Reviewing the 2016 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/ISS: 25/30
FC/RLR: 22/30
The easiest round to pick (Bob McKenzie was 27/30), it went fairly well for me.  Of the five players picked that I missed three (CholowskiJohansen, and Steel) were slotted in the first-half of the second round, so only Borgstrom and Frederic were true surprises (I had them in the third; no one had anyone other than Cholowski slotted in the first).

Second Round
EOTS/HP: 18/31
FC: 17/31
RLR/ISS: 15/31
Virtually identical numbers across the board (the third straight year of such consistency).

Third Round
HP: 8/30
EOTS/FC: 7/30
RLR/ISS: 5/30
Here’s where publication consensus starts to diverge with individual team scouting.  The first players not from my list were taken here (Peeters, Ingram, and Nassen).

Fourth Round
FC: 8/30
HP: 7/30
EOTS: 4/30
RLR/ 2/30
ISS: 1/30
The first unranked players (those appearing in no publication) were taken in this round (Golyshev, Aktell, Noel, Dostie, and Ryan Jones–the middle three were listed by CS, but not highly; three are overage).

Fifth Round
FC: 6/30
HP: 3/30
EOTS/ISS: 2/30
RLR: 0/30
Six more unranked players were taken here, including four overagers.

Sixth Round
HP: 4/30
EOTS/RLR/FC:2/30
ISS: 1/30
Ten unranked players were selected (with four overage).

Seventh Round
EOTS: 4/30
FC/HP: 2/30
RLR/ISS: 1/30
Eleven unranked players were drafted (six overagers).

Total (changes from last year noted)
HP: 68/211 (32.2%) (-1)
FC: 64/211 (30.3%) (+11)
EOTS: 62/211 (29.3%) (-4)
ISS: 50/200* (25%) (-7)
RLR: 47/211 (22.2%) (-10)
* because ISS doesn’t designate goaltenders by round they’re excluded

For the third year in a row HP was the most accurate (by round) of all the sources, although it’s worth noting if you eliminate the first round it’s still less than a quarter of all the players picked.  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):

HP: 158/211 (74.8%) (even)
EOTS: 153/211 (72.5%) (-5.5%)
FC: 148/211 (70.1%) (+1%)
RLR: 141/211 (66.8%) (-5.5%)
ISS: 140/220* (63.6%) (-4.5%)
* because of ISS’ weird goaltending listing they’re compared to a larger number

I slipped back to my average pick percentage for this draft (regressing to the mean–neither Travis Yost or Dmitri Filipovic read this blog, so that reference is wasted).  HP had their third strong year of predictions, just ever so slightly lower than last year (160 in 2015).  The other three publications are all near their usual batting average.

The highest ranked player left hanging was Maxime Fortier (#83 for me)–he was listed by all sources, but perhaps his size (5’10) played against him.  Other players universally slotted who were left out: Vladimir Kuznetsov (#93–listed as a 3rd or 4th rounder in all sources, but perhaps the Russian factor kept him out), Simon Stransky (#94), defenseman Benjamin Gleason (#96), William Knierim (#100; a second-round pick for one publication), undersized Brayden Burke (#140), Patrick Bajkov (#154), Ondrej Vala (#161), and Alan Lyszczarczyk (#165).  This tally of 9 players is slightly lower than last year (where 11 weren’t picked).  As for the publications themselves two players listed as second-rounders were left on the outside (the aforementioned Knierim as well as Russian defenseman Ilya Karpukhin).

A couple of highly ranked players passed over in the 2015 draft were taken this year (Soy and Noel), while others (like Salituro) remained on the outside looking in.  Speaking of highly ranked, Central Scouting’s Europeans were again largely ignored (of those not appearing in the aforementioned publications only Oleg Sosunov (#25) and goaltender Filip Larsson (#8) were taken among the top selections (leaving players like #35 Artur Shepelkov and #3 Veini Vehvilainen on the shelf, among others)).  Conversely the highest NA player left out from CS’ rankings were Brogan O’Brien (#97) and Zach Sawchenko (#6)–perhaps we can say their goaltending picks are as ignored as their European selections.

Of the 32 players picked that weren’t on any list (a slight increase from 29 last year), 15 were from Europe (8 from Sweden, 5 from Russia, 1 from Finland and 1 from the Czech Republic), 8 are from the various US systems (3 from the NCAA), and the remaining 9 from Canadian leagues (1 from tier-2).  This group includes 15 defensemen and 4 goalies.  There are also 24 players from just one publication: 7 from Europe (4 from Sweden and 1 each from Russia, Switzerland, and Denmark), 8 from US systems (5 NCAA), and the remaining 9 from the CHL (1 from tier-2); with 8 defenseman and 2 goalies in the group.  Combined the 56 players are heavily composed of Europeans and prospects from the US (38, or 67% of the total), with a heavy emphasis on position players (23 D and 6 G, more than half the total).  There are also a lot of older players (21), most (18) from the unranked group.

Conclusions from the draft remain much as they’ve been since I’ve started doing this: there’s a very broad consensus on the top-90 or so players, with growing eccentricity the later the draft gets.  Scouting in Europe continues to lag behind (thus the wider variety of rankings and greater number of off-the-board picks).  There’s clear uncertainty behind what makes for a good goaltender, creating a lot of eccentricity in the selections; the draft also indicates a difference of opinion between NHL teams and scouting publications over what makes for an NHL blueliner once you get beyond the top-30 prospects (a lot of the late pick defenseman were big men, so taking risks on size continues to be a factor rather than skill).  As for the predictions themselves, I’m content with how this year went, although the goal remains beating the publications consistently.

[One correction from my big analysis article prior to the draft, I missed mentioning one player from two sources–as Patrick Harper–who ultimately wasn’t drafted.]

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)