NHL Draft Statistics: The OHL and WHL Big Board
Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Travis Flynn. Travis has done tremendous research on scoring numbers of prospects in the OHL and WHL and the correlation to their success as NHLers in Recent NHL Drafts. If you are a fan of statistical posts, you will want to check out this post, and see what Travis’ Research says about this years’ NHL Draft prospects. We at LWOS are very grateful for Travis’ time on this.
The Start is an introduction to how he developped his big board, followed by the board it self, and then most interesting of all some conclusions we can draw from it.
NHL Draft Statistics: The OHL and WHL Big Board
It is highly recommended that you view the chart below on a computer/tablet rather than a smart phone. Or better yet, open two windows, or use a computer and a phone to read while looking at the chart. Or if you have a color printer, a good print would be helpful.
How to read this chart:
Left column is player. OHLers in green; WHLers in magenta.
Second column is year drafted. (So a player drafted in 2007 shows stats for 2006-2007. These are single-season stats.)
Third column in where player was selected in draft. These are all top-10 draft picks 2003-2013 from OHL/WHL (forwards only), except for those who missed most of the pre-draft season due to injury. (Galchenyuk and Connolly, I believe.)… I included Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, because they would have went top-10 in just about any other draft…. At the bottom are remaining 1st rounders who broke 0.35 even-strength goals-per-game. I even included Pearson, though he was grossly over-age.
Color Codes: Deep Red is best indicator. Deep blue (with white text) is worst indicator, on scale like so:
For the five scoring columns:
Deep red (white text) is “elite.” I gave color to top 5 in each category.
Red is well above average. (Top 20% statistically, excluding elites)
Orange is above average. (60%-80%)
Tan (light orange) is about average. (Omitting Elites, medium 20%)
Light blue is below average. (20%-40%)
Medium blue is well below average. (worst 20% excluding negative-elites.)
Dark blue (white text) is negative-elites. Pretty much worst 5, although I adjusted because of missing info in a couple categories…. Do note that the blues are simply “below average compared to top-10 forwards from OHL/WHL.” They may still be above-average scoring prospects, just not so elite.
These stats were found using OHL/WHL sites as well as HockeyDB. (Heights are according to HockeyDB, for instance.)
I separated the scoring columns from the context columns with black cells. The Information on the right side is largely useless without considering the left side. The seven draft eligibles I put in between 2nd and 3rd overall picks, because many of them (perhaps all seven) belong in the 1st-4th range according to scoring this past season…. So most of their comparables are closer on the chart. Black cells were also used to mark even-strength numbers of players who had subpar other numbers. Those four don’t look at all comparable to the seven draft-eligibles.
First is simply points-per-game. (Goals + assists, then divided by games played.)
Second is even-strength points-per-game. (Points at EV divided by games played.)
Third is even-strength goals-per-game. (Goals at EV divided by games played.)
Fourth is goal pace. (Goals divided by games played, multiplied by 82…. I could have expressed as a fraction, but I already had these numbers for many players, because I was comparing to future NHL seasons in one post…. Regardless, the colors should be exactly the same as if I used fractions.)
Fifth is even-strength primary points-per-game. (Even-strength goals and even-strength primary assists, then divided by games) Probably the least useful of these categories, but I still find it interesting. Some debate whether primary assists should be counted more than secondary assists for future success. Let me put it this way: if they recorded 3rd assists, would you see that as being as valuable as a primary assist? Or even a secondary assist?… I believe the order of impressiveness should go goal, primary assist, secondary assist, and I’m sticking to it!
Age, expressed in years and months from start of pre-draft season, according to HockeyDB birth dates.
%top5 takes the points-per-game of top 5 players on team, adds them up (including said player’s), then takes player’s points-per-game and divides by total of top-5.
T-Goal is team-goals scored that season.
Height is from Hockey DB. They round to the inch.
Adjust is a quick compilation of the “context” categories. I assigned the colors point values of 3 through -3…. I’ll explain more as I go along.
