Unsolved Mysteries

by Lowetide

A reader emailed me on the weekend, asking me about my draft posts and final rankings. I’ve done the rankings for each draft in one form or another for over a decade now, our reader wanted to know why.

My answer? Two reasons. First, I think math can help teams find talent, and I think math can be applied to hockey. So I jumped in and began searching for talent in 200 names.

Second, it’s a great way to educate myself about the new prospects and to find moneypuck inefficiencies in the market. They do exist!

I keep hoping the Oilers will draft closer to my list each summer. The truth is Edmonton’s drafting was closer to my list a decade ago than it is today but we’re both making progress.

Since 2010, I’ve incorporated more math, punished a lack of speed and discovered numbers that hold real value. I’m no expert, but do lay claim to being a devoted amateur.

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.

A decade ago

In 2010, I had Taylor Hall No. 1 and Tyler Pitlick No. 21. In 2011, I had Nuge No. 1, Oscar Klefbom No. 24 and David Musil No. 26. In 2012, I had Nail Yakupov No. 1. In 2013, I had Darnell Nurse No. 9. In those years, my list was only 30 deep and I shuffled everyone’s top 40 into my 30. Added to the fact Edmonton was picking No. 1 overall, the exercise wasn’t difficult. The most thought I ever put into a ranking was Nuge over Sean Couturier. That was a tough call.

In 2014 I began using math heavily and yes I do realize there is possible humor in this sentence. I had Leon Draisaitl No. 3 overall, William Lagesson No. 77 and Zach Nagelvoort No. 91.

In 2015 I had Connor McDavid No. 1, Ethan Bear No. 38, John Marino at No. 112. In 2016 I had Jesse Puljujarvi No. 3, Tyler Benson No. 34, Filip Berglund No. 61, Markus Niemelainen No. 108, Aapeli Rasanan No. 112, Matthew Cairns No. 145.

In 2017, I had Kailer Yamamoto No. 11 and was pleased Edmonton picked him. I don’t think they would have chosen him in 2010. Ostap Safin was on my list at No. 52, Dmitri Samorukov No. 133.

In 2018, I ranked Evan Bouchard No. 8, Ryan McLeod No. 25, Olivier Rodrigue No. 60. In 2019, I had Philip Broberg No. 16, Raphael Lavoie No. 26.

Long preamble to get here but I do think the Oilers are headed in a new direction and suspect it doesn’t rhyme with my arithmetic. Here are the NHLE’s of the last nine Holland first-round picks:

  1. LC Filip Zadina 2018 (33.5)
  2. LW Evgeny Svechnikov 2015 (33.0)
  3. LW Anthony Mantha 2013 (30.9)
  4. LC Joe Veleno 2018 (28.7)
  5. LW Michael Rasmussen 2017 (27.2)
  6. LC Dylan Larkin 2014 (22.1)
  7. LC Riley Sheahan 2010 (12.0)
  8. LD Dennis Cholowski 2016 (8.5)
  9. LD Philip Broberg 2019 (8.3)

Broberg was chosen No. 8, I had him No. 16. Michael Rasmussen was No. 9, I had him 10 slots below. Dennis Cholowski went No. 20, I had him No. 78! Dylan Larkin went No. 15, I had him No. 21. My list would have chosen Robby Fabbri.

On the other hand, Filip Zadina was chosen No. 6, I had him No. 3, Joe Veleno went No. 30 my ranking was No. 16. Evgeny Svechnikov went No. 19, I had him No. 10 overall.

The Broberg, Rasmussen and Cholowski picks strike me as being opposite to math considering where each man was taken.

