We’ve heard a lot about draft year scoring and how it predicts NHL performance – but that’s not where a prospect’s pre-NHL development usually ends. So the question is, do subsequent seasons such as a player’s performance in his draft+1 year help forecast future NHL success or failure?
To investigate, I took 5 drafts worth of first round forwards from 2004-2008 and separated them into tiers (Replacement, NHLer, Elite) based on my subjective view of the player’s quality. We’ll only focus on guys who didn’t turn pro for the purposes of this study since guys who turn pro in their draft +1 season can see a drastic change in their circumstances and usage, suppressing their output.
What I’m really interested is if a massive step forward in the draft+1 season is predictive of future success in the NHL (and/or, if running in place or stepping back suggests future failure). For the purposes of this, I’m considering a big improvement to be equal to an NHLE increase of 10 or above.
|Replacement Player||DY NHLE||+1 NHLE||Delta||NHL Results|
|Rob Schremp||29.3||35.7||+6.4||114GP, 54P|
|Kris Chucko||18.8||16.4||-2.4||2GP, 0P|
|Lukas Kaspar||9.8||21.3||+11.5||16GP, 4P|
|Petteri Nokelainen||8.9||17.0||+8.1||245GP, 41P|
|Lauri Tukonen||7.6||10.3||+2.7||5GP, 0P|
|Alexandre Picard||28.5||32.2||+3.7||67GP, 2P|
|Kenndal McArdle||26.0||24.3||-1.7||42GP, 3P|
|Alex Bourret||32.6||41.9||+9.3||0GP, 0P|
|Ryan O’Marra||24.2||31.1||+6.9||33GP, 7P|
|Marek Zagrapan||34.2||36.3||+2.1||0GP, 0P|
|Jack Skille||17.4*||17.6||+0.2||178GP, 49P|
|Trevor Lewis||27.5||29.0||+1.5||203GP, 37P|
|James Sheppard||31.3||42.2||+10.9||256GP, 53P|
|Jim O’Brien||11.7||19.3||+7.6||63GP, 12P|
|Patrick White||15.4||7.5||-7.9||0GP, 0P|
|Riley Nash||20.0||29.9||+9.9||37GP, 10P|
|Angelo Esposito||32.4||30.3||-2.1||0GP, 0P|
|Logan MacMillan||19.9||21.9||+2.0||0GP, 0P|
|Colton Gillies||11.4||19.9||+8.5||154GP, 18P|
|Zach Hamill||33.2||27.5||-5.7||20GP, 4P|
|Daultan Leveillé||7.1**||15.0||+7.9||0GP, 0P|
|Greg Nemisz||24.2||29.1||+4.9||15GP, 1P|
|Mattias Tedenby||10.9||7.3||-3.6||105GP, 29P|
|Anton Gustafsson||12.7||11.8||-0.9||0GP, 0P|
|Joe Colborne||21.5||26.1||+4.6||16GP, 6P|
|Zach Boychuk||29.0||32.6||+3.6||85GP, 20P|
|Kyle Beach||24.6||24.6||0||0GP, 0P|
|Nikita Filatov||15.1||29.6||+14.5||53GP, 14P|
*.20 Estimate for NAHL.