If you have any questions about this chart, please let me know. My availability to field questions will be spotty next couple weeks, perhaps, because of work and World Cup, so feel free to jump in for me if you believe you know the answer to someone’s question.
It may help to ignore everything on the right of the black center line until you get used to this chart. It is a bit visually overwhelming to first view it.
NOTE: “PPG” means “points-per-game” in this post. NOT Power-play goals. “GPG” means “Goals-per-game.”
|Player||Year||Pk||P/G||EV P||EV G||Gx82||Prim.||Age||%top5||T-Goal||Height||Adjust|
|Player||Year||Pk||P/G||EV P||EV G||Gx82||Prim.||Age||%top5||T-Goal||Height||Adjust|
Here is what I see from this graph, as far as generalities, draft eligible individuals, and some other individual players:
- Scoring better-than-average (orange or better) in any of these categories is a good indication of NHL scoring success…. Among players drafted 3rd-13th on this chart, there are 8 players who fit this. Four of the 8 have been successful NHLers (Horton, EKane, Skinner, and Couture). Glennie busted. Gagner has been disappointing to some degree, but pretty good, actually, for 6th overall. Strome and Nino are very much TBD. (Gagner too, infact.)… All 7 draft-eligibles are orange-or-better in at least one category, with Reinhart, Bennett, Draisaitl, Ritchie, and Fabbri seeing a lot of color.
—– No one on this chart has busted orange-or-better in points-per-game.
—– No one has busted orange-or-better in EV goals-per-game (3rd scoring column)….Perhaps Jensen, but his other numbers are pretty poor, and was drafted 29th overall.
—– No one has busted 48-or-better goals pace. (4th column).
—– Glennie is the only bust with an orange-or-better primary EV pts pace (5th column) or EV pts pace (2nd column).
- Looking at all the orange/red in this draft group makes me happy. The amount of red/orange is actually pretty similar to the 1st+2nd overalls, even if you take out RNH and JStaal with all their blue…. This is a high-scoring crop of OHL/WHL forwards.
- Age looks fascinating to me, and I wouldn’t have seen this if I didn’t color-code the chart, but:
——1st and 2nd overalls are primarily old for their draft year. (Elite players old enough to prove they are elite?)
—–Most of the young players on this chart went 4th/5th/6th. After the elites are taken, who has the highest upside? That’s my thinking, anyway.
——Then, interestingly, Skinner was the only youngish player drafted 7th-13th, among these players. (High-potential players gone, back to safer pick?)
—–Does this necessarily mean Draisaitl has a better chance of going 1st/2nd rather than Bennett? I don’t think so, because Bennett’s numbers blow away EKane, BSchenn, Nino, Gagner, and everyone else on this chart who was chosen 3rd and lower.
Age doesn’t matter so much for elite players:
- For players who performed at an elite level, being on the older side isn’t really much of a negative. PKane, Tavares, Stamkos, Hall, Seguin, and Yakupov already proved they were ready to be top NHL players by the time the draft came around. (For Yakupov, I’d say being 5’11” was more of a concern, since his numbers weren’t super-elite, like PKane or Tavares…. 5’11” is the shortest height drafted top-10 on this chart.)… So does being older hurt Reinhart or Draisaitl much? I don’t think so, as long as their WHL numbers are at least close to as good as the same numbers in the OHL, and I think they are. (Garik mentioned that they are even more impressive than OHL numbers, by some measurement, I believe.)… Age does perhaps hurt Ritchie’s case a bit, especially in relation to Dal Colle, who is 6 months younger.
- Also, Team goals isn’t necessarily an indication that player’s numbers are inflated. See Hall, and probably Bennett (27.6% top-5 is a great stat for Bennett, to help refute the notion that his numbers were inflated.)
- This chart obviously isn’t everything. It doesn’t explain why JStaal was chosen 2nd overall. (Elite defensive ability, plus PIT team-needs.) It doesn’t explain why VAN traded Schneider so that they could select Horvat. (Similarly defensive ability.) It doesn’t explain why Duchene was a great pick at 3rd overall. (Speed.) It doesn’t explain why Johansen was a better draft pick than Nino. (In fact, Nino’s goal-scoring ability looks better, based on this chart.)…. But this chart does offer a somewhat compelling argument that points scored in Juniors pre-draft season– particularly EV points, and particularly goals, and even EV goals (though small sample size)– is a good indicator for succeeding in the NHL as a good scoring forward.