What does that mean? Well, I’ve identified Mavrik Bourque (I have him No. 11) as a player who might fall to Edmonton in the draft. Based on what I know about the Oilers drafting history, my guess is that the club would value Bourque. I just don’t know if the Holland-Wright tandem values him more than Kaiden Guhle.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A huge sports weekend, as golf, soccer, car racing returned to action. Off the pitch-course-track, the NHL edged a little nearer to making actual news. We’ll chat with Ryan Rishaug of TSN about the weekend just past and the news to come this week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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stevebergeron97

I don’t see a scenario where Edmonton takes a defenceman this Draft. I think we’ll see a few reaches from 10-20 leaving Holland with multiple highly touted forward prospects to choose from. I’d love to see Holland grab any one of Mercer, Forester, or Jarvis.

so polar

Appreciate the draft math every year, LT.
I wanted to ask the commenters here if they have any interesting reads – preferably analytically inclined hockey, but other is fine – I’ve worked my way through the 2019-20 season on the Athletic for Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Toronto, but there’s got to be someone following some other markets who’s got a writer to recommend and I’m in dear need — my google recommendations have run nearly dry and I can’t keep reading quanta magazine articles.
Much appreciated, thanks in advance!

Brantford Boy

Interesting post today LT… In years past, I had hoped the Oilers would pick (for 1st round selections only) all the young men selected, except Nail, Yamamoto, and Broberg. I’m (as most) pleasantly surprised with the Yamamoto selection, and we’ll see how Broberg works out . As you say, we were somewhat spoiled given all the first overall selections and we didn’t have much work to do to determine the selection.

I have no math evidence to back this up, but just throwing it out there. I wonder if Holland grabs what may be considered ‘a more complete player’ with his selections as opposed to the raw skill you base your list on (ie: 200 ft game, special teams etc.). One thing I can say is watching all those Red Wing teams win Stanley’s is he likes speed, and we’re seeing it translate to our model.

OriginalPouzar

Yes, thanks for all the work Al – on here and the detailed reports at The Athletic.

Its fascinating to look back years later (say 5 years) and see your list vs. the Oilers picks vs. the “consensus” list.

An inexact science.

OriginalPouzar

Trudeau confirms Canada/US border will be closed for another 30 days – no surprise there.

Don’t think that really effects the NHL and timing of a re-start given we are talking late July at the earliest for game.

With that said, in order to re-start, at some point they do need to start “Stage 2” as some point which is to “allow” players out of isolation and to get back to their teams to start training at facilities in small groups.

hunter1909

Who is that prospect? He looks like Taylor Hall.

jtblack

” I just don’t know if the Holland-Wright tandem values him more than Kaiden Guhle. ”

did you pick Guhle at random? I hope Edm does NOT pick a D man in the 1st round … Go for Talent. Go for Math.

If Kenny adds a 1st rounder via JP trade, I think they should go for the Offense on both picks and hope 1 of the kids lands. Jarvis, Bourque? maybe 2 land.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

stevebergeron97,

I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick a defenseman or two in the bowels of the draft. And probably a goaltender too. Gotta keep prospects in the system at all times as cover for injury, trades or those rare times the prospect doesn’t get a contract or retires.

Unless it’s clear BPA I’d hope they make a few forward selections to get things rolling on draft weekend.

Harpers Hair

so polar:
Appreciate the draft math every year, LT.
I wanted to ask the commenters here if they have any interesting reads – preferably analytically inclined hockey, but other is fine – I’ve worked my way through the 2019-20 season on the Athletic for Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Toronto, but there’s got to be someone following some other markets who’s got a writer to recommend and I’m in dear need — my google recommendations have run nearly dry and I can’t keep reading quanta magazine articles.
Much appreciated, thanks in advance!

Try the Dallas Stars feed.

Sean Shapiro is a great writer.

Darth Tu

Lowetide: I think Guhle goes top 15.

Well, it’s possibly a good thing that we’re picking further on in the draft than the top 15. Roll on Bourque and/or another forward prospect.

Nothing against Guhle of course, I can see why you think he’s going top 15 to someone this year.

jtblack

Lowetide: I think Guhle goes top 15.

do you think his Offense is shy? 40 points in 64 games .. I know it’s not all about Offense when choosing a D man, but seems a little shy???

barry.moore23

Man those late seventies 76ers teams were a blast to watch. Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Caldwell Jones, Darryl Dawkins, World B. Free, and of course the great Julius Erving. “They just don’t write ’em like that anymore…”

I almost forgot Doug Collins from my Alma Mater Illinois State University.

Haven’t watched NBA since then.

defmn

I always enjoy reading the draft posts for the reasoning behind the conclusions and math does offer a clear reasoning process above all else.

