A year ago, in of my first posts here at the Blue Bullet Report, I determined that there was no evidence that the point per game of a first year draft eligible CHL defenseman was a factor for their best point per game season in the NHL. What was useful though is the discovery that non-power play scoring (even strength and shorthanded) was more important than power play scoring. In the study, I looked at 54 defenseman, drafted between 1998 and 2006, who went on to play 250+ NHL games and compared the average power play and non-power play scoring in juniors versus their best season in the NHL. The results were:
Non-PP points: 100.3%
PP points: 58.2%
Therefore, when analyzing defenseman, I adjust their point-per-game using these ratios, as on average, most defenseman will not put up anywhere near the power play numbers in the NHL as they did in juniors. Now of what use is this adjusted point per game? That is where the fantastic research done by Rhys Jessop comes into play. In his research, he shows that CHL defenseman who score at a rate of 0.55 points per game, in their draft season, are much more likely to become NHL defenseman than those that do not. Therefore, this means I should be able to improve upon my recent research on the expected draft value of defenseman, in the top 90 selections of the NHL Entry Draft. My research shows that the top 90 selections can be sorted into seven different groups with decreasing of odds of success in reaching the thresholds of playing 100+ NHL games and maintaining a career average ATOI of 18:30 minutes/game. These are the results:
Therefore, these odds should improve for CHL defensemen that reach the threshold of 0.55 points per game. However, I prefer to use my adjusted point per game measurement, rather than traditional points per game, so therefore I need to discover where the cut-off occurs for adjusted PPG. For my sample, I used 179 first year draft eligible defensemen who were drafted in the top 90 overall, between 1998 and 2010. Of these 179 defenseman, 22% of them have played at least 100 NHL games while maintaining a career ATOI of 18:30. So where is the cut-off? The magic number, for adjusted PPG for a defenseman, is 0.44. Of the 56 defensemen that have an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better, 46% of them have played at least 100 NHL games while maintaining a career ATOI of 18:30. In comparison, only 11% of the 123 defenseman, with an adjusted PPG of 0.43 or less, have played at least 100 NHL games while maintaining a career ATOI of 18:30. Therefore, the defenseman who have an adjusted PPG of 0.44 are four times as likely to be career 18:30 minute per game defenseman than those that do not. It is clear to see those defensemen who can create offense are more likely to be quality NHL defenseman, compared to those that cannot.
Therefore, using each group range, what are the odds for CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 of better and what are the odds for those that are below that threshold? In addition, how does that compare with the combined total of each group, as per the table above?
Well this group is Drew Doughty all by his lonesome. We can learn little here and will just skip ahead to Group 2.
- There has been three defenseman (Barker, Gudbransson, and Hickey) that have a career ATOI below 18:30 minutes/game. All three had an adjusted PPG above 0.43, with Barker leading the way at 0.65.
- Defensemen with an adjusted PPG below 0.43 actually had better odds at becoming an 18:30+ minute/game defenseman. However, only one of them (Coburn) has been a career 20+ minute per game defenseman.
- You are twice as likely to find a top end defenseman, who will play 20+ minutes per game, if you select a player who has an adjusted PPG over 0.44.
- There are four defenseman (Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Bogosian, Stuart) with a career ATOI over 21+ minutes/game. Interestingly enough they also have the highest adjusted PPG, ranging between 0.69-0.77.
- There is not much difference between the odds of a Group 2 CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG over 0.44 and that of the odds of the combined totals for Group 2.
- Compared to the combined totals for a Group 3 defenseman, taking a CHL defenseman that has an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better, improves your odds. Where one sees the largest improvement in odds is the 30 percent improvement in finding a defenseman with a career ATOI of over 20 minutes per game.
- In the bottom left corner of the chart is a larger cluster of defensemen that received limited ice time per game in their NHL careers. Defensemen who demonstrate limited offensive ability are a risky pick to take this early in the draft. Only Myers, Staal and Phaneuf have had an adjusted PPG below 0.43 and gone on to have a career ATOI above 20 minutes per game.
