Draft Numbers: CHL Defensemen and the First Round

I don’t know about you, but with the draft less than two weeks away I’m setting my sights fully on where the Leafs’ picks are and who they might take with those picks.

Last week I published a trio of articles on what the projection tools have to say about the CHL players in this draft.  Today and over the next couple of days I’m going to look more at some CHL players by the numbers (and some players from other leagues too).  This time what we’ll be doing is comparing the point per game and size numbers of the players drafted in a specific part of the draft (e.g. top ten picks) and comparing it with this year’s draft class, seeing if we can start to make any predictive assumptions about the quality of a player.

The focus of today’s article and the first installment of this series focuses on CHL defensemen.  Basically, I’m going to list off all of the CHL defensemen taken in the first round since 2005 (the last 10 NHL drafts).  I’m going to split these players into three categories: CHL defensemen taken top 10, CHL defensemen taken between 11th and 20th, and CHL defensemen taken between 21st and 30th.  Then I’m going to slot in the draft-eligible CHL defensemen of this draft class and see what kind of company they hold.

Let’s get started.

THE TOP TEN

Here are all of the CHL defensemen taken in the top ten of the NHL draft since 2005.  CHL defensemen from this year’s draft expected to go in the top ten are highlighted in yellow:

Top10CHLD

At this point, Ivan Provorov is considered a consensus top ten pick and is the only CHL defenseman fully expected to go within the first ten picks of this year’s draft.

As we can see, Provorov holds some really good company.  Zach Bogosian, Morgan Rielly, Seth Jones, Aaron Ekblad, Alex Pietrangelo, Dougie Hamilton, and Drew Doughty are the players that surround him on this list.  Granted, Provorov is the smallest of any of these players.  Either way though, Provorov is basically batting 1000 when it comes to other players that have put up those sorts of numbers and been drafted in that range.  It’s easy to see, at least numerically, why Provorov is considered a consensus top ten pick.

Personally in watching Provorov I’ve always seen more of a #2 or #3 defenseman in the mold of Anton Stralman or Adam Larsson, but I think you have to use the eye test and the numbers test together.  In this case, the numbers certainly suggest Provorov might have massive upside.

Side-note: taking a defenseman out of the CHL with bad point totals with a top ten pick seems like a pretty bad idea.

11TH TO 20TH

Here are all of the CHL defensemen taken between 11th and 20th overall in the NHL draft since 2005.  CHL defensemen from this year’s draft considered a possibility to be taken in this range are highlighted in yellow:

Top20CHLD

The players taken in this range with a draft-year points per game of 0.90 or better is certainly a pretty good list.  Jeremy Roy of the Sherbrooke Phoenix probably won’t go in this range (he’s listed in the 20s by most scouting services), but if he did it wouldn’t be a big surprise.  And if he did, he would certainly have some pretty good company.

Jakub Zboril, who is expected go in this range (but again, not a sure thing) also has some good company.  Brandon Gormley, Ryan Pulock, Michael Del Zotto, Natthan Beaulieu, and Joshua Morrissey are his closest point total comparables.  Del Zotto is a legitimate top-four defenseman and Morrissey and Pulock are considered pretty good prospects (but the jury is still out on them).  Bealieau and Gormley seem like less of a sure thing at this point, but they’ve both played a fair chunk of games in the NHL.  At the very least, Zboril would be in “safe” territory if he’s taken in this range.

Thomas Chabot’s company is more polarizing.  Duncan Siemens and Alex Plante don’t exactly exude confidence.  But, he’s not far off from the likes of Morrissey or Bealieau either, who could both end up being top-four players in the NHL.  Chabot is less of a sure thing than Zboril to go in this range, but seems more likely at this point to get taken here than Jeremy Roy.  He’s a talented player, but his numeric comparables here are okay at best.

Brandon Carlo to me is the most interesting player in this range.  Carlo is another player who is right on the cusp of going in this range (ranked 22nd in Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings).  Carlo put up a modest 0.40 points per game this season, but when you look at his comparables he’s actually in pretty strong territory.  It looks like he isn’t the only big, stay-at-home player taken more for his potential than his production.  Marc Staal is a top-four player for a good New York Rangers team.  Nikita Zadorov is a good young player for the Buffalo Sabres that looks like he’s well on his way to becoming a top-four defenseman.  Samuel Morin, recently drafted 12th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, is so far considered a good prospect after having a solid season in junior.  Colten Teubert is considered a bust though, so it’s not all good.  But, on the whole, even going past those names to look at Tyler Myers and Ryan Parent and Jakub Kindl, it’s interesting to see the frequency with which bigger players who haven’t quite put it together yet have a pretty strong success rate when it comes to reaching the NHL.  I’d say this provides decent support for the idea that Carlo is in fact worthy of a first-round pick.

