Top-30 Draft Prospect NHL Equivalencies



Before we begin breaking down individual scouting reports for the various first round hopefuls I decided to survey the entire field from a high level using NHL equivalencies (NHLE). For those unfamiliar, NHLE is a method that corrects for league quality relative to the NHL, allowing us to compare kids across various leagues.

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Of course, like all pure scoring stats, NHLE is blind to various external contributing factors, such as team quality, variance and other circumstances like a players role. We’ll attempt to fill in the blanks somewhat with various targets, but for now we’ll rank them according to their NHLE to at least get a broad feel for who is available.

That said, there’s a reason to pay attention to NHLE. Via Willis at the Cult of Hockey, the correlation between NHLE and future NHL point-per-game pace:

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Not perfect, but the relationship is pretty clear.

2013 First round Forwards NHLE

Player League PPG Factor NHLE birthdate
Jonathan Drouin QMJHL 2.14 0.29 50.96 Mar.28/95
Nicolas Petan WHL 1.69 0.30 41.58 Mar.22/95
Nathan MacKinnon QMJHL 1.70 0.29 40.53 Sept.1/95
Aleksandr Barkov Sm-Liiga 0.91 0.54 40.10 Sept.2/95
Elias Lindholm SEL 0.63 0.78 39.98 Dec.2/94
Max Domi OHL 1.36 0.30 33.44 Mar.2/95
Sean Monahan OHL 1.34 0.30 33.08 Oct.12/94
Hunter Shinkaruk WHL 1.34 0.30 33.06 Oct.13/94
Anthony Mantha OHL 1.33 0.30 32.68 Sept.16/94
Kerby Rychel OHL 1.28 0.30 31.47 Oct.4/94
Artturi Lehkonen SM-Liiga 0.67 0.54 29.52 July 4/95
Valentin Zykov QMJHL 1.15 0.29 27.44 May 15/95
Ryan Hartman OHL 1.07 0.30 26.36 Sept.20/94
Morgan Klimchuk WHL 1.06 0.30 25.97 Mar.2/95
Adam Erne QMJHL 1.06 0.29 25.18 Apr.20/95
Frederik Gauthier QMJHL 0.97 0.29 23.01 Apr.26/95
Bo Horvat OHL 0.91 0.30 22.40 Apr.5/95
Curtis Lazar WHL 0.85 0.30 20.84 Feb.2/95
Alex Wennberg SWE-1 0.70 0.36 20.54 Sept.22/94
Valeri Nichushkin KHL 0.33 0.65 17.77 Mar.4/95
Jason Dickinson OHL 0.71 0.30 17.52 July 4/1995
Andre Burakovsky SWE-1 0.26 0.36 7.55 Feb.9/95
JT Compher USNT 1.14 0.00 0.00 Apr.8/95

(The list of players was more or less based on NHLNumbers consensus rankings. Table is sorted by NHLE).

As Willis recently pointed out, Jonathan Drouin is out on an Island all by himself. In fact, his NHLE is the best we’ve seen out of a prospect from the QMJHL since Sidney Crosby.

Anyways, there is very clearly a top tier featuring Drouin, Nate MacKinnon, Aleksandr Barkov and…Nic Petan? the undersized center scored 120 points for the juggernaut Portland Winterhawks this year, but he doesn’t show up until the 20’s or 30’s on most draft sheets. His size is an issue as is the fact he jumped from about 30-points last season to 120 this year. In addition, it’s assumed he’s not necessarily the guy driving the bus in Portland. We’ll look at that down the road.

Absent is Valery Nichushkin, who is considered by many as a top-5 pick talent wise. He only played a handful of games in the KHL this year, no doubt in a limited role so his output probably doesn’t do his talent level justice.

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Elias Lindholm can perhaps be included in that top group before a steep drop off to the next tier, featuring guys lie Max Domi, Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Anthony Mantha and Kerby Rychel. JT Compher goes without an NHLE because we don’t have a translation factor for the USNT currently.

Things begin to fall away rapidly once we’re outside the 30-something NHLE’s. At that point in the draft, you’re hoping a guy takes a really big step forward next year or will eventually be capable of filling a support type role in the NHL someday. Most guys below the 30 NHLE mark don’t end up scoring a lot of points in the NHL down the line unless there’s some rapid development down the line (particularly in their draft+1 season).

2013 Defense first round NHLE

Player League PPG Factor NHLE Birthdate
Seth Jones WHL 0.92 0.30 22.58 Oct.3/94
Ryan Pulock WHL 0.74 0.30 18.15 Oct/6/94
Josh Morrissey WHL 0.67 0.30 16.52 Mar.28/95
Darnell Nurse OHL 0.60 0.30 14.83 Feb.4/95
Rasmus Ristolainen Sm-Liiga 0.29 0.54 12.77 Oct.24/94
Nikita Zadorov OHL 0.40 0.30 9.76 Apr.16/95
Robert Hagg SEL 0.04 0.78 2.37 Feb.8/95
Steve Santini USNT 0.20 0.00 0.00 Mar.7/95

Obviously it’s difficult to grade defenders by output alone, but it’s worth a look anyways.

Not a big first round for blueliners, at least not in terms of high-end producers. Seth Jones is the only guy to crack the 20 NHLE threshold. Darnell Nurse gets a lot of attention on a few draft lists as a probably the second best defender available, but he’s well back of Jones by this metric. Of course, he also didn’t play on the Portland Winterhawks, so there’s that to consider.