- The safe picks are the CHL defenseman with a 0.44+ adjusted PPG. Not only are you significantly more likely to get a top four defenseman but you are also more likely to get a defenseman that reaches 100 NHL games. From now on, can we refer to the offensive defenseman as the safe pick and the stay at home defenseman as the risky picks?
- The cluster in the top right are four defenseman with an adjusted PPG ranging from 0.68-0.77. All four defenseman (Kulikov, Hamhuis, de Haan, Fowler) have a career ATOI of at least 20 minutes per game.
- If you have not guessed it yet, that is Ryan Ellis way out on the right hand side of the chart.
- There is a 74% increase in the likelihood of finding an 18:30+ minute/game defenseman, if one selects a CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better, compared to the combined total for Group 4. However, the likelihood of finding a top end defenseman, that plays over 20+ minutes per game, does not improve in the same fashion, as there is only an 11% improvement. Therefore, in Group 4, selecting a CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of at least 0.44 best increases your chances of finding a second pairing defenseman.
- While Groups 1-3 have at least one player to have a career ATOI of 24+ minutes per game, the top player in Group 4 is Mike Green, who averages just under 22 minutes per game in his career.
- One should not expect a defenseman with an adjusted PPG under 0.43 to become a top pairing defenseman. Between 1998 and 2010, Regher is the only one to do so.
- Group 4 demonstrates why using only games played is a poor measure for expected draft value. With CHL defensemen that reach the 0.44 adjusted PPG threshold, there is only a 20% improvement in terms of likelihood to reach 100 NHL games. Meanwhile, there is over a 380% improvement in reaching 18:30 minutes per game and 140% improvement in reaching 20 minutes per game. Therefore, one who only looks at that measure of games played would not realize that a defenseman who is above the threshold (0.44+) has a significantly greater chance of playing more minutes per game.
- Group 5 is where teams can make out like bandits on Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft. Compared to the combined totals for Group 5, a team can double their odds in finding an 18:30 minute per game defenseman if they select a CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better. Compared to CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG below 0.44, the odds are almost 6 times better.
- There has been three defenseman in Group 5 to play 22+ minutes per game, however, do not turn to adjusted PPG to help predict them. Weber had a score of 0.24, Vlasic 0.39 and Subban 0.58. It is random.
- If you take a defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.43 or less set your expectations low, as 4 out of 5 defenseman fail to reach 100 NHL games. If they do reach 100 NHL games, they will likely be a depth defenseman as 75% of those that did reach 100 NHL games failed to have an ATOI above 18:30 minutes per game.
- Group 6 is where taking a CHL defenseman, with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better, gives a team there greatest increase in odds. Compared to the combined total of Group 6, one has twice the odds of selecting a defenseman that will play at least 100 NHL games and three times the odds of selecting one that will maintain a career ATOI of above 18:30 or 20:00 minutes/game.
- There are similar odds of success between a CHL defenseman in Group 5 and a CHL defenseman in Group 6. For those with an adjusted PPG of 0.43 or less, they have actually had a better rate of success in the Group 6 range than the Group 5 range. Therefore, for evaluating CHL defenseman, I believe it is best to combine Group 5 and Group 6.
- A Group 3 CHL defenseman, with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or less, has similar odds of success as a Group 5 or Group 6 CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.44 or better. Essentially, a defenseman with limited offensive ability, who is ranked in the 9-18 range, is as likely to succeed as taking a defenseman ranked in the 30-75 range, who demonstrates offensive production.
- The odd of success for a CHL defenseman with an adjusted PPG of 0.43 or less is better than that of the combined total for Group 6. Therefore, the combined total for Group 6 is being dragged down by defenseman selected from Europe and the remaining North American leagues. It appears your best bet is to stick with the CHL when drafting defenseman between 50-75 overall.
- For Group 7, there is nothing that separates a defenseman with a 0.44+ adjusted PPG and one that is below that mark.
- If one finds a defenseman in this group, that plays over 100 NHL games, do not expect a top four defenseman. Not one CHL defenseman in this group has maintained a career ATOI over 18:30 minutes per game. The closest was Alexandre Picard who averaged 17:48 per game.