2016 Draft: Which Swedes Fit The 51% Rule?

With the draft one month away it’s time to start ramping up our focus towards it even more.

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Most of the talk so far has been surrounding the real top tier players of the draft like Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.  But there are six more rounds past the first one, and there are plenty of future NHLers that’ll come out of this draft that up until now you’ve never heard of in your life.

Luckily, we have little tricks to help us try and identify who those players might be.

When Josh Weissbock and Cam Lawrence were hired by the Florida Panthers we lost access to the PCS tool aside from the articles we already wrote using those numbers.  It’s not all bad though – some of their fantastic work requires no fancy projection tools whatsoever.

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One thing that they uncovered was what I’m now calling the “51% rule”.  But what is the 51% rule?

Basically, they found out that since the inception of the Swedish Hockey League back in the mid-70s, 51% of all players that played in that league under the age of 18 that also had a points per game of at least .09, ended up playing 200 NHL games or more*.  That even included players that played as little as a handful of games in the league.

It’s a pretty crazy stat.  I mean, any sort of prospect number that wields a 51% success rate is just super high.

So now that you know what the rule is, who in this year’s draft class applies to it?

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Considering neither Rasmus Asplund, or especially Carl Grundstrom, are even locks to be drafted in the first round, it sure looks like there are some potential bargains to be had here.

Oskar Steen is someone I’m particularly a fan of, and I’ve had him much higher on my list than most people even before putting together this table.

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Sebastian Aho, an offensively gifted but undersized defenseman, has incredibly been passed over twice in the draft already.  I thought last year that he was worth a draft pick and even more-so this year: he had 16 points in 39 games in the SHL this season.

Sebastian Olsson is another player already passed over once before, and despite having 8 points in 43 games in the SHL this season, it looks like there’s a good chance he gets passed over again.  Granted, I know nothing about Olsson’s actual game (which is pretty damn important to say the least), but the point of this exercise is to help us pinpoint, for the casual fan, some potential bargains.  Olsson, at least on the surface, appears to be one of those.


We should also point out that the 51% rule has a younger brother, the 33% rule.  What is this?

Basically, it’s the same thing as the 51% rule, only applied to the Allsvenskan (Sweden’s second-tier league).  Weissbock and Lawrence found that all U18 players that had played in the Allsvenskan with a points per game of at least .09 historically reached at least 200 NHL games played 33% of the time (31% of forwards and 37% of defensemen).  It’s not as strong as the 51% rule, but that’s still a very good success rate.

So which 2016 draft-eligibles hit the mark here?

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The list isn’t quite as sexy.  It looks like Jesper Bratt is the only one that we can safely assume will get drafted this year.

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Still, it helps point us in the right direction and narrow down our search for names that we might want to more closely consider.

I’m not familiar with the players on this list aside from Bratt, who looked pretty good for Sweden at the U18s this spring, but the numbers are at least good for these four unranked players: Alsing has 22 points in 51 games in the Allsvenskan this season, Schreiber had 23 points in 17 games in the J20 Elit, Mastomaki had 8 points in 47 games in the SHL this year, and Karlsson had 15 points in 47 SHL games.


Keep these names in the back of your head come draft weekend next month, and keep them in mind beyond that as well.  If history is any indication, we’ll likely be seeing more than a couple of these guys in the NHL some day.

*: 51% of forwards and 50% of defensemen

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      • J.D. Burke

        How is “Bigger, faster and meaner” xenophobic?

        In a league that is now routinely churning out 6’3″ forwards and even bigger defencemen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with suggesting 5’9-5’11” forwards aren’t what the Canucks need.

        That doesn’t make you xenophobic. There was nothing stated about nationality here so relax.

        • J.D. Burke

          It’s actually supremely xenophobic because it implies that the players in question, all of which are Swedish, are incapable of being “bigger, faster or meaner”.

          One of the players is extremely mean. Another remarkably fast. One is over 6’3″. Not only is that quip xenophobic, but inherently wrong period.

          • Had the response been, player X is big and player Y is fast and player Z is mean”, and then the guy replied with something to slight Swedes, then I’d agree with you. That’s not what happened.

            I think people are getting a little bit too sensitive here. One of the big complaints about the Canucks has been their inability to play with “the big boys” and how they don’t match up well with the “big” teams in the Pacific.

            I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt that this is what he meant; not that we/Canucks shouldn’t ever draft Swedes.

