Finding the Best NHL Draft Rankings
“Ranking the Rankers” is a 7-piece series that quantifies past NHL draft rankings from various prognosticators based on player performance to date.
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Team Scouts & GMs
- Part 3: Bob McKenzie (TSN)
- Part 4: Corey Pronman (ESPN Insider)
- Part 5: International Scouting Services (ISS Hockey)
- Part 7: Conclusion
Part 6: Craig Button (TSN)
Your favourite hockey team just drafted a teenager. He, presumably, is good at hockey. How can you be sure? Because this set of draft rankings from [insert writer / scout / website here] says so.
This series attempts to determine which set of draft rankings is best at predicting future NHL success (and which one you should hope your team follows on draft day).
Last up, the often controversial (and therefore criticized) “Opinionista”: TSN’s Craig Button.
Check out Part 1 for a detailed summary of:
- How player performance is measured (career Point Shares/60 minutes of TOI)
- How draft rankings are gathered (first round only for 2010-2013)
- How scout performance is measured (absolute difference between draft ranking and that player’s career PS/60 rank among their draft class peers)
- Limitations (Point Shares and TOI sample size)
Draft rankings from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 are used for all previous sources. I could not find Craig Button’s 2010 list despite an epic Google search quest.
How to Interpret the Following Charts
Think of “PS/60 Rank” (read: career Point Shares/60 minutes of playing time rank) as how well the player has performed so far compared to his draft class peers. If the bar is small, they have performed relatively well. If it is large, they have performed relatively poor.
Think of “Absolute Difference” as that draft rank being a “hit” or a “miss”. If the absolute difference bar is small, that’s a hit. If it’s large, a miss.
The smaller the total absolute difference for each year, the better that set of draft rankings performed. By comparing each prognosticator’s average performance from 2010-2013 (see Part 7: Conclusion when released), we get an idea of whose NHL draft rankings are best at predicting future NHL success.
Toggle the buttons to switch chart views.
- Craig Button wins the 2011 draft with the lowest “Total Absolute Value” score. Modest hits are littered throughout the entirety of the round, with only one or two notable misses (former Minnesota forward Zack Phillips and Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak).
- Button had Nikita Kucherov, the best player in his draft class in terms of PS/60, ranked the highest of all sources in this series. Corey Pronman was the only other source to have the Lightning forward in their first round.
- John Gibson is a perfect hit so far for Button. He was the only source to have the Anaheim goaltender, now a clear #1 with Frederik Andersen traded to the Leafs, as a top-30 talent.
- Button joins Pronman as the only sources to avoid Duncan Siemens and Tyler Biggs in the first round, both costly misses in terms of “Total Absolute Value” for the other sources.
- Johnny Gaudreau and Ondrej Palat are runners up to Kucherov in the PS/60 Ranks for the 2011 draft class.
- Matt Dumba at 2 probably seemed like a classic controversial Craig Button call at the time. The pick has turned out relatively well considering the underwhelming Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, and Griffin Reinhart returns thus far.
- Button correctly identified Alex Galchenyuk and Filip Forsberg as first-line centres.
- Ditto for Hampus Lindholm as a first-pairing defenseman. Other than the actual NHL draft results, Button had the Ducks defenseman ranked highest.
- Malcolm Subban at 8 seems outrageous (drafting goalies early is almost always questionable), but the Bruins prospect has put up some nice numbers in the AHL.
- Matt Finn looked like a nice pickup for the Leafs after he fell out of the first round. The defenseman is a big miss as a top-10 pick for Button. Other sources had him in the top-30 as well, but none as high as Button.
- Calder Trophy nominee Shayne Gostisbehere, the underutilized Andreas Athanasiou, and fancy stat darling Colton Parayko top the PS/60 Ranks for the 2012 draft class.
- Nothing too interesting here results-wise yet. TOI sample size limitations become apparent in 2013.
- Zach Fucale at 7 in 2013 seems more outrageous than Malcolm Subban at 8 in 2012. Button apparently is not hesitant to pull the trigger on goalies in the lottery.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand and Shea Theodore lead the PS/60 ranks for this draft crop right now.
Draft miss scores decrease as we progress to more recent draft years. I suspect this occurs because later-round picks tend to get their chance to establish themselves later than first-round picks. Top-30 talents that don’t live up to the hype then drop in the PS/60 rankings as they are outperformed by the draft steals.
Part 7 puts the draft miss scores in context so we can compare the talent-identifying abilities of Craig Button to those of team scouts and general managers, Bob McKenzie’s scouts, Corey Pronman, and ISS Hockey.
Links to each “Ranking the Rankers” piece will be hyperlinked below when complete.