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Top 10 misconceptions about the draft

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Old
06-22-2012, 03:14 PM
  #1
Beacon
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Top 10 misconceptions about the draft

1. We should trade up our pick. We need high-end talent and whoever gets drafted higher has more high-end potential.

FALSE! Prospects' value is not based solely on their potential, but on the possibility of reaching it. A player who has a 75% chance to be a good third line grinder will go ahead of someone who has a 25% chance to be a top-6 player. Trading down can get you two guys who are high-risk, high-return instead of getting one guy who's be a safe pick as a future third liner.

2. But first round picks are projected to be top-6 players, not third liners?

FALSE. Most first rounders drafted outside of the top 10-12 wind up as minor leaguers. Most of those who make it, wind up as low-end NHLers. Only a few make it as top-6 forwards or top-4 defensemen. If a GM can get someone in the second half of the first round who's almost definitely going to be a third liner, he usually jumps on that guy.

3. We had a great draft! Look at all those guys with great skills and size that we drafted in later rounds.

BS! Obviously there's a reason why those kids got drafted and you didn't. To be drafted, they must be good at something. The fact that a scouting report says that they are good at something doesn't mean anything because there are identical reports for the players drafted by every team in the league, you just didn't bother reading about Nashville's 5th rounder. The fact that every team passed on a certain player several times over means that he belongs more or less in the position he was drafted in. He might skyrocket in value or collapse, but that is for the future. Today, he's worth where he was drafted. Whether the draft is good or bad will be determined by how well the prospects develop in the future.

4. That big guy looks great. We should draft him!

Big guys drafted outside the top-5 have the highest chance to fail when you take the draft position into account. Obviously if two players are otherwise the same, but one is 5 inches taller, the size helps. But that's not what I mean here. If you take two players, both of whom slipped to, say #20 in a similar draft, and one is 5-11 while the other one is 6-4, the smaller one has a significantly better shot of making it. You are welcome to check this by reviewing past drafts. It holds true at every single draft position.

Any easily identifiable positive trait is overrated. Height and weight are easy to identify, and that's why tough guys tend to be drafted much higher than where they should be. Speed and how hard a guy shoots are also easily identifiable, though not as much as height, so these skills also lead to overrating the players, though not as much as size. The hardest things to judge are the intangibles like hockey sense.

High "hockey sense" guys tend to make the NHL the most proportionally to the position where they are drafted, but because it takes a lot of work for scouts to identify these guys, they normally skip on a lot of good prospects.

5. I have a great idea: with our 28th overall pick, we should draft someone who's big, fast, skilled and has good hockey sense.

Great idea! And an old homeless guy should get a 19 year old supermodel for a girlfriend... except that's ain't happening, is it? Someone without flaws wouldn't last to #28. In fact, probably wouldn't last to #5. At #28, you have a choice to get someone big OR fast OR skilled OR has good hockey sense, but not all four. A couple of these is possible, but not all of these. You can get a guy with 1 or 2 of these qualities who'll later either develop the other stuff or learn to play without it, but you no, you will not get another Eric Lindros-like prospect at #28.

I know people will respond with a couple of examples where a guy LATER developed into someone who's big, fast, skilled and smart. But that's not where they began at the age of 18, which is why for every #28 pick who becomes a top-6 forward, there are many, many others who don't even make the NHL.

6. You know nothing. There are so many great players who were drafted late. Look at Getzlaf. That proves that you know nothing about the draft and that you can get a great power forward late in the draft.

This is like saying that the lottery is a great financial investment because some people win sometimes. For every Getzlaf, there are dozens of guys like Matt Zultek, Ty Jones, Kevin Dome, Mike Brown and Kevin Grimes. Who, you ask? Exactly my point. When a big guy drafted late in the first round makes it, we all remember it because we hear his name every time his team plays. But when dozens of similar guys can't even get to the AHL and spend their whole careers in crappy leagues like the ECHL, nobody remembers. All the names I listed above were power forwards drafted between #15 and #26 in the 1997 draft, and almost all of them had a hard time making the AHL, much less the NHL. Of the 7 big guys drafted outside of the top 3 that year, only one (Brenden Morrow) went on to have an NHL career. The 1997 draft was only unusual in how many big men were drafted in the first round, not that they all busted. The "batting average" for power forwards drafted in the second half of the first round was about average.