          • piscera.infada

            In fairness, the biggest problem, and thus the biggest complaint fans should have about the Canucks (and Flames, and Oilers), is that the teams are not very good–not that they “don’t match up well against bigger teams”. It’s one of those trite narratives that “hockey people” come up with at will when their teams are not very good.

            For example, (I’ll warn you at this point, I am a Flames fan) people consistently say “the Flames are too small to compete in a big Western conference”. Is that really the reason they couldn’t compete the last number of years? Or, was it because there isn’t enough skill in their top-6 forwards, they’re not deep enough or skilled enough in their bottom-6 forwards, they over relied on mediocre (or worse) defensemen like Smid, Wideman, and Russell when better options were present, their goaltending was consistently sub-.900 in save-percentage, and they had a coach that didn’t seem to grasp the modern NHL game?

            So, back to the point of the article, if these Swedes (or Americans, or Fins, or Danes) look to be players that can effectively contribute to a successful NHL franchise (as this article attempts to claim they can/will), why does it matter whether they’re “bigger [and] meaner”? Aren’t good hockey players a more pressing concern for poor teams like Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton?

          • You may be right. I was simply offering up a counterpoint to xenophobia. Some people believe that in order to beat the “big” teams in the Pacific you have to be big.

            I also prefer a skilled team, like Chicago, over a big team, like the Kings.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Although I fully disagree with the original commenter, that comment wasn’t necessarily xenophobic. The entire list (save one person) is 6 feet tall or shorter, which isn’t exactly “large”. In order for a player not to fit the criteria presented, they have to lack speed, size, or “meanness”, not all three. Your interpretation of it as xenophobic involves a fair bit of inference.

            Semantics aside, it sounds like you’re pretty familiar with Swedish players. Which guys on the list do you like most?

          • The original person with the comment did not know these players missed any of the factors, but they did assume. Even if all the players lacked it, the assumption without knowing or having any evidence other than nationality is the issue.

            That’s why.

          • J.D. Burke

            I’m particular towards Sebastian Aho, Carl Grundstrom and Rasmus Asplund. Of the three, I’ve seen the most of Aho and Grundstrom. I’m dumbfounded by the fact that Aho has been passed over in consecutive drafts.

        • League size actually has been on a slight down turn.

          Xenophobia was making assumptions and typecasting players without knowing anything other than height and nationality.

          I pointed out that he was wrong by listing a player who is neither small, slow, or soft.

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          The best player in the NHL is 5’11. So is the second best player. Pretty sure the Blackhawks and Penguins are happy they selected the 5’11 guy over the much bigger guy selected with the subsequent pick each year (Ryan, Van Riemsdyk). Get over this “bigger is better” nonsense. Better is better, and a team needs some big players but not if it means sacrificing top end skill. Unless you think you can win the Cup with a team of Brad Isbisters and Hal Gills.

      • 2 of my all-time favourite defensemen after Bobby Orr are Borje SalmING and Mattias Ohlund. Pretty sure those 2 guys are Swedish players.

        My favourite team Canucks, are a small slow soft team so if I want them to draft big fast and mean players I can not see that being xenophobic.

        I understand the nation network writers tend to lean towards the soft skilled player and any comment against that flow will be jumped on by writers across the nation network.

        Heaven forbid someone has an opinion or a direction in which they would like their team to go that contradicts the opinions of the writers on this site.

        • “I have liked European players so therefore what I said is not xenophobic”

          Cool story bro.

          My point was Grunstrom plays a very physical and mean game and he is not small either. You obviously haven’t seen the player play and therefore have made a wrongful assumption due to poor information.

          It has nothing to do with leaning towards soft/skilled players. It’s that you determined someone was a soft/skilled player without knowing anything about them. Just like you are assuming NN writers like small/skilled players.

          Your opinion and having one is fine. Your assumption your opinion was based off of was wrong. I am fine in pointing it out. 🙂

          • piscera.infada

            Spin my opinion any way you want it to be in your mind. 1st I am xenophobic because I comment on a list of players who happen to be all Swedish now it’s all European players?

            Anyways I based my opinion on grundstrom on Jeremy Davis’ article. None of those stated players interested me period, sorry if you are offended about players I may or may not like.

            ps if Jeremy Davis states that he plays a Canadian style game would that also be considered a xenophobic statement t in your mind?

          • It has nothing to do with what I like. I’m just pointing out you made an assumption on a player.

