Kerby Rychel scored goals at almost the exact same rate as Hunter Shinkaruk and Max Domi, two smaller prospects in this year's draft class, both of whom are rated substantially higher by most scouting agencies. His adjusted point totals are lower, but not by a huge margin (1.31 compared to 1.44 for Domi and 1.37 for Shinkaruk), and size often makes up for that kind of gap in offense in the eyes of many scouts. So what is it that's pushing Rychel down the list?
As with most scouting reports, the verbal is generally positive, but combing through looking for concerns, the scouts are pretty consistent. In TSN's midseason report, Craig Button (who tends to be relentlessly positive) mentioned that Rychel "may not be the most fluid skater." Corey Pronman has Rychel ranked 44th and expanded on this sentiment saying that Rychel's "skating is roughly average; he has some poor mechanics, but decent speed. He also needs to work on his defensive game." David Burstyn has him 25th and agreed about the skating while giving a bit more detail on some other concerns, saying that Rychel's "skating regressed a little bit this year.... He played a lot better when Khokhlachev returned after the world juniors, as he finally had a playmaking centre that would do a lot of the work for him.... I thought sometimes he got some lazy points by just kind of hanging on the blueline, last man leaving the zone.... He’s a bit more of an opportunist and didn’t want to skate so much when the puck was not in his general vicinity." Burstyn wasn't the only scout to note these other areas; The Scouting Report also suggested that Rychel "struggled without linemate Alexander Khohklachev," that he "needs to show a more consistent compete level," and that "skating is an area of development."
Okay. That's a good look at some of the things that Rychel will need to work on in order to be effective in the NHL. But in junior? Well, the results speak for themselves, and a look over Rychel's comparables reveals some pretty good players. In this case a comparable player was someone who played his draft year in the CHL, had an adjusted goals per game rate between 0.54 and 0.66, an adjusted points per game rate between 1.18 and 1.45 (90% to 110% of Rychel's production), and was selected somewhere between 16th and 26th overall.
That's a pretty darn good list of players when you consider the section of the draft we're looking at. To flesh out how good it is, let's look at each player's number of regular season games and his career points per game.
That's three really good NHL players, two more who played in the league for a few seasons but weren't impact guys, and then one outright bust. If Rychel is still around early in the second round, he looks like excellent value despite some of the deficiencies mentioned earlier because if he can find a way to bring his offense to the NHL, he could have a significant impact. The big question, then, is how high to push a player who's quite clearly a high-risk-high-reward play. It seems pretty clear that you're better off with guys who have similar offense but fewer problems, but what about a player like Bo Horvat or Frederik Gauthier, whose offense seems to be clearly inferior, but who also seems to be better in many other facets of the game? For me, the fact that Rychel has been able to sustain his excellent offensive performance through two full seasons has me pushing him above that group, though I can certainly understand why some might have him below it.
Next up this afternoon: Robert Hagg
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 - Anthony Mantha (Comparables)
11 - Max Domi (Comparables)
12 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
13 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
14 - Alexander Wennberg (Comparables)
15 - Kerby Rychel
16 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
17 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
18 - Frederik Gauthier (Comparables)
19 - Bo Horvat (Comparables)
20 - Adam Erne (Comparables)
21 - Curtis Lazar (Comparables)