When teams are deliberating on their draft boards -- specifically when looking at the top of the draft -- the position of the skater is often a very key question. Do they want a potential first-line center, or a potential No. 1 defenseman? John Tavares or Victor Hedman? Nail Yakupov or Ryan Murray? Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones? Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad?
In 2015, after the top two picks go Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, will the team picking third want forwards Dylan Strome or Mitch Marner, or will it grab top defensive prospect Noah Hanifin? The evidence favors the former.
The decision at the No. 3 slot comes down to two variables: first is the evaluation of the merits of the player’s own abilities and second is the relative value of a player based on his position. The most important aspect of this is the actual value of the position at the NHL level. On talent alone, Boston College blueliner Hanifin is either even with or a little above star OHL forwards Strome and Marner.
But breaking the tie over whom the No. 3 team should pick comes down to the positional variable, and there's evidence to suggest that grabbing a player who will be a top-line forward is a wiser investment than getting that top-pairing D-man.