exact same spot by the three who rank him
160. Adam Gaudette (169.25)
161. Samuel Laberge (167.0)
162. Hayden McCool (170.5) – divergent opinions on him
163. Sebastian Aho (173.66) – undersized; the Swedish defenseman is the #13 player in Europe according to CS
164. Kameron Kielly (175.25)
165. Adam Huska (175.66) – goaltender
166. Caleb Jones (179.5) – defenseman; beats Freytag on aggregate
167. Matthew Freytag (176.66)
168. Matteo Gennaro (182.0) – beats Fortin on aggregate
169. Alexandre Fortin (181.33)
170. Karch Bachman (186.0) – beats McBride on aggregate
171. Nick McBride (185.33) – goaltender
172. Bradley Lalonde (189.25) – defenseman; the last player considered draft-worthy by all sources
173. Alexandre Alain (201.5) – the last player picked by three non-CS sources
174. Chris Martenet (89.0) – defenseman; marks the beginning of players with just two non-CS sources behind them
175. Ryan Zuhlsdorf (111.0)
176. Austin Strand (121.5) – defenseman
177. Nikolai Chebykin (123.0) – unranked by CS
178. Jason Bell (126.5) – defenseman
179. Joni Tuulola (128.75) – defenseman; edges Reilly via his CS ranking
180. Will Reilly (128.0) – defenseman
181. Colton White (136.0)

The scouting consensus falls apart here as the various guides look for homeruns, surprises, and what not.  Because of the shortage of numbers it’s easy for a player to benefit from one good ranking, which makes the assessments hard to gauge.

Seventh Round

182. Fredrik Forsberg (182.66)
183. Tate Olson (137.0) – not ranked by CS
184. Roy Radke (142.0)
185. Alexander Younan (149.0) – higher CS score than Wilkie
186. Christopher Wilkie (149.0)
187. Tyson Baille (142.5) – unranked by CS
188. Martins Dzierkals (143.0) – unranked by CS
189. Artyom Volkov (176.33) – defenseman; #22 player from Europe according to CS
190. Giorgio Estephan (170.66)
191. Sebastien Olsson (152.5) – unranked by CS
192. David Henley (156.5) – gets the nod via his CS rank
193. Tim McGauley (153.5)
194. Sergei Zborovsky (161.0) – defenseman; edges Murray/Laczynski via CS
195. Troy Murray (159.5) – defenseman; not ranked by CS
196. Tanner Laczynski (161.0) – not ranked by CS
197. Luke Philp (166.0)
198. Kirill Pilipenko (166.5) – undersized; not ranked by CS
199. Mikhail Vorobyov (169.0) – beats Davis via his CS rank
200. Vladimir Tkachev (186.66) – undersized
201. Kevin Davis (169.0) – defenseman
202. Connor Ingram (170.5) – goaltender
203. Ryan Shea (176.0) – defenseman
204. Adam Helewka (176.5) – not ranked by CS
205. Lukas Vejdemo (179.0)
206. Ken Appleby (180.0) – goaltender; not ranked by CS
207. Philippe Myers (182.0) – defenseman
208. Taggart Corriveau (186.0) – beats Burke via CS
209. Callahan Burke (184.0) – not ranked by CS
210. Joe Gatenby (189.0) – defenseman
211. Jorgen Van Pottelbeurghe (198.0) – #5 goaltender in Europe via CS

Here are the remaining players (6) picked by two non-CS sources for the draft: Liam Dunda (190.0), Brandon Lindberg (191.5), Cameron Lizotte (198.5), Jack McNeely (202.33), Dmitri Zhukenov (205.0), and Devante Stephens (224.66).  Also of note, here are players picked for the third or fourth round by just one source: Hughes (3rd), Yudin (3rd), Masonius, Sidorov, Bukarts, Sharipzyanov, Schweri, Pfiefer, Tiffels, Fiala, Paigin, Afonasyevsky, Leandersson, Karrer, Olhaver, and Fronk.  Additionally, these are the highest CS European selections that didn’t make it: Dufek (#28) and Dvorak (#35).  Three goaltenders from both the CS NA and EU top-ten weren’t selected (#8 the highest in NA, Robinson, and #7 in EU, Godla).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Assessing NHL Draft Guides

