There are two things that bog down a conversation about any entry draft.
- An unwillingness to give credit to the people doing the drafting for the 30 NHL teams.
- Hindsight comments that “cherry pick” ratings, rankings or scouting reports to frame the issue in the most damning way possible.
I’d like to suggest a few things that may benefit the conversation moving forward. If you really believe NHL teams are poor at drafting, divide any past entry draft into two parts: 1-100 and the rest. The overwhelming majority of quality players are long gone by pick #100 (in fact they’re long gone for the most part by #50) and the outliers almost always have a story (draft eligibility question, major after-draft spike in size/strength, Laura Stamm) that tells you why the scouts passed on them. We can argue about specific organizations being horrible (Fraser’s Oilers after the Stanley’s started rolling in) but overall the NHL’s talent scouts are very good at their jobs.
Now, the ratings. Allow me to give you two completely different scenario’s based on draft day ratings. We’ll use 2003 since it is such a famous draft for Oilers fans.
- #14: Marc-Antoine Pouliot
- #95: Jean-Francois Jacques
Nothing in the top 100 in regard to any of the other Oiler picks in the first three rounds.
- #40: Marc-Antoine Pouliot
- #57: Colin McDonald
- #62: Mikael Joukov
Redline did rank Jacques (#118), Stortini (#194) and Brodziak (#185) but well outside the top 100. Which ranking is better? The Hockey News and their contacts or Redline report and their “31st NHL team” scouts? I think Redline trumps HN. Now we’ll try 2007 and use two other ranking services.
- #7: Sam Gagner
- #28: Alex Plante
- #37: Riley Nash
- #63: Milan Kytnar
ISS had the three first rounders pegged pretty well, and have done a fine job over the years although there are some questions about recent quality.
- #7: Sam Gagner
- #32: Alex Plante
- #33: Riley Nash
McKenzie has quickly become the gold standard for draft rankings, which makes sense based on his contact list that goes back decades. McKenzie’s final list this season should be the one draft primer you pay attention to before the draft.
Redline liked the Oilers 2007 draft more than the others (Gagner at 5, Plante at 19, Nash at 24) but I don’t think it is a major difference from the two lists above. What does skew the argument is stating “Central Scouting ranked Riley Nash at #64NA” because it is not an industry recognized authority in terms of final rankings. And I’d suggest the Hockey News is less and less credible, an erosion that began when McKenzie left the paper.