Draft Numbers: 10 Overlooked CHL Forwards

As the draft quickly approaches most of the spotlight is on the players expected to go in the first round of the draft.  That’s cool and all, but there’s still six more rounds and a boatload of players to go after that.  Like a lot of you I’ve watched a lot of the consensus first-round talents this year and feel like I have a pretty good handle on them.  The players I know a lot less about are the one’s expected to go in the later rounds of the draft.

While I’ve missed my chance to really go back and watch them, what’s cool is that there are now a couple of prospect projection tools (PCS% and The Projection Project) that can at least give me the chance to evaluate players by the numbers.  That’s where this article comes in.

The idea of PCS% (Prospect Cohort Success %) is that it gives you a player’s percent chance of reaching 200 NHL games played based on a myriad of factors such as age, height, production, and league.  It also gives you a list of historically comparable players.

The Projection Project is similar, which gives you, again, based on history, a player’s % chance of becoming a legitimate NHLer.

I like PCS% better because it uses more factors to determine it’s numbers and goes into more detail regarding player comparables but The Projection Project is definitely awesome in it’s own right.

For this article, I’ve compiled the PCS and Projection Project numbers for every CHL forward ranked by NHL Central Scouting.  The idea is that in comparing the numbers of every single CHL forward, we can get a better idea of, historically, what players in this draft class have a better chance of becoming NHL players and, as far as this article is concerned, which players might be overlooked.  I’m going to have a similar post coming soon doing the same thing for CHL defensemen.

Without further ado, using PCS% as well as The Projection Project, here are 10 draft-eligible CHL forwards that, according to the numbers and according to history, might just be overlooked:

ANDREW MANGIAPANE

The PCS% tool loves Andrew Mangiapane.  It gives him a 31.91% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played.  That puts him 4th among all CHL forwards.  Mangiapane is interesting for a lot of reasons: first, he put up 104 points this season for Barrie Colts.  But he’s 19 and was passed over once already at last year’s draft.  He’s also 5″10′ which isn’t ridiculously small but it’s certainly below average.  Ranked 85th by NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters) and 44th by TSN’s Craig Button, it seems like he’s got enough fans that he can rest easy knowing he’ll be drafted this summer.  But all things considered, most have him projected to go between the 3rd and 5th round.  It’s only a number, but getting someone with nearly a 32% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played seems like a good bargain in the middle portion of the draft.

Some of his historical comparables using the PCS tool include Stephen Weiss, Derek Roy, Brad Boyes, Steve Downie, Kyle Wellwood, and Sean Avery.

TIM MCGAULEY

He’s got the 10th-highest PCS% of any CHL forward ranked by NHL Central Scouting coming in at a crisp 25.37.  McGauley’s story is similar to that of Mangiapane, only to the extreme.  Where Mangiapane has been passed over once in the draft, McGauley has been passed over twice.  McGauley also had 105 points this season to Mangiapane’s 104.  Also, while Mangiapane is ranked 85th by Central Scouting, McGauley is ranked all the way down at 165.  A 6″0′ center, snagging a player in the 6th or 7th round whose historical comparables include Jamie Benn, Jarrett Stoll, and Martin Erat could be great value for an NHL team.

PIUS SUTER

Behold another player that has already been passed over in the draft once before (his first year of eligibility was last season).  Suter, a 5″11′ center for the OHL’s Guelph Storm, is ranked 74th by NHL Central Scouting and scored 43 goals this season en route to putting up 72 points in 61 games.  Suter has a PCS% of 23.08 and some of his comparables include Derek Roy, Dave Bolland, Chris Neil, Kyle Wellwood, and Sean Avery.

DRYDEN HUNT

Yet another player who has already been passed over in the draft once before, Hunt is a winger for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers where he put up 36 points in 34 games after a mid-season trade saw him move on from the Regina Pats (where he had 47 points in 37 games).  By his Medicine Hat numbers, Hunt has an 18.28% chance of reaching 200 NHL games.  His comparables here include Michael Grabner, Devin Setoguchi, Colby Armstrong, and Derek Dorsett.  When we look at the first half of his season with Regina he’s given an even better 27.27% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played with a list of comparables that includes Scottie Upshall, Boyd Gordon, Devin Setoguchi, and Colby Armstrong.

WHL aficionado Cody Nickolet has him as his highest-ranked WHL over-ager and thinks he has the best shooting ability of any WHLer in the draft.  That seems like pretty good value for a player ranked 111th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

LUKE PHILP

Yep, another player whose been passed over in the draft once already.  Philp is a 5″10′ center for the WHL’s Kootenay Ice and put up 82 points in 71 games this season.  Philp is given a 16.67% chance of reaching 200 NHL games by PCS, which isn’t great, but it’s pretty good value when you consider Philp is ranked 172nd by Central Scouting and might not end up being drafted at all.  Getting someone whose comparables include Tyler Ennis, Scottie Upshall, Boyd Gordon, Matt Calvert, and Zach Boychuk seems like solid value for a late-round pick or perhaps even as an undrafted free agent.

