Reviewing the 2017 NHL Draft

What a wild ride this year’s draft was. With the dust settled it’s time to take stock and assess both prognostication and notable trends. This was perceived as a weak draft class and that always creates interesting variation. Without further ado, here are the prediction numbers (this isn’t about Player X at position X–I’ll demonstrate why below–it’s 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: 27/31
ISS: 26/31
FC: 25/31
RLR: 24/31
Just to show how pointless the player X at position X is, here’s the same lineup using that type of assessment: HP 9/31, ISS/FC 2/31, EOTS/RLR 1/31. As I’ve said in past years, this is the easiest round to predict and it shows in the broader totals. In terms of my misses, Ratcliffe (universally slotted in this round), Robertson (3 first-round picks), Hague (3 picks), and Lind (2 picks) were mine. The biggest surprise selection was Frost, whom no one had slotted so early (RLR came closest). It was interesting to see two big men (Ratcliffe and Hague) be left out.  Other first-round selections: DiPetroComtois, Anderson-DolanBoqvist, Timmins, StromePopugaev, and Davidsson. Incidentally, Bob McKenzie was also 27/31.

Second Round
EOTS/HP: 16/31
FC: 13/31
RLR: 12/31
ISS: 11/31
These are slightly lower numbers than last year. The biggest surprise pick was Luostarinen, as only HP listed him in the draft (and as a late pick)–he’s the first player not on my list. Lauzon also went much earlier than expected (fifth was as high as he was listed). This round was the beginning of the freefall for Strome and Elvenes (neither listed later than the third).

Third Round
RLR: 8/31
FC: 7/31
Prediction totals are on par for other years. Goaltender DiPietro was finally selected. This round had the first truly off-the-wall pick, with unranked Oskari Laaksonen getting taken (not sure what the pressure was to get him early, but clearly Buffalo felt it–all I can give you is that he’s a righthanded defenseman). We also got our first player that Central Scouting liked that no one else listed (undersized and overage Russian Altybarmakyan). Quite a few other players went earlier than expected.

Fourth Round
RLR: 7/31
HP: 6/31
EOTS: 5/31
ISS: 3/31
FC: 0/31
These numbers are roughly the norm (except for FC’s abysmal total). Strome finally landed here, but this is the round where NHL GMs started swinging for the fences: three unranked players were picked (KvacaLaavainen, and Kara), along with Crawley, Swayman and Makiniemi whom only CS had listed (four of the six are overage). Single-listings BrysonSoderlund and Setkov were also nabbed.

Fifth Round
HP/EOTS: 3/31
ISS/FC: 2/31
RLR: 1/31
Predictions bottom out here and for the rest of the draft (all slightly lower than normal). Elvenes was finally taken along with a lot more fence-swinging: SennFraser (CS), Hults, GunnarssonAho (a favourite of mine), Drozg, and Olund (CS). There were also single-selections FischerHowarthPetersonGalvas, ShvyryovGawankeFoo, and Dugan. Many of these are overage players.

Sixth Round
HP: 3/31
Chmelevski and Koltygin were finally taken. Unranked: WebbHolmLycksell, Guttman, Repo, and Palojarvi; CS-only selections McGregorBourque, J. Davidsson, Lakatos and Svetlakov; single-selections MeyerPateraPalmuAdams, Perbix, Maass, McGrewCampoli, and Brind’Amour.

Seventh Round
EOTS/HP: 2/31
FC: 1/31
RLR/ISS: 0/31
Chekhovich and Primeau were finally picked. Unranked: KalnyukV. Rasanen, Zaitsev, A. AnderssonVirtaMarthinsenHellicksonEss, Stucker, and Reilly; CS-only selections BrassardWalterholm, BerglundSveningsson, and Swaney; single-selections WeissbachEvingsonGilmourWalker, and Leivermann.

