Predicting the Future

This is David Haas. His nickname was “the Real Deal”, which should be given to prospects who are drafted in the top 2. Sidney Crosby could handle it, Vincent L. too.

David Haas was drafted 105th overall in the 1986 Entry Draft. His nickname should have been “the Long Shot” or “One in a Million” because in pretty much every draft since 1969 going 105th overall means you’re NOT “the Real Deal.”

That alone is a tell that NHL scouts and drafting men can spot talent. No matter how you work out the numbers (if you take out the early Euro drafts like Bure that skew the numbers unfairly) the group drafting done by NHL teams is pretty damn good. All the really good players are taken early, and if there is a diamond back in the 200s it is usually a kid like Dave Taylor who hits a growth spurt after he’s drafted. There are surprisingly few draft flukes since 1969. There’s no knuckleball in hockey, no Charlie Hough.

I’ve been putting together my December top 20 for Oilers prospects over the last while, and on one below was asked to post previous seasons (they are now on the right, 2003-06). It got me thinking about prospects and how to rank them properly.

Question: If the scouts do a good job drafting, and we know this to be true, why not just rank everyone according to draft position? Sam Gagner was taken 6th, Devan Dubnyk 14th, Alex Plante 15th, Cogliano and Schremp 25th and there you go it’s the Oilers top 5.

Why not? Oh you could tweak depending on strength of draft in a specific year, but you get the idea. So, let’s take my list, Guy Flaming’s list, Hockey News’ list and then just a list of players who were prospects at a specific time listed by draft position and see who comes out first.

Good? First, I have no idea how this ends up and have taken a random period of time as an example. Second, I’m using games played as the criteria. Third, since HN only published top 10′s we should probably honor that on all the lists.

Hockey News Top 10, Summer 2003
  1. Jani Rita
  2. Jarret Stoll
  3. Raffi Torres
  4. Jeff Deslauriers
  5. Ty Conklin
  6. Tony Salmelainen
  7. Jesse Niinimaki
  8. Matt Greene
  9. Brad Winchester
  10. Doug Lynch

Lowetide Top 10, Summer 2003

  1. Jarret Stoll
  2. Jani Rita
  3. Marc-Antoine Pouliot
  4. Raffi Torres
  5. Jesse Niinimaki
  6. Jeff Drouin Deslauriers
  7. Doug Lynch
  8. Kenny Smith
  9. Matt Greene
  10. Mikael Joukov
  11. Ivan Koltsov
  12. Brock Radunske
  13. Colin McDonald
  14. MA Bergeron
  15. Ty Conklin
  16. Fredrik Johansson
  17. JF Jacques
  18. Dwight Helminen
  19. Tony Salmelainen
  20. Kalle Olsson

Guy Flaming’s HF Top 20, Summer 2003

  1. Jeff Deslauriers
  2. Jani Rita
  3. Jarret Stoll
  4. Raffi Torres
  5. Jesse Niinimaki
  6. Marc Antoine Pouliot
  7. Alexei Mikhnov
  8. Tony Salmelainen
  9. MA Bergeron
  10. Doug Lynch
  11. Matt Greene
  12. Colin McDonald
  13. Bobby Allen
  14. Brad Winchester
  15. Kyle Brodziak
  16. Mikhael Joukov
  17. Dwight Helminen
  18. Fredrik Johansson
  19. Mikael Svensk
  20. Eddie Caron

And finally, with Games Played included, the total Oiler prospect list from the 2003-04 Official Guide. This would include any player eligible for the lists above, meaning a player like Fernando Pisani is not eligible despite having played only 35 NHL games to this point in his career. By Games Played:

  1. Raffi Torres 272
  2. Jarret Stoll 229
  3. Marc Andre Bergeron 224
  4. Matt Greene 118
  5. Brad Winchester 93
  6. Ty Conklin 72
  7. Tony Salmelainen 70
  8. Marc Pouliot 63
  9. JF Jacques 53
  10. Jani Rita 53
  11. Zach Stortini 47
  12. Kyle Brodziak 43
  13. Bobby Allen 41
  14. Mike Morrison 29
  15. Mathieu Roy 21
  16. Mike Bishai 14
  17. Steve Valiquette 8
  18. Peter Sarno 7
  19. Alexei Mikhnov 2
  20. Doug Lynch 2

Those are the 20 players listed in the Oilers 03-04 guide who qualify as prospects. Well, who has the better list?

