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 continue our series with the my personal favourite Winnipeg Jets draft, the 2013 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.
Thirteenth Overall, Josh Morrissey
Most third-party draft resources had Joshua Morrissey ranked in the twenties but the Jets took the young puck-moving defenseman at thirteen.
Morrissey’s PCS fluctuates quite a bit year-to-year. In his 16-year-old year he posted impressive numbers, but they fell a little bit the next season as his scoring did not step up as much as the model would hope. There were indications from other numbers that QoT, QoC, and power play usage could have negatively impacted Morrissey’s scoring production. The next season though Morrissey’s numbers rocketed up. He was the WHL’s top scoring defender on a pretty weak team.
PCS still does not think of Morrissey as the best player available. At the time, it would have suggested drafting one of Ryan Pulock, Kerby Rychel, or Anthony Mantha, with emphasis on Mantha. Mantha was a high end scorer in junior, although quite a bit older than most of the draft class.
It also suggested avoiding Alexander Wennberg, Frederik Gauthier and Nikita Zadorov. Wennberg played in the European junior leagues and was not scoring very well; it is rare for players as good as Wennberg to struggle at scoring at that level. Zadarov had poor scoring numbers that year. While scoring is not the only role for defenders, ones who do not score tend to make the NHL at a much lower rate. Zadarov did improve exceptionally the next season, and then made the NHL the following year.
Many of the prospects here ended up in the AHL or the NHL in their second season after the draft. This is why many saw their PCS jump by such a large amount. A player is one step closer to becoming a NHL regular and survived the first bottlenecking. Morrissey’s “post” numbers do not include his short stint in the AHL. If they did, his PCS% would jump to 41 per cent.
It will be interesting to see what PCS thinks of many of the Jets 2013 draft class, since almost all of them will be playing pro-level hockey next year and will receive the pro-hockey PCS bump.
Forty-Third Overall, Nicolas Petan
Nic Petan is an exceptional scorer and scored over 100 points in his draft season. His 16-year-old season pulls his numbers down quite a bit, as his 17-year-old season had a PCS% larger than most of the players drafted after Morrissey.
PCS takes Petan as the best player available. As one of the top scorers in the WHL and an elite junior performer, Petan looks to hold his title of best player of the bunch, although Madison Bowey did have a late growth spurt in development and could challenge.
Either way, PCS agreed with Kevin Cheveldayoff at the time.
Eighty-Fourth Overall, Jimmy Lodge
Jimmy Lodge has two aspects PCS tends to like: size and scoring. While Lodge did not score as well in his 16-year-old year and posted a low PCS percentage, the young American scored over a point per game pace in his draft year. Lodge’s numbers dipped the next season with public troubles in Saginaw, who were already struggling as a terrible team.
Lodge did bounce back after being traded away from the tire-fire that was the Saginaw Spirit. This brings up a good point on how PCS lacks context of scoring environment. It’s been proven that a player on a stronger team is likely to score more than they do on a weaker team. In the future, we hope PCS to take account for this, but it does not quite yet.
While PCS thinks of Lodge as a pretty solid pick at 84th overall, it says the real value is in Oliver Bjorkstrand. Teammate of Nic Petan, Bjorkstrand ripped it up in Europe and then came over to the WHL where he has performed as an elite junior player as well. He does not have size but he makes up for it in dynamic skill and production. Last season Bjorkstrand became the first player to pace more than a goal per game in quite some while.
Ninety-First Overall, JC Lipon
JC Lipon (not J.C. Lipon; it’s not an acronym) is one of the first re-entry drafted prospects we will look at. Lipon was eligible to be drafted in 2011, but was not drafted until 2013. PCS suggests that scouts were right in avoiding Lipon after a poor performing 16 and 17-year-old seasons. However, after his draft eligible seasons, he improved by a substantial enough amount to warrant a look by both the scouts and PCS.
For fun, I showed the best performing cohorts in both his draft eligible season and the season he was drafted.
At 10.5 PCS% for the two years prior at the time of the 2013 draft, PCS deems Lipon as analytically one of the stronger players available.
PCS suggests Matt Buckles as slightly safer, although with less upside. Buckles performed exceptionally well in tier-two junior, although has struggled to receive meaningful minutes in the NCAA. It should be noted that most of his statistical cohorts who made the NHL look to be players born in the 70s and 80s. Era adjusting is another factor we hope to add to PCS, which I think would shift Buckles numbers once added.
One Hundred and Fourth Overall, Andrew Copp
Andrew Copp is another re-drafted over age player. Like Lipon who was a nationally known wakeboarder, Copp was highly touted in another sport prior to focusing exclusively on hockey, as an elite high school football performer. Unlike Lipon though, Copp was drafted in his 18-year-old season, so it would have been his 17-year-old season (second half of “pre”) and 18-year-old-season (first half of “post”) that PCS would look at for his draft numbers.
At 5.52 percent, PCS does not suggest Copp as a very safe pick. While Copp eventually became a high scorer in the NCAA, it was not until about half way through his 18-year-old year season. Copp was used by the USNDTP as a support player since he lived near by and was “good enough” and after he moved to hockey full-time (after a football injury) Copp started college on Michigan’s fourth line. It was not until halfway in the season where he was moved up to the first line and became a near point per game player.
Due to these factors, PCS does not think of Copp as the best player available. PCS takes Ben Harpur, a 6’6 defender who has been an okay scorer in the OHL. Both may be wrong though, as Ryan Graves has developed into a 6’5 high-end scorer in the QMJHL.
