Tag Archives: Boston Bruins

Evaluating the Scouts

Some Bruins fans love to use their 20/20 hindsight and call out all the players the Bruins should have drafted. I’ve also wondered, what if the Bruins had just followed the NHL Central Scouting rankings for each draft, who would they have ended up with? Let’s take a look. Here’s the way it works, each year before the draft, the NHL puts out their own rankings of all the available players. I took that and I crossed names off as they were actually drafted and then when it was the Bruins’ turn to pick, looked at who is the best player available, according to the NHL scouts. Here’s how that went.

2015

We all know 2015 went really badly from the perspective that it was a very deep draft, there were a lot of good players available when the Bruins had three choices. Jake DeBrusk has turned out to be approximately what he was projected to be, around the 19th best player in that draft. Zach Senyshyn has been a huge miss, and then there’s Jakob Zboril. Due to slower development and injuries, the jury is still out. But those are the three guys they took. We always hear about Barzal, Connor, Chabot, Boeser and so many other players, but based on the 2015 NHL Central Scouting rankings, who would the Bruins have gotten? Yes, Matt Barzal and Kyle Connor, but the third one might surprise some people, Jakob Zboril. The best goalies available were Ilya Samsonov and Mackenzie Blackwood.

Let’s take it a little further and look at the second round where the Bruins took Brandon Carlo at 37 and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson at 45. The highest ranked players at 37 were Jansen Harkins, Michael Spacek, Blackwood or old friend Daniel Vladar. For the second pick, the same players were still available, but if the Bruins had taken Harkins at 37, then the next man up would be Filip Chlapik. Going as far as the third round, when they took Jeremy Lauzon, the best player in the rankings was Jeremy Roy.

2016

In 2016, the Bruins took Charlie McAvoy at 14, but according to the NHL Central Scouting, the highest rated available was Jakob Chychrun. Chrychrun is a pretty good player, but he’s not as good as Charlie McAvoy. That pick is a win for the Bruins. The Bruins also had a second first round pick at 29 where they took Trent Frederic. The highest ranked player was 21st, Alex Debrincat. He eventually went to Chicago, dropping all the way to 39. In the second round, the Bruins took a guy who is now an NHL defenseman, but was traded to the Rangers in the Rick Nash deal, Ryan Lindgren. He was drafted 49th. The highest ranked players at the time were Kale Clague and Carl Grundstrom. I feel pretty good about the Bruins scouting and drafting on that pick.

2017

This is the last year to look at as not enough players have had time to develop yet from 2018 on. But this year, the Bruins took Urho Vaakanainen at 18. The highest ranked players available according to the NHL Central Scouting were either Eeli Tolvanen or Klim Kostin. Meh. I’m not too excited about any of those players and I wouldn’t get too excited about “missing” on any of those. Looking into the second round, the Bruins took Jack Studnicka at 53 and the highest ranked players available for that pick were Rickard Hugg and Alexei Lipanov. To which I can just say “Who?” as neither of them have NHL experience and I don’t think either will ever get any.

There you have it, the answer to “What if the Bruins fired all their scouts and just used the NHL’s own rankings?” The thing to keep in mind though is for every Debrincat, all the other teams missed on him too. Each team has their own hits and misses including the Flyers, Stars and Capitals 2016 first round picks who have played a combined 15 NHL games.

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Setting a Low Bar For Draft “Success”

All of the draft analysis so far has been about whether teams took the best player available at their draft position and if they did not, how much did they miss by. That is the main point of a draft, to get the best players available to you. However, some people like to criticize teams for only having a certain number of players reach the NHL. I see criticisms that include “Barely any of your draft picks make it to the NHL!” However, let’s look at this another way.

So one night, your favorite team plays the game and later that night, someone asks “How’d they do?” and you answer “They scored 3 goals.” Is that good? Virtually anyone would ask “But what was the score?” or “How many did the other team score?” because how many goals a team scores is relative to the other team’s goals scored in determining who wins. If you score 1 goal and shut out the other team, you win. If you score 6 goals but give up 7, you lose. So just having information about one team doesn’t tell you much. You need to compare it to the other team. Same with draft results. Knowing how one team has fared means nothing unless you know how that compares to other teams. If you want to know which team is best at drafting by the Best Player Available method, I have that for you here: Which Team is Best at Drafting: Answered

But if you care more about whether a team’s draft picks reach the NHL, I have that for you here too. It’s a ridiculously low bar to use “to reach the NHL”, but it’s a standard many people use in evaluating a General Manager or a team’s drafting ability, so here we go.

How it Works

I took the draft results (data taken from hockey-reference.com) from every NHL draft, 2000 to 2017 and added up how many players for each team have reached the NHL. There have been 4212 players drafted in that timeframe and 1963 of those have reached the NHL for a league average of 46.6%.

From 2000 to 2004, the NHL went 9 rounds for their draft, selecting around 290 players per year. The league averages those years were:

200040.27%
200143.94%
200235.75%
200344.52%
200444.33%

Yep 2002, a year led off with Rick Nash and Kari Lehtonen was a tough one. Once the league dropped two rounds, the percentage improved.

