Welcome to the Blue Bullet 2021 NHL Entry Draft Rankings. Another season is in the books, which means it is now time to turn our attention to those young men who are trying to make the difficult goal of playing in the NHL. After countless hours of practice and games, 224 of the best draft eligible players will be weeded out and selected by one of the thirty-one NHL teams. Of those players selected, few of them will turn out to be long-term NHL players. Therefore, it is the job of each team to do their research to create the very best draft list through use of scouting and statistical analysis. Relying simply on scouting will not give a team the best results and that is why one must look for where scouts and stats collide.
METHOD OF ANALYSIS
To create my rankings, I have always started by using the average rankings of a player from the various draft guides as my base. It is a good starting point, as it averages out the varying opinions on a player. However, the problem with averaging out the draft rankings in this fashion is that it is suggesting that the value of a draft selection decreases in a linear fashion. That is not the case. Instead, the value of a draft selection decreases at an exponential rate.
Therefore, to obtain a more accurate consensus ranking, the Blue Bullet Draft Pick Value Chart is an essential tool to utilize. The chart is based off my research on the expected value of forwards and defensemen and Michael Schuckers’s Value Chart. My research revolves around finding ranges of draft selections that provide similar value in terms of NHL career average points per game in forwards and NHL career average time-on-ice in defensemen. My results for forwards and defensemen are:
Michael Shuckers’s research revolves around the value of players based on NHL games played. Therefore, Schuckers’s research was based off of quantity while my research is based off of quality. By combining the two sets of data, it gives the best of both worlds.
Blue Bullet Draft Pick Value Chart
To utilize the Blue Bullet Draft Pick Value Chart, to create a consensus ranking, one starts by simply substituting the values from the chart for the corresponding draft position. For example, if a forward is ranked 12th they will receive a score of 25.56, meanwhile a defenseman ranked in the same 12th position will receive a score of 23.61. From there it is simply averaging all the scores and ranking from highest score to lowest.
For those disbelievers that have little faith in the numbers, this is where you would stop and simply go by what the scouts are saying. However, there is value in the numbers. The research utilized for forwards is based off of my NHL point prediction model called NHLP. NHLP is a tool to project the future upside of a CHL forward by predicting how many points per game they would score in their best NHL season.
The formula is based off my research that shows that for CHL forwards, who play at least 250 NHL games, 40% of their future NHL production can be explained be their junior production, in the season they become draft eligible. The formula accounts for the following three factors:
- Points-per-game (separated between non-power play and power play points)
- % contribution to team scoring (percentage of team’s goals they receive a point, which helps measure how much of the play they are driving. The higher the number the higher the point prediction)
- Age (For example, Byfield would have a NHLP of 1.00 P/GP is he was born on the same day as Lafreniere, but since he is 10 months younger, it jumps up to 1.09 P/GP)
Using my NHLP formula, I have done research on finding ranges of NHLP scores in which forwards have similar value in terms of NHL career average points per game. The results are:
Therefore, since my draft pick value chart is based off of draft position, it does not incorporate any of my statistical measurements in to the mix. That simply will not cut it for me. Therefore, for my draft rankings, I had to create Value Charts for each of the nine groups of NHLP.
ADJUSTED POINT PER GAME FOR DEFENSEMAN
With defensemen, I do not have a point prediction model to utilize, as there is a weak correlation between junior scoring and NHL scoring. What I utilize instead is the fact that, overall, power play scoring does not carry over to the NHL at the same rate as non-power play scoring. Therefore, when evaluating defensemen, I adjust power play scoring so that it is worth 46% that of a non-power play point. Research done by Rhys Jessop showcased that CHL defensemen who scored at a rate of 0.55 Pts/game or better turn out to be much more likely at becoming a NHL defenseman. It makes intuitive sense to those watching today’s NHL game given that the best defensemen tend to have the best puck skills. Taking this knowledge into account, defensemen can be divided into seven groupings using the adjusted point per game measurement.
While my value chart for forwards is based on NHL career average points per game, my value chart for defensemen is based on their NHL career ATOI (average time on ice). However, that is comparing apples and oranges and therefore a conversion chart was created to convert the career ATOI of a NHL defenseman into an equivalent PPG measurement so that forwards could be compared against defensemen. A sample of the conversion chart is as follows:
With all my various value charts completed, there is one last item to address before applying my rankings, which is the fact that all my research is based off of CHL players. This is due to the CHL having the largest collection of data to base my research. This is where NHL equivalency (NHLE) will come into play. Therefore, for all players outside the CHL, I tried to do an estimate of what NHLP group they will fall into for forwards and what adjusted P/G group for defenseman.
The rankings will not be separated between skaters and goalies, despite having zero value charts for goaltenders. Instead, the overall score from the Blue Bullet Draft Pick Value Chart is used in lieu. In a previous post, I analyzed the expected draft value of goaltenders based on their likelihood to reach 50 games played. I than compared this against the likelihood of skaters reaching 100 games played. I concluded that “the best method of drafting goalies is to stay away from using a first round pick on a goalie (unless it is an exceptional goalie) as the odds are significantly better if you draft a forward or dman over a goalie (over 40% better). Instead, the best time to draft one of the top rated goalies from North America or Europe is to grab them in the 2nd or early 3rd round. Goalies in this range tend to out perform the forwards and d-men by 50% and if you wait too long all the good goalies will be gone.
And there you have it. My method of creating a draft list based off of finding where scouting and statistics meet.
BLUE BULLET DRAFT RANKINGS
For the 2021 edition of my draft model, the following 30 draft rankings were used:
- THN – Ryan Kennedy
- Future Considerations
- The Draft Analyst – Steve Kournianos
- The Athletic – Corey Pronman
- The Athletic – Scott Wheeler
- TSN – Bob McKenzie
- Dobber Prospects
- Dobber Prospects – Tony Ferrari
- The Hockey Writers – Andrew Forbes
- The Hockey Writers – Peter Baracchini
- The Hockey Writers – Matthew Zator
- Elite Prospects
- On The Forecheck
- Draft Prospects Hockey
- Recruit Scouting
- Smaht Scouting – Josh Tessler
- diebytheblade.com (@Brassmaster418)
- ohmyhockey.com – Samuel Tirpak (@SammyT_51)
- scouching.ca – Will Scouch (@scouching)
- hockey.uffsports.com (@PuckScouts_UFFS)
- hockey.uffsports.com – Larry Fisher (@LarryFisher_KDC)
- Twitter – Alex @Kotkanemo
- Twitter – Gabe Foley (@NHLFoley)
- Twitter – Kyle Pereira (@pereira_report)
- Twitter – Sam McGilligan (@sam_mcgilligan)
- Twitter – Jakub Hromada (@jakubhromada29)
- Twitter – Gavin Chiasson (@HockeyScoutCA)
- Twitter – Curtis (@CurtisNHLDraft)