In connection with some work I am posting on a different thread, I've been able to compile an overview that shows how impact players tend to distribute through a draft.
Basically, I've looked at the 1991 through 2004 entry drafts, sorted by development route and development result. There were some interesting findings for the High-Impact grooup (Players who ended up with sustained NHL careers as better than average players - 60 pt forwards, top 3 defensemen, good starting goalies). Full results will appear on the other thread with time, but I thought the main findings were interesting enough to warrant a separate thread, especially now with the draft coming up. What I found was:
* On average, a draft produces about 12 such players.
* Typically, four of these come out of the top 15. A further four come out of the rest of the first round, plus the second. The last four come from the 3rd round and below.
* There's a huge difference between the CHL on one side, and Europe and the NCAA on the other.
As you see, Europeans and (especially) college players are hugely over-represented among low draftees who turned into high impact players in the NHL. Among draftees who played in the NCAA before reaching the NHL, there were actually more High Impact players from the lower rounds than from the top two rounds.
In effect, NHL teams underrated European and college (or college-bound) prospects - that is the objective fact. If scouts had made better decisions and managed to identify a greater proportion of the future impact players, they would clearly have ended up drafting more european and college-bound players with high picks.
Question is, why and how?
* Was/is there too much of an unfounded bias in favor of CHL prospects, that leads to distorted judgments?
* Are there particular factors associated with the European and college systems that are exaggerated or misunderstood by NHL scouts, leading them to make skewed risk judgments and choices?
* Is it simply more difficult to project players playing in Europe or in College (or pre-college), so that figures reflect not so much an excessive preference for CHL players as a better ability to project them correctly at draft age?
* Or is the problem not that Euro/NCAA players are less easy to project, just that NHL clubs devote too little of their scouting resources to doing it?