Reviewing NHL Draft Guides

With the draft just a week away it’s time to take a look at this year’s guides.  As I’ve done for the last few years I’m only looking at guides covering the entire draft, so in that light: Future Considerations (FC), Hockey Prospects (HP), International Scouting Service (ISS), and Red Line Report (RLR) are on the menu.  The top-30 lists for the first three are all publically available (you can see them on their various websites or posted up elsewhere).

The four publications have 129 prospects in common–that is to say, 128 players they all agree should (or will) be taken in the draft.  That’s 61% of the total, which represents a very small drop from last year (-3 players).  As you would expect the further we get into the draft the greater the variance.  As for unique selections, ISS leads the way with 39 (RLR 31, FC 28, and HP 24).  This represents an increase from 2015, but its on par for 2014.  As for what leagues the common group comes from, it’s no surprise the CHL dominates: 82 CHL (5 via tier-2), 27 Europe (9 Sweden, 7 Finland, 3 Russia, 2 Czech, 1 Swiss), and 25 US (3 via NCAA).

As for those unique selections, the vast majority are mid-to-late selections (only one player hits the second round, and just five in the third).  These unique picks are much less commonly CHL players (just 39% vs the 60% they represent among common selections).  The breakdown (123): CHL 49, US junior 27, Russia 12, Sweden 11, NCAA 6, tier-2 6, Czech 5, Finland/Switzerland 2, Slovakia/Denmark 1.  As per usual the guides ignore some highly ranked Central Scouting European players (you can see their lists here), as Oleg Sosunov (#25), Artur Shepelkov (#35), Pius Suter (#40), Ivan Kovalev (#41), Artur Lauta (#43), Sebastian Repo (#44), Alexander Bjurstrom (#45), Andrei Kuzmenko (#47), Alexander Yakovenko (#50), Veini Vehvilainen (#G3), Sergei Bolshakov (#G8), and Filip Larsson (#G10) are completely absent (most, not surprisingly, are Russian).  In comparison the highest ranked NA player that doesn’t appear on the lists is Anthony Salinitri (#84).  I’ve always believed this wild variance has to do with the spotty scouting in Europe (if CS’ approach had issues you’d see the same avoidance in their NA lists).

Future Considerations ($22.99)
Scouts: 31
Prospects listed: 211
Prospect profiles: 211
Mock draft: first and second round
Future watch: 2017 and 2018 drafts
Miscellaneous: critical piece on scouting bias

This always affordable product has been my best-buy for several years now.  With that said, there’s nothing new in this years version (save 7 more scouts listed versus 2015), although I do think the piece on potential bias (written by Daniel Deschenes) is excellent and well worth reading through.

Hockey Prospects ($39.99)
Scouts: 22 (Canada 16, US 2, Europe 4); they are not listed in the book, but are available on the website
Prospects listed: 211
Prospect profiles: 411
Mock draft: N/A
Future watch: 2017 and 2018 drafts
Miscellaneous: scouts’ game reports

This expansive publication consistently has more profiles than any other and has been the best predictor of the draft the past two years.  There are no meaningful changes to the product from last year (with extras included in the more expansive “team” version that I’m not reviewing here).

International Scouting Service ($99.99)
Scouts: 53 (Canada 28, US 18, Europe 7)
Prospects listed: 220
Prospect profiles: 110
Mock draft: first round
Future watch: 2017, 2018, and 2019 drafts
Miscellaneous: team draft success from 2000-2014

While the price-point for ISS is unchanged from last year the content has undergone a significant change: the number of profiles has been cut in half, despite an increase in the number of scouts listed (an additional 15 from 2015).  ISS continues to separate its goaltending lists from the rest of the players for no good reason, and provides no rubric for their inclusion in their draft lists.  As the most expensive (and expansive) scouting group included, this year’s product is a disappointment.

Red Line Report ($50.00)
Scouts: N/A
Prospects listed: 312
Prospect profiles: 116 (plus one-line notes on another 61)
Mock draft: 2 (both of the first round)
Future watch: 2017 draft
Miscellaneous: European free agent watch

Constricted by limitations of space for their print-version the publication, they can’t really compete with the heavyweights (HP and FC); that said, it offers it’s own unique opinions and with ISS scaling back the number of profiles included this is certainly a better value.

So what’s the best value?  FC has been the easy choice the last few years, but the pure tonnage of profiles from HP makes this a toss up for me.  For casual fans FC is the way to go in terms of cost and value (most fans aren’t going to care about late round profiles), but for those with a stronger interest it’s hard to ignore the extra coverage offered by HP.  I don’t think the different way they organise their prospects matters (by ranking for FC and alphabetical by HP)–it’s moot in PDF because you have a search function.  Either way, I enjoy both products so whatever choice you make is a good one.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)