With all the major hockey draft guides out it’s time to compare them.  I’m not examining every draft guide available, just the ones I consider the pick of the litter.  Each guide (Red Line Report, International Scouting Service, Future Considerations, and Hockey Prospect) has two common elements: players listed numerically along with player profiles (sometimes comprehensive, sometimes selective); for last year’s review go here.  Some of the guides have mock drafts, organisational comments, and/or a look at eligible overage players and European free agents.  Other elements often included are a look at top players for future drafts, but personally I don’t see the value in that (unless you manage a fantasy junior team).  Interestingly, Elite Prospects now includes listings from ISS, CS, and FC for prospects, but only the top-30 are organised in list, making the data impractical unless you are targeting an individual player.

The four publications that cover the entire draft have 132 players in common–that’s close to two-thirds (62%) of the entire draft (a 5% increase over last year).  ISS has the most unique selections (33), followed by RLR (28), HP (27), and FC (17).  This is a decrease from last year (when RLR had the most at 40).  Most of these one-publication players are late round picks (5th to 7th rounds), with 15 listed in the 4th round and 2 in the 3rd.  Traditional these kinds of players are either European or from the American junior system–this time around the proportion of Europeans amongst the unique’s is 23 of 105 being from across the pond (21%; less than last year); while 36 of the players (34%) are from the various US systems (including the NCAA).  A final note: there were another 29 players to appear in 3 of the 4 sources, which is yet another indication that, despite some variance, the scouts from these disparate sources have fairly similar ideas of how to assess talent.

A universal trait from the guides is the disdain they have towards Central Scouting’s (CS) European rankings.  A huge number of European players (49 of the top-100) have been left out, while including those with just one appearance pushes the number to 72–that’s an enormous percentage and indicates a massive disconnect between how CS assesses Europeans versus the various guides (this disparity is not echoed in their NA choices, interestingly enough).

There are a few odd choices (or non-choices) from the publications that are worth noting:

Cameron Hughes (#71 RLR): the center plays for the University of Wisconsin in the NCAA; RLR notes he’s been underscouted and might not be drafted (which seems on-point given his absence elsewhere)

Dmitri Yudin (#86 ISS): passed over in last year’s draft; he spent this season playing with St. Petersburg in the KHL; as both a Russian player and one not cited elsewhere, he seems unlikely to be picked

Tristen Pfeifer (#94 HP): right-handed blueliner is an overage player who put up unremarkable numbers with Everett in the WHL; he’s an odd choice for HP

Dante Salituro (not listed by HP): this is an interesting choice by HP to leave the Ottawa 67s center out–he receives decently high marks from most guides, but in HP’s report they include multiple quotes from NHL scouts saying he’s not an NHL talent

The highest ranked CS European player not selected in any guide is Jan Dufek (#28), a Czech player participating in the local junior scene.  This is slightly better than last year when the #16, #22, and #26 players weren’t listed (nor were they drafted, although the high-ranked CS goaltenders who were ignored were all picked–Jonas Johansson (#2, Buffalo), Linus Soderstrom (#3, Islanders), and Ilya Sorokin (#5, Islanders)).  Speaking of CS goaltenders, this time it’s just three in the back-half who are ignored (#7, #9, and #10).

So, at last, the comparison:

ISS $99.99
Players listed: 220 (divided between skaters and goaltenders)
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: yes
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

RLR $50.00
Players listed: 316
Player profiles: top-115 (with a single line on another 63)
Organisational assessment: yes
Mock draft: yes (two of them)
Overage eligible/European free agents: yes

Hockey Prospects $39.99
Players listed: 398
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: no
Overage eligible/European free agents: no
Other: includes game reports on players

Future Considerations $19.99
Players listed: 211
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: yes (including the second round)
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

As has been the case the last couple of years, the best is Future Considerations–for the cost and the content, it’s the best available.  Hockey Prospect‘s would be my second choice; not only is it the next cheapest, it has by far the most scouting reports available.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the ISS (International Scounting Service’s) 2015 NHL Draft Guide

