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Comparing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Sean Couturier

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Sean Couturier were three of the four most highly-ranked forwards in the prospect pool for the 2011 NHL draft. Hopkins went first overall, Landeskog second and Couturier mysteriously lasted until the Flyers selected him eighth overall. The three all stuck with their teams through 10 games in the NHL and will likely be linked and compared for the early part of their careers, at the very least.

So it's worthwhile to see exactly how each player is being used and the results they've managed in each situation. For that, we go to our trusty bubble charts.

*click to enlarge

18-year-old_forward_deployments_medium

The horizontal axis shows qualcomp, specifically Corsi relative quality of competition taken from the venerable and terrifying Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca. The vertical axis shows the percentage of faceoffs taken in the defensive zone, again from the venerable and terrifying one. The bubbles are color-coded: blue means the player in the bubble has a positive zonestart-adjusted Corsi, red a negative. Finally, the size of the bubble indicates absolute value of zonestart-adjusted Corsi.

The Flyers are using Couturier rather heavily in the defensive zone. His qualcomp indicates he's getting rather weak competition, but that he's pushed play in the right direction for a positive zonestart adjusted Corsi. Landeskog has received much easier zonestarts and more difficult qualcomp, but is killing the possession metrics for the Avalanche. Nugent-Hopkins is getting the easiest zonestarts among the group (and among the easiest in the entire league) and the easiest qualcomp, but has been unable to win the possession battle.

But using relative comparisons discounts the team performance. It's easier to compare the rooks by their rank on their own team.

*click to enlarge

18-year-old_forward_deployments_percentage_medium

The horizontal axis shows qualcomp rank on each man's team, specifically Corsi relative quality of competition taken from the venerable and terrifying Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca. The vertical axis shows qualteam rank on each man's team, again from the venerable and terrifying one. The bubbles are color-coded: blue means the player in the bubble has a positive zonestart-adjusted Corsi, red a negative. Finally, the size of the bubble indicates absolute value of zonestart-adjusted Corsi.

Landeskog is taking on the toughs with the best the Avs can offer and he's been outstanding. Nugent-Hopkins is taking on third level competition with the best his team has to offer and he's getting owned. Couturier faces the easiest possible competition with the worst possible linemates and keeps his head above water.