Reinhart: Forget that he’s not quite an elite goal-scorer. His 1.75 points-per-game put him into the company of PKane, Tavares, Hall, Stamkos, and Seguin. Will he be a Kane or Stamkos type of star? Probably not. Could he reach Tavares’s or Seguin’s current level? Numbers suggest he very well could. His 28.4% top 5 is a nice contextual stat. He is also ideal scorer’s height at 6’1″.
Bennett: Perhaps the most impressive overall numbers among the seven on this chart. Scoring 1.60 in the OHL is a great indicator of NHL success. Also being known for great defensive play is a major plus. His team scored 301 goals, but his 27.6 % top 5 stat indicates he didn’t feed off of high-scoring team mates too much. Great EV as well as goal-scoring numbers. A touch under-sized, and some bulking up to do, but seems a very solid prospect…. One of the younger prospects on this chart.
Draisaitl: At worst he seems like a bigger Ryan Strome. Elite 29.7%top-5 stat. Elite points, both overall and at EV. Led his team by quite a few points, in scoring. Aside from perhaps Strome, there is no one 3rd overall or lower who comes close to his scoring numbers.
Dal Colle: At first glance, his numbers look very blah on this chart. But realize that his 1.42 points-per-game is nearly orange-level. Also his four contextual numbers (right columns) is the best combination of any player on this chart. (Last column.) Also notice that starting at 3rd overall only EKane and Strome were able to avoid any blue in scoring columns. (And even the “tan” group of EV GPG is a nice collection of goal-scorers: EStaal, BRyan, Reinhart, Dal Colle, Horton, Strome, Setoguchi, Eberle, Shinkaruk)… Everything for Dal Colle seems just a touch above average. Add it all up and that makes him more attractive than everyone 3rd overall or later on this chart save EKane, perhaps Strome, perhaps Skinner, perhaps Gagner…. If he was on the older side, he probably wouldn’t be the consensus 5th overall with these stats. But 6-8 months younger than many of these guys can make a huge difference.
Ritchie: Nearly identical to Landeskog’s numbers. Biggest difference is Ritchie had 25.8% top-5 (better contextual numbers overall for Ritchie), whereas Landeskog was 20.9% top-5….. Second closest comparable is perhaps Horton, although Ritchie EV goals-per-game is a lot higher. Everyone with red at EV goals-per-game on this chart has had goal-scoring success in the NHL. Even the players with orange have had success scoring goals in the NHL…. Second-best pre-draft scoring season among the players taller than 6’2″: EStaal, Ritichie, Ladd, Johansen, JStaal…. Three have turned into top-line talents in the NHL. The other became perhaps the most important defensive player on a Cup team. Ritchie may not quite have the skating ability as the other four, but he gets around well for 220 lbs.
Virtanen: Oh Virtanen, how my feelings on you are so mixed! Near elite goal-scoring numbers, similar to Ritchie. But lacks Ritchie’s EV assists, particularly primary. Extremely talented physically with very high speed and great hands (including a slick backhand shot). Will he put it all together at the NHL level? He may slide past top-10 in this draft due to his injury, since there are players without so many question marks (the above five plus Ekblad, Nylander, and Ehlers, for instance)…. The 1.00 points-per-game and 20.0%top-5 stats are worrisome, but he is very young. Numbers are quite a bit better than Nino’s…. Well worth a gamble in the 10th-12th range.
