Prospect ranking methodology

Ranking methodology

The information is based on games I've scouted live this season, watched on film and from many discussions with industry sources through the year.

In terms of the ranking decisions, there is a common misnomer around my work that I prefer "small, flashy" players due to my emphasis on "possession skill." In fact, I ask a simpler question: Who are the best players in an age group once you adjust for particular variables like birth month, team effects, league, randomness and position? That question tends to drive my analysis. I am not heavily invested into "projection", or hoping the 50th-best player in an age group becomes the 15th due to particular physical abilities, though projection is still a notable part of the equation.

Changes in my process from past years' rankings include primarily a different emphasis on player age and birth month. This has been by far one of the most difficult variables for me to adjust in my previous evaluations; not only calculating the difference between a January and August birth date, but more importantly, the difference between a September birth date and someone born the ensuing February. This is an issue because of the September 15th cut-off date to be eligible for the draft. The former player gets a whole extra season of playing experience, but the players are just a few months apart. I had previously been too critical of the older player, at times almost treating them as a full year older. I've adjusted this to be more lenient. Recent research has shown this is the proper calibration.

The difference between a September 1996 birth date and February 1997 in this draft class should be treated the same as a February 1997 and September 1997.

I've also given slightly more value to forwards prospects than defensemen. I've done this before because of predictability of development as forwards have less risk, but as I discussed this season, forwards with similar talent to defensemen contribute notably more at the NHL level.

The "Russian factor" -- the risk teams put on Russian players coming over to, or remaining in, North America -- is not taken into account.