That’s Jordan Eberle before the top prospects game at Rexall in February. Over at Hockey’s Future boards they are debating what numbers to hang on all the new draftees in terms of what level of prospect they are and how likely each player is to deliver on promise.
I admire the HF bunch for trying but it’s too much. They are projecting into the future five and ten years down the road with an extremely limited amount of information to go on.
Because of this, their ratings are universally panned and no one I know takes them seriously. No one has ever said to me “hey, Theo Peckham is a 6.5B. How come you like him so much?” because the language of the numbers tries to do too much.
I have a better plan. It works like a charm. No one listens.
Let’s take two players we know to be outstanding and see if we can find common ground. Let’s pick Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner.
First, a grading system. The names and numbers along the way aren’t important but it is vital to have many steps and levels so we can see where players are along the line. Here’s an example:
- Player of unknown quality.
- Junior/College/Euro 2nd division regular, marginal Euro elite league player
- Junior/College/Euro 2nd division quality player, average Euro elite league
- J/C impact player, regular in Euro elite league
- Marginal pro player/quality in Euro elite league
- AHL/Elite league regular
- Fringe NHL player
- NHL regular
- Quality NHL player
- Impact NHL player
That’s it, that’s all. We can discuss some of the levels and that’s fine but this is the basic idea. Now, let’s take Ales Hemsky’s career and place it in context with the 10 levels.
- Age 17- #4: Impact junior player (100 points in 68 games)
- Age 18- #4: Impact junior player (97 points in 53 games)
- Age 19- #8: NHL regular
- Age 20: #8: NHL regular
- Age 21: #8: NHL regular (strike)
- Age 22: #9: Quality NHL player
- Age 23: #9: Quality NHL player
- Age 24: #9: Quality NHL player
Hemsky could play another decade at this level, or maybe he steps up in the next season or two. Anyway, you get the idea. Hemsky was an NHL regular at age 19 and a quality NHL player at 22.
- Age 17: #4: Impact junior player
- Age 18: #8: NHL regular
So they were at the same level at age 17 and Hemsky ran in place at 18 while Gagner because an NHL regular. I don’t know that Gagner is a significantly better player than Hemsky at the same age but he did get a job in the NHL so if Gagner becomes a quality NHL player earlier than Hemsky (who did so at age 22) then maybe there’s some clearance. Anyway, it’s a bit of an indicator about Gagner’s future.
What doesn’t it tell you? It doesn’t tell you what player type Hemsky and Gagner are and it doesn’t tell you how likely Gagner is to succeed. But you already knew what kinds of players they were, right? We’re not debating whether or not Hemsky can check. And although we don’t really know that Gagner is going to keep moving forward like Hemsky did, we can say that their career paths are similar so far and that we can feel really good about his future.
Those are easy ones. Someday I’ll do a bunch and we can find some nice comps for current Oiler prospects. That’s how I found out Stoll was an excellent comp for Pouliot btw.
It can also give you a nice idea about the most recent draft:
- Jordan Eberle: 17 years old-#4 (impact junior, finished top 5 in goals)
- Johan Motin: 18 years old- #4 (regular in Euro elite league)
- Philippe Cornet: 17 years old- #2 (regular in junior)
- Teemu Hartikainen: 17 years old- #2 (regular in Euro 2nd division)
- Jordan Bendfeld: 19 years old- #2 (regular in junior)