by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)
Rationale Behind the Combined Rankings
As you are aware, NHL Central Scouting produces a segregated set of rankings. That is, they are separated based on North American skaters and goalies as well as European skaters and goalies – four lists in total. I combined the four rankings from NHL Central Scouting by employing the following methods:
- Rounds One and Two: Took Bob MacKenzie’s January poll of scouts and inserted the player from the European or Goalie rankings where Bob’s poll suggested.
- Rounds Three and Onward: For the remaining rounds, I simply inserted 5 European skaters and 3-4 goalies per round based on the results of the 2013 draft.
NHL Central Scouting’s rankings always contain a few shockers. Here are some of the ones that stood out for me with reasons why Central Scouting could be right and, alternatively, why they could be off the mark.
1. Joshua Ho Sang – Down 6; 28 from 22.
- For: Undersized at 5’11, 175 lb. – Small players are generally the most vulnerable to sliding. Ho Sang started the season with the reputation as hard to coach and a puck hog. H did not overwhelm in the playoffs – 4 games, 3 points -10.
- Against: He worked hard with his coaches over the season on his team play. He won them (and me) over with his play after General Manager Warren Rychel traded his son, Kerby Rychel, to Guelph. Ho Sang willed the team into the playoffs with his team play and strong offensive efforts on the ice. Before the trade – 27 games and 30 points; after the trade 36 games and 55 points. This is a very high end guy whose skills and determination make his relatively small stature less of an issue.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: High to mid teens
2. Roland McKeown – Down 17; 36 from 19.
- For – Not overly large at 6’1, 197 lb.; inconsistent, could be more physical in his play. To have this guy at 36, you are saying to yourself that he does not have the qualities to be a power play quarterback for your team.
- Against – Good results: regular season – 62 games, 43 points, +38 (team leading); playoffs – 7 games, 4 points, +6 (team leading). In a year that there is a dearth of first round quality defensemen, I find it difficult to believe McKeown will somehow slip out of round one. With the big shot, his skating ability on the rush, his positioning on defense and his ability to play in all situations, there is just too much Duncan Keith likeness there to let him slip to the second.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: Twenties
3. Alex Nedeljkocic – Up 28; 82 from 110.
- For: It’s all about the size; Alex is only 6’0 and 190 lb. NHL teams are placing an increased emphasis on size for the goalie position. And if NHL teams are increasing their emphasis on size, NHL Central Scouting is doubling down on that emphasis.
- Against: The best results of any CHL draft-eligible starting goalie – 61 games, .925 save percentage on a so-so Plymouth Whalers team. A consistently good goalie whose mental toughness and physical skills make stand out from the pack.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: 2nd round
1. Nikolaj Ehlers – Up 12; 16 from 28.
- For: Undersized at 5’11, 162 lb.; like Ho Sang, small players are generally the most vulnerable to a draft day slide.
- Against: The hottest or close to hottest draft eligible player in hockey – 33 points in his last 13 regular season games; 20 in his first nine playoff games. He is just Mr. Excitement, the Electric Ehl, they call him. Drouin-like elusiveness, shiftiness, backhand; MacKinnon-like drive to the net, aggressiveness on the boards, hard shot from the rush.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: For me, way too much talent to not be in the top 10. Just for the record, while Drouin may be a better overall talent, Ehlers was the better player on the ice for at least half the games that they played together.
2. Mason MacDonald – Up 82; 42 from 124.
- For: The right size at 6’4, 178 lb. combined with great athleticism and reflexes; the foundation for a great goalie. Mason impressed everyone with his performance at the CHL Top Prospects game.
- Against: Has not produced the results expected of a second round goalie; playoff save percentage was .860; regular season .900. He was replaced by Julio Billia at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
- THWWar Room Draft Projection: Unfortunately for me (unfortunately because we share the same last name and he plays the closest to my house of any CHL goalie – as the crow flies) he is more a third rounder as there are a few European goalies that I would take ahead of MacDonald.
3. Alexis Vanier – Down 43; 152 from 109.
- For: Slowed way down after mid-November; first 25 games – 24 points; last 36 games – 12 points. Foot speed while not terrible could use some improvement.
- Against: Size to die for at 6’5, 215 lb. Add the big shot on the power play, willingness to use the body and occasionally fight and you have the scouts drooling. Wondering about the decline in production as the year progressed, well, Alexis got injured (shoulder) during the Subway Super Series in November and seemingly never fully recovered. In fact, he had to shut his season down and miss the playoffs due to that injury.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: NHL scouts will do their homework and decide not to miss out on this behemoth – early to mid second round is the most likely outcome for this guy. However, in a year where there are so many small players, first round is still an outside possibility.
1. John Quenneville – Up 15; 29 from 44.
- For: 200 foot player. Decent size at 6’1, 182 lb. Hard to play against. Good playoffs – 9 games, 13 points, +4; decent regular season – 61 games, 58 points, +3.
- Against: In games, I have seen, Quenneville has never stood out in the way I would expect a first rounder should.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: A good player, yes, an NHL player, possibly; late second for me.
2. Reid Gardner – Up 14; 38 from 52.
- For: Hard worker, plays on the penalty kill, good shot.
