Analytical Recap of the Flames Draft Picks

As an ex-Canucks fan and a newly minted Flames fan (for a literal day) I am excited for our future, and all aboard the prospect hype train, with the pool getting deeper over the weekend. While the Flames did not pick in the first round, they made some smart moves later in the draft allowing them to grab some very interesting prospects. 

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the analytical side of these guys.

If you have been living under a rock lately you might not have heard of the “Prospect Cohort Success” (PCS) which allows us to know more about prospects. We explained it quite extensively over at Canucks Army but the gist of the idea is that PCS answers the question, “how successful have players similar to me been?”

To determine that, we generate a list of similar players (their “cohorts”) and use data like points/game, height, age, league and season (with future work expanding to factors such as as Quality of Teammates and era-adjusting). The percentage of players in the cohort who have moved on to become NHL regulars (played 200+ NHL games) is what determines the PCS%.

“What is a good PCS%” for a player is relative to where they are drafted.  On average 8% of CHL forwards and 5.6% of CHL defencemen move on to become NHL regulars.  If your PCS% is higher than this, the prospect has a better than average chance of graduating, but if you are selecting a player with a PCS% of 10% in the first round, that is quite a reach.  Michael Schuckers analyzed the value of draft picks and looked at what every pick’s chance of moving on to the NHL was.  If the PCS% of a prospect is higher than the red line at their draft position, that is considered a good value.

draft success

PCS is still in early beta, but the feedback has been quite positive.  We can use this to get a better idea of how successful the five Flames draft picks could be.

Rasmus Andersson

PCS%: 46.67%

NHL PCS Pts/82: 26.7

Notable Comparisons: Drew Doughty, Todd Giil, Trevor Daley, Yannick Weber, Cam Fowler, Bill Berg

Rasmus Andersson is someone we really liked in our pre-draft work. One thing that really sticks out for Andersson is that he has been playing in a senior professional league since his 15 year-old season. This, as we know, is a very strong signal of NHL success.  

Andersson has a wide range of players at the NHL level he could reach with a very high ceiling. This pick for a late second-rounder was very smart.

Oliver Kylington

PCS%: 25%

NHL PCS Pts/82: 35.6

Notable Comparisons: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tomas Jonsson

Oliver Kylington was another player we were very high on pre-draft for similar reasons as Andersson.  

Kylington has been playing in the senior professional leagues in Sweden for extended periods of time, showcasing that his coaches thought he had more value to the team than much older players. 

Some people were saying that he ‘regressed’ this past season, but from what we know Kylington chose to move to the Allsvenskan for more ice-time and shooting percentages speak more as a likely explanation why he could not meet the standards he set as a 16-year old.

Pavel Karnaukhov

PCS%: 8.9%

NHL PCS Pts/82: 26.9

Notable Comparisons: Brian Willsie, Jay McClemment, P.A. Parenteau, Pascal Dupuis, Brian Sutherby, Darren McCarty, Dave Lowry, Blake Comeau,

At 17.5 years old at the start of the season, Pavel Karnaukhov is not as a great a selection, given that smaller players who scored at a similarly mediocre rate did not often make the show. 

That said, as his PCS% is still higher than the average CHL forward to make the NHL, it was not a terrible selection for the 5th round. He has a wide variety of players in his cohort and if he does graduate to the NHL he is likely to be a bottom-6 forward. 

His prior year in the MHL does not suggest anything positive towards his success.

Andrew Mangiapane

PCS%: 31.91%

NHL PCS Pts/82: 26.93

Notable Comparisons: Stephen Weiss, Sean Avery, Chris Terry, Trevor Letowski, Steve Downie, Adam Graves

Drafting over-agers is something that rarely pans out. However, when your draft pick doubled his point production (to over 100) while playing on the second line ice-time of a middling OHL possession team you can feel confident on betting a sixth round pick on him. Mangipane’s PCS% rivals that of many first rounders and he has some notable players in his cohort, but his size likely scared off many suitors. 

Mangiapane is definitely a late round steal for the Flames.

Riley Bruce

PCS%:12.5%

NHL PCS Pts/82: 20.2

Notable Comparisons: Wade Belak, Cody Franson, Sheldon Souray, Shea Weber

Never trust a prospect with two first names. With their final and 7th pic, the Flames made another good bet on a very young, very big defencemen playing on of one of the top OHL possession teams in the league. 

For a 3rd pairing defender, Bruce had reasonable point production and given that teams are more likely to give a longer development leash to giant blueliners, Riley Bruce is a great pick for the Flames final selection.

  • McRib

    “….Pavel Karnaukhov is not as a great a selection, given that smaller players who scored and a similarly mediocre rate did not often make the show.”

    Isn’t Pavel Karnaukhov around 6’2″-6’3″? Other than that, solid piece PCS is an interesting approach. I love the Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington & Andrew Mangiapane picks.

    Surprised to see that Riley Bruce is a favourable selection, I have heard that Stan Butler is a very defensive minded coach so offensive upside might take longer than other prospects in the OHL, especially considering he was only getting third line minutes.

    Pavel Karnaukhov is the only pick I don’t love, but considering that the Flames/Hitmen have the inside track on the player it tells me he is a character hard working kid at the least. Consistency will be big for Karnaukhov going forward, when he was on last season he did look like a decent 2/3 round pick with the Hitmen.

    • mattyc

      Agree. I wonder (speculate) if the Hitmen/Flames ‘inside track’ is actually a detriment. Maybe you develop a bias by seeing them more, or getting to know them more off the ice than a kid playing in Russia for example.

      • Like the ‘inside track’ the Oil Kings/Oilers had on Giffen Reinhart…they have convinced themselves that he is a much better player than he has actually shown with the Islanders.

        Time will tell if one, both or neither get much traction in the NHL.

  • Greg

    The “squiggly red line” is interesting. The massive drop off early is well known and intuitive, but it shows a few things I didn’t know; the difference between an early and late second round is negligible, as is the difference between a 5th rounder and 4th rounder, but there’s another pretty steep curve through the third round. Those are useful insights a GM could use to gain slight advantages in swapping picks. Like trading a 4th for 2 5ths. Doubt it makes much difference on a case by case basis, but over time those small advantages can help.

    Also, really like the picks. Anderson and mangiapane in particular seem like steals, and if kylington pans out this could be a home run as far as drafts go!