ISS

The most expensive guide on the market (by far), it (like Red Line Report) is an independent scouting service whose goal is not predicting where players are selected in the draft, but simply offering assessments of their talent (although their guide expresses none of this–in fact, there’s no mission statement or declaration of criteria in it at all).  For previous reviews go here, here and here.  Inexplicably they still segregate goaltenders in their own list (despite this not being how the draft works and the fact that no other guide does this).  In terms of accuracy here are their last three years (compared to Future Considerations, RLR, and Hockey Prospects, all of whom also predict the entire draft): 2014: 62% (4th), 2013: 65% (4th), 2012: 70% (4th), and 2011: 60% (2nd).  I used to include top-30 lists, but given their availability everywhere (eg here), I’ve omitted it.

ISS includes profiles of all 220 listed prospects (20 goalies plus 200 other players).  This is roughly equivalent to what FC offers.  Previous to this year the goalies were at least assigned an expected round (first, second, third, etc), but for some reason this year they are simply ranked against each other without any sentiment on when they will be selected.

In their mock draft they have Ottawa selecting Evgeny Svechnikov, which seems ludicrous as under Bryan Murray the Sens have drafted zero Russians since 2008.  There’s no organisational assessment or statement of team needs, although ISS claims the org likes what they see in the Russian.

The guide includes an irrelevant graph of draft success by team (I say irrelevant because it not only crosses over eras–cap and no-cap–but because it doesn’t account for changes in management and scouting staffs).  The “historical” charts by team are a bit more useful, but as they start in 2010 and (again) don’t account for the above factors, don’t really mean much.  There’s also a list of “sleepers” and “wild cards”.

There’s no reason to purchase this $99 USD guide–at nearly twice the cost of it’s nearest competitor (RLR) it needs to offer a lot more value to even be considered.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Hockey Prospect’s 2015 NHL Draft Guide

HP

The most accurate draft guide for the past two years (for previous reviews go here, here and here).  Like Future Considerations (but unlike Red Line Report or ISS), Hockey Prospect‘s is a guide made for fans.  Here is their accuracy since I started tracking it (compared to RLR, ISS, and FC, all of whom also predict the entire draft): 2014: 71% (1st), 2013: 69% (1st), 2012: 72% (3rd), and 2011: 47% (3rd).   I used to include their top-30 list in my preview, but given that the information is publicly available everywhere (eg here), it’s pointless to do so and I’ve omitted it.

The guide provides not just scouting assessments for all 211-players listed, but reports for many prospects not included in their overall rankings (187 by my count, and given that, they have more scouting reports and players listed than any other guide).  One quirk is that the players are listed alphabetically rather than by ranking–it’s not horrible, but it would be more convenient if they followed the conventional format.  Another unique aspect of the guide is that it includes actual scouting reports from games; I don’t see much value in that, but it might be interesting for draft fans who want insight on how the scouts for the publication do their work.

There’s no organisational assessments or mock draft, which isn’t the biggest of deals other than it’s something offered everywhere else.  At a reasonable price ($39) it’s cheaper than the “pro” guides, but costs more than FC (the only other fan guide to cover the entire draft).  One final quibble: HP is published later than any other guide and I’m uncertain why that is (I presume the reason isn’t arbitrary [the lovely folks at HP tell me it’s so they can attend the combine before publishing]).  For those who don’t pay attention to these things, Central Scouting (CS) puts out their final rankings first, with ISS and FC following not long after, then RLR, and finally HP.  It’s an oddity, but all-in-all not the biggest of deals.

For fans who want the most scouting reports for the draft, HP is the place to go; for those who want the best deal, it ranks second behind FC.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Future Consideration’s 2015 NHL Draft Guide

FC

The guide I consider the best value for draft fans (for previous reviews go herehere and here).  Unlike Red Line Report or ISS, Future Considerations‘ is a guide made for fans.  In terms of their accuracy over the last four years (compared to Red Line Report, ISS, and Hockey Prospects, all of whom also predict the entire draft): 2014: 69% (2nd), 2013: 68% (2nd), 2012: 71% (3rd), and 2011: 44% (4th).  I used to include their top-30 list in my preview, but given that the information is publicly available anywhere (eg here), it’s pointless so I’ve omitted it.