Fabbri: His EV and goal-scoring numbers are surrounded only by great NHLers (and Reinhart/Bennett/Draisaitl). Why haven’t we heard much about him going top-10? Perhaps because he is only 5’10” and played for a powerhouse team this season, who scored 340 goals. (That’s 100+ goals more than Ritchie’s and Dal Colle’s teams.) Still, that 0.53 EV goals-per-game is unreal. The only one above 0.42 who slipped past the 2nd overall pick in past 13 drafts (OHL/WHL forwards) was Skinner at 0.44…. And Fabbri is 0.53! Even though his team is loaded with talent, that is a great number– more impressive I’d say than Gagner’s 2.23 PPG and 0.26 EV GPG on a loaded team. (Easier to pick up cheap points on the power play for a powerhouse team than EV goals.)… Skinner, Ennis, and Eberle slipped in the draft largely because of size concerns after scoring 0.36-0.44 EV GPG. They all are good offensive weapons in the NHL now. If he slips to 20th-40th, some teams selecting 10th-19th could be full of regret in a few years…. Perhaps Fabbri becomes the first 5’10” or smaller OHL/WHL forward to be selected top-10, since 2003.
Tavares: his previous two seasons he had more points-per-game. (Yes, Tavares was elite in juniors at 16Y1M.)
Hall: His goal-scoring at EV was not so elite, but the rest of his numbers were remarkable. Team-goals was high, but part of that reason was because his team had Taylor Hall.
Yakupov: Perhaps the scariest comparable for Reinhart, Draisaitl, and Bennett, as Yakupov has disappointed to some degree in the NHL. Still, the elite skills are apparent in the NHL. Size may be part of what is holding Yakupov back…. And 28 goals in 111 games isn’t really a bad start for a 19/20 year-old…. Reinhart’s and Bennett’s numbers are still better than Yakupov, and I would argue Draisaitl’s too, considering he led his team by a lot of points this past season.
Nugent-Hopkins: Here is an interesting case. Very good overall PPG pace. Subpar EV Points pace, though, and even more disappointing goals pace. I know RNH has exceptional puck skills, but his combination of size (he is a thin 6’1″) and goal scoring inability is a bit concerning. (He has yet to hit 20 goals in an NHL season.)… And he doesn’t have the incredible speed that some others on this chart possess. (Duchene and Seguin, for instance.)
Seguin: the only player with exceptional scoring numbers to be selected 2nd-4th overall on this chart. (With EKane close, and Strome remarkable at 5th overall.) This is part of the reason why there was the Taylor/Tyler debate. It wasn’t simply a name-thing.
JStaal: As mentioned, he wasn’t a bad pick at 2nd overall for Pens, despite not putting up good scoring numbers in pre-draft season in Juniors. He may have been the difference between Pens winning a Cup or losing it to the Wings. (Still, one could argue Pens would have been better off picking someone else in that spot, as Jonathan Toews went one pick later)… But his lack of goal-scoring success in Juniors was perhaps a hint that he wouldn’t ever be an especially good NHL goal-scorer. Did Carolina know that before they traded for him? Hmmmm…
EKane: Interesting how he scored an elite number of PP goals his pre-draft season, yet he isn’t a go-to scorer on Jets’ PP…. Even ignoring that, his numbers all look very strong as a solid orange. And only 17Y2M!… Bit of a stacked team, though, scoring 319 goals.
Johansen, Ladd, and Carter: proof a player doesn’t need to score much in Juniors in pre-draft season to become a good scorer in the NHL. Notice how all three of these players are larger than average, in NHL terms…. Makes an even better case for Ritchie, and to a lesser extent Dal Colle, since they are good size and already scoring goals.
Strome: If I released this chart before Strome’s draft, I don’t think anyone on LHH would have seen Strome as a reach. (But I’m sure someone would have said, “Who the heck is ‘Draisaitl’?”)… Strome’s combination of speed/size (not much compared to other scoring NHL forwards) limits his play to an extent, but I bet Strome gets physically stronger over the next couple years, and it is very encouraging to see his defensive play continue to improve since he was drafted…. There are other 60+ pt NHL scorers without great size or blazing speed, and Strome looks to have the tools to get there.
BSchenn: he had a much better Juniors season post-draft, at 18Y2M. I should run those numbers sometime. Still, entering the draft his numbers were nowhere near Dal Colle, let alone the top 3.
