A little NHL roster analysis

Inspired by James Mirtle’s article in the Athletic on Thursday. I took a little different look at the rosters. Enjoy.

The McDavid Tracker

Coming from the much too early department, I introduce the Connor McDavid tracker!

2015 Draft pick expectations

As we watch prospect camps and tournaments from around the league, it’s important to realize that we won’t see a lot of the 2015 Draft picks for a couple years. In fact, since the 2005 draft, only 14% of 1st rounders play more than 20 games the following year.

NHL Draft Team Performance: Goalie Edition

Earlier this week one of my earlier posts got a lot of love. The feedback I received was great but a lot of people asked about Goalies since they were not included in the original set of analysis. Well here you go…..

Keep in mind this is players drafted only between 1997 and 2010. Although game stats are include from 1998 to the end of the 2013-2014 season. I only had draft data back to 1997 and it did not seem right to include kids that were drafted in the last few years as only a few of them are starting to break in to the NHL.

NHL Team Draft PerformanceGoaliesDraft Years: 1997 - 2010              Game Stats: 1998 - 2014
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Drafting goalies seems tough but there is also a reality that there are very few jobs to be had in the NHL.

Here is the draft success by team:

  Interesting findings:

  • The Flyers have drafted the most goalies from 1997 to 2010 with 20 different goalies drafted. Antero Niittymaki and Roman Cechmanek were the only goalies to play in the NHL
  • Cory Schneider was the only goalie drafted by Vancouver that played in the NHL…that’s one game or more.
  • Islanders had the best success with drafting goalies although it was only two goalies that make up most of the average: DiPietro and Luongo.
  • Bargain hunters: Ottawa and Montreal drafted the only 9th round goalies to play more than 20 games in the NHL: Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak. (Side note, the NHL Entry draft only goes 7 rounds now).

The rise of the undrafted….

NHL Entry Draft: check.

Free Agent Frenzy: check.
What’s next while I count down the days until opening night? 
I started to notice a surprising amount of undrafted players in the playoffs. Tyler Johnson, Mats Zuccarello, Dan Girardi and of course the poster children of the undrafted: Dan Boyle & Martin St. Louis all came to mind. I was not sure if this was a new phenomenon or consistent with the historical trends so decided to look into it. 
As you can see, anyway you slice it, undrafted players are becoming more and more prevalent in the NHL.
Note that I included the Supplementary draft players. The Supplementary Draft was discontinued in 1995 as part of the collective bargaining agreement. One would argue that the elimination of the supplementary draft, sweetens the undrafted market but as you can tell, even if you include them, it doesn’t account for the increase in undrafted players in the NHL. 


As a bonus graph, I wanted to check if the Gladwell effect was in play for undrafted players. In one of my draft posts, I looked into the birth month of the 2014 NHL Drafted Players. As Malcom Gladwell wrote in Outliers, there is a disproportionate # of NHL players that are born in the first quarter of the calendar year vs. the last quarter. My theory with the undrafted is that the same bias that exists in the Entry draft, does not exist since the skaters have a chance to mature vs. getting compared to players that could be 9 months older than them. 
This is not scientific but it does imply that NHL teams might be a little biased to birthdays when evaluating talent for the draft.  
FYI: There is 98 days until opening night…but who is counting? 

2014 NHL Entry Draft Recap: Canadians Drop while USHL Pops

Here are my quick thoughts on the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Country of Birth

Canada had its lowest number of drafted players in the Expansion era. Although it does not show the graph, gains were made in Russia, Sweden and Czech Republic. All three countries had the second most players drafted in the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the US had their 10 year high with 66 players drafted. The US peak of 66 is still relatively modest while the drop in Canadians has been a slow trend we have seen for years. Canadians still dominate the Draft and the NHL but it should be interesting to see how this plays out.  