FC includes their criteria for assessment (ie, what they are looking for when they assess a prospect), with scouting reports on all 211 listed players.  They also list an assortment of “sleepers” picks, who are all included in their list (so less players outside the bounds of who you expect to be picked, and more players who are later picks who could turn out to be very good).

In the guide’s mock draft (which actually goes two rounds deep) they have Ottawa selecting Swedish defenseman Oliver Kylington with their first-round pick; the two second-rounders are thought to be goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood and center Nicolas Roy.  The belief is that the Sens organisation needs: “depth at all forward positions, a skilled defender or two and a blue chipper in the crease.”  I’d take that assessment with a grain of salt, other than the comments about their defense.  Given Ottawa’s investment into Matt O’Connor, along with two goaltending prospects behind him, I’d be very surprised if they picked a goaltender in this draft.

There’s no further organisational assessments provided, but at the reasonable cost of $19.99 USD it’s the least expensive of the comprehensive guides and well worth buying.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2014 NHL Draft

In what was described as a weak draft, it’s time to look back over the events of the past two days and assess the collective prognostication.  Without further ado, here are the numbers from myself and the sources I used to make my predictions (I’m not concerned with Player X at position X, so what’s below is simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
EOTS/HP (and Bob McKenzie): 27/30
FC: 26/30
RLR/ISS: 24/30
Highly accurate numbers all around; everyone got Ivan Barbashev wrong, with the Russian falling out of the round (Roland McKeown was the next most surprising drop); every pick this round had at least one first round selection, so there were no genuine surprises.

Second Round
EOTS: 18/30
HP: 17/30
RLR/ISS/FC: 12/30
Solid numbers for the round; all but one player with a first round vote was taken here (Jack Glover being the exception); the biggest surprise pick was Alex Lintuniemi, whose highest selection was in the 5th round (FC) and was not included in the draft by ISS and HP; Vitek Vanecek also surprised (no one had him higher than fourth)

Third Round
EOTS/ISS: 8/30
HP/RLR: 7/30
FC: 3/30
Aussie Nathan Walker was an odd pick here, as Washington already had him on an AHL-deal this past season; Elvis Merzlikins only had one source put him in the draft (RLR in the sixth), as did Jonas Johansson (FC); Kyle Wood and Mark Friedman were also surprise picks

Fourth Round
HP/FC: 7/30
RLR: 5/30
EOTS: 4/30
ISS: 2/30
Quite a few unranked players were taken here (Christoffer Ehn, Devon Toews, Sam Lafferty, and Danton Heinin) and they were coupled with innumerable off-the-wall selections

Fifth Round
HP: 5/30
RLR/ISS: 3/30
FC: 2/30
EOTS: 1/30
Five more unranked players were taken (three Europeans and a pair of junior-B players), joining the mishmash of swings for the fences one expects in a weak draft; Gustav Forsling, a projected second-rounder for some, was finally picked

Sixth Round
HP: 4/30
ISS/FC: 2/30
EOTS/RLR: 0/30
Thirteen players (over a third of the round) taken were not ranked coming into the draft; Adam Ollas Mattsson, expected to go in the second round, was finally picked

Seventh Round
EOTS/ISS/RLR: 2/30
HP/FC: 1
Another nine unranked players were taken; the highly regarded Emil Johansson was finally selected, as was Spencer Watson

Total
HP: 71/210
EOTS: 60/210
FC/ISS/RLR: 53/210

Congratulations to HP whose 33% is quite high for by-round predictions.  The more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted):
EOTS/HP: 149/210 (71%) +2%
FC: 145/210 (69%) +1%
RLR: 136/210 (64%) -3%
ISS: 132/210 (62%) -3%

Once again I finished tied with HP, so all credit to them (two years running).  It’s a slight improvement on last year for both, although my specific accuracy slipped slightly while HP’s improved.  I have to admit, if HP is at the top next year I may retire my own version of predictions (there’s not much point if my method can’t out pick a single source).

The highest ranked players to fall out of the draft were Vladimir Tkachev and Sebastian Aho, both of whom I had pegged for early in the third round, but their size seems to have scared teams away.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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