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)

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