Amateur League

As always, North American Major Junior Hockey dominates the field, particularly the OHL. As you will see in the graph, the OHL is right around their average & had 10 picks in the first round. The WHL also held serve with the 2nd most picks in the draft and 9 out of the first round. The QMJHL only had 17 picks which is the lowest number of players drafted in the last 10 years. It should be pointed out that the WHL has 22 teams where the OHL and QMJHL have 20 and 18 respectively.

The bigger story is the rise of the USHL. They had an all time high of 30 players drafted (with only 16 teams). The USHL is becoming a force but it might be a couple more years before we see how this translates to the NHL.

…and it looks like the Gladwell Effect is till very much alive, particularly in Canada.  

NHL Entry Draft by the Numbers Part 5: Place of Birth

For my last and final NHL Entry Draft post I take a look at Place of Birth for draftees to evaluate any trends.

Obviously, Canadians dominate the draft (and the league) but what is interesting is that they haven’t seen growth as a % since the reductions in Russian and Czechoslovakia draftees.

Let’s first look at the draft history by Country of Birth. I’ve highlighted the “pipeline counties” to make it more readable and showcase the story. Since 2001 we have seen reductions in Russian and Czechoslovakia draft picks due to the rise of the KHL which provides an attractive option for Eastern Europeans. The reduction of RUS and CZE have created opportunities for Sweden & US.

Now on the surface it looks like Canada had moderate growth as well but when you go to the numbers the story changes a bit. Comparing 5 year periods you can see Canadian Gains have been modest where US and Sweden growth has been impressive. This is not to say that Canadian hockey is in danger or anything like that but what is interesting to see is that there is a lot of growth coming from Sweden and US. I should point out that I filtered on Rounds 1 – 7 because the NHL reduced the number rounds in 2005 so to show an accurate comparison, I did not use rounds 8 and 9 for years 2001-2004.

This is all well and great but I decided to look at who is playing in the NHL and we see a similar story. Gains for the US and Sweden while Canada is flat…but still represent over 50% of the league.

Any requests?

NHL Entry Draft by the Numbers Part 4: Amateur League

It should be no surprise to anyone that Major Junior amateur leagues dominate the NHL Entry Draft but there are some other nuggets of information that might not be that obvious.

The below chart shows that OHL, WHL and QMJHL dominate the league compared to other leagues but when you look at the second chart in blue, it showcases a couple interesting stories: 1) The QMJHL under-performs compared to OHL and WHL. 2) On average, players drafted from the CCHA and WCHA do extremely well. (CCHA and WCHA have gone through some realignment over the last few years and can just be considered US Men’s Div 1 College Hockey)

Another spin on the data shows things a little better. For the chart below, I isolated the draft years to include 2001-2010 since players drafted after 2011 are still breaking into the NHL and eliminates a time bias. (i.e. only 10 players from the 2013 draft played in the NHL last year and including the 2013 draft would sku the numbers a bit.) 
Here is a list of the top WCHA and CCHA players drafted. Note there are several draft picks that have never seen NHL ice but that is consistent with a lot of players. 
….and for the heck of it since I had the data. Here is a scatter plot of number of players drafted and their games played in the NHL by CHL team. 
Let me know if you have any special requests.

NHL Entry Draft by the Numbers Part 3: Team Performance

Do you ever wonder how well your team drafts? Sure it is easy to call out a random draft pick that fanned out here and there but what about evaluating the performance over time? I’ve got you covered with my interactive team performance dashboard. This is intended to be simple and interactive so click and explore. Because of the different roles and responsibilities of certain players on a team, I again use Games Played as a way to evaluate success. I obviously have game stats data as well and might release a game stats version later.

If the dashboard doesn’t render…go here.

NHL Team Draft PerformanceDraft Years: 1998 - 2010              Game Stats: 1997 - 2014

I only use draft years up to 2010 but game stats of 2014. This was due to a lot of the players drafted after 2010 have not gotten a chance to play many years in the NHL and therefore would skew the stats. To keep it simple, goalies are excluded from the data set.