Welcome back to another season of Scouching Reports! To celebrate the launch of this season of videos, I've released a set of rankings for April. This season's draft class has been a tough one. I have struggled a bit getting really excited about a large group of players in the class, but there are many interesting projects with strong traits in some areas of the game that I think could develop into solid play driving NHL athletes. It may not be the best year to be a lottery team, but I do think it's a good year to have a lot of picks and get creative. Of course, if you have any questions about players I haven't written a blurb on, feel free to ask on any Scouching Live, every Thursday at 8pm EST on YouTube!
Of course, there is the question of how to manage Russian/Belarusian players, and let me be unequivocal that what is going on in Ukraine is a tragic catastrophe that has changed the world perpetuated by the Russian government. Scouching has made a donation to the Canadian Red Cross relief fund for Ukrainians affected by the war. I also believe that there is tremendous uncertainty with where Russia is going to be as a nation come draft time. On one hand, they could make it illegal for citizens to leave the country, thereby making prospects arguably worthless in the eyes of NHL teams, but on the other, the coming economic strife in Russia could create an environment for North American clubs to help young athletes and their families find a better life and extend an olive branch to kids who may just want to follow their dreams as best they can. As such, I'm evaluating high end Russians as if nothing were any different. They're hockey players first and foremost, and we'll have to see what the effects of these global changes will be to see the consequences. Outside of the top level Russian players I firmly believe in this year however, there are many who are part of a massive group of players down the board that I just can't see using a pick on, considering everything going on either. There are just far fewer question marks with those players, so if I'm not comfortable drafting them, picking up the phone, and trying to get them over to North America immediately, it's way tougher for me to get behind them in my view.
If you're a Patron of the project, you can view my rankings as they change over the year, with the full list unlocked at the $25 tier along with my full data sheet of >700 skaters and goaltenders' data.
If you're new here, I generally tend to think of my rankings in "Tiers", which attempts to group players into a pool from which I feel the order could be interchangeable, with the numbers ordering the players as how I might push for them in a draft discussion. I find that it creates much more balanced and nuanced discussion, especially considering these players are so young and may have wildly different potential trajectories that may differ reasonably depending on which NHL organization picks them up.
The data I am including is partially derived from pick224.com, operated by the great Dave MacPherson. Without him, my work would be far less complete and valuable, so give him a follow. If you're unfamiliar, here is a breakdown of the metrics included:
Tier 1 - Athos, Porthos and Aramis
Tier 2 - Four Other Really Good Players
Tier 3 - Please Don't Make Me Order Them.
Tier 4 - Mid-Lineup Candidates
Tier 5 - Just a Big Ol' Whack of Interesting Players
Tier 6 - Curiosities and Strong Thinkers
Tier 7 - Potential Guys!
There you have it. The penultimate 2022 NHL Draft Rankings from Scouching. Like I said, there are a lot of question marks in this draft, and my strategy would be to give myself as many darts for the dartboard as I can find. At the top, there are about 15-20 legitimately interesting and exciting