In previous posts, I evaluated first year draft eligible CHL forwards by comparing them statistically against comparable forwards in prior draft years. Typically, most people simply compare just points-per-game but that discounts the fact that different players score a different percentage of their points on the power play versus at even strength. I created what I call the NHL Projection formula (NHLP), which is a formula that takes a CHL player’s non-power play and power play stats in their first draft eligible year and projects what they will produce in their best NHL season. It also takes age into account, which I have found has an effect on only power play production. The NHLP numbers are prorated over an 82 game season. The formula is:
Since the NHLP formula is for CHL forwards, it becomes a problem in trying to apply the NHLP formula to other leagues. Therefore, the solution to the problem is to use NHL equivalency, though with reservations. In doing research in creating the NHLP formula, there was no evidence that a point in the WHL is different from a point in the OHL or the QMJHL. However, according to the NHL equivalencies by Gabriel Desjardins and Rob Vollman, the OHL is the superior league and they produce more draft picks than the other two CHL leagues. Therefore, with no certainty can I say that the NHL equivalencies used for the American leagues in this post are accurate, but for now, it will give me the best information possible in analysing the American forwards for the 2015 NHL entry draft. The NHL equivalencies I am using for the American leagues are as follows:
Eichel had an amazing season as he joined Paul Kariya as the only freshman to lead the NCAA in scoring and win the Hobey Baker trophy as the best player in college hockey. To calculate his NHLP score, Eichel’s point totals were adjusted by a factor of 1.10 (0.33/0.30) before applying the formula. The projection for his best season is:
Since Eichel would normally be a #1 choice, how does he compare with other #1 picks from the CHL since 1998:
Eichel’s 84-point projection puts him in 4th place for 1st overall picks and in terms of players with size, the only player in a comparable range to Eichel is Vinny Lecavalier. Not surprisingly, the statistics back up Eichel as one of the best players in the last 17 years, as well as a worthy #1 pick in almost any draft year. It is just his luck that he had to be in the same draft as a generational player as McDavid.
In terms of 2nd overall picks, Eichel is near the top of the heap as he is in the same range as the much hyped Jason Spezza. However, while Eichel and Spezza project to similar offensive upside, I believe that most scouts would say Eichel was the better player at the same age and has the potential to go down as one of the best 2nd overall picks of all time.
The USHL has come a long way turning itself into one of the best junior leagues in the world over the years. For their NHL projections, the point totals of each USHL and USNTDP players were adjusted by the rate of 0.90 (0.27/0.30). With the CHL players, I compared them to other players with similar NHLP scores and similar height from previous years. Out of those CHL players, 46 of them were standouts and I will be comparing their NHLP scores against the 15 USHL players that fall within the same range.
- Bracco leads the way statistically but due to his 5’9 frame he will not be the first USHL player chosen. For players under 5’10 only Beauvillier projects better than Bracco. With undersized skill players there tends to be a wide range of opinions from the scouts and Bracco could be anywhere from a late 1st to a 3rd round pick.
- Connor is the consensus top choice from the USHL and with him projecting to having 60+ points potential, the stats back it up. Offensively, he is right there with other top picks such as Merkley, Sprong and Konecny.
- Roslovic and Boeser are both average sized players that project to have 2nd line upside similar to CHL players Harkins, Yan and Debrusk. Typically players in this range are considered 2nd round picks with an outside chance of being a late 1st round pick.
- In the 28-30 spots there is a group of three USHL players in Marody, Foley and Novak that have similar offensive upside. However, despite putting up similar stats that does not mean they are all equal players. Based on the scouts, Novak is the best (consensus 2nd round), than Foley (consensus 3rd round) and then Marody a distant 3rd (4th or later rounds). When I see these results, red flags go up that Marody is a potential steal.
- In the next grouping of forwards, in the 34-36 spot, all three of Fischer, White and Forsbacka-Karlsson project to have 51point potential over an 82 game season. Once again there is a difference in the consensus rankings as White is considered a 1st round pick while Fischer and Forsbacka-Karlsson are more likely to be 2nd round picks. In cases like these, the player projected to be in the first round (White) usually brings strong two-way play and intangibles to the table (character, heart, leadership) that make up for having less offensive potential relative to where they are picked.
- Usually players that are 6’2 and put up almost a PPG in their junior league tend to receive more buzz as a consensus 2nd or 3rd round choice but that is not the case with Gates. Players like this intrigue me as more information is needed as to whether Gates is a potential steal or has some major warts to his game.
- Laczynski and Dmowski do not show up on Central Scouting’s final rankings but based on their stats they more than deserve to be. These are the type of players who could be great steals in the later rounds of the draft.
- Greenway and Nicolas Roy are both big forwards who project to have 46 point potential and at one point in time were considered as 1st round choices. However, there is more to hockey than just size and both players have warts to their game that drop them down to being considered 2nd or 3rd round choices.
- Warren is similar to Cirelli, as both just make the list being only 6’ tall and neither forward projects to be a top 6 player. However, he was able to crack Bob McKenzie’s top 75, which means the scouts like him. Typically he is seen as a 3rd or 4th round choice.
WHAT ABOUT THE D-MEN?
For defenseman, to determine whether or not I should invest time in them, I have come up with some rules of thumb. To do this, I took every d-man drafted between 1998 and 2006 in the CHL that had 250 NHL games played (at the start of the 2014-2015 season) and used the ratio of their average point per game in juniors versus that in the NHL (broken down between non-PP points and PP points). By doing this, it helps adjust for the power play specialists and put more emphasis on the more important skill of creating offense at even strength. The rates I am using to adjust the d-men are:
|Non-PP Points||PP Points|
In another post, I used these ratios to see if I could find what makes a good top 100 pick. I discovered that it is best to divide defenseman between those who are average height or taller for a defenseman (6’2+) and those who are below average height (<6’2). I also discovered some rules of thumb which are:
- If a defenseman is less than 6’2”, they should project to be a 30+ point player over an 82 game season to warrant a top 100 selection.
- If they are 6’2 or over, they should project to be a 12+ point player over an 82 game season to warrant consideration as a top 100 pick. For those players that fall within the 12-30 point range, there is further criteria to be worth using a top 100 pick which is:
- They are at least 200 lbs and if not, they should be tall (6’4+) and in most cases, play with a physical edge.
For the CHL, using these rules of thumb, there are 32 defenseman that stand out and will be compared with the 2 NCAA defenseman and 4 USHL/USNTDP defenseman that have met the requirements.
|1||MITCHELL VANDE SOMPEL||5.10||182||14||48||62|
- For Werenski I used an NHLE of 0.36, which is the average of Rob Vollman’s equivalency for the CCHA (0.30) and WCHA (0.42) which is the two leagues that formed the Big Ten. At that equivalency, Werenski is up at the top of the 2015 class, which falls in line with him being considered one of the best offensive d-men in the draft.
- Hanifin plays in Hockey East, which has an NHLE of 0.33. While he is not the top of the class in terms of offensive ability, Hannifin still shows strong offensive upside to go along with a being a rock defensively. To make a comparison, Ryan Murray projected as a 46-point player and was taken #2 overall in 2012 but if he was in the same draft class as Hannifin, I think most everyone would go with the American player.
- As for the USHL and USNTDP defenseman, there are no statistical standouts. Baudry barely made the cut to be on this list and is a player that is a long shot to be drafted. With only three players worth looking at, this is a very weak crop of d-men. Out of the three players, Gilbert is the most liked with scouts as a 3rd or 4th round pick. Spaxman and Cecconi, while unlikely to be taken in the top 100, are players worth looking into in the later rounds.