PCS is still in its infancy. You could think of it as being in its “alpha-testing” stage. There are some issues and also some quantitative factors that could be (and eventually will be) added into the model.
Still PCS offers some interesting insight on how players who are of similar age, height, and scoring in the same league did in making the NHL.
With the draft nearing we thought we’d break down Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets previous draft selections and how they did relative to what was immediately available.
We start our series with the Jets first go at the draft, the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
For those that do not know, PCS is a model developed by four of us at Nation Network (predominately Money Puck and Josh Weissbock) that looks at how statistically similar player performed in reaching the NHL and how they did when they did reach the NHL.
To reduce the impact of shooting percentage variance, we will combine players 16 and 17 year old numbers by averaging their PCS percentage and PCS NHL points per game. The NHL points per game has also been adjusted per an 82 game season.
Scoring, age, and height all have a relationship with prospect success. However, it is possible that outside factors can skew scoring, such as usage. PCS is currently agnostic to these while NHL scouts and GMs are not. To see if a NHL GM was right in discovering these, we have added their two years after draft-eligible age just to compare.
Seventh Overall, Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele remains a controversial pick for fans of the Winnipeg Jets. The highly touted and ranked Sean Couturier fell to the Jets, but the Cheveldayoff instead selected Scheifele as their first pick as a franchise named the Jets.
As a relatively unknown player to those new to following prospects, Scheifele seemed like an outrageous reach. Truth is the numbers do not say it was so. While the numbers still considered Couturier as “Best Pick Available” at the time, there was a lot going for Scheifele as well.
Scheifele has quite the statistical cohorts with names like Ron Francis, Todd Bertuzzi, Michael Peca, Logan Couture, and Bobby Ryan. Also, Scheifele was thought to have more upside since he was a fast riser and only in his rookie season in the CHL.
As a side note, Joel Armia was viewed highly prior to the draft by the numbers and was one of the returns for Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian being traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
Sixty-Seventh Overall, Adam Lowry
Adam Lowry looks to have solidified his position as a bonafide NHL player. In his draft year though it seemed like he was a bit of a long shot. What PCS misses is that his draft season is an outlier over his career.
Lowry missed most of the start of his draft eligible season due to picking up mononucleosis. Coming back after severely losing strength and weight dropped his numbers. Lowry’s PCS% for his two years prior to the draft and two years after were 15.2, 5.9, 12.0, and 18.7. It becomes quite apparent that mono had a real impact in Lowry’s drop in his draft season. (It should also be noted that Lowry was injured with a broken wrist for the start of his 12.0 per cent season)
Despite the drop in the numbers from mono, by the numbers Lowry still looks like he’s right in there with the competition although not BPA. Lowry also played most of his career on fairly weak teams, so it would be interesting to see how a quality of team factor would impact his results.
Seventy-Eighth Overall, Brennan Serville
Only draft-year NHL cohort: Justin Schultz
Brennan Serville will go down the history books as the first Jets draft pick that did not make the NHL or even get an Entry Level Contract. As a seventy-eighth overall selection, it wasn’t like he had the best odds anyways.
The numbers do not shine on Serville very well, nor did they for the remainder of his time as a Jet prospect. Serville had a relatively high scoring draft year, despite not having much of a history prior. This indicates that it was likely a quality of team factor or shooting percentage inflation, and Serville’s low-scoring numbers in the NCAA reinforces the later.
There was some legitimate higher tiered skill left on the board when the Jets selected Serville.
Nick Shore is a selection that PCS suggests to be picked prior to Serville. Shore was an older player in the draft but his numbers were still strong for his age. He went on to having successful NCAA and AHL careers. Last year Shore was given 34 games in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings with injury replacement.
Joshua Leivo is another selection PCS says sticks his head up above the pack. Leivo has also been a solid AHL player like Shore. Also like Shore, Leivo has seen time in the NHL with some call-up duty and 16 games already under his belt.
There was also Johnny Gaudreau selected more than 10 picks later, although his numbers were so dynamic that his USHL and USHS pre-draft seasons have no real cohorts. It’s not until you get into the larger sample of the NCAA that Gaudreau starts having cohorts showing that he had a good chance in being a NHL player.
One Hundred and Forty-Ninth Overall, Austen Brassard
Austen Brassard has not been a “bust” pick but has not provided much value either. Brassard was given an ELC from the Jets organization and in return has been a bottom-six player the last two years for the Jets AHL team.
Brassard has some high-end cohorts who made the NHL and contributed, but for the most part his comparables are players who never made the NHL and a few who did as depth players.
At cursory glance it looks like the Jets made an error missing on Eddie Wittchow and Andrew Fritsch. However, when you look deeper this changes and represents two of the weaknesses to this method.
Wittchow played in the USHS league, which does not have many players at the same age who were drafted, so the sample of cohorts was very small. Wittchow lucked out in having Brooks Orpik as a close comparable and so the data ends up being very skewed due to an outlier.
Another factor is shooting percentage. We already know in the NHL that players can have a vastly inflated or deflated points per game numbers relative to their “true skill” from shooting percentage variance and usage. Fritsch only ever once scored over a point per game in his entire CHL career, which was during his draft year.
There is also Frankie Corrado, who has played some NHL games as a depth defensive defenseman. PCS has no way to directly evaluate the defensive side of the game. Hockey is a flow sport, so defensive and offensive impacts are related, slightly, but are still not one and the same. It is normal for quality NHL defensive defenseman to score well in junior (Adam Foote, Marc Edouard Vlasic, Willie Mitchell, Dan Hamhuis, etc.) but as you move towards lower depth or levels it becomes less clear.
Overall, despite Brassard not being a great prospect, there is not much better available… at least within the next ten picks.
One Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Overall, Aaron Harstad
Aaron Harstad has some cohorts that are pretty recognizable to Jets fans. These are the exceptions though. Mark Stuart, Ron Hainsey, and the others were drafted far earlier due to have more qualitative factors than the seventh round selection Harstad. Harstad’s overall PCS numbers were quite poor throughout his career as a prospect and does not look to be receiving an ELC from the Jets this summer.
The next two drafted players do peak some interest by the numbers.
Patrick Daly had some interesting numbers and performed well prior to being drafted. He even had some qualitative factors with some scouts raving about Daly’s elite skating. There was however something else going on. Perhaps scouts noticed it or perhaps they were lucky. After being drafted, Daly only played 11 games in the NCAA with very little ice time. Part way through the season Daly announced that he was leaving hockey for good.
Tyler Graovac was another interesting player. He predominately played for very low scoring teams and it is possible that his points per game paces underrate him. He still pulled out decent numbers for a seventh round acquisition and looks to be doing well in the AHL.
There is also Jyrki Jokipakka who has received some NHL time. Jokipakka was actually drafted two years after his first draft eligible season. He has no pre-eligible numbers due to playing not just in European junior leagues, but European junior B leagues. He did eventually start to play pro-level hockey in the Finnish Liiga league at nineteen and was drafted.