Your identifying Ethan Bear at #38 is an interesting case study, imo, because your methodology identified the potential but the intervening years were more promise than actuality and then came the anecdotal evidence that he finally got serious about diet and training and the potential emerged.

At the other end you see someone like Yakupov where the numbers screamed ‘can’t miss’ but the anecdotal evidence says many of the team’s scouts were not convinced by the math for reasons that are probably more difficult to articulate than numbers allow for.

I have a definition of math that I am fond of.

“Math is a language that allows for precision in describing quantitative relationships between different things where the discrete comparatives essential ontological characteristic is one of sameness. As that sameness decreases its precision erodes, lessening its value.”

We humans ontology makes us the least discrete beings in the universe and yet math still says things about us that pass the empiricist’s test.

I find that amazing.

Brantford Boy

barry.moore23: Haven’t watched NBA since then.

I haven’t watched NBA since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired… those Lakers-Celtics matches were pure gold!

I put a hiatus on the NFL after my Buffalo Bills team blew 4 championships in a row… it was enough for me to switch teams a couple years later to the Vikings… at least they’ve given me some playoffs with the Bills not making it for like 19 years or something, good move in hindsight.

I have however been loyal to the Oilers since Gretzky, the local boy made the show, and can’t see that ever changing.

Darth Tu

Lowetide: I think he’ll be a fine NHL defenseman for a long time but he’s unlikely to be a PP option in the NHL. So, 25 points and effective defense. I don’t think that is worth a top 15 pick

This is where I get a little messed up with the NHLE thing, to me Broberg seemed a perfectly reasonable pick last year based on the verbal from scouts – despite only having a NHLE of 8.3. I understand that it’s the whole playing in a men’s league versus playing in junior at play there, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like defender prospect evaluation is a little big voodoo, although not as voodoo as goalie evaluation.

In short I’d feel more comfortable taking whichever forward has a combination of the best skating and NHLE with any first round pick, then save the D picks for later.

Again as mentioned above, the Broberg selection seemed reasonable to me, despite at the time being keen on either going for a forward, or finding a way to move down and still take Broberg.

Harpers Hair

So the closure of the Canada US border has been extended until June 21 allowing only workers in essential services to cross.

Is hockey an essential service?

Hitman77

I’d be really disappointed if Holland picks another d-man with our first pick. I wasn’t thrilled with his selection of Broberg last year. Read that he’s a phenomenal skater with questionable offensive upside and hockey IQ. By selecting Broberg, we passed on several available forwards at that slot, Zegras, Krebs, Caufield, and my preferred pick, explosive skating center Alex Newhook. I would’ve selected a center in case Nuge chooses to leave as a UFA or is priced out of our budget.

Brantford Boy

Siri, what does this mean;

defmn:“Math is a language that allows for precision in describing quantitative relationships between different things where the discrete comparatives essential ontological characteristic is one of sameness. As that sameness decreases its precision erodes, lessening its value.”

Siri: “Math good”

N64

Harpers Hair:
So the closure of the Canada US border has been extended until June 21 allowing only workers in essential services to cross.

Is hockey an essential service?

“The Governments of Canada and the United States (U.S.) implemented restrictions on March 21, 2020 for all non-essential travel along the Canada-U.S. border in response to the spread of COVID-19. This means that travel across the border of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is not permitted while these restrictions remain in place”.

https://www.canada.ca/en/border-services-agency/news/2020/04/travel-restrictions-still-in-place-at-international-border-crossings-for-the-upcoming-long-weekend.html

“Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. “Essential travel” still permitted includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
Trade and business travel will continue to operate across our borders, ensuring workers and goods are not impeded.

Q: What about businesses that rely on cross border traffic?

A: In most cases, business travel and shipments are considered essential travel.

https://ca.usembassy.gov/travel-restrictions-fact-sheet/

There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there. Truckers and pilots are a special class that can cross without quarantine. But subject to the 14 day quarantine business travel is not banned.

While the 14 days might fit into NHL plans based on playing inside a bubble, would be very surprised if they’d expose themselves to shifting across the border for the final rounds. So expecting all US sites.

