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 6: Craig Button (TSN)
- Part 7: Conclusion
Part 5: International Scouting Services (ISS Hockey)
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).
Next up, the Waterloo-based International Scouting Services (ISS Hockey). Founded in 2002, “the world’s leading independent hockey scouting company” has a deep scouting team with multiple regional scouts.
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)
ISS Hockey’s 2011 NHL Draft Rankings are from mid-May, a few weeks before final rankings are usually released. Since draft boards are mostly set by this point, I’m assuming these rankings are fine for this exercise.
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.
- International Scouting Services wins the 2010 draft with the lowest “Total Absolute Value” score.
- ISS had Vladimir Tarasenko the earliest of all five sources in this series. The Russian forward, who leads all players from the 2010 NHL Draft in PS/60, is a huge hit at 4.
- Brock Nelson and Jason Zucker are unique hits. Only the actual NHL draft order had Nelson as a first rounder (he went 30th to the Islanders). ISS Hockey was the only source to have Zucker in their top-30.
- ISS joins Corey Pronman as the only sources to not have Jack Campbell in their top-30. The Dallas goaltender has struggled in the AHL and has spent time in the ECHL the past two years.
- Erik Gudbranson at 7 is a miss, though others had the former Panther higher.
- Another common miss is Brandon Gormley in the top-5. At 3, ISS was the most bullish of all five sources. His drop to the Coyotes at 13 appears warranted.
- John Klingberg, Brendan Gallagher, and Mark Stone are top-10 players on the PS/60 Rank leaderboard for the 2010 NHL Draft.
- Victor Rask is another unique hit. ISS was the only source to have the Carolina draftee in their top-30.
- ISS Hockey was one of three sources to exclude Tyler Biggs from their first round.
- PS/60 results aren’t that flattering at the moment for Oscar Klefbom, but the Oilers defenseman seems to be on an upward trajectory. His rank at 10 here is the highest of all sources in this series.
- Like most others, ISS missed big on Avalanche defenseman Duncan Siemens.
- Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau, and Ondrej Palat lead the PS/60 Ranks for the 2011 draft class.
- ISS was most bullish on Filip Forsberg at 2. He shouldn’t have dropped to the Capitals at 11. He shouldn’t have been traded for Martin Erat. A hit here.
- Matt Dumba is a nice hit as well, despite the trickiness of drafting defensemen early.
- ISS was least bullish on Alex Galchenyuk. At 14 (everyone else had him top-5), they misjudged Montreal’s first-line centre.
- Brendan Gaunce appears to be a miss at the moment. The left-winger seems destined for a bottom-6 role. That shouldn’t be the goal at 11, where ISS was highest on the Canuck.
- 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.
- 2013 is where TOI sample size limitations become apparent. Nothing crazy here yet.
- Nic Petan looks like a hit so far. ISS was one of two sources to include the Winnipeg forward in their top-30.
- ISS Hockey was surprisingly low on Max Domi at 25. The Coyote looks like a miss for the Waterloo-based company.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand and Shea Theodore lead the PS/60 ranks for this draft crop right now.
Notice that 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 ISS Hockey to those of team scouts and general managers, Bob McKenzie’s scouts, Corey Pronman, and Craig Button.
Links to each “Ranking the Rankers” piece will be hyperlinked below when complete.