7. Q: How long will it take for our first rounder to develop and what's his potential? A: Two years and he will be a second liner.

This description has been given for every first rounder outside of the top-10 for every team ever since I began following hockey over a quarter century ago. This also happens to be false 9 out of 10 times. First, it will likely be more than 2 years for the first rounder just to crack the NHL on a permanent basis. Second, when he does make it, he won't be at his full potential on his first day. Players reach their prime at the age of 24-25, and often even later. That means that from the day of the draft until the player reaches his potential, it takes 6-7 years. So even if a player has second line potential, he won't be reaching it at the age of 20, two years after the draft.

Again, there are plenty of examples, but that's not the rule. When someone asks "how long it will take for a kid to develop", the question regards the most likely scenario, not what would happen if our draft pick develops exceptionally quickly and successfully.

8. Our third rounder is worth a second round pick, maybe even a late first rounder. That's what our team's management claims.

BS! Every team says this. That's because teams differ in their rankings. Obviously whoever we drafted at #85 will be seen as at worst a #85 quality pick by our scouts. But odds are that our scouts don't agree with other scouts on all the prior 84 people who were drafted. As a result, every team is drafting guys that they ranked higher. We can reasonably expect to get someone at #85 that our scouts see as someone ranked #50-60. The same is true for every team in the league. On the other hand, the guy we got at #85 may be seen by some other team's scout as only #125. Even some of our scouts may disagree with the management and view the player as such. But you'll never hear a San Jose GM declare, "wow, the Rangers picked this guy at #85 whom we would never take in the top 150. What were they thinking?!"

No, instead of hearing this, you'll only hear our own management declare that the guy was ranked as a second round pick in THEIR rankings. However, we'd never actually draft him as a second rounder. Why? Because if we had draft pick #50, there is a very high probability that someone higher would slip down. At #50, we would pick someone our scouts ranked at #35-40. Again, it's ridiculous to expect that all teams agree on their rankings, so someone the Rangers view as #40 would slip to #50, and the guy the Rangers view as #50 would therefore go unselected by them in that position.

9. I will be satisfied if we got 2 good NHLers in this draft and happy if we got 3. Anything more than that is gravy.

Yeah, I want 7 NHLers per draft, but that ain't happening. If you get 1 good NHLer per draft, that's statistically a good draft. If you got 2 good NHLers, that's a great draft. To get 3 top-six players is not realistic, and if that actually happens, it will be a nice in a generation event. The last time we got 3 good NHLers in a single draft was 1990, but that's because it was still Soviet times and star Russians were falling to the late rounds. There were also 45% fewer teams at the time, so each team could get more players per draft.

A team that gets one top-6 forward/top-4 defensemen per draft on a consistent basis winds up loaded after a few years. A team that can average 1.5 top-6 forwards/top-4 defensemen will have more depth than it knows what to do with.

10. I watch these prospects regularly, I'm an expert on the draft.

For one, I don't believe that 9 of 10 people who claim to do so are actually watch the whole draft's prospects regularly. Maybe YouTube highlights, maybe an occasional game, but nobody can watch multiple junior games just to follow the draft. Sure, if you live in Edmonton and you claim to follow the Oil Kings, I can believe you. But not if you claim that you watch games from the whole world. Nobody can do that and have a job, a family, friends. What makes it less believable is that if you ask an Edmonton guy about the Oil Kings, he won't just know the stars of the team. He'll be able to give you the details on every last player of the team. That's because when you watch a team, you know the whole team, not just the first rounders. But yes, yes, I know, you focus on the stars, right? Sure...

And watching players doesn't make you a draft expert anymore than reading the penal code makes you a criminal lawyer.

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06-22-2012, 03:55 PM
  #2
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Good stuff!

I've preached many of the above things before (often many seem to be willing to give up anything to get a "1st rounder".

Interesting to see the size claim that you make, I am sure it's true. What Detroit have done for a long time. Others have drafted intangibles, they've just taken the best player (often I guess because nothing else was left) and done great.

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06-22-2012, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beacon View Post
If a GM can get someone in the second half of the first round who's almost definitely going to be a third liner, he usually jumps on that guy.
Perhaps, but personally I believe that you take risks late first round on guys that could be very good players, whereas in the upper half of the first round you make safer picks. I'd so much rather the Rangers take a flier on Frk or Pearson than go with Tom Wilson. That's just me.