Hockey News listed 10 players, and 7 of them made the NHL for at least a game. They didn’t have MA Bergeron on their list, but one assumes they would have between 11-20 and they did have the other 4 of the top 5 (Stoll, Torres, Greene, Winchester) in their top 10. All 3 lists overvalued Rita, but I they listed Ty Conklin in there which was a good call. Their failures (Rita, JDD, Niinimaki, Lynch) are cases of high picks not working out, at least so far. The HN list is definitely the safest.

Lowetide had the better #1 choice in Stoll, but didn’t even list Winchester and undervalued Matt Greene and MA Bergeron while completely overvaluing several names, notably Kenny Smith and Brock Radunske. Only 10 of my 20 have played in an NHL game. It looks like a fan’s list, which is of course exactly what it is.

Flaming’s list has 12/20 who made the NHL, and he also had all of the top 5 in his top 15. He had poor choices for #1 and #2 but he did a very nice job identifying people like Bobby Allen and Kyle Brodziak. Flaming’s list has a certain logic to it, in that his misses (he had 8 who haven’t played) are all near the bottom (his final 5 are all players who haven’t made the grade).

Here is the list of GP’s for each top 10 list:

  1. Guy Flaming 915
  2. Hockey News 909
  3. Lowetide 737

For both top 20′s, it looks like this:

  1. Guy Flaming 1,210
  2. Lowetide 1,156

Flaming’s list looks the strongest to me and his GP total reflects it. You’re going to have your Rita’s and your Doug Lynch’s (Rita failed, Lynch was injured) but it is somewhat predictable. Finally, let’s do this: list the top 10 players on the available list and rank them by draft position:

  1. #5 (Raffi Torres)
  2. #13 (Jani Rita)
  3. #15 (Jesse Niinkimaki)
  4. #17 (Alexei Mikhnov)
  5. #22 (Marc Pouliot)
  6. #31 (Jeff Drouin Deslauriers)
  7. #35 (Brad Winchester)
  8. #36 (Jarret Stoll)
  9. #41 (Tony Salmelainen)
  10. #43 (Doug Lynch)
  11. #44 (Matt Greene)
  12. #51 (Colin McDonald)
  13. #52 (Eddie Caron)
  14. #68 (JF Jacques)
  15. #72 (Mikhael Joukov)
  16. #79 (Brock Radunske)
  17. #83 (Alexander Ljubimov)
  18. #84 (Kenny Smith)
  19. #94 (Zack Stortini)
  20. #106 (Ivan Koltsov)

Total number there is 784 for the top 10, and for top 20 it’s 1,002. Pretty much all of the difference is due to minor league free agents like Bergeron and Conklin being signed.

I like Flaming’s list. He did a good job here. Hockey News is safe, and I enjoyed myself.

Carry on.

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3 Responses to "Predicting the Future"

  1. Art Vandelay says:

    You’re crediting pro scouts for, collectively, being able to select the Top 200 18-year-old hockey players in any given year? That’s a low bar, isn’t it?
    Couldn’t you throw darts at a list of every draft-eligible player in the world and hit 80 of them?

  2. Bruce says:

    No matter how you work out the numbers (if you take out the early Euro drafts like Bure that skew the numbers unfairly) the group drafting done by NHL teams is pretty damn good. All the really good players are taken early, and if there is a diamond back in the 200s it is usually a kid like Dave Taylor who hits a growth spurt after he’s drafted.

    I dunno, I kind of like this line they got going in Detroit:

    Pavel Datsyuk #171 (1998)
    Henrik Zetterberg #210 (1999)
    Tomas Holmstrom #257 (1994)

    They’re all Euros, but hardly early Euros.

    Maybe they’re just the exception that proves the rule, but they deserve a mention. The odd blue chipper does slip through the net. I wish the Oilers could find a gem or two like that in the late rounds occasionally.

  3. Stuart van says:

    Mikhnov is scoring at a rate of
    .931 in the Russian leages.

    Yashin is scoring at a rate of .697 in the Russian leagues, after scoring at a rate of .862 in the NHL last year.

    Should we be getting excited for this guy again?

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