By ranking groups of players in tiers based on over-all ability, readiness, and /or upside, each NHL team can get a road map as to who may be on the board at various slotting points.If a team is trading an established player than might involve picks or even the trading of picks, the GM and his staff want to know exactly how large the tier will be with that newly acquired draft slot.
A lot of fans look at where their favorite team in the various rounds and then try to gauge the possible choices based on the previous years of picks. Unfortunately that really has never worked.
Each draft possesses various different numbers of potential first line / first pairing players. Even inside those player groupings, there are going to be guys who may be potentially equal, but some are furthered developed, some are of larger frames, and of course they may play different positions.
Some drafts simply have less desirable or talented players and are below elite quality even in the top slots. In many draft years there aren't even enough "just below elite" players don't even fill the top ten.
All drafts have good value prospects that already look to have attributes that will make them good NHL players, as in "able to contribute to NHL team line-ups."
All drafts have good value prospects who, in time, may strengthen the deficits in their games and make them able contributors at the NHL levels.
Even though you will hear so many hockey media experts say that second round picks are basically low yield chances at acquiring talent, it really has more to do with the relative thickness of tiers in the first round. And that same formula can be applied through the subsequent rounds.
Drafts that would be considered weak ones would be ones in which teams are making consolation picks and stating to their home media from the get-go what the prospect needs to work on improving.
So looking at the tiers, NHL teams can see areas where the draft is thick, and also areas where the crop is thin.
Let's say a team surveys their present squad,their pro farm system, and in their college and junior prospects,and they feel they lack a bigger mobile defenseman who also has some snarl. When a team actually says they will take the best available player, in this specific case it means they will resist selecting a guy who may be a tier or two down just to attempt to fill that need. They will look at their rankings and if there are both a forward and defenseman they have graded as equal, they may take the defender over the forward, but it will not be that guy form the lower tier.They might really like that specific "big defender" is "their guy",and try and find a team that wants their earlier draft slot,and they will trade down to select from that next tier to get that specific big defender, so they add picks. There is very little reaching in hockey drafts. More likely a teams scouting combine may be completely wrong in their evaluation of a youngster.
We must all remember that teams will have very similar rankings they will never be exact, especially as the draft progresses. Teams will always have a special guy that they feel they have buried who they can select at any point when they feel their possibles have been selected…a guy they think is off the radar of the other clubs. He'll be a player not listed in the NHL pre-draft press kit, and not a Central Scouting Combine notable with any pre-draft buzz.
These are what I see as universal Draft Tiers that can be applied to all drafts. Each draft will have varying numbers of players on each subsequent tier.
Elite Prospects - There is strong reason to believe these players, at very minimum, will be NHL players, but most likely will be upper end NHLers, and hopefully star players, top line contributors, and eventual top pairing defensemen.
I am of the opinion there are an unheard seven players that fit this category with an elite three that must be considered as a higher subcategory of tier one.
Let be noted that prior to this 2013 draft, you would have to look hard and long to find a draft year where in weeks prior to the draft, they were viewed with more than a two or maybe three.
Prospects that are a notch below elite, but most likely will be upper end NHLers, and hopefully high end players.
I am of the opinion there are an unheard ten players that fit this category. Teams drafting as high as slot 17 will be given a unique opportunity at very gifted athletes who, in time, may also be impact NHL players. It is almost as if the teams are getting a chance of selecting personel who, in other years, would be chosen in the higher slots.
In retrospect, there seem to be only two drafts in past history that you could argue were so well stocked by the late middle of the first, 2003, and 2008. It might be easy to review past drafts and find that solid NHL players have be elected and made solid contributions, but you would be hard pressed to find a draft where the players available at this juncture project to also be impact players,close in ability and upside as the ones, who by consensus, are in marked in the earlier tier.
Players that are good value in the early, mid first round as players who may have signficant upside and tools and may have long NHL careers.
I am of the opinion there are an unheard six players that fit this category, but an argument can be made to extend this list far into the second round. A team picking in the 24th slot in another draft year would not be enjoying the cornucopia of available quality prospects.
Although tier four (below) is where NHL teams usually see themselves at this point in the drafts, not the case this year.
Players that are good value through the late first round as players who may have signficant upside in some areas, and may have solid NHL careers.
I am of the opinion there are an unprecedented sixteen players that fit this category. That means there are easily nine players who will not be selected in that first round and translates to a group of mid-first round possibles that extends almost to the middle of the second round!
