Between the CHL playoffs, the Frozen Four, the OHL Draft, and the U18s starting next week, we haven’t seen many new rankings released. Both Draftbuzz Hockey and Hockeyprospect.com are still on their February 29th rankings and only ISS and McKeenshave updated since our last look at the Consolidated totals on March 22nd.
With the season now beyond us, the draft lottery 18 days away, our prospect profiles now underway (read about Matthews and Laine before you check back for more), and the NHL CSS (Central Scouting) releasing their final draft rankings, it’s as good a time as any for a refresher, knowing full well that at least 4 services will drop new rankings tomorrow to spite me.
THE DRAFT ORDER
The draft order is now one step closer to being finalized…
The lottery team order is now set for the second through seventh rounds, and we have the order based on team standings. Right now the Leafs would be picking 1st and 27th in the first round, and I’m sure absolutely everyone would take that trade off of a lower pick from the Pens if it meant getting the first overall as well. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, and in a best case scenario where all four of the top seeded playoff teams are eliminated in the first two rounds, the Pens pick can climb up to 23rd. If the Pens are eliminated in prior to the conference finals they are basically somewhere in the 23-26 range, which is a little disappointing considering a few weeks ago the Pens were on the bubble for a spot at all.
I guess it’s important to remember the trade off in this. While the pick acquired for Kessel isn’t as high as we’d like it to be considering the player that was given up, getting rid of Kessel likely moved the Leafs own pick up from being a top 10 pick heading into the lottery to one having the best lottery odds. That will either provide some relief or none at all if a team like Colorado sneaks into the 1st spot with a low odd lottery win.
Draft Lottery Odds
The actual overall odds for the Leafs winning the lottery are a 20% shot at 1st, %17.5 shot at 2nd, a 15% shot at 3rd, and 47.5% shot at missing out and drafting fourth. Below are the odds readjusted after the first round pick and the best and worst case scenarios if the Leafs still haven’t been selected after the 2nd pick…
Not until a 3rd pick best case scenario (of two low seeds winning) do the Leafs even reach a 1 in 4 chance of being selected. While having the best odds is great, and it’s certainly a reason to be more excited for Matthews, Laine, or Puljujarvi than other fan bases are, it’s still very much a time for cautious optimism and a reason for doing homework on the cluster of prospects available from 4-12 who will make up the best of the rest crowd.
THE CONSOLIDATED RANKINGS
There are a number of interesting takeaways with these rankings.
- Dubois looks like a lock to pass Alexander Nylander very soon, though Tkachuk still has a pretty firm grasp on 4th overall. If the NHL CSS rankings start a trend, Dubois could be the favourite for 4th overall by June.
- Jakob Chychrun better have a great U-18 tournament because missing the World Juniors and Sarnia’s early playoff exit are not making him popular when Juolevi and Sergachyov have boxcar stats that leap off the page in comparison to his
- Both McKeens and ISS have dropped Dante Fabbro from their Top 30 this month, and he’s quickly becoming a wonderful pipe dream for the Pens pick because of that. As you’ll see below, that’s still longshot because he’s still very much a part of that top 21 group before it drops off to descending chaos, where 22-30 are the current favourites, but it opens up to about 30 different players potentially going at any time between the late first and the close of the 2nd round.
TIERS OF THE FIRST ROUND
Looking at the consolidated rankings in an easy to view graph form, you can start seeing where players are grouped a bit more clearly.
The top three prospects are all very close, but since I haven’t waited the first pick, it doesn’t fully capture how far and way most rankings would put Matthews over the Finns, though via McKeens, the Laine as a close second take is picking up steam.
The 4-12 pack seems to be divided between, the most commonly considered for potentially top five picks in Tkachuk, Nylander, Dubois, Chychrun, and with Juolevi now getting more consideration, and the secondary group of McLeod, Keller, and Sergachyov getting some consideration very high, but still having some services considering them only in top 20, if that. Tyson Jost seems to be along for the ride with this group despite never really having a high top 10 peak, but everyone considering him a solid option for the top 12.
The next group of 13-21 is filled with the 13-19 group who are the last of the players to unanimously be ranked in the top 30 by all 9 of the rankings used here. Dante Fabbro, as mentioned above, and Max Jones are shockingly not in that unanimous group, but of those who ranked Fabbro, he has an average rank of 15th overall and for Max Jones, his average ranking is 18th overall, but coming in higher than Rubtsov, Brown, and Kunin.
Finally, it’s the best of the rest. Over the past five months 60 players in total have been ranked in the top 30, and at this point using the 9 different top 30 rankings there are 50 players that at least received some consideration. Players like Tufte, Asplund, DeBrincat and Laberge are all safe bets for the first round, but a player like Libor Hajek could easily pass him, as he was ranked in the top 20 by McKeens, but fell just outside when consolidating the rankings.
On the outside looking in are Nathan Bastian, Sam Steel, Tyler Benson, Will Bitten, and Kale Clague, all who were placed in the top 30 3 times, a better total than Dillon Dube, and equal to Logan Stanley and Samuel Girard. In the case of Bitten the U-18s could easily establish him higher after being off the radar on a disastrous Flint team.
IT’S MORE WIDE OPEN NOW
You’d think that after seven months of viewing prospects that lists might stabilize a little, but that’s in no way the case. McKeen’s has a new number one (again). They’ve bumped Puljujarvi to fourth in favour of McLeod, who looks to be the second best center available in the draft, and they’ve added BCHL defenseman Dennis Cholowski to their list after dropping the more popular BCHL D-man Dante Fabbro.
Similarly, ISS has fallen in love with Cliff Pu, who most see as a mid round player at best, had a sudden change of heart for the better on Jake Bean, and tired of Logan Stanley and Dante Fabbro.
The situation involving the Pens 1st being a little low, having the 31st overall pick in the second round, and the absolute depth of options available in the late first and second round is probably making a strong case for the Leafs to once again see what can be done in regards to trading down. It may seem crazy to acquire more picks in what is already a record setting year pick wise for them, but doing what ever they can to maximize their picks in the top 70 or so seems ideal.
If the Leafs end up losing the lottery, they really have two standout options:
- They can take the best of who’s left
- They can trade down to a place in the top 10 that still sees them getting a shot a player of similar upside, while acquiring an additional asset.