- Against: Generically speaking, it would be unusual for an undersized forward producing .63 points per game to be picked by the early second round. Generally, the player would have to have at least one outstanding characteristic – fighting, skating, forechecking, shot etc. Exceptions, of course, could be made for players on powerhouse teams e.g. Halifax, London, Portland etc. where the player was limited to fourth line minutes because of the wealth of stars on the team. Prince Albert, unfortunately, is not yet one of those powerhouse teams. So, unless there is something I missed in my viewings of him, I am surprised with this guy’s ranking.What is even more puzzling about the ranking is that Gardner’s play deteriorated in the new year – 37 games, 34 points before January; 17 games and 10 points after.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: 3rd – 4th round.
- Editor’s Note (Chris): I’m somewhere in between with respect to Reid. He did impress me for the positive reasons noted above in a couple live viewings. He’s obviously no longer a sleeper pick as some scouts had pegged him earlier in the season.
3. Connor Bleackley – Down 5; 45 from 40.
- For: Has not shown enough offense to warrant more than a second round rating – 71 games, 68 points and +3. Does not have any outstanding skills, just good ones.
- Against: Most rankings have this guy in the 20-30 range. I feel he is a guy who most likely will end up in the NHL as a third line player who provides leadership, energy, a reasonable defense and some offense.
- War Room Draft Projection: While he could end up in the second round in a good draft year, the large number of small players at the end of the first round makes it unlikely that he would slip in this draft year. Call me surprised, OK, even, very surprised!
- THW Editor’s Note (Chris): Bleackley is a guy that has impressed me all year as well as scouts who I really value the opinion of. Where he tops out offensively at the next level is a bit of a mystery, but I have little doubt he succeeds at the NHL level.
1. Anton Karlsson – Down 51; 78 from 27.
- For: I know that I have always rated Anton higher than most but I honestly don’t know what NHL Central Scouting was thinking when they rated Anton as third round.
- Against: Size (6’1, 187), speed, grit and agitation. Point a game in the Ivan Hlinka tournament and the youngest member of Sweden’s WJC U20 team.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: In a year in which there a vast number of skilled smaller players, Anton is more the size and style that teams are looking for – early 2nd, maybe higher.
2. Ondrej Kase – Up 51; 35 from 86.
- For: Played against men in the top Czech professional league, playing 37 games with 7 points and a -4. Kase has high-end agility to make him elusive on the rush, excellent in traffic with a nice passing ability. Add vision and a wrister with a quick release and you have the beginnings of a pretty good hockey player.
- Against: Size – 6’0, 165 lb.; does not have the elite speed usually associated with successful smaller players. As with most junior players of his age, he did not receive a lot of playing time this year.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: For me, early 2nd is a bit of a stretch, I have him 3rd but he could hit late 2nd.
3. Sebastian Aho – Down 20; 68 from 48.
- For: Skilled rushing defenseman, excellent puck mover with a good defensive game. Good results: At U20, 27 games, 23 points, +11; in SHL (top Swedish professional league playing against men), 21 games, 5 points, -1.
- Against: Size – 5’9, 165 lb. A player this high in the draft at this size, you probably want the potential for more offense like Shayne Gostisbehere.
- THW War Room Draft Projection: I have currently have him as a 5th rounder but I expect he will go in the 4th.
The Likelihood of Success
In looking back at the 2003 to 2005 entry drafts, it is interesting to note the success rate for each of the rounds. By my criteria and calculations, here are the percentages:
- 01-15 – 82% (’03 – 93%; ’04 – 73%; ’05 – 80%)
- 16-30 – 76% (‘03 – 93%; ’04 – 67%; ’05 – 67%)
- 31-45 – 33% (’03 – 33%; ’04 – 7%; ’05 – 60%)
- 46-60 – 24% (‘03 – 33%; ‘04 – 33%; ‘05 – 7%)
- 61-90 – 24% (’03 – 33%; ’04 – 20%; ’05 – 20%)
- 91-120 – 19% (’03 – 10%; ’04 – 30%; ‘05 – 17%)
- 120-150 – 11% (‘03 – 10%; ‘04 – 13%; ’05 – 10%)
- 151-180 – 9% (’03 – 13%; ’04 – 13%; ’05 – 0%)
- 181-210 – 10% (‘03 – 17%; ‘04 – 3%; ‘05 – 10%)
- Over 210 – 12% (’03 – 13%; ’04 – 10%; ’05 – 15%)
- Overall – 23% (‘03 – 25%; ‘04 – 20%; ‘05- 23%)
NHL Draft War Room: NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings Combined
- The table display approximately 30 of the prospects at a time; simply scroll down to view the other prospects.
- Only a portion of the table displays by default; you can scroll over to see the rest of the player demographics and stats or select “View full-size workbook” option, which is the icon in the bottom right hand corner, to view the full table.
- The 1st column on the left is players’ rankings based on the combination of NHL Central Scouting Service’s four separate rankings – Final Edition
- The 2nd column on the left is players’ rankings based on the combination of NHL Central Scouting Service’s four separate rankings – Mid-term Edition
- A link to Elite Prospects statistics for most of the players is also included (click on individual player name).
[For all prospects profiled in this series, see the 2014 NHL Draft War Room Prospect Profile Index]
Chris is THW’s senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for “The Next Ones” Prospect Profile series, exclusive rankings, mock drafts, as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphYQ on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com