21ST TO 30TH

Here are all of the CHL defensemen taken between 21st and 30th overall in the NHL draft since 2005.  CHL defensemen from this year’s draft considered a possibility to be taken in this range are highlighted in yellow:

Top30CHLD

Points per game and size do a far weaker job of predicting NHL success in this range (which isn’t a big surprise, since the farther down you go the more of a crapshoot the draft becomes).  Really, player success in this range seems to be pretty much random.

Jeremy Roy, who is considered most likely to go in this range of players, is surrounded by the likes of Bobby Sanguinetti, Ivan Vishnevskiy, and Joe Morrow.  Not a great group of comparables.

Jakub Zboril, who is a big maybe to be taken in this range, would be surrounded by the likes of Joe Morrow, Jonathon Blum, and Shea Theodore.  That’s a real mixed bag of players. Morrow is still considered a potential NHLer but seems most likely to be a bottom-pairing player at best at this stage of his development.  Blum was once considered a top prospect but is now out of the NHL entirely having so far played just 110 NHL games.  Shea Theodore on the other hand is currently considered a blue-chip prospect in the Anaheim organization.

Chabot, who quite possibly goes in this range, is most closely surrounded by Theodore and young Penguins phenom Olli Maatta.  Not bad company at all.  But again, the success rate of players in this range seems a lot more random.

Brandon Carlo’s company in this range is a lot less flattering.  He’s not too far off from Simon Despres who has settled in as a solid NHL player, but he’s also surrounded by a myriad of less flattering names like Matt Pelech, Nick Ross, Matt Corrente, and Matt Lashoff.  Regardless of this list Carlo is a good player, but I’d be a little uneasy with him having this group of comparables if I were drafting him.

Vince Dunn and Noah Juulsen are considered unlikely but possible first-round picks.  As we can see their numbers would put them among the likes of Morrow, Blum, and Theodore, which is a fairly inconclusive list of names.

Other players considered possibilities but long-shots to be taken in this part of the draft include Travis Dermott (0.70PPG), Nicolas Meloche (0.77PPG), Ryan Pilon (0.76PPG), Rasmus Andersson (0.93PPG), and Mitchell Vande Sompel (1.08PPG).

WRAP-UP AND CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

These tables are meant in no way to be definitive.  But I do think they can shed some light on how certain players in certain ranges could be worthwhile.  I do think history can play a strong role in predicting future outcomes.  At the same time though, looking at how well players with high point totals have fared in the top ten doesn’t mean you should draft Mitchell Vande Sompel in the top ten and magically expect him to be amazing.  A player has to actually earn being taken in that range.

But some quick wrap-up notes on what we learned from this exercise:

  • Ivan Provorov, if he goes in the top ten as expected, would be in some very good historical company.
  • Overall, points per game does a strong job of predicting success in the top ten portion of the draft.
  • Both points per game and size do a fairly good job of predicting future NHL success in the middle portion of the first round.  This might be particularly good news for the likes of Jeremy Roy, Jakub Zboril, and Brandon Carlo.
  • Point totals and size do a weaker job of predicting NHL success at the end of the first round.  We can start to make some assumptions based on the list of players taken in this range, but we can’t make any definitive conclusions.  Perhaps the eye test should be the main form of player evaluation if you’re planning on drafting a player in this range.

That’s all folks.  Hope you enjoyed it.  We’ll be continuing this series in the coming days looking at CHL forwards, USHL forwards, SHL forwards and defensemen, and SM Liga forwards and what that might mean for this year’s draft class.

  • Gary Empey

    If the Leafs do trade Kessel for a top 10 pick I would like to see them take Hanifin and one of either Ivan Provorov, Zachary Werenski, Thomas Chabot.

    Now you would have a solid defense core able to compete for Stanley Cup sometime in the near future. That would put a fast stop to opposing teams constantly dumping the puck in and cycling up the boards. This defense core all have great wheels. All can make great passes. All have great vision. All can carry the puck. All are an offensive threat on every shift.

    You may still have your 24th pick to swing the bat for that home run and start stockpiling picks and drafting your new forwards lines. Don’t forget this is a rebuilding team.

    I know a lot of folks on our site here would find it painful to pass on Marner, Strome, Crouse, and Barzal. I do too.

    If one stops to think though if any of those four forwards hit the NHL in the next two or three years and score 25 goals along with 36 assists (Kessels last year stats) they will be considered a major success.

    • Shawn Reis

      I wouldn’t approach it that way but it’s definitely a unique way of looking at it. The Leafs would basically be guaranteeing themselves a very good, very young defense for a very long time.

      • Gary Empey

        I don’t know how unique that way of looking at it is.
        I have always heard you build your team from the goal out.

        I think our goaltenders have been asked to stop too many shots under sustained pressure. Someone pointed out this week that Carrie Price would of looked bad on this years Leafs.