Re-drafting the 1st Round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Tomorrow we kick off our draft coverage with in depth profiles of the top 60 ranked players from the 2016 NHL draft class, but before we get that started, I figured it would be a worthwhile venture to look back at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft one year later.

The Hockey News did a similar thing last week, but it was still based on a subjective polling of scouts looking at the players. This is to say that there’s likely a few players slotted way above their appropriate mark. We need a more objective measure to really drive the conversation, and I hope to provide just that with a series of stature and statistics based players with which to compare the next wave against. 

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We will continue to use this model throughout the 2016 NHL Entry Draft profiles and will also use them throughout the summer when completing Canucks prospect breakdowns.

Some notes before we dive in:

  • Goalies are voodoo – so Samsonov is unmatchable given the variation from year to year in a goalie’s performance. We cannot fault the Capitals for taking him with the 22nd overall pick, he looks to be trending towards being an NHL starter, but only time will tell.
  • Comparable % is the percentage of players who were of the same stature
    and statistical breakdown that went onto becoming NHL regulars.
  • The ‘comparable %’ numbers are based on the players recent season and exclude international competition (like World Juniors)
  • There is no drafting by need, it is solely BPA. Some defenceman will rate very well when compared to their counterparts.
  • Some players will have limited numbers of comparables due to size or their point totals for the season. They may be trail blazers or just too good (or bad) for there to be a match.
  • This is not the be all end all of draft evaluation. It’s just a good snapshot of where the player is at this moment and who are better bets to becoming NHL players.
  • For curiosities sake, I will look at the top 35 picks of the draft to see if anyone got a steal (and yes, someone did) – to do the full 210 would’ve been a large undertaking. With that, there were some players who likely would’ve climbed into the first round like Conor Garland and Andrew Nielsen.

2015 NHL Entry Draft First Round:

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Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 2.59.39 PM

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft using ‘Comparable %’:

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  • Obviously, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin are bona fide NHL players, so they don’t have a rating. 
  • Mitch Marner and Sebastian Aho have no comparables. They had such a good season, that there are zero matches. Marner is not surprising, but Aho looks like a steal of a pick at 35th overall. We all saw how dominant he was at the World Juniors with Laine and Puljujarvi, but as mentioned above, the comparable % excludes that.
  • Mikko Rantanen and Kyle Connor come in at 100% – Rantanen had a very successful season as an 18-year-old in the AHL while Connor ripped up the NCAA. Neither are surprising and both appear to be ready to make an impact in the NHL as soon as next season.
  • Timo Meier, drafted by the Sharks at 9th overall, is the only sub 50% player in the Top 10.
  • Guryanov has no comparable due to being an 18-year-old in the KHL – there aren’t too many of those.
  • Oh the Bruins! – The picks were heavily criticized at the time, and still do not look favourable. Former Canucksarmy writer Rhys Jessop sums it up perfectly on what they missed out on (mind the S word):
  • Kylington is at 25% when looking at comparables, so still better than all three of Boston’s first round picks.
  • Canucks pick Brock Boeser looks to be very good here. Somehow in the Hockey News re-draft he would still only go 21st, as we’ll see at the bottom, he would go higher based on this model. Travis Konency isn’t too far behind.
  • The two Swedish defenceman, Gabriel Carlsson and Jacob Larsson look very good here with only Zach Werenski (8th), Ivan Provorov (6th) and Noah Hanifin (NHL) rating higher. 
  • Arizona got great value with Christian Fischer at 32nd and as mentioned, it looks like Carolina knocked it out of the park with Aho.

Redrafting using the ‘Comparable %’:

The players below are listed solely based on their Comp %. I have removed Guryanov and Samsonov from the equation, as there is no way to objectively place them. This is why I wanted to look at the top 35, to ensure that the entire first round was re-drafted. In theory, the two Russians would be 31st and 32nd, but I would suspect that they would likely be in the late teens.

When two players had matching comparable %, the higher drafted player in real life was placed higher. So for example, Werenski and Boeser have the same percentage, but since Werenski was taken 8th and Boeser was 23rd, Werenski is slotted higher.