Cody Nickolet likes his skating, puck-handling, and playmaking abilities, and sees him as a possible bottom-six player in the NHL down the road.

ANTHONY RICHARD

Richard is the first player we’ve talked about so far who is in his first year of draft eligibility.  He’s a center that plays for Val D’Or in the QMJHL and is in a similar mold to a lot of the player’s we’ve discussed so far.  Ranked 72nd by Central Scouting, Richard is 5″10′ and put up 91 points in 66 games this season.  PCS only gives him a 10.34% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played, but let’s not forget about our other very cool projection tool.  The Projection Project loves Richard, giving him a 60% chance of becoming an NHL player.  That puts him 9th among CHL forwards, just ahead of the likes of Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny, and Daniel Sprong.  In other words, he might be a good player to take a chance on in the middle portion of the draft.

VLADIMIR TKACHEV

This is a name that a lot of you might be familiar with as he recently opened some eyes playing for Quebec at the 2015 Memorial Cup.  Tkachev is a really skilled 5″10′ winger with particularly good hands.  However, being undersized, being Russian, and having concerns about your character is a bad recipe in the eyes of NHL scouts.

Last season after being passed over in the draft he was invited to try out for the Edmonton Oilers and the team actually tried to sign him but mishandled the CBA and weren’t able to do so.  That opens the door for a team like the Leafs to snag Tkachev, who put up 33 points in 33 games for Quebec this season. 

He’s an interesting player though, because the two projection tools we’re using see him completely differently.  PCS% gives him an abysmal 0.76% chance of reaching 200 NHL games.  However, his 69% chance of becoming an NHLer as given by The Projection Project would put him 4th among all CHL forwards, right behind Mitch Marner, Connor McDavid, and Dylan Strome.

Ranked 159 by Central Scouting, Tkachev has enough buzz around him that he will probably be drafted, and could be good value in the later rounds of the draft.

BLAKE SPEERS

Big fan of Speers personally.  He first caught my eye last season and continued to impress this year, using his intelligent two-way play and his particularly pro-style puck-handling and passing ability to put up 67 points in 57 games for the OHL’s Sault Ste-Marie Greyhounds this past season.

Another somewhat undersized player, Speers comes in at 5″11′.  He’s more of a winger but has some experience at center.  Speers of course would be well-known to the Leafs’ Kyle Dubas, who drafted Speers into the OHL back in 2013.  He’s in his first season of draft-eligibility and ranked all the way down at 72 in Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings, making him someone who could be a prime candidate for the Leafs’ 3rd-round pick.

PCS likes him, giving him a 21.05% chance of reaching 200 NHL games (his long list of comparables here include Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Mike Richards, Matt Stajan, Mikkel Boedker, Cody Hodgson, Cal Clutterbuck, Dan Cleary, and Dan Carcillo).  The Projection Project likes him even more, giving him a 60% chance of becoming an NHLer which would give him the 8th-highest likelihood of being an NHLer among CHL forwards using that tool.

Just from what I know about Speers personally, I’d give him a 2nd-round grade and would be pretty happy if the Leafs were to draft him at any point in the draft.  Our very own Jon Steitzer likes him even more: he has Speers rated as the 28th best player in this draft.

If you haven’t seen Speers for yourself, here’s a good video to give you a better idea of how he plays the game (#18 in red):

DANTE SALITURO

We here at TLN are big fans of Blake Speers, and I know I’m not the only writer here who also really likes Dante Salituro.  The first-year draft-eligibile put up 78 points in 68 games for the Ottawa 67s this season, but being only 5″9′ is probably a big reason Central Scouting has him ranked all the way down at 109th among North American skaters.  Salituro is a pretty dynamic forward with good skating ability, puck-handling, and offensive instincts.  The PCS tool doesn’t like him, giving him only a 5.56% chance of reaching 200 NHL games, but The Projection Project likes him a lot, giving him a 55% chance at becoming an NHLer.  That puts him 13th among CHL forwards.

I’d be pretty pleased if Toronto took Salituro at some point in the draft.

NIKITA KOROSTELEV

When the PCS tool gives you a 24.79% and the Projection Project gives you a 40% (ranked 11th and 18th respectively) and you come in ranked as the consensus 69th pick by Bob McKenzie, you’re probably being overlooked a little bit.  Now, I’ve seen Korostelev play a little bit and he doesn’t stand out too much (although he does possess solid skating and puck-handling ability), so I can see where scouts are coming from here.  He’s also Russian, which doesn’t usually help your case much.  But, playing on a line with likely top-ten pick Pavel Zacha and putting up 53 points in 55 games is a solid season for a kid who just turned 18 in February.

And as we see here, Korostelev (and the aforementioned Speers) hold up pretty well among the other top-rated OHL forwards in this draft:

OHL_Forwards_PPG

He’s someone to keep your eyes on, especially if he falls into the third round of the draft and beyond.