The day of the actual draft has finally arrived, which means the time for research is over and the time for a final decision is here. For me, that meant quickly rummaging through articles and game sheets yesterday afternoon in order to refine my list a little bit more before this morning. Fortunately, my searching has borne some fruit, and has resulted in a couple of players from my list moving around ever-so-slightly.
Before I knew about Eric Tulsky's awesome project analyzing prospect usage in the CHL, which includes a measure for quality of competition, I was working on a quality of competition project of my own involving Seth Jones. My measure was a little bit different, using the average points per game of each player's forward opponents rather than looking at ice time. When I heard about Tulsky's project, this kind of fell to the back-burner, but I did analyze the results from about a third of Portland's season (all games played against Vancouver, Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Lethbridge, Tri-City, Prince George, Kootenay, Victoria, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and one game against Seattle). Since Eric hasn't published his data for defensemen as of yet, here are the results from those games:
Now, as I said before, this is just a third of the season, but the picture painted here seems pretty believable to me. Evnets per game is a proxy for ice time, and by that measure, Jones, Tyler Wotherspoon, Troy Rutkowski, and Derrick Pouliot were the clear top four when four guys were healthy. None of the four stand out offensively five on five, and all of them played similar competition, though Jones was at least slightly more protected than the other three.
Jones had by far the most events with Tyler Wotherspoon, clearly his regular partner. Interestingly, his results with and without Wotherspoon suggest that it was Wotherspoon who was more able to handle the separation:
Keep in mind that based on the quality of competition metrics above, Wotherspoon likely faced better offensive forwards when apart from Jones and that Jones likely faced worse offensive forwards when apart from Wotherspoon that what they played against when they were together.
Seth Jones is still, of course, an outstanding prospect, but this raises a question or two for me about how good we can expect him to be at the NHL level in the next couple of years.
This isn't exactly new information, since I found it while I was researching for my article on Artturi Lehkonen. The warning sign here? Shooting percentage. Barkov finished 69th in the SM-liiga in unblocked shots with 167, and scored 21 goals for a shooting percentage of 12.6%. That may not sound outrageous, but you have to remember that missed shots are included in the calculation, which is why Barkov's shooting percentage was 3rd out of the 116 forwards with at least 100 unblocked shots. Barkov is, of course, still an outstanding prospect, but that high shooting percentage means his offense may be a touch overstated if you look just at the boxcars.
I mentioned his player usage project earlier. Eric hasn't published enough of it for it to be used systematically, but the first batch of data suggests that Sean Monahan was walking to school uphill both ways, which doesn't come as much of a surprise given the quality of his team. But the data published last night was a little bit more surprising because it shows that there wasn't a particularly large gap in quality of competition between Max Domi and Bo Horvat. Horvat's is probably tougher, but it's definitely not by much, and definitely not to the same extreme as Monahan. This new information doesn't have me changing any of my rankings, but does help to re-affirm my previous opinions of both Monahan and Horvat.
Don't Draft Defensive Defensemen
You know... I should already know this stuff. And yet sometimes I need to be reminded. RJ of That's Offside did a great historical study on drafting defensemen out of the CHL, which demonstrated that defensemen who don't show much offense in junior usually aren't able to establish themselves as NHL players even if they're drafted in one of the first three rounds. It's a great read, and I heartily recommend it during a lull in the draft, or if you feel like being depressed that your team drafted Nikita Zadorov with one of the first fifteen picks. Reading it was more "solid reminder" than brand new information, but it was a solid reminder that will have an impact on my ranking of Zadorov, Mirco Mueller, and Samuel Morin.
As you may already know, I'm only ranking the thirty players I was able to profile, so while I'm confident that I'd have the top twenty-three rated as first-round picks (somewhere in my personal top thirty), I could easily see the other seven guys fall out of the first round if I profiled more players. Some players that I haven't profiled but that I could see jumping in to my top thirty (and that I'd be happy seeing the Oilers take in the second round) are listed here alphabetically: Pavel Buchnevich (had trouble scoring in the KHL, but was excellent at the junior level); William Carrier (point per game in the QMJHL for each of the last two years, injury impacted how scouts ranked him); Peter Cehlarik (strong scorer in the Swedish league); Marko Dano (small scorer played reasonably well in the KHL and had a great World Junior Championships); Juuso Ikonen (very small player who scored well in the SM-liiga); Jimmy Lodge (point per game in the OHL); Shea Theodore (big offensive defenseman who scored just under 0.7 points per game).
As for a late-round pick, Andreas Johnson led all draft-eligible players in the top U20 league in Sweden. He's not a very big player, but he's chippy enough to have earned himself more than one penalty minute per game over his last two seasons. Most lists have him available in the sixth or even seventh round.
Next up today: Drama!
My Draft List:
1 - Nathan MacKinnon (Comparables)
2 - Jonathan Drouin (Comparables)
3 - Elias Lindholm (Comparables)
4 - Aleksander Barkov (Comparables)
5 - Seth Jones (Comparables)
6 - Valeri Nichushkin (Comparables)
7 - Sean Monahan (Comparables)
8 - Rasmus Ristolainen (Comparables)
9 - Darnell Nurse (Comparables)
10 - Ryan Pulock (Comparables)
11 - Anthony Mantha (Comparables)
12 - Max Domi (Comparables)
13 - Artturi Lehkonen (Comparables)
14 - Alexander Wennberg (Comparables)
15 - Hunter Shinkaruk (Comparables)
16 - Kerby Rychel (Comparables)
17 - Josh Morrissey (Comparables)
18 - Frederik Gauthier (Comparables)
19 - Nicolas Petan (Comparables)
20 - Morgan Klimchuk (Comparables)
21 - Valentin Zykov (Comparables)
22 - Bo Horvat (Comparables)
23 - Ryan Hartman (Comparables)
24 - Nikita Zadorov (Comparables)
25 - Mirco Mueller (Comparables)
26 - Samuel Morin (Comparables)
27 - Adam Erne (Comparables)
28 - Curtis Lazar (Comparables)
29 - Andre Burakowsky (Comparables)
30 - Robert Hagg (Comparables)