Friday, December 12, 2008

CHL First Round Picks That Have Played in the NHL

Someone sent me an email yesterday asking a very reasonable and seemingly easy question to answer, that got me thinking. The question was, how many first round CHL selections in NHL entry drafts make it to the NHL? Seems easy enough, except that one has to figure out how long it takes from draft time to get to the NHL. Although we all know that several first round picks crack the roster of their drafting team the following Fall, what about the others? Conventional wisdom among NHL folks and scouts is to give the player five years before making a conclusion, but in a non-scientific way, I wanted to look at this.

BTW, very important caveat here, if you want to compare across draft years, to be statistically valid, you would have to control for the different talent level in each pool. But this was an overnight mini-study, and I haven't figured out how to do that anyway. But stay tuned and I will figure it out and bring you more (probably on a more appropriate website too). I will let you know in a few weeks.

I started with the 1998 NHL draft, because I wanted at least five years of data, giving a player five years to make it to the NHL. Easy enough, five and five are ten, however, that's actually six years of past data, so six and five are eleven. It was late at night, so bear with me, and anyway we get an extra year to look at.

Oh, and I arbitrarily chose an appearance in 10 games to mean a player "made it to the NHL". This meant that at least one year of an entry level contract kicked in. I did not want a player to have a cup of coffee and then be returned to junior (although several netminders are included that got a few games here and there, added up to 10, but never will be NHL netminders in a real way. that's the problem with any arbitrary cutoff). A couple of recently drafted guys, Zach Bogosian and Chris Stewart are on the rosters of their NHL clubs and should make the 10 games soon, but they are not included in the "made it" category below. They probably would be if I waited a few weeks.

I am having trouble making graphs of the data, and this is in a somewhat difficult to read format, but the categories are first the Year, next the No. Of CHL First Round Picks who've played in the NHL, then Total No of CHL Players Selected in the First Round, and last and most important the Percentage of CHL First Rounders Who've Made it to the NHL

1998 /19/ 21 /90%

1999/ 11/ 14 /79%

2000 / 9 /11 /82%

2001 / 12/ 14 / 86%

2002 / 11/ 13/ 85%

2003/ 17/ 17/ 100%

That's pretty high percentages in all years. 2003 is known is one of the best ever draft crops, and to be fair, all the guys have made it to the NHL, save Hugh Jessiman, who was an NCAA player at the time he was drafted.

Over the same time period, let's look at those non-CHL players that have made it to the NHL.

Year/ No. Of Non-CHL First Round Picks who've played in the NHL/ Total No. of Non-CHL Players Selected in the First Round/Percentage of Non-CHL First Rounders Who've Made it

1998 / 6/ 6 /100%

1999/ 10/ 14 / 72%

2000 / 16 /19 /84%

2001/ 14/ 16/ 88%

2002 / 13/ 17/ 76%

2003 / 12/ 13/ 92%

Guess what, the percentages are almost the same, with the exception of the 2002 draft year, where those chosen from the CHL have been more successful in getting to the NHL than those that were either NCAA-bound or from Europe.

Now lets look at the more incomplete recent picture, i.e., from 2004-2008.

Year/ No. Of CHL First Round Picks who've played in the NHL/ Total No of CHL Players Selected in the First Round/Percentage of CHL First Rounders Who've Made it

2004/ 9 /12/ 75%

2005 /11/ 17/ 65%

2006/ 6 / 16/ 38%

2007 / 6 /16 /38%

2008/ 6 /20 /30%

As for the non-CHL first round drafted players:

2004 / 10/ 18/ 56%

2005/ 8/ 13/ 62%

2006/ 8 /14 /57%

2007 /1 /14 /7%

2008/ 2 /10 /20%

This is more interesting than I originally thought. One would expect that it might take the Non-CHL players a little longer to make it to the NHL, but that only appears to be the case for about the first two years after a player is drafted. But it is true is that most of the players that are NHL-ready after being drafted are from the CHL. Although Russians Nikita Filatov and Viktor Tikhonov are playing now after being drafted last summer, the others of recent memory have almost all been CHLers.

In any case, it looks like the NHL teams do an excellent job of picking the guys that will be playing in their league five years hence. If you look at the percentages above, it seems until then the numbers rise, after which the percentages level off at a fairly high number. So, the five year mark that is used by the NHL and other scouting personnel appears to be a correct guideline to employ.

Interesting and more complicated question than when it was first contemplated.

As I said, I will be doing more research in this area over the coming months, and I will let you know where you can find it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

OHL Update--Barrie Colts

This is a first in the series of updates, including who is really hot and not. There is a formula that I use to determine this which is based upon when goals are scored, whether penalties result in opposition goals, the age and experience of the players, trends, and my eyes watching the ice.

These will be 10-game snapshots of the teams and certain players, that will take into consideration that fact that some very good players will be missing to the Canada U20 Selection camp for portions of the time included.

Starting with Barrie, the team has won only four of their last 10 games--and lost games to a couple of pretty poor teams at that. There is no question that recent trades will require a settling in period, but let's face it, this is not a team, as it stands now, that can compete for the OHL Championship. The question is what more can be done? I still think that it is not in the cards for the Colts, but I have been surprised before. This would be a big one though.

Let's get to some of the players. Although other media have singled out Stefan Della Rovere as playing really well of late, I think that while he has certainly improved upon his performance of last year, and he had a good October, Della Rovere has not played extremely well since. True he has 5 points in as many games, however, in three of the five games in which he appeared, Della Rovere was almost entirely invisible. He is of an age, where he needs to lead the team with consistent performances throughout the season.

The player I want to give kudos to is Darren Archibald, the goal-scoring 18-year old rookie, who has been impressive in his OHL debut season. With 10 pts (8 goals, 2 assists) in as many games, the tall and lanky LW has a +5 rating and solid performances in seven of the 10 games. He should be on the NHL scouts radar by now. If Archibald continues to show that he can put the puck in the net, expect to hear his name in a mid to late round of the NHL draft next June.

Another new name that should excite Barrie fans is that of blueliner Ryan O'Connor. The 1992-born defenceman has at times this year needed some adjustment to the pace of the game, however, he has in the last few weeks really steadied himself, so that his defensive game is no longer as much of a liability. He always had offensive skills, so this is a player to watch over the coming months.

Not doing as well is overage defenceman Kyle van de Bospoort. A team needs solid older blueliners, but lately van de Bospoort has been anything but. Netminder Peter DiSalvo is also looking a little overwhelmed this month. The 18-year old NHL draft-eligible goalie has appeared in three of the last ten games. Although he looked good in the win against division rival Sudbury late last month, in his other two appearances, Di Salvo did not look ready to be a number one OHL netminder.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Valueable and Not So Valuable Points

Lately, we have been seeing quite a few "who is hot, and who is not" articles. Most of these base their choices upon point production for skaters and wins and losses for netminders. But when it comes to skaters, not all points are equal--its points when games are on the line that really count. Padding your stats is an old trick and scouts are very aware of it, but fans need to be too. Scoring when the game is already won (or lost), is pretty useless. Plus, points never take into consideration the defensive blueliner, who can toil in anonymity, because points are not his game.

As for goaltenders, none of the stats are truly indicative if you have a defense that's a sieve in front of your netminder.

In the end, you really have to watch with your own eyes to see who is playing well and who isn't, because some things really do not show up on the scoresheet, and some things that do show up are deceptive.

So over the next few days, I want to go over who was really hot and who wasn't over the last month and why. I will break it down by league and it will include (and exclude) some unexpected names.