Harpers Hair

N64: “The Governments of Canada and the United States (U.S.) implemented restrictions on March 21, 2020 for all non-essential travel along the Canada-U.S. border in response to the spread of COVID-19. This means that travel across the border of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is not permitted while these restrictions remain in place”.

https://www.canada.ca/en/border-services-agency/news/2020/04/travel-restrictions-still-in-place-at-international-border-crossings-for-the-upcoming-long-weekend.html

“Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. “Essential travel” still permitted includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
Trade and business travel will continue to operate across our borders, ensuring workers and goods are not impeded.

https://ca.usembassy.gov/travel-restrictions-fact-sheet/

There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there. Truckers and pilots are a special class that can cross without quarantine. But subject to the 14 day quarantine business travel is not banned.

While the 14 days might fit into NHL plans based on playing inside a bubble, would be very surprised if they’d expose themselves to shifting across the border for the final rounds. So expecting all US sites.

Sounds reasonable.

ArmchairGM

stevebergeron97:
I don’t see a scenario where Edmonton takes a defenceman this Draft. I think we’ll see a few reaches from 10-20 leaving Holland with multiple highly touted forward prospects to choose from. I’d love to see Holland grab any one of Mercer, Forester, or Jarvis.

I don’t know – if a guy like Michael Benning is available at #82 I’d be all over that.

Certainly I don’t foresee Holland selecting a defenseman in the first round.

Cape Breton Oilers 4EVR

My pie-in-the-sky hope is that Broberg can develop into a Bouwmeester type player. Thirty or so points a year, super-steady defensive play, and speed to burn. If we get even close to that player the pick is value. We’re not getting Coffey here, but no reason to crap on this pick at all. Plus he’s gonna get the over-ripen treatment from Holland, which increases the success rate from previous management staffs.

ArmchairGM

Lowetide: I think Guhle goes top 15.

Do you think there’s any chance Holloway is still available at #20? The bloom seems to have come off that rose in the second half… many people are projecting a bottom-six player there, but I see a power forward who would compliment our skill guys amazingly well. He plays like Yamamoto but with a bigger, more powerful frame.

hunter1909

Cape Breton Oilers 4EVR:
My pie-in-the-sky hope is that Broberg can develop into a Bouwmeester type player.Thirty or so points a year, super-steady defensive play, and speed to burn.If we get even close to that player the pick is value.We’re not getting Coffey here, but no reason to crap on this pick at all.Plus he’s gonna get the over-ripen treatment from Holland, which increases the success rate from previous management staffs.

Broberg looked excellent while auditioning for the Oilers. Nothing to suggest he cannot provide 1st class offence from the defence; other than opinions from bored lazy eastern Oilers haters in the media and Lowetide’s resident chicken little posters.

Harpers Hair

Lyle Richardson throws cold water on the Lias Andersson trade.

http://www.spectorshockey.net/2020/05/nhl-rumor-mill-may-19-2020/

defmn

Brantford Boy:
Siri, what does this mean;

Siri: “Math good”

Siri is correct.

defmn

Harpers Hair:
Lyle Richardson throws cold water on the Lias Andersson trade.

http://www.spectorshockey.net/2020/05/nhl-rumor-mill-may-19-2020/

Not easy being a sports columnist these days. Those 800 words don’t just write themselves when there is nothing going on.

stevebergeron97

ArmchairGM,

Sorry, didn’t quite clarify in my original post. I don’t foresee Holland taking a dman in the first round.

Harpers Hair

defmn: Not easy being a sports columnist these days. Those 800 words don’t just write themselves when there is nothing going on.

I have to say I agree with him.

Makes no sense to give up a first round pick to acquire Puljujarvi.

Other teams who have to dump cap would likely offer a plug and play option rather than a “suspect”.

€√¥£€^$

Thanks LT,

You inspired me to put a bunch of time in effort researching this year’s Draft prospects. Yesterday I compiled a list of 241 prospects. Took a lot of effort, but I think I have the first round surrounded. At work today, but if anyone is interested I will share my 1st Round list. Let me know.