            I made an assumption it was xenophobia that led you to that. Maybe I’m wrong, and if so and you can provide me why you made such an assumption then I apologize sincerely.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            You tell me I make a xenophobic comment then ask me to prove it wasn’t? Not sure if you think you are only person that knows how to read but information is available all over the Internet. TSN has info on several of these players in this list. Jeremy Davis did an article on Grundstrom just before this article.

            You assume way to much and provide the least entertaining articles of the entire staff. Oh hey I apologize for that if you prove me wrong and write an interesting article

  • The scouting gurus mentioned went to Florida. Has anyone been watching who Florida has been drafting as their first round players and whether they’re “smaller” guys?

    2008 – Jacob Markstrom (6’6″)
    2009 – Dmitri Kulikov (6’1″)
    2010 – Eric Gudbranson (6’5″)
    2011 – Jonathan Huberdeau (6’1″)
    2012 – Michael Matheson (6’2″)
    2013 – Sasha Barkov )6’3″)
    2014 – Aaron Ekblad (6’4″)
    2015 – Lawson Crouse (6’4″)

    You may not like it, but the world of professional sports is leaning towards bigger, stronger, faster and “smallish” players like most of the ones listed above aren’t what teams are looking for to build their core.

    It might be size bias but it’s NOT xenophobia.

        • That is almost literally the opposite of what PCS does.

          PCS isn’t a point system. You don’t score higher because you have more size, or more skill, or whatever. PCS is a comparable system that looks at players that match your description in history and checks to see where they end up.

          As a result, it does almost the opposite of what you’re suggesting; it doesn’t favour big, it doesn’t favour small, but it factors it specifically to eliminate that from the process. It might say “hey, this tall guy seems good, but tall guys who scored this much in junior didn’t really have long careers”. It might say “hey, he may be short but he’s on the same trajectory as this short superstar”. It might say the opposite of both; every considered factor changes the list of comparables, which changes the playing field.

          PCS is an incredibly useful step one attempt to getting rid of some of the white noise and increasing your odds by focusing on player types that are more likely to succeed. Combine that with scouting, combine results, interviews etc and a smart team can hit more than they miss at the podium, or at least get close to that point.

          That has nothing to do with drafting for or in spite of size. Besides, if the Panthers are such a great example of the virtues of picking for size, why does the team feel the need to go for a radical overhaul of their scouting system?

          • It should also be noted (as someone who contributed to PCS’ creation) that PCS looks at likelihood of a player to be in the NHL relative to those who are the same statistically in factors like age, height, scoring, etc.

            PCS cannot account for bias in the selection.

            Let’s say hockey ops are biased towards size wrongfully and size doesn’t matter at all (not my opinion really but let’s just say). You would not be able to look at draft picks making the NHL to prove that scouts are wrong here, as likely the bias would persist into pro-selections as well.

            As a fun aside, when we were constructing PCS, we did notice (and published here on the Nations) that height (but not weight) at drafting age was a statistically significant variable in the likelihood of a player making the NHL, but was not at all in how good the players who made it ended up being.

          • RealMcHockeyReturns

            I think Garrett’s comments on what PCS is sums things up so I can’t really add anything to that and the Friedman article.

            I was stating that they included size in the criteria so it must have been some sort of factor or else they wouldn’t have included it. If you’re a scouting staff with a bias towards bigger players, then hiring these guys who have this tool that will potentially help you pick the best, big, players seems like a good idea.

            The theory being, this tool that incorporated size into the metric meshed nicely with their scouting philosophy and, perhaps, other tools developed by people didn’t include this crucial, to them, component.

  • I’m a fan of sebastian aho. the leafs should definitely take a chance on him. he’s not that small. 5’10 is ok. he was excellent at the world juniors with willy. get him with a late pick and it’ll be a good gamble.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Not sure any team wants an “Aho” on their team…maybe his surname complicates things…but I kid, actually seems talented.. Anyways I like the idea of Grundstrom for Flames with one of their 2nd rounders assuming they keep them. And YES him being reputably mean and 6’0 does sway me vs smaller softer guys, but not against Steen if Flames mgmt likes him.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    It’s really easy to read Bob Nill’s comment as meaning ‘No to more soft Swedes’, given how common that sentiment is and how in a brief post like that there isn’t much that will tell you how he meant it.

    If Bob didn’t mean it that way, there’s no harm in his acknowledging how it can be read that way (it sounded that way to me but I can also see how that could be a misunderstanding), and likewise there is no harm in Garret acknowledging he may have jumped the gun (a sarcastic call-out maybe isn’t the best policy).