But most of what you say is true and it leads me to this conclusion: draft night is pretty much overrated. We all clamor to it with the hope something major will happen, but how often does anything really happen? Like you said just getting 1 NHLer a year is fantastic.

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06-22-2012, 04:28 PM
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Kreider--a big guy drafted outside the top 5 looks to me like he's going to turn out just fine. Looks to me like a top 6 if not 1st line player. That's looking pretty good now.

To me your post is missing something. You seem to be arguing the skill, skill, skill should always take precedence no matter what the particular player's size or determination. I'll reference back to the playoffs--we had to grind it out against every team we faced. It's not that our team and the players on the other rosters weren't skilled at all but size, strength and determination was definitely a large factor in who won and who lost. It was a main reason why both Ottawa and Washington pushed us to our limit which factored into New Jersey finishing us off. So if the argument is DiGiuseppe is a more polished, more skilled player than Wilson--forget it--I'd rather take my chances with a guy I know who can fight a war.

This particular draft--at least from the perspective of picking No. 28--the smaller cutesy pie players who can possibly make a difference are in short supply. They more or less come down to Teravainen and Collberg. I expect they're going to be gone and I'd rather end up with a 3rd liner with grit than a maybe--maybe not guy like Frk or Pearson.

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06-22-2012, 04:32 PM
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The draft is pretty much a crapshoot obviously. Unless you're picking in the top five, there's not much reason to get excited about the night aside from the trades that might happen.

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06-22-2012, 04:46 PM
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Consider not only drafting and having a good scouting staff but there is also player development and from one organization to another some are just better at picking the right guys and getting the best out of them.

I think the McIlrath pick of a couple years ago was awareness on the Rangers that size and toughness and physical play plays a large factor in teams ability to win. The NHL is not a nice league to play in--players who can play hard and dominate physically give you another kind of edge.

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06-22-2012, 04:51 PM
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#4 is my favorite.

"We should draft X player, he's 6'3" 224!!"

Yeah? So am I...

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06-22-2012, 04:54 PM
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It is a crapshoot, but I would say that it's much less so than it was say 15 to 20 years ago. Scouting has gotten a lot better and when a player is selected the teams usually have a good idea of what the player may become.

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06-22-2012, 05:27 PM
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Beacon- I got another one for you, that's applicable to like 99% of all picks.

All talk about high risk/high reward, or the opposite, is just BS.

Just as often, the perfect unfancy "checker" becomes a star as say a Michael St. Croix type. There might be things you don't teach, but you can become a star without them anyway. And the kid who can display that sixth sense in the WHL, but lacks in general -- so rarely becomes a star in the NHL anyway.

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06-22-2012, 07:54 PM
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Ok, I get what you're saying here, but I'd like to see some true data to back up some of these percentages/numbers you're throwing out.

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06-23-2012, 01:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eco's bones View Post
Kreider--a big guy drafted outside the top 5 looks to me like he's going to turn out just fine. Looks to me like a top 6 if not 1st line player. That's looking pretty good now.

His flaw at the time of the draft was that he was very raw. In his first training camp after the draft, he had a hard time following college kids.

Like I said, it's possible for a guy outside of top-5 to develop into a star. That's obvious. But all these guys had flaws at the time of the draft. The ones you remember fixed those flaws, but the many more who are buried in the ECHL are forgotten. See: Jessiman.

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06-23-2012, 01:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ola View Post
Beacon- I got another one for you, that's applicable to like 99% of all picks.

All talk about high risk/high reward, or the opposite, is just BS.

Just as often, the perfect unfancy "checker" becomes a star as say a Michael St. Croix type. There might be things you don't teach, but you can become a star without them anyway. And the kid who can display that sixth sense in the WHL, but lacks in general -- so rarely becomes a star in the NHL anyway.

That's because the #1 predictor of how good a player turns out is his IQ (assuming his size, speed and hands aren't absolutely awful). But IQ/hockey sense is hard to figure out, so scouts are cheating by looking at scoring statistics, size, speed and other things that are easy to identify.

But someone who has average size, speed and hands, but a great IQ can turn out to be a great player.