Other Stuff

I included birthdates for interests sake since some guys are almost a year older than their peers. Sean Monahan and Hunter Shinkaruk, for instance, are almost a full 11 months older than guys like Alex Barkov and Nate McKinnon, which makes the younger guys particular feats all the more impressive. A year-gap isn’t all that important once guys are pros, but when comparing kids maturing in various leagues, it can make a very real difference.


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  • SmellOfVictory

    For reference, Baertschi’s NHLE in his draft year was 32, and Yakupov’s was 40. Both were older players as well, so rough equivalents in terms of NHLE for this draft class would be Monahan and Lindholm.

    The forwards for this draft class are definitely deeper than those from the last one (everyone outside of Yakupov and Galchenyuk was around 30 NHLE or lower last draft).

  • jeremywilhelm

    Check out Corey Pronman’s top 5 at hockey prospectus. Best analysis I’ve seen in regards to the draft. Basically Drouin is the best pick for 1st overall but the Avs need Jones more. Mackinnon and Jones will round out the top 3 with Nichuskin possibly challenging Barkov for a top 4 pick. Nichuskin is better than Barkov and Lindholm but there’ is obviously a larger transfer risk. If a team really likes Lindholm and Nichuskin , there’s a chance that we get Barkov.

  • Colin.S

    I still think Barkov or Lindholm with our #6 pick and then Petan or Domi I’d think would be okay with one of our lower picks, both STL and PIT could potentially be out first round, which makes both of those guys potential targets.

  • seve927

    I’d say Petan’s 11 goals, 23 points and +17 in 13 games in December and early January while Jones, Rattie, Wotherspoon and whoever else were gone indicate he’s definitely got a hand on the wheel at the very least. Size could still be an issue, but I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on him.

      • The issue with Petan isn’t just his size, but his speed as well. Not slow, but not very fast eiother, at least from what I’ve read. Just average.

        Those 2 traits at the NHL level don’t usually add up well.

        See Marty Murray, a player who had not only sick skills but an incrdibly high hockey IQ, as an example.

        I’d rather avoid Petan.

        The chart makes me reconsider Lindholm vs Monahan, but I too would like to see circumstances factored in. Monahan was pretty much alone this last season as far as skilled team mates.

        • T&A4Flames

          Undeniable skill but just another under-sized, left shooting (I know he is a C) fwd. He’s like Gaudreau, wasn’t he deemed possibly the best skilled fwd in his draft? If Petan drops to the 3rd rnd, I would look at him but not before.

          • seve927

            Does what hand shot they are really make any difference? Truly curious, just want to know if anyone can enlighten me as to exactly why it would be. Situational usage? Should we acutally be targetting right handed shots at the expense of other attributes?

          • T&A4Flames

            It creates a more balanced team, IMO. It’s details but if all you players on the ice are lefties, defenses can cheat more to the center of the ice from the right side. Along the boards you can get more leverage without having to turn your back to the play. I’m not a coach or anything but I think it creates a better overall look and advantaages on the PP for example.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I haven’t heard anything about Petan’s skating being average. He’s allegedly above average speed-wise, and to use a cliche, “shifty”. I understand size can be an issue, but outside of that, I don’t think we’ll see anyone else in the 20s with his kind of potential.

  • Parallex

    You going to look at % of team offense in a seperate piece? Asking because I know that Monahan and Rychel were head and shoulders above their teammates in point totals. So I’d give more value to their output then the output of guys who have powerhouse teams behind them.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I can see Calgary manipulating the draft board. Feaster has stated there are 4 elite players in the draft. If one doesn’t fall to six or he can’t trade up he will trade out of 6 to get more picks.

    Perhaps he does it with the other 1st rounders but if you think the 6-to say 16 are roughly same then you get more value by cashing the 6 spot (higher second or third rounders- especially if you think there are 1 st round talent available in those rounds ie Dauphin).

    It all depends on how the top 5 works out. I’m guessing anyway.

  • T&A4Flames

    Off topic.. Wondering if we could get a 5 mins of hate article on the vancouver canucks first round exit.. I laughed out loud when bieksa was whining about the canucks embellishing.. And loved the ot goal with sedin in the penalty box.

  • RexLibris

    If there was a team that could be enticed to trade out of the top five it would be Carolina.

    What could the Flames offer? It might not be a price I’d want to pay, but of any of the teams that’s the one I would target.

    The Petan angle is interesting. One can imagine a scenario where the Flames top-ranked players are off the table and they begin to trade back targeting Petan with a pick in the 10-12 range.

    Maybe they trade back, include the latter 1st round pick and pick up a really good NHL player all in one go.

    Feaster likes to gamble and he and Weisbrod have shown they don’t always see the draft board the same way many others do. If they can’t trade up, they’ve certainly shown a willingness to trade down.

  • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

    Maybe the Canucks could trade Ballard away for some team’s first rounder.

    And then I’ll hop out the window onto my diamond unicorn and save the universe.

  • Kent, you might want to update your translation factors.

    Guys coming from Finland since the lockout have only retained 0.30. Even in the pre-lockout days it was only 0.49.

    Same goes for the Swedish league, whose players have retained only 0.55 of their scoring since the lockout. And again, pre-lockout it was only 0.65.

    Essentially I think you’re using translation factors that include the 2004-05 lockout, which really skews the numbers.

    Make your own translation factors, if you like, incorporating age, scoring levels, split up goals and assists, or whatever you like, using the complete data here.