If you follow me on Twitter, you know that one of the things I regularly do is update people on how Canucks prospects have done on any given night. They look something like this:
#Canucks prospect Tyler Madden with 1G and 1A tonight for Northeastern
He now has 9 PTS (4-5-9) in 10 NCAA games
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) November 11, 2018
That specific update was used on purpose.
The Canucks 2018 3rd round pick, Tyler Madden is off to a great start to his collegiate career and fans should be excited about that.
But it seems that every update about Madden results in a discourse talking about Jake Wise, who was taken with the following pick by the Chicago Blackhawks. Many, myself included, thought that Wise would be a good pick in that spot but understand the attraction to Madden.
People who follow prospects regularly were completely understanding of the selection, even if they may have chosen someone different in that exact spot. It’s a conversation that would’ve happened among the Canucks amateur scouts prior to the draft when they were figuring out their list and they decided that Madden was higher on their list for the skillset that he presented.
The point isn’t that the Canucks made a wrong decision, it’s that we are two months into these prospects draft plus one season and to compare the two and handed the Canucks the W already is a weak venture for a variety of reasons.
Deployment & Luck
Jake Wise only has two assists in nine games with Boston University this season, while Madden has nine points in eleven games with Northeastern. The largest difference is their deployment.
Madden is playing first line minutes for the Huskies and is a mainstay on their first powerplay unit, while Wise is playing a third line role for Terriers and has been limited to second powerplay unit time. Northeastern is down a goal or protecting a lead, Madden is out there.
This in part is due to the depth of the program at Boston University and the fact that Northeastern lost a large group of players to graduation, including their entire first line from last season. This has given Madden a chance to produce and he has.
This is always an overlooked to prospect evaluation. A large portion of the situation for a respective team and the coaches trust can dictate how much production a player can produce. So far in the first parts of their season, Madden has a noticeable advantage simply because of the opportunity in front of him.
Not to mention the fact that sometimes weird bounces go in or a unnoteworthy secondary assist leads to some points. There have been a couple of Madden points this season that weren’t exactly his doing. That’s fine, he is doing a lot of good things and hockey gods will reward that at times but Wise hasn’t been afforded that same luck thus far.
Focusing on the next player taken
It’s really easy to just compare player X to the player taken immediately after them and then breaking it down based on that. Madden went 68th overall to the Canucks, that means there were 148 players taken after him but yet Wise is the target.
If you expand the view past the next player, there are actually some players that were taken in the third round have been doing much better than Wise
- The Blackhawks took Niklas Nordgren with the 74th selection – He has three goals and four assists in 12 Liiga games playing against men.
- Florida traded their 2019 3rd round pick to take Logan Hutsko at 89th overall. He has one goal and seven assists in nine games with Boston College after posting 31 points in 37 games in the NCAA during his D+1 year.
- Connor Dewar was selected by the Minnesota Wild at 92nd overall. He has eighteen goals and fourteen assists in 21 WHL games and represented WHL at the Canada/Russia series.
- Goaltender Jakub Skarek has posted a 1.78 GAA and 0.931 SV% in 12 Liiga games this season. He was taken 72nd overall by the Islanders.
We haven’t even left the third round and I’ve only highlighted four standouts of the group but you get the idea. Just because Chicago opted to select Wise at 69th overall, he has been used as a comparison by Canucks fans when in reality the choice to have him go the very next pick was out of their control.
Development is not linear
Canucks fans should be acutely aware of this last one.
Look at Adam Gaudette, he started his collegiate career extremely slowly but suddenly exploded in December of 2015 and never looked back. At the time of the draft, he had one of the lowest levels of statistical success in the entire draft but was able to overcome that.
Madden is similar in the way that he plays but he has hit the ground running to start the season, while someone like Wise hasn’t. Depending on when and if they turn pro, they’ve likely played around 5-10% of their collegiate career and that’s before they make the leap to the AHL and NHL.
For all we know, Madden could hit a wall and Wise explodes when given more opportunity in year two or three.
All of this isn’t to bury the Canucks prospect or how they have fared on the draft floor over the last few years. If anything, they have been doing well in this area and should keep doing what they are doing.
The point is looking at things in a larger scope.
Ideally, Madden continues an upwards trajectory and is able to carve out a career with the Canucks but not with the constant comparison of another prospect. There is still a long road to go and ultimately, most of these guys won’t make it.