Player Development of Top-10 Picks, Part 12

Player Development
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Player development seems to always result in more questions than answers. How likely is it for a top pick to pan out? What makes a player a “steal”? Last Word On Hockey will be starting a new series on how to properly develop prospects from all different spots throughout the draft. This week’s piece involves top-10 picks and how they were used early in their careers.

Player Developments of Top-10 Picks

In the span of 2005 through 2015, there were 40 total selections made between fourth overall and tenth overall on forwards playing in North America. Of those 40 selections, one player was given a little time to grow. That means this player was given an extra year of junior play despite being considered NHL-ready beforehand. That player is Mark Scheifele

Player Development of Mark Scheifele

In Scheifele’s DY-1 season, he played in just the GOJHL with the Kitchener Dutchmen. He scored 18 goals and 37 assists for 55 points in 51 games. That was good for a point-per-game pace of 1.078, which ranked 15th among the 40 forwards in DY-1 production. He followed that up with his first season in the OHL with 22 goals and 53 assists for 75 points in 66 games as a part of the Barrie Colts. That was good for a rate of 29th out of the 40 forwards in DY production. 

Scheifele would remain with the Colts for his DY+1 season. He would score 23 goals and 40 assists for 63 points in 47 games. That was good for 1.34 points per game, ranking 18th out of 28 forwards still playing junior hockey in DY+1 production. Again, remaining with the Colts, he scored 39 goals and 40 assists for 79 points in 45 games. That was good for a points per game rate of 1.756, ranking third among the 12 forwards outside the NHL in their DY+2 season. 

How Was Scheifele Used?

In his first full NHL season, Scheifele recorded 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points in 63 games with the Winnipeg Jets. He did that while averaging 16:21 time on ice per game. His advanced analytics were fantastic, with his even-strength offence goals above replacement (EVO) at 8.4 and his even-strength defence goals above replacement (EVD) at 0.3. His overall analytics were also solid, with his wins above replacement (WAR) and goals above replacement (GAR) at 2.2 and 11.9, respectively. 

In year two, Scheifele would play all 82 games, and average more ice time than year one, at 18:35 per game. He went on to score 15 goals and 34 assists for 49 points. His advanced analytics also greatly improved. His EVO and EVD jumped up to 8.7 and 2.6, respectively. Additionally, his WAR and GAR saw impressive increases too, scoring at 3.5 and 18.2, respectively. 

Scheifele Stays Consistent in Year Three

In his third season, Scheifele played 71 games, averaging 18:33 ice time per game. That kept him almost with the exact same role as the year before. He had 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points. While his raw stats took a considerable step up, his analytics remained fairly the same. His EVO nearly doubled to 16.1, but his EVD dropped to -2.1. Scheifele’s WAR, on the other hand, dropped slightly to 3.1. His GAR also dropped slightly, to 16.1. Despite the slight decline in advanced analytics, Scheifele remained one of the better young guns in the league at this time, and among all the other top-10 picks looked at in this project. 

Since the end of his third full season at the NHL level, Scheifele has remained with the Winnipeg Jets. He’s played 390 games in that span, totalling 160 goals and 242 assists for 402 points. His career analytical numbers are solid as well. His EVO is 90.4, with his EVD down at -14.7. Meanwhile, his WAR is 21.1 and his GAR is 112.3. It is safe to say that the player development of Mark Scheifele was as good as it could have been. Giving Scheifele, as a rookie, a solid role proved to be the right thing to do. Additionally, following it up with back-to-back seasons of over 18 minutes on average per game was exactly what Scheifele needed. The Jets did an excellent job with their top-10 selection.

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