I now believe the Draft won’t be happening until September and that is a good thing.

defmn

Chris Johnston
@reporterchris
·
1h
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says he’s hopeful today’s Canada-U.S. border announcement “will not materially affect the resumption of play timelines we are currently contemplating.”

defmn

Harpers Hair: I have to say I agree with him.

Makes no sense to give up a first round pick to acquire Puljujarvi.

Other teams who have to dump cap would likely offer a plug and play option rather than a “suspect”.

Yeah. I sat out yesterday’s conversation for that very reason. Made no sense to me.

There is a better chance of Puljujarvi returning to play with the Oilers than the NYR making that trade imo.

defmn

€√¥£€^$:
Thanks LT,

You inspired me to put a bunch of time in effort researching this year’s Draft prospects.Yesterday I compiled a list of 241 prospects.Took a lot of effort, but I think I have the first round surrounded.At work today, but if anyone is interested I will share my 1st Round list.Let me know.

I now believe the Draft won’t be happening until September and that is a good thing.

Please share. I’d love to see it.

Harpers Hair

€√¥£€^$:
Thanks LT,

You inspired me to put a bunch of time in effort researching this year’s Draft prospects.Yesterday I compiled a list of 241 prospects.Took a lot of effort, but I think I have the first round surrounded.At work today, but if anyone is interested I will share my 1st Round list.Let me know.

I now believe the Draft won’t be happening until September and that is a good thing.

Would love to see it.

Harpers Hair

defmn: Yeah. I sat out yesterday’s conversation for that very reason. Made no sense to me.

There is a better chance of Puljujarvi returning to play with the Oilers than the NYR making that trade imo.

There is a long history of trades between the NYR and TBL so that is the first place I would look.

I also expect the Rangers will buy out King Henrik to free up cap space.

JJS

Devoted amateur – sounds a lot like parenting!

norm_klassen

I think with swedish D men like Broberg you gotta pay attention to the junior numbers for offense and they must have been satisfied with those numbers.
Trusting the intangibles over math doesn’t always pay off but let’s hope it does in this case as I am a Oilers fan??

N64

defmn: “will not materially affect the resumption of play timelines we are currently contemplating.”

“It’s not immediately clear if NHL players and staff might be granted exemptions that could facilitate travel back to playing cities before then”.

Pretty hard to get exemptions when you are already in the permitted class. Lazy reporting when gov’t site says:

Q: What about businesses that rely on cross border traffic?

A: In most cases, business travel and shipments are considered essential travel.

The problem isn’t exemptions. The issue is getting assurances in advance so that no one gets caught up with the usual interpretation on the fly by whoever is on duty that day. Even harder to get past airline counters without this being spelled out for the airlines.

defmn

Harpers Hair:

I also expect the Rangers will buy out King Henrik to free up cap space.

Or perhaps a mysterious back injury that necessitates early retirement and promotion into a managerial position with the team. 😉

Harpers Hair

PuckPedia has done a survey of 25 NHL agents.

Some interesting stuff.

https://puckpedia.com/agent-poll#P2

Harpers Hair

defmn: Or perhaps a mysterious back injury that necessitates early retirement and promotion into a managerial position with the team.?

The Rangers have been looking for a Wardrobe Manager for a long time.

Jaxon

Anybody know of a good resource for finding prospects 5-on-5 stats. I’m trying to find 5-on-5 Primary Points / 60? I was using prospect-stats.com for the last few years but that has been closed. I’ve been looking at picks224, but it only shows even strength, which is close but still not the same and it makes it nearly impossible to connect all the data I’ve built going back to 2005 and Crosby’s draft year. Any lead on extracting 5-on-5 Primary Points and 5-on-5 TOI (or estimated 5-on-5 TOI) would be greatly appreciated. I’d like to put out an updated list this year before the draft as I have the last few years.

Thanks!

Harpers Hair

The AHL announces its All Rookie team.

Some old man named Brogan Rafferty is on it.

https://theahl.com/2019-20-ahl-all-rookie-team

N64

Harpers Hair:
The AHL announces its All Rookie team.

Some old man named Brogan Rafferty is on it.

https://theahl.com/2019-20-ahl-all-rookie-team

~ Only a tiny bit older than last year’s Tyler Benson. ~