Totals (changes from last year noted)
HP: 66/217 (30.4%) (-2)
EOTS: 64/217 (29.4%) (+2)
RLR: 54/217 (24.8%) (+7)
FC: 50/217 (23.0%) (-14)
ISS: 53/200* (26.5%) (+3)
* ISS has a list of 20 goaltenders with no rankings attached to them and only 180 skaters listed, meaning they took far fewer risks than the other publications and can’t truly be compared

For the fourth year in a row HP was the most accurate by round, although it’s worth noting that if you eliminate the first round it’s just over 20%–it is, indeed, futile to try to completely emulate the league even round-by-round. 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: 154/217 (70.9%) (-3.9%)
EOTS: 148/217 (68.2%) (-4.3%)*
RLR: 137/217 (63.1%) (-3.7%)
FC: 133/217 (61.3%) (-8.8%)
ISS: 131/200 (66.5%)** (-9 players)
* My “raw” list (as in, simply placing aggregate numbers consecutively) finishes with 145 picks, so the human factor made me a little more accurate
** Given that ISS choose not to predict the whole draft they get placed at the bottom (as, indeed, they picked the fewest correct players regardless)

This is on the low end for me, a slight record low for RLR, significantly low for FC, with ISS continuing to fumble at the bottom (despite the largest scouting staff).  HP finished on the lower end of their spectrum, but did impressively nonetheless.

The highest ranked player left hanging was Russian WHL-defenseman Artyom Minulin  (#83); you’d have to think the Russian-factor is the main reason he was left out as no one had him lower than a fourth-round pick.  Next up is another (this time undersized) Russian, Kirill Slepets (#91). Following him is the first North American player not selected, OHLer MacAuley Carson (#97), although unlike the two previous players he wasn’t universally picked. Twelve players picked by all sources were left hanging: Joel Teasdale, blueliner Tommy Miller, undersized Greg Meireles, defenseman Brady Lyle, blueliner Nate Knoepke, defender Adam Thilander, Russian blueliner Mark RubinchikA. J. Pratt, Finnish defender Otto LatvalaAusten KeatingShawn Boudrias, and undersized defender Will Warm–this is more than usual, albeit not hugely so (11 such players were left hanging in 2015).

Unlike last year, highly ranked players from the previous season were not taken. While some came in ranked (Fortier the highest), none were selected.

In past reviews I’ve talked about how much Central Scouting’s European and goaltending rankings are ignored, and it’s much the same this year.  North American skater rankings also didn’t hold up that well, as Minulin (#58) and Lewis (#59) were ignored (among others); NA goaltenders was the usual mixed bagged (Rasmussen was the highest ignored at #6); undersized EU ‘tender Ahman (#3) was left out, among the usual selective plucking; EU forwards Shen (#21) was the highest left out (followed by #22-#23 Slepets and Hugg). What is interesting is that 11 of the 16 players who only appeared on CS’ list were European–perhaps orgs paid a bit more attention to those rankings, or else simply shared CS’ opinion.

In addition to the CS-only players, there were 24 players that appeared on no one’s list, 17 of whom were from Europe. This means 28 of the 40 players not listed by my primary sources come from European countries which is an affirmation of the struggles to scout there thoroughly (while EU players tend to lead this category, it’s not typically by such a massive proportion, 70%).

The other thing that’s apparent in the off-the-wall picks was the emphasis on position players (something I’ve noted previously).  Of the aforementioned 40 there were 20 defensemen and 5 goalies (so 25 of 40, or 62.5%).

I’d suspected smaller players would fall out of the draft and indeed many did–some I anticipated (like AhcanKvasnicka, Tortura, Garreffa, and Solow) and others I left in (like Nyman and Moilanen).  Several smaller players did get drafted (like McKenzie and Cockerill, both of whom I cut out, or Shaw and Brannstrom).  On the flip side, a few bigger men were left out (MalmstromBrazeau, and Ganske), but admittedly fewer than the former category.  The NHL still firmly believes in size.

This draft, in terms of prognostication, is closest to 2014 in overall performance, although since I’ve been doing this (2011 with all four of these publications) I haven’t had three with sub-140 players before.  I’m not sure there’s a conclusion to draw from this given the weak draft class, but it’s certainly something to watch going forward. Is it time to add a fifth publication? It’s possible, but I don’t know that any other actually predicts the entire draft–still, something I’ll think about for 2018.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


1 Comment

  1. Tremendous amount of work.very intersting.

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