Draft Theory: Re-Defining the Roles of Scouts and Stats

Rhys Jessop
June 10 2015 02:30PM

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Numbers and scouts would seem to be at odds over Pavel Zacha. But are they really?

I don't know precisely why this is, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Whenever we talk about looking at prospects through the lens of statistics and quantitative analysis, the discussion almost inevitably turns to "stats vs. scouts." Often times, people like myself are as guilty of going here as anybody. "Can you believe those idiots ranked Lawson Crouse ahead of Mitch Marner," I'll begin. "Don't they know that the numbers say this is insane?"

The thing is, going down the stats-against-scouts road is missing the point entirely. This isn't a pissing contest to see who's right more often. It's a continuous journey towards consistently identifying the best talent that has the highest chance of contributing at a significant level in the NHL. Numbers and watchers-of-the-games shouldn't be at odds with one another, since our end goal is the same - to identify the junior-aged players that project to be the best future NHLers.

As such, although the Twitter snark is fun, the actual debate when we're trying to advance our knowledge shouldn't be centred on who's right and who's wrong. Instead, we should be trying to leverage the strengths of every angle we can look at talent identification from to build a drafting and scouting approach that is as accurate, precise, and predictive as we can possibly make it. We want to use numbers to get the most out of our scouts, and we want to use scouts to get the most out of our numbers.

So how should we go about constructing a talent identification system that is grounded in quantitative analysis and also takes advantage of a rigorous qualitative approach? Let's explore after the jump.

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Top-10 UFA countdown: #8 - Martin St. Louis

Thomas Drance
June 10 2015 09:00AM

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Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy!

Over the course of Martin St. Louis' Hall of Fame worthy career the 5-foot-8 winger has won a Hart Trophy, a Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal and two Art Ross trophies (including one as a 37-year-old). His resume is beyond reproach. 

Built like a bumper car, St. Louis has accomplished everything a hockey player can accomplish. And as much as hockey's trend watchers are fawning over undersized players now, St. Louis has been doing Tyler Johnson-like things for more than a decade. So how can a future Hall of Fame immortal find himself ranked eighth on our countdown of the top unrestricted free agents? 

It's simple really: age catches up to everyone, even the best among us, and St. Louis will turn 40 this month. Thanks to a variety of advances in the field of human performance, players are remaining effective for longer, and no one doubts St. Louis' work ethic or ability to be an outlier, but St. Louis' advancing age combined with his least productive offensive season in 13 years is sure to dampen the enthusiasm with which he's pursued on the free agent market this summer. 

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TOP-10 UFA COUNTDOWN: #9—ANTTI NIEMI

Lowetide
June 08 2015 08:00AM

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Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

This is a series counting down the top-10 pending UFAs. It will be posted across the Nation Network over the next month! Enjoy!

Antti Niemi is the most famous free-agent goalie available this summer and that should result in a big payday. NHL teams in need of a starter can look for a trade—and there are quality options available, reportedly in Ottawa and Vancouver—but adding free agent is merely a cap hit and that will have major appeal for many teams.

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The Roundup

Nation World HQ
June 05 2015 06:45AM

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Phil Kessel trade destinations, Canucks Markstrom NHL ready, Eddie Lack on the move, who will take Dennis Wideman off Flames hands, learning from Oilers player development, Connor McDavid, Canadian dollars's impact on salary cap, free agent class of 2015, draft prospect profiles and more in this week's Roundup.

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Grocery Shopping: Free Agent Forwards

Cam Lewis
June 04 2015 06:38PM

If you’re a team looking to add quality defencemen or solidify your goaltending, this summer’s Unrestricted Free Agent market has plenty of interesting options available. In terms of forwards, not so much. Solid goaltenders and defencemen headline this year’s market of players seeking significant paydays, while the options for high quality, impact forwards are few and far between. That being said, there’s always a handful of solid depth options available, and this year is no different. Unfortunately, since the crop of forwards this year is relatively thin, somebody is probably going to end up overpaying for a forward who simply isn’t as good as their contract will justify. 

After the jump, I’ll take a look at some of the interesting names on the market, and which ones are actually going to be worth the dollars that they’re likely going to command. Long story short, this probably isn’t the best summer to empty your pockets for free agent forwards. 

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