Here is the re-drafted 2015 NHL Entry Draft 1st round :

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 4.12.04 PM

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  • Sebastian Aho, Kyle Connor, Christian Fischer, Brock Boeser, Gabriel Carlsson and Jacob Larsson are the risers of the group.
  • Confirming what we already know all of Boston’s picks were reaches with Zboril falling way down. If I had to guess, he likely would fall into the third or fourth round.
  • Mitchell Stephens and Travis Dermott squeak into the first round along with Fischer and Aho. Taking the spots vacated by the Russians, Zboril and Noah Juulsen.
  • Carolina Hurricanes are probably not happy with these results – instead of Hanifin and Aho, they take Aho at 5th and then whoever is left at 35.
  • Oliver Kylington would sneak into the 25th overall slot.
  • Philadelphia walks away with Kyle Connor and Thomas Chabot instead of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny.
  • Vancouver gets Eriksson Ek instead of Boeser. 

Once again, the key here is to not use this as the only tool to evaluate talent. Arguments could easily be made for a couple of the close players. But at the very least it gives us a view into how these players are trending after the draft plus one season.

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  • Spiel

    What is meant by an “NHL regular”? Are Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa NHL regulars?

    Benning is criticized on this blog for drafting Jake Virtanen because of a perceived lack of high end skill. However, his size, speed, and physicality made him a virtual certainty to at least play on the 3rd or 4th line in the NHL.

    Point is that there are different types of NHL regulars.

    • Goon

      No one’s disputing that there are different types of NHL regulars, but when you’re drafting in the top 10, you should be landing top six/top four players. If your 25th-overall pick turns into a third/fourth liner who plays 800 games in the NHL, that’s fine. If your sixth overall pick turns into that, that’s not ideal.

      I like Jake Virtanen and think he’ll probably be a very good middle six winger. The issue, as has been pointed out ad nauseum, is that the Canucks passed over a couple guys who look like they’re going to be first line players for a guy who projected at the time, and still projects, to not be a first line player.

      • Spiel

        But the article here makes no differentiation between the type or quality of NHL regular.

        Were the “NHL regulars” these players are compared to top 6 or bottom 6 players?

        Would a guy like Cody Hodgson be considered an NHL regular? Was a “top 6” forward as 23/24 yr old and is now basically out of the league by 26.
        Compare him to Joe Colbourne from the same 2008 draft who tracks as a 3rd line center, was later getting to the NHL, has played fewer NHL games, but now looks to have an actual NHL career in front of him at age 26.

        • Thefreshpots

          Assuming their “comparable %” is similar to PCS, an NHL regular would be defined as a player who played over 200 games. Anyone with a brain understands the limitations of something like that, but theoretically a higher percentage of NHL regulars would likely correlate with a higher amount of top-6 players.

  • Hockey Warrior

    Yawnnnn – can’t this place find anything better to bang on about other than the bloody draft!

    There is a ton of other stuff going on more relevant to the Canucks, with rival coaches getting fired in Calgary and Anaheim for starters…

    Secondly who cares about the draft… the nucks got stuffed by the league AGAIN in the lotto and as regular readers are aware, this shouldn’t be a surprise for a jinxed franchise that I am convinced the NHL powers-that-be don’t want anywhere near the Stanley Cup final again after TWO humiliating riots shamed the city, franchise and the league around the globe…

    Another FACT for you guys to chew on – since 1986 (30 years) only SIX number one picks have won the Stanley Cup… make that FOUR since the draft lottery (fix) came into being… Conclusion – it takes a lot more than an annual over-hyped crapshoot to build a WINNER folks…

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      That is a *stunningly* bad assessment of the value of the draft in building a winning club. Congrats, that couldn’t have been easy to do.

      And what else is more important than the draft right now? Calgary’s fired coach? You dismiss the importance of the draft in helping us win a cup someday but somehow think who Calgary has as a coach matters more? That is again … very odd reasoning.

    • #12MorrisLukowich

      I agree that drafting first overall is no guarantee of winning a cup. LA is a prime example.

      But talking about the draft is the most relevant thing in Canucksville. Who was fired, unless it is W-D Clipboard, doesn’t matter at all.

  • Keepyourstickontheice

    As a Philly fan, not a chance I’d take Chabot and Conner over Provorov and Konecney. I thought Chabot stink up the world juniors, and while I have nothing against Conner Provy is the best D man in the CHL and Konecny looks like the giroux reborn.

  • #12MorrisLukowich

    If you could save this stuff in a pail…I’d use it to fertilize my plants…

    No one…and let me rephrase that : NO ONE can predict with any accuracy how a certain prospect will develop…no matter how many stats you digest it still just boils down to odds..and NOT racing odds either…gambling odds…which means: odds are ALWAYS on the House (Fate)…and not your ringer card counter (#’s geeks)…