Gagner: I’m not sure if I would have considered selecting Gagner at 5th overall with these numbers, compared to Dal Colle or Ritchie, even…. 2.23 PPG is unreal, but playing with PKane and feeding off of a 19/20 year-old Kostitsyn– as the game-logs showed– is a huge red-flag. And the 0.26 EV goals-per-game (especially in context of his 2.23 overall number) is another huge red flag…. Obviously scouting came into play here. He slipped to 6th in the draft, with PKane, JVR, Turris, Hickey, and Alzner taken ahead of him. (But EDM would have done better with two of the next three players taken: Voracek, Hamill, Couture.) Perhaps Gagner didn’t slip as far as he should have in that draft.
Monahan: An example of a player struggling to score EV goals his pre-draft season, yet he ended up a very good pick at 6th overall, by the look of his play this season in the NHL. Notice contextual stats were strongly in his favor.
Skinner: Fell because of size, but EV goal-scoring ability (as well as PP) has translated into scoring goals in the NHL. Who would have thought?
Kadri: similar to Monahan, but even moreso. In other words, failing to score goals pre-draft season isn’t necessarily a big red flag. (But scoring goals pre-draft season is a HUGE indicator of NHL success.)
Burmistrov: Perhaps the least impressive numbers on this chart.
Glennie: Very promising EV assist-rate, but subpar for goals. Perhaps the scariest comparable for Ritchie, but he isn’t really a comparable. Ritchie scored a lot more goals and his contextual stats are much, much more promising than Glennie’s.
Hamill: Good overall PPG. Dreadful EV numbers. 5’11” certainly didn’t help his cause. Hard to see him as much of a bust, looking at these numbers, as there wasn’t much scoring promise to begin with.
Couture: Great contextual numbers, especially considering his strong 1.44 PPG. Perhaps lack of goal-scoring caused Couture to slip to 9th. But from what I’ve heard his defensive ability was apparent pre-draft, so I’m still not sure why he slid so far.
Bailey: Subpar goal-scoring numbers. Very good total PPG and EV numbers. But contextual numbers are low.
Hodgson: Showed some goal-scoring ability, even if mostly on the PP. Pretty good contextual numbers.
Carter and Brown: Slipped because of super-2003 draft. Both showed goal-scoring ability and good contextual numbers. (Even better for Brown, considering he plays much bigger than a typical 6’0″…. This is an example when the contextual stats need context themselves! Surely Bailey’s 6’1″ shouldn’t count more than Brown’s 6’0″.)
The last 6, remaining 0.35+ EV goal-scorers, selected top-30 in respective drafts: Note that Pearson is grossly over-age. I almost didn’t include him on the chart, but then I thought, what the heck!… Jensen’s low PPG coupled with his 17.4% top-5 stat is a HUGE red flag. I wouldn’t even consider taking him top-10 in this upcoming draft looking at these numbers, despite his high EV GPG…. Shinkaruk is TBD. His numbers look impressive, though. Perhaps I’ll run his EV numbers for fun and fill them in. I’m curious what they are. Looks like his missed most of this past season (Injury?)…. The other three (Ennis, Grabner, Eberle) all slipped farther than they should have, it seems. With Eberle and Ennis slipping far more than they should have, in retrospect…. The presence of these “somewhat comparables” seems great for Fabbri…. And also encouraging for Bennett, Ritchie, and Virtanen, for that matter.
Bonus exercise: Remember the “strong” top-4 in 2011 of RNH, Landeskog, Huberdeau, and Larsson? I’ll go out on a limb and say that the top-4 this draft (Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bennett, and Ekblad) is going to blow away that group, in terms of NHL production. (In fact, Strome may actually be a “reach” at 5th overall in this current draft, and I’m not sure you could say that about more than a couple drafts, since 2003.)… I’d take Dal Colle over Strome, and I’d be tempted to take Ritchie too. (To say nothing of Nylander or Ehlers, of whom I know very little– just that they are often ranked ahead of Ritchie for this draft.)
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