Top-30 Draft Prospect NHL Equivalencies

Kent Wilson
May 08 2013 09:52AM



Before we begin breaking down individual scouting reports for the various first round hopefuls I decided to survey the entire field from a high level using NHL equivalencies (NHLE). For those unfamiliar, NHLE is a method that corrects for league quality relative to the NHL, allowing us to compare kids across various leagues.

Of course, like all pure scoring stats, NHLE is blind to various external contributing factors, such as team quality, variance and other circumstances like a players role. We'll attempt to fill in the blanks somewhat with various targets, but for now we'll rank them according to their NHLE to at least get a broad feel for who is available.

That said, there's a reason to pay attention to NHLE. Via Willis at the Cult of Hockey, the correlation between NHLE and future NHL point-per-game pace:

Not perfect, but the relationship is pretty clear.

2013 First round Forwards NHLE

Player League PPG Factor NHLE birthdate
Jonathan Drouin QMJHL 2.14 0.29 50.96 Mar.28/95
Nicolas Petan WHL 1.69 0.30 41.58 Mar.22/95
Nathan MacKinnon QMJHL 1.70 0.29 40.53 Sept.1/95
Aleksandr Barkov Sm-Liiga 0.91 0.54 40.10 Sept.2/95
Elias Lindholm SEL 0.63 0.78 39.98 Dec.2/94
Max Domi OHL 1.36 0.30 33.44 Mar.2/95
Sean Monahan OHL 1.34 0.30 33.08 Oct.12/94
Hunter Shinkaruk WHL 1.34 0.30 33.06 Oct.13/94
Anthony Mantha OHL 1.33 0.30 32.68 Sept.16/94
Kerby Rychel OHL 1.28 0.30 31.47 Oct.4/94
Artturi Lehkonen SM-Liiga 0.67 0.54 29.52 July 4/95
Valentin Zykov QMJHL 1.15 0.29 27.44 May 15/95
Ryan Hartman OHL 1.07 0.30 26.36 Sept.20/94
Morgan Klimchuk WHL 1.06 0.30 25.97 Mar.2/95
Adam Erne QMJHL 1.06 0.29 25.18 Apr.20/95
Frederik Gauthier QMJHL 0.97 0.29 23.01 Apr.26/95
Bo Horvat OHL 0.91 0.30 22.40 Apr.5/95
Curtis Lazar WHL 0.85 0.30 20.84 Feb.2/95
Alex Wennberg SWE-1 0.70 0.36 20.54 Sept.22/94
Valeri Nichushkin KHL 0.33 0.65 17.77 Mar.4/95
Jason Dickinson OHL 0.71 0.30 17.52 July 4/1995
Andre Burakovsky SWE-1 0.26 0.36 7.55 Feb.9/95
JT Compher USNT 1.14 0.00 0.00 Apr.8/95

(The list of players was more or less based on NHLNumbers consensus rankings. Table is sorted by NHLE).

As Willis recently pointed out, Jonathan Drouin is out on an Island all by himself. In fact, his NHLE is the best we've seen out of a prospect from the QMJHL since Sidney Crosby.

Anyways, there is very clearly a top tier featuring Drouin, Nate MacKinnon, Aleksandr Barkov and...Nic Petan? the undersized center scored 120 points for the juggernaut Portland Winterhawks this year, but he doesn't show up until the 20's or 30's on most draft sheets. His size is an issue as is the fact he jumped from about 30-points last season to 120 this year. In addition, it's assumed he's not necessarily the guy driving the bus in Portland. We'll look at that down the road.

Absent is Valery Nichushkin, who is considered by many as a top-5 pick talent wise. He only played a handful of games in the KHL this year, no doubt in a limited role so his output probably doesn't do his talent level justice.

Elias Lindholm can perhaps be included in that top group before a steep drop off to the next tier, featuring guys lie Max Domi, Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Anthony Mantha and Kerby Rychel. JT Compher goes without an NHLE because we don't have a translation factor for the USNT currently.

Things begin to fall away rapidly once we're outside the 30-something NHLE's. At that point in the draft, you're hoping a guy takes a really big step forward next year or will eventually be capable of filling a support type role in the NHL someday. Most guys below the 30 NHLE mark don't end up scoring a lot of points in the NHL down the line unless there's some rapid development down the line (particularly in their draft+1 season).

2013 Defense first round NHLE

Player League PPG Factor NHLE Birthdate
Seth Jones WHL 0.92 0.30 22.58 Oct.3/94
Ryan Pulock WHL 0.74 0.30 18.15 Oct/6/94
Josh Morrissey WHL 0.67 0.30 16.52 Mar.28/95
Darnell Nurse OHL 0.60 0.30 14.83 Feb.4/95
Rasmus Ristolainen Sm-Liiga 0.29 0.54 12.77 Oct.24/94
Nikita Zadorov OHL 0.40 0.30 9.76 Apr.16/95
Robert Hagg SEL 0.04 0.78 2.37 Feb.8/95
Steve Santini USNT 0.20 0.00 0.00 Mar.7/95

Obviously it's difficult to grade defenders by output alone, but it's worth a look anyways.

Not a big first round for blueliners, at least not in terms of high-end producers. Seth Jones is the only guy to crack the 20 NHLE threshold. Darnell Nurse gets a lot of attention on a few draft lists as a probably the second best defender available, but he's well back of Jones by this metric. Of course, he also didn't play on the Portland Winterhawks, so there's that to consider.

Other Stuff

I included birthdates for interests sake since some guys are almost a year older than their peers. Sean Monahan and Hunter Shinkaruk, for instance, are almost a full 11 months older than guys like Alex Barkov and Nate McKinnon, which makes the younger guys particular feats all the more impressive. A year-gap isn't all that important once guys are pros, but when comparing kids maturing in various leagues, it can make a very real difference.


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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.