5 Tool Players & Standardized Scouting

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Edmonton Oilers lifts the game winning goal over goaltender Jason LaBarbera #35 of the Los Angeles Kings during the shootout at Staples Center on December 5, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

One of the great things about the interweb is that whenever you have an idea, you can bet that someone smarter out there has already written about it better than you could. I have been kicking around the concepts of standardized scouting reports and also pirating established baseball concepts and employing them in hockey. These two articles hit both these ideas out of the park.

Japers' Rink

Puck Prospectus

For the link-impaired, here is the concept (courtesy of Corey Pronman):

"In baseball, for decades they’ve used their own scouting system called the 20-80, which quantifiably identified how good a player was, but more importantly gave scouts everywhere a universal language on how to communicate the level of a particular tool or the quality of the player in an objective manner. The tools that baseball used this system for included hitting, power, fielding, running etc. Transferring this over to hockey we are going to stick to these tools:"

  • Skating (Acceleration, stride, top speed, turning/edge control)
  • Puck Skills (Passing, stick-handling etc.)
  • Shot (Accuracy, velocity, release)
  • Physical Game (Size, strength, able to handle physicality)
  • Hockey Sense (Decision-making, awareness, smarts)

Here is the scale:

  • 20: Can barely perform this skill, there are 13 and 14 year-old amateur players who can do this skill better. Think Derek Boogaard’s hockey sense for example.
  • 30: Significantly below average (minus minus), isn’t beer league quality but it’s nowhere near the NHL level. Think Georges Laraque’s puck skills or Hall Gill’s skating.
  • 40: Below NHL average (minus), this skill isn’t completely out of the league but it’s still a good notch below. Examples are Marc-Andre Fleury’s rebound control or Jack Johnson’s hockey sense.
  • 50: NHL average, think Marco Sturm’s puck skills, Justin Williams' shot.
  • 60: Above NHL average (plus), this is an all-star level skill. Examples are Jonathan Toews’ skating, Mike Richards' physical game, David Booth’s shot.
  • 70: Significantly above average (plus plus), this skill is one of the best in the game and is in an elite class. This is a grade rarely given out. Steven Stamkos’ shot, Chris Pronger's physical game, Nicklas Lidstrom’s hockey sense, and Alex Ovechkin’s skating are examples.
  • 80: Generational talent, an extremely rare grade to be given out for any skill. Examples of what an 80 grade is include Bobby Orr’s skating, Al MacInnis’ shot, Wayne Gretzky’s hockey sense.

There would be the rare example of someone falling outside of this scale to a handful of people in the existence of hockey, in which case we’d grade it 20- or 80+ An 80+ would be something very other-worldly and will likely never be repeated such as Dominik Hasek’s reflexes."

I ran a few Oilers through this and came up these numbers.

(Skating/Puck Skills/Shot/Physical Game/Hockey Sense)


Player Skating Puck Skills Shot Physical Game Hockey Sense
Dustin Penner  55 60 50 70 50
Ales Hemsky 60 70 55 55 50
Sam Gagner 55 60 55 40 60
Tom Gilbert 60 60 50 50 55
Sheldon Souray 40 50 70 60 50
Ladislav Smid 50 40 30 60 50


Argue away, come up with some of your own. 

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is not just to judge a couple of players on the Oilers with a new shiny toy, but as Mr. Pronman hopes, to standardize the way we scout players. I humbly submit that we run with this idea here in the Oilogosphere, which is at the forefront of new ways of thinking about hockey and statistics. 

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