**.07 Estimate for the GOPHL.
***.09 Estimate for Russia-3.
|NHL Players||DY NHLE||+1 NHLE||Delta||NHL Results|
|Wojtek Wolski||26.1||26.8||+0.7||451GP, 267P|
|Travis Zajac||21.8||28.1||+6.3||471GP, 275P|
|Lauri Korpikoski||13.7||6.5||-7.2||336GP, 113P|
|Kyle Chipchura||18.5||28.1||+9.6||262GP, 58P|
|Alexander Radulov||12.7||28.4||+15.7||154GP, 102P|
|Drew Stafford||29.9||29.4||-0.5||443GP, 264P|
|Rostislav Olesz||20.8||16.8||-4.0||355GP, 132P|
|Blake Wheeler||18.9||16.6||-2.3||372GP, 232P|
|Steve Downie||29.4||37.3||+7.9||274GP, 138P|
|Andrew Cogliano||22.2||24.1||+1.9||458GP, 195P|
|Nicklas Bergfors||2.7||22.2||+19.5||173GP, 83P|
|Martin Hanzal||15.6****||20.5||+4.9||391GP, 182P|
|Devin Setoguchi||22.8||31.4||+8.6||384GP, 222P|
|Gilbert Brule||30.6||34.6||+4.0||296GP, 95P|
|Benoit Pouliot||23.9||31.4||+7.5||291GP, 124P|
|Nick Foligino||26.5||32.8||+6.3||396GP, 167P|
|Patrik Bergulnd||5.6||40.5||+34.9||358GP, 188P|
|Chris Stewart||34.5||33.1||-1.4||319GP, 202P|
|Michael Grabner||18.4||24.6||+6.2||219GP, 116P|
|Jiri Tlusty||8.4||22.6||+14.2||276GP, 112P|
|Bryan Little||41.9||46.2||+4.3||404GP, 227P|
|Michael Frolik||6.9||34.5||+27.6||349GP, 151P|
|Peter Mueller||27.4||37.6||+10.2||297GP, 160P|
|Kyle Okposo||23.8||33.6||+9.8||319GP, 185P|
|Derick Brassard||49.2||43.8||-5.4||322GP, 180P|
|Mikael Backlund||4.9||10.4||+5.5||170GP, 62P|
|Max Pacioretty||21.5||35.4||+13.9||246GP, 153P|
|Alexei Chereponov||40.0||39.4||-0.6||0GP, 0P|
|Lars Eller||18.5||12.4||-6.1||209GP, 77P|
|Brandon Sutter||19.7||20.4||+0.7||334GP, 126P|
|Jakub Voracek||35.9||46.9||+11.0||367GP, 229P|
|Kyle Turris||30.0||32.7||+2.7||234GP, 104P|
|James Van Riemsdyk||34.2||36.9||+2.7||244GP, 131P|
|Tyler Ennis||32.0||34.3||+2.3||187GP, 123P|
|Jordan Eberle||26.4||29.8||+3.4||195GP, 156P|
|Cody Hodgson||30.8||42.7||+11.9||139GP, 77P|
|Colin Wilson||31.8||43.0||+11.2||210GP, 103P|
****.16 translation to Czech-2, which is an estimate based on Bruce Peter’s recent work.
|Elite Players||DY NHLE||+1 NHLE||Delta||NHL Results|
|Andrew Ladd||26.0||17.0||-9.0||532GP, 304P|
|Evgeni Malkin||18.8||32.8||+14.0||458GP, 560P|
|Alex Ovechkin||23.1||38.9||+15.8||601GP, 735P|
|TJ Oshie||9.3||34.4||+25.1||292GP, 195P|
|Anze Kopitar||21.4||28.3||+6.9||522GP, 476P|
|Bobby Ryan||35.3||39.6||+4.3||378GP, 289P|
|Claude Giroux||36.7||43.7||+7.0||333GP, 290P|
|Nicklas Backstrom||32.9||51.8||+18.9||413GP, 415P|
|Jonathan Toews||31.2||45.5||+14.3||408GP, 372P|
|Logan Couture||35.5||28.0||-7.5||232GP, 167P|
Observations and Discussion
- Players that took a big step forward: Lukas Kaspar, James Sheppard, Nikita Filatov, Alexander Radulov, Nicklas Bergfors, Patrik Bergulnd, Jiri Tlusty, Michael Frolik, Peter Mueller, Max Pacioretty, Jakub Voracek, Cody Hodgson, Colin Wilson, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, TJ Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Jonathan Toews.
- Breakdown: 17% replacement, 56% NHLer, 27% elite.
- Players that took a step back/ran in place: Kris Chucko, Kenndal McArdle, Patrick White, Angelo Esposito, Zach Hamill, Mattias Tedenby, Anton Gustafsson, Jack Skille, Kyle Beach, Wojtek Wolski, Brandon Sutter, Lauri Korpikoski, Drew Stafford, Rostislav Olesz, Blake Wheeler, Chris Stewart, Derick Brassard, Alexei Chereponov, Lars Eller, Andrew Ladd, and Logan Couture.
- Breakdown: 43% replacement, 47% NHLer, 10% elite.
- 28 Replacement-level players – 11% took a generous step forward, 57% saw a mild improvement, 32% took a step backwards or ran in place. The average NHLE delta was +3.6.
- 37 NHLers – 27% made a big improvement in their draft+1 year, 46% saw an improvement, 27% took a step backwards or ran in place. The average NHLE delta was +6.4.
- 10 Elite-level players – 50% took a massive step forward, 30% saw an improvement, 20% took a step backwards or ran in place. The average NHLE delta was +9.0.
- It seems that the better the group of players, the greater the chance of a significant improvement in their draft+1 year or an overall improvement. This seems like an intuitive result and the preceding initial investigation seems to support it. The percentages above also suggest something we were looking to get an answer for: if a player takes a big step forward, he’s more likely to join the group of elite players down the line than he is to join the group of replacements.
- Of course, it’s important to keep context in mind. It’s somewhat misleading to look at the elite chart and see that only 5 of the 10 guys are over what is usually deemed to be the cutoff line for elite players in their +1 year (NHLE of 35). Kopitar, Ovechkin and Malkin all played in men’s leagues and TJ Oshie only played 11 games in the USHL in his draft year due to injury. Andrew Ladd is really the only player who played in a developmental league and didn’t reach 35.
- There were only 7 players who scored over 35 in their draft year – Bryan Little, Derrick Brassard, Alexei Chereponov, Jakub Voracek, Bobby Ryan, Claude Giroux and Logan Couture. All of those players are first liners with the exception of Chereponov, whose NHL ceiling we will unfortunately never know.
Taking a step back in a +1 year might not mean a given player is significantly less likely to make the NHL, but it does suggest that he is a lot less likely to be elite and/or will probably be replacement level.
To me, it seems there is enough evidence to suggest that the bigger the step forward, the better chance a player has to join elite company. There also seems to be a correlation between an increase in NHLE in a player’s +1 year and the quality of the player overall. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you’re drafting players and expecting exceptions you’re probably doing something wrong.
A more through investigation with a bigger sample of players which calculates the correlation of their production at junior/college/lower leagues to their NHL production is the next step.
Unrelated Nations Business
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This is just a trial run of the service. During the season, SNEWS is going to give an embeddable player which Nations writers can use to add stuff like press conferences and game highlights right into specific posts.
Give it a try and let us know what you think. If the trial phase works out, we’re hoping to start putting useful video content into as many posts as possible.