In 2003, we saw three late second rounders Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, and David Backus who easily could be considered impact players, along with Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, Matt Carle, along with early second rounder, Loui Eriksson. No other draft could compare to the second round output of 2003, but in my humble opinion 2013 may do just that. So many hockey analysts view second round picks as low rush trade currency, based on the overall success rates. These percentages are based on the overall total of "successful picks" of all recent drafts. It is important to note that each NHL draft is unique to the class of prospects that fill it.
Players that are good value through the the late first round and second round, andrn may have fallen due to lack of progress in the draft year, or are still working to win over talent evaluators to the idea that they will who may have significant upside, with developing tools, with the chance to have NHL careers.
I am of the opinion that not only are there nine prospects that I listed as late possible first rounds, but that NHL teams will have an abundant pool of players that fit this tier, that NHL teams will deem as significant upside that extend as far down as the third round. So instead of the classic second round beginning at pick 31, we see plenty of opportunities at developing prospects who also have upside to be good NHL players.
In most other draft years, teams selecting late usually try to find at very least youngster that will eventually contribute on NHL roster, and set their sights on safe, high character youngster although may not view that player as one who will fill high end roster guys. They will just develop the ability to eventually make and NHL roster with solid contributions.
Players that teams are targeting in middle rounds because they are deemed "works in progress" as they have deficits to overcome to be NHL players that may require the parts are not yet in place.
I am of the opinion that this year's sixth tier doesn't start to become evident until middle of the 4th round and extends past the middle 5th round. In this area of the draft, teams will start looking players who were undrafted in previous years and possibly have made scouting staffs rethink their decisions on passing on them the year(s) before. A European player might have not been "on the radar," based on his junior team contributions, but that player's advancement into the various Euro pro teams since previous draft(s) might have NHL teams now viewing him in a very different light.
Players like Chicago's Andrew Shaw can found in this tier with some luck. Shaw was always undersized, but he continued to round out as a player with some many attributes necessary to be an NHLer. San Jose's Tommy Wingels, Minnesota's undersized Jared Spurgeon, Vancouver's Frankie Corrado, L.A's Jake Muzzin, and Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo. The true diamond in this grouping has to be Dallas' find of Jamie Benn in the 129th overall ion the 5th round. With hard work he got more skilled, bigger, faster and stronger with the Stars being the beneficiaries.
Players that teams are targeting because they are are deemed "works in progress" as they have deficits to overcome to be NHL players that may require long term development. Their developmental upside seems "capped" due to limitations in size and/or ability.
A NHL team's last pick more times than not is one where the scouting staff and GM have a specific group of lesser knowns that they feel strongly about. This is the part of the draft where paging through the Central Scouting Draft guides may find many a media person or fan coming up empty.And sometimes "likable" players that teams would have been willing to take earlier slip through the cracks when other teams pass on them to fill organizational needs or have the "slipping player" ranked a bit below another prospect and select that other player. Teams sometime find a local talent they are willing to take the "wait and see" attitude on more forward progress. It is also an excellent time to for teams to select a goalie with the idea he might grow his game and be a solid pro. The last ten drafts years average over three goaltenders selected with this idea in mind. Of the 32 goalers drafted in the final round, only three were drafted whose names you would know: Jaroslav Halak (Montreal), Brian Elliott (Ottawa) and Anders Lindback (Nashville).
What has helped make this draft a thick one is the large list of second and third year eligibles in both North America, and in the ranks of the European leagues. Many undrafted prospects have managed to show substantial improvement in the areas NHL saw as reasons to pass on them in prior drafts.
Players who are basically long-shots but due to favorable characteristics that they have displayed in their past performances at varied levels of hockey, may be able to overcome various deficiencies and ascend to the NHL level.
In this specific draft, NHL teams will probably make their final selections and are not guaranteed any success in the final parts of the draft crop. The majority of drafted players have to work hard and progress to reach that elite level of play that the NHL displays. nonetheless scouting staffs will have to have done homework through a excessively large bottom end of prospects.
Let me play GM with the last slot 211 for one moment. At DraftSite.com, I have a list of an additional 340 possibles draftees available after the top 210 prospects are off the board. It might feel a bit more confident if I have been able to see and grade those 340, because every ticket might be a winner.
The draft role in restocking NHL clubs has become even more important in the era of a Salary Cap, because drafting, developing and eventually getting major league minutes out of selections provide lower home-grown rookie salaries that are less money than trading for an established player or what it would cost Cap-wise to acquire an unrestricted free agent. It's cheaper to have your own draft selections in your sweater.
I view this draft as one that may help NHL management get a true pulse of their scouting staff's heartbeat. Some teams are going get the opportunity to make sound decisions from round one on that may radically upgrade the mother club, while other team managements may be reorganizing their evaluation departments if they don't find gold in the various veins they choose to mine.