One Hundred and Fourteenth Overall, Jan Kostalek
Jan Kostalek, like Andrew Copp, is prospect known more for their defensive contributions than offensive. While defensive and offensive impact have some relation due to the flow nature of hockey, PCS is agnostic to a player’s on-ice impact outside of scoring. This is why we here at Nation Network do not envision PCS as taking over a team’s scouting, but rather supplementing it. Statistics is all about making more informed, and hopefully better, decisions.
Jan Kostalek was a highly touted defender in the Czech republic, who even played some pro-level games as a 16-year-old, something that PCS likes a lot. After moving to North America, transitioning to the different game and injuries caused Kostalek to fall significantly both in scouts eyes and in PCS.
At first glance, it looks as though PCS likes Ryan Fitzgerald, but there is an issue in the data. Currently PCS looks at the USHS as one fluid league, since it’s primary source of information (eliteprospects) does as well. This is actually false. The USHS is an accumulation of multiple leagues, some actually being higher tiers of others. It’s not uncommon to see players score at well over a two point per game pace, and then transition to another USHS team (into a higher level) and score under half a point per game pace afterwards. The relative to Keith Tkachuk has performed well in the NCAA, although not to the level that PCS suggested he would when looking at his USHS numbers prior to the draft.
PCS though is high on Will Butcher. Butcher is a smart American defender who has scored well at both the USHL and NCAA levels. He has represented the US twice in the world juniors and has 6 points in 10 games for them. Butcher also received top-3 player reward at the world juniors for team USA.
One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Overall, Tucker Poolman
Tucker Poolman is an interesting case for PCS. A blind PCS system probably does not draft Poolman in the 2013 NHL Entry draft. It does however take him in 2011, when GMs passed on him. Poolman went unrecognized by NHL scouts for quite some while until he moved to the USHL as a rookie at 19. He put up a boat load of points and then was drafted by the Jets. He then played in the USHL for one more year as an overage player and then moved into the NCAA, where team injuries caused Poolman to play out of position at forward.
The issue is that Poolman being unrecognized as a talented defender caused him to play in the USHL at an age where NHL hopeful players usually do not play. It is extremely rare for a NHL calibre prospect to play in the USHL at 19 and 20. These players normally are in the NCAA by this time. The Projection Project, which does have the issue of where a player is situated due to using NHLEs, places Poolman as a 17 per cent chance to make the NHL.
These numbers indicate that Poolman was a legitimate NHL possible prospect, although they still do not place him as best player available.
PCS likely takes Eric Roy, a high scoring defender in the WHL. Roy fell as most considered his scoring to be a product of being attached to the hip of elite prospect Ryan Pulock. As Pulock left, so did Roy’s numbers and Roy went unsigned by his NHL team and looks to re-enter the 2015 NHL draft.
Luke Johnson is another strong candidate. Johnson pre-draft numbers are slightly inflated due to the same USHS issue Ryan Fitzgerald experienced. He has performed well in the NCAA and has outscored his one year older teammate Tucker Poolman.
One Hundred and Ninetieth Overall, Brenden Kichton
Brenden Kichton is another player who was drafted at an older age than 17, twice.
At 16 and 17, Kichton played a depth role and did not put up any points. He was passed over the draft and re-entered for 2011. In the 2010-2011 Kichton started to receive power play time, where he excelled and amassed a tonne of points, pushing his PCS numbers into high orbit. He was drafted as an 18-year-old by the New York Islanders and continued to put up strong numbers in the WHL.
Kichton was unable to agree to a contract with the Islanders, although evidence suggests this was a poor move by the Islanders. Without a pro-contract, Kichton played in the WHL for his overage season as a 20-year-old, where he then re-entered the draft and was taken by the Winnipeg Jets.
PCS takes Kichton as the best player available and it’s not even close. While the window has started to close for Kichton to become a NHL player, he has still performed admirably in the AHL, something that many prospects do not end up doing.
One Hundred and Ninety-Fourth Overall, Marcus Karlstrom
Marcus Karlstrom is a puck moving defender that never really put his game together well enough to score.
Karlstrom has ties to the Jets European scout, which may be a factor in why he was drafted. Regardless, there was potential seen in Karlstrom as he was once hoped for in Sweden to become a high-end offensive defensemen, but has struggled to put up points in pro-level hockey.
Karlstrom started last season in the Allsvenskan, only to fall to lower tier leagues with concerns on his defensive game.
PCS likely takes Peter Quenneville, and re-drafted and older prospect. QUenneville is another prospect who has also fallen and is re-entering the 2015 draft after not coming to terms with his NHL team. The other option would be Tyler Lewington, although the pickings are slim in the late seventh round.
Undrafted, Axel Blomqvist
Another possible alternative to Marcus Karlstrom is Axel Blomqvist.
Blomqvist went undrafted but earned an entry level contract with the Jets in the same summer after a strong performance as an invite to the Jets rookie camp. The numbers suggest that Blomqvist probably should have been worth at least a 7th round pick.
What’s even more interesting is his growth. Blomqvist was an import rookie in the WHL in his draft eligible season, but he was also on one of the worst WHL team’s the league has seen. The Lethbridge Hurricanes were terrible that year. While numbers sometimes are agnostic to environmental context, it seems that scouts can be as well.
After being traded out of Lethbridge the following season, Blomqvist started scoring around a point per game pace and his PCS numbers rocketed.
As noted earlier, hopefully PCS can account for Quality of Teammate factors. Currently it is agnostic, but it does pretty well.
Over this series with looking at the Jets first three drafts, it becomes apparent that PCS has some flaws in it, but does pretty well. It stands up against the Jets highly regarded draft record, and may even improve it somewhat.
PCS is not meant to be looked as to make someones decisions for them, but to help one make better decisions. It doesn’t do too bad of a job though in the former.