Before I started looking at individual players in this series on comparables, I published a list of the best fifteen offensive seasons for forwards from the CHL who were drafted in the top ten over the last thirty years. All of those players were highly regarded by scouts, and most of them became stars in the NHL. Today, I'm going to look at the top ten forwards in adjusted points per game who were drafted somewhere between 11th and 30th overall. These players are very interesting because they were all dominant offensive players in their draft year, posting one of the sixty best offensive seasons of the last thirty years... and yet for whatever reason, NHL teams looked at their performance and figured that several other players with less production were better.
Were they generally right? It's an important question in this draft because Nicolas Petan, slotted in at #32 in the consensus rankings, had an absolutely monster offensive season, leading the WHL in points, and putting up an adusted points per game of 1.73. That's well back of Jonathan Drouin (2.10), and a touch behind Nathan MacKinnon (1.75), but otherwise, it's the very best total among CHL forwards.
So without further introduction, let's start with the list of the ten best players in adjusted points per game who were drafted outside the top ten:
An interesting group. In some cases, you look at the player and wonder how the scouts could have missed (Briere, Tanguay), but in other cases, the teams that passed look impressively prescient (Abid, Bourret). In the next chart, I'll compare each of these players (Zack Phillips excepted) with the three forwards drafted before and after him to see what this pick meant in context. Were teams passing on Tanguay but taking better players? Was Bourret part of a horrendous draft year? Let's find out:
So Alex Tanguay was in fact pretty good, and Ramzi Abid was in a pretty weak draft year, though he'd be kicking yourself pretty hard if you took Abid ahead of Simon Gagne. But it's not like the team picking first out of the seven players in each group consistently got things right. In the chart below, we'll compare how picking the offensive player fared compared to getting the player chosen three spots ahead:
It's not exactly conclusive data, but the best offensive player in the CHL does pretty well when compared with (on average) a player taken five spots ahead of him. In fact, you'd be in pretty good shape taking this player earlier in the draft in most cases (I'd like to think that Anze Kopitar is a forseeable exception given that he wouldn't have been directly comparable since he was drafted out of Sweden, and he had already slid from the top 5 down to 11). Taking the best offensive player resulted in getting one of the two best players in this group six times out of nine, and led to finding a couple of legitimate first-line talents at a point in the draft where those tend to be in short supply.
Next up this afternoon: Max Domi
My Draft List:
1 - Nathan MacKinnon (Comparables)
2 - Jonathan Drouin (Comparables)
3 - Seth Jones (Comparables)
4 - Aleksander Barkov (Comparables)
5 - Elias Lindholm (Comparables)
6 - Valeri Nichushkin (Comparables)
7 - Sean Monahan (Comparables)
8 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Comparables)
9 - Darnell Nurse (Comparables)
10 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
11 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
12 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
13 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
14 - Adam Erne (Comparables)