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06-23-2012, 07:13 AM
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I seem to remember one poster in particular routinely talking about how the New Jersey Devils were finished, how the Kovalchuk signing was a death knell, etc.

Turned out to be quite the misconception, eh?

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06-25-2012, 12:31 PM
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Good thread. Interesting.

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06-25-2012, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eco's bones View Post
Kreider--a big guy drafted outside the top 5 looks to me like he's going to turn out just fine. Looks to me like a top 6 if not 1st line player. That's looking pretty good now.

To me your post is missing something. You seem to be arguing the skill, skill, skill should always take precedence no matter what the particular player's size or determination. I'll reference back to the playoffs--we had to grind it out against every team we faced. It's not that our team and the players on the other rosters weren't skilled at all but size, strength and determination was definitely a large factor in who won and who lost. It was a main reason why both Ottawa and Washington pushed us to our limit which factored into New Jersey finishing us off. So if the argument is DiGiuseppe is a more polished, more skilled player than Wilson--forget it--I'd rather take my chances with a guy I know who can fight a war.

This particular draft--at least from the perspective of picking No. 28--the smaller cutesy pie players who can possibly make a difference are in short supply. They more or less come down to Teravainen and Collberg. I expect they're going to be gone and I'd rather end up with a 3rd liner with grit than a maybe--maybe not guy like Frk or Pearson.
Really well said. I definitely agree with the OP that the odds of bigger players making it past the top 5-10 picks are not as good. But if they do, they can be much more valuable.

40-50 point smallish, one-dimensional forwards are pretty easy to pick up in trade/FA. The "grinders" who break out (Kesler, Backes, Callahan, etc.) are the kind of players you build around and win with - plus they rarely hit the market.

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06-25-2012, 01:17 PM
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A couple of things the OP misses.

Re: SIze: I think organization needs has a much to do about drafting a player with size vs one with skill and this plays a role on who gets drafted where.

Re: Late vs Early: an organization's scouting ability has as much to do with finding successful NHLer as does where they're picked. I'd take a mid-late pick by Hakan Andersson over a mid-early pick by Howson any day. I'd also like to point out that since Gordie Clark has been running the draft, 2nd rounders have been equally as valuable as firsts and in total he's having more success outside the 1st round than in it.

Re: One player per draft: Though this is the statistical league average and I'd agree with the concept of 1 is a good draft, more is great, a Team's ability to draft late is directly linked to the quality of their scouting staff, the number of scouts hired, and their prospect development program. All three of those things take money, that's outside the cap. Some teams have lots of money and spend it well, others have no money and struggle even if they had a small group on quality scouts. Without a proper scouting program, they just can't cover the same area required. The world is a big place and there are a lot of young players it. There's a reason why Hakan grabs gems late, no one else has seen them play in rural areas in Europe. There's also a direct connection between the Rangers being more involved in their prospect development, i.e. development camps and traverse city and their above average ability to produce NHL players per draft.

And finally, there's nothing wrong with people getting excited about the potential of the number of NHLers that we'll see from a draft. It's part of the reason why we follow prospects. Really, who cares about the guy who's never going to make it. We care about the potential, whether they achieve it is something else. I thought the 08 drat had the potential to produce 3-4 NHLers. 2 have become solid players, another is cracking the lineup in Vancouver and two more are still kicking around though will more likely become regular KHLers. Still, both Kundratek and Grachev certainly could have been taken in the 2nd round over players like Kugryshev and Mestery. The only reason why they weren't was because of the organizational need or what they thought about the player. Not necessarily their actual sckillset which is what most people are refering two they say "they're a higher rounder". Drafting is about getting it right about the player, filling organizational need and helping the prospect succeed.

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06-25-2012, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beacon View Post
That's because the #1 predictor of how good a player turns out is his IQ (assuming his size, speed and hands aren't absolutely awful). But IQ/hockey sense is hard to figure out, so scouts are cheating by looking at scoring statistics, size, speed and other things that are easy to identify.

But someone who has average size, speed and hands, but a great IQ can turn out to be a great player.
No, not really. IQ is extremely important. But not really more than skill or natural attributes.

Take James Sheppard. One of the smartest players I have ever seen. But he washed out. Why? Because he was all IQ.

IQ is only part of the puzzle.

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