The main focus lately of this blog has been on the offensive projection of forwards, but now we will switch the focus back to defenseman today. For defenseman, there is no NHLP formula to project offensive upside, due to the fact the correlation between CHL and NHL points is not strong enough. Instead, the most useful information gleamed from my sample of defenseman, is that their even strength production is roughly twice as important as their power play scoring. Therefore, for evaluating d-men, I have decided to take the sample and use the ratio of the average point per game in juniors versus that in the NHL. Once again I have separated power play from non power play scoring. The results are:
|Non-PP Points||PP Points|
While at the CHL level, players see about an even amount of power play scoring to that of non-power play scoring. However, at the NHL level there is a drop off in their power play production. One assumption, on the decrease in power play scoring, is that players who become 3rd pairing d-men in the NHL would have likely been top defenseman as junior players. If that is the case and they had the time on ice stats available in the CHL, we could compare whether average power play time is down when comparing CHL to NHL. Now to use the 2014 1st overall pick Aaron Ekblad as an example; his results would be for offensive potential using the ratio above:
These results are less to give a projection of future offensive potential but more to correct for inflated CHL point totals due to power play scoring. D-men tend to put up a larger portion of their scoring on the PP than forwards and you do not want to overrate the power play wizards. With that in mind, we will take a look at all CHL d-men taken in the top 10 in the NHL entry draft between 1998 and 2014. The results are:
– Bouwmeester was the only d-men other than Ekblad that had a legitimate shot at 1st overall in their draft year.
– Bogosian had an amazing draft year and outplayed Doughty but has not lived up to his expectations yet.
– Barker was the best of the bunch left after two superstars in Ovechkin/Malkin were gone. He was a talented junior player but it takes more than talent to be a good pro.
– Doughty did not have the best draft year, after starting the year as the frontrunner over Stamkos. Conditioning and weight problems led to him being nicknamed Drew Dough-y for a reason.
-Murray and Gudbranson are the only players not to project over 50 points. In many draft years, they are probably not top 3 picks.
– Pietrangelo put up better numbers than Bogosian and Doughty did in 2008 and could easily be a top 3 pick in many draft years. The same case could be made for Seth Jones, who was considered a 1st overall choice for some scouts.
– Hickey taken at 4th overall did not make sense to me in 2007 and makes even less sense today. Hickey is a player that should have been taken outside the top 10.
– Reinhart/Schenn/Allen are all big shut down d-men who project to less than 40 points. I think a strong argument could be made they should not have been top 5 picks.
– Dumba and Reilly have similar stats, size and upside and both were solid picks for where they were taken.
– Nurse and Fleury project similarly to that of Alzner and Klesla and would be legitimate top 5 picks in weaker draft years. Nurse was and is a solid pick at #7.
– Coburn by far is the weakest offensive player of the bunch. However, one must remember how much has changed in what is valued in a d-man between 2003 and today’s game.
– Dougie Hamilton sticks out lick a sore thumb as a player that should have been taken earlier. His stats and size suggest he should have been at least a top 5 pick like Jones and Pietrangelo than at 9th.
– Phaneuf was a big physical d-men but still offensively raw in 2003. He has exceeded expectations, when it comes to his offensive game, and was a great pick at 9th overall.
– Typically, there have been mainly big physical defenders taken in the 9th and 10th pick. When you look at players like McIlrath, Mezei, Ellerby and Valabik it may be best to pass on using a top 10 pick on d-men with limited offensive upside. There are always exceptions to the rule but I would be wary.