200548.26%
200642.72%
200745.97%
200849.54%
200955.02%
201050.24%
201159.81%
201251.42%
201350.71%
201446.67%
201548.57%
201645.50%
201742.40%

Some people ask why I stop at 2017 and you can see the answer here. Players just haven’t developed yet to give an accurate and fair picture. The percentage drops off. Maybe no more players from the 2017 draft will ever play in the NHL, but the numbers indicate otherwise. If we look at 2018, it’d likely be even lower, so it’s not worth including yet. (Update: Ok, I did check 2018. 217 players were selected and as of July 2022, 67 players have reached the NHL for a 30.8%. In 2018, there were also 217 selections and 56 have reached the NHL for a 25.8%. In short, it’s too early to judge teams on these drafts.)

Some years for individual teams were particularly interesting like in 2008, the Canadiens had 5 picks and zero have played in the NHL. Vancouver had 7 picks in 2007 and none have played even a single NHL game. The Penguins and Capitals matched that in 2017. Pittsburgh missing on six picks and the Capitals missed on all four. The opposite has also happened in a number of years. All five of the Devils picks in 2015 have played an NHL game. In 2011, the deepest draft statistically, four teams graduated all players to the NHL. All seven of Anaheim’s picks, all five of Calgary’s, all five of Pittsburgh’s and all six of Tampa’s. The highest graduation total was the 2008 Islanders, 9 out of their 13 picks played at least one NHL game.

The Best and Worst

Who are the best teams using this metric? This is the total percentage for all drafts from 2000 to 2017 for the teams. Atlanta and Winnipeg have been combined.

Boston60.63%
Columbus52.94%
Los Angeles52.35%
Anaheim52.34%
Toronto51.45%
Ottawa50.37%
Philadelphia50.36%
New Jersey50.00%
Pittsburgh48.09%
San Jose47.69%
St. Louis46.90%
Carolina46.88%
Buffalo45.89%
Nashville45.70%
Calgary45.59%
Edmonton45.45%
Colorado45.39%
Florida45.21%
Minnesota45.11%
Montreal45.04%
NY Islanders45.00%
NY Rangers44.44%
Dallas43.88%
Washington43.80%
Tampa Bay42.48%
Atlanta/Winnipeg41.89%
Phoenix/Arizona41.73%
Chicago41.57%
Vancouver40.65%
Detroit36.69%

So there you have it, the Boston Bruins and their General Managers from Mike O’Connell to Jeff Gorton to Peter Chiarelli to even the current Don Sweeney, lead the NHL with drafting players who play at least one game in the NHL. Again, a ridiculously low bar, but it’s one that people choose for some reason, when they want to evaluate a team’s drafting ability and the front office.

If you have any questions about the data, let me know on twitter at @plaverty24 and I’ll do my best to answer.

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2017 Draft: Five Years Later

The quality of a draft is constantly changing, as the players’ value, or their “Point Shares (PS)” number changes when they play. The result of a draft isn’t really finalized until all the players have retired. On the other end of the spectrum, players can’t earn PS until they’re playing in the NHL. Evaluate these too soon, and it’ll be a very top-heavy draft as those players generally get to the NHL the fastest. For this reason, I waited until the end of the ’21-’22 season to put together the results of the 2017 draft. Here’s what we got so far.

A reminder of the methodology for this is here: “How This Works.”

First, here’s the 2017 first round:

1New Jersey DevilsNico Hischier
2Philadelphia FlyersNolan Patrick
3Dallas StarsMiro Heiskanen
4Colorado AvalancheCale Makar
5Vancouver CanucksElias Pettersson
6Vegas Golden KnightsCody Glass
7New York RangersLias Andersson
8Buffalo SabresCasey Mittelstadt
9Detroit Red WingsMichael Rasmussen
10Florida PanthersOwen Tippett
11Los Angeles KingsGabriel Vilardi
12Carolina HurricanesMartin Necas
13Vegas Golden KnightsNick Suzuki
14Tampa Bay LightningCallan Foote
15Vegas Golden KnightsErik Brannstrom
16Calgary FlamesJuuso Valimaki
17Toronto Maple LeafsTimothy Liljegren
18Boston BruinsUrho Vaakanainen
19San Jose SharksJoshua Norris
20St. Louis BluesRobert Thomas
21New York RangersFilip Chytil
22Edmonton OilersKailer Yamamoto
23Arizona CoyotesPierre-Olivier Joseph
24Winnipeg JetsKristian Vesalainen
25Montreal CanadiensRyan Poehling
26Dallas StarsJake Oettinger
27Philadelphia FlyersMorgan Frost
28Ottawa SenatorsShane Bowers
29Chicago BlackhawksHenri Jokiharju
30Nashville PredatorsEeli Tolvanen
31St. Louis BluesKlim Kostin

Next, here are the top 31 players, based on their NHL “Point Shares”:

Draft PositionDraft TeamPlayerPoint Share
4Colorado AvalancheCale Makar30.2
3Dallas StarsMiro Heiskanen25.5
5Vancouver CanucksElias Pettersson25.4
1New Jersey DevilsNico Hischier19.8
39Dallas StarsJason Robertson15.7
20St. Louis BluesRobert Thomas14.9
26Dallas StarsJake Oettinger12.7
12Carolina HurricanesMartin Necas12.1
13Vegas Golden KnightsNick Suzuki11.3
19San Jose SharksJoshua Norris10.3
111Boston BruinsJeremy Swayman9.5
121Ottawa SenatorsDrake Batherson9
22Edmonton OilersKailer Yamamoto8.7
34Vegas Golden KnightsNicolas Hague8.6
29Chicago BlackhawksHenri Jokiharju8.2
49San Jose SharksMario Ferraro7.7
21New York RangersFilip Chytil6.7
50Anaheim DucksMaxime Comtois6.2
103Los Angeles KingsMichael Anderson6.2
8Buffalo SabresCasey Mittelstadt5.5
2Philadelphia FlyersNolan Patrick4.1
99Buffalo SabresJacob Bryson4.1
17Toronto Maple LeafsTimothy Liljegren4
45Columbus Blue JacketsAlexandre Texier4
15Vegas Golden KnightsErik Brannstrom3.8
30Nashville PredatorsEeli Tolvanen3.7
14Tampa Bay LightningCallan Foote3.6
47Ottawa SenatorsAlex Formenton3.5
11Los Angeles KingsGabriel Vilardi3.4
117Columbus Blue JacketsEmil Bemstrom3.1
9Detroit Red WingsMichael Rasmussen2.8

Next, we look at which teams had the best draft. As explained in the methodology, for the table below, a team wants fewer points. If the team drafted the best player available in their draft position, that earns a 0. If the best player is not taken, the team gets points added for the difference in PS between the player taken and the best player available. So fewer points are better.

TeamTotal PS# Picks
Washington Capitals11.24
San Jose Sharks17.46
New York Islanders19.55
Dallas Stars20.17
Pittsburgh Penguins22.36
Ottawa Senators22.84
Columbus Blue Jackets23.17
Calgary Flames23.45
Anaheim Ducks25.75
Boston Bruins26.26
St. Louis Blues28.76
Minnesota Wild30.36
New York Rangers30.77
Tampa Bay Lightning32.16
Nashville Predators32.96
Edmonton Oilers357
Toronto Maple Leafs35.27
Florida Panthers35.55
Colorado Avalanche37.47
Los Angeles Kings47.77
Winnipeg Jets48.28
Buffalo Sabres48.86
Vancouver Canucks48.98
Carolina Hurricanes508
Montreal Canadiens53.57
Chicago Blackhawks55.29
New Jersey Devils57.311
Arizona Coyotes67.79
Vegas Golden Knights72.612
Detroit Red Wings79.511
Philadelphia Flyers87.29

A team can get a better score in the table above, simply by having fewer picks. To adjust for that, here’s the average points per draft pick.

TeamAverage PS# Picks
Washington Capitals2.804
Dallas Stars2.877
San Jose Sharks2.906
Columbus Blue Jackets3.307
Pittsburgh Penguins3.726
New York Islanders3.905
Boston Bruins4.376
New York Rangers4.397
Calgary Flames4.685
St. Louis Blues4.786
Edmonton Oilers5.007
Toronto Maple Leafs5.037
Minnesota Wild5.056
Anaheim Ducks5.145
New Jersey Devils5.2111
Colorado Avalanche5.347
Tampa Bay Lightning5.356
Nashville Predators5.486
Ottawa Senators5.704
Winnipeg Jets6.038
Vegas Golden Knights6.0512
Vancouver Canucks6.118
Chicago Blackhawks6.139
Carolina Hurricanes6.258
Los Angeles Kings6.817
Florida Panthers7.105
Detroit Red Wings7.2311
Arizona Coyotes7.529
Montreal Canadiens7.647
Buffalo Sabres8.136
Philadelphia Flyers9.699

The numbers are a little misleading and we need to look into details. Both tables indicate the Capitals had the best draft, when actually, they’ve had zero players make it to the NHL. That is in part due to the fact that they only had four picks and their first pick was 120th overall. The remainder of their picks were 151, 182 and 213. Not many teams will hit on those.

Dallas on the other hand, had an outstanding draft. They drafted three of the top seven players getting the second-best player, Miro Heiskenen at 3 (25.5 PS), the fifth best player, Jason Robertson at 39 (15.7 PS) and the seventh best player, Jake Oettinger at 27 (12.7 PS). The Sharks grabbed 10th best Josh Norris at 19 and he’s at 10.3 PS and 16th best Mario Ferraro at 49 and 7.7 PS.

The Don Sweeney haters will be disappointed to see the Bruins had the 7th best draft, which was on the strength of the current 11th best player, Jeremy Swayman taken at 111, and his 9.5 PS. First rounder, Urho Vaakanainen was the 43rd best player in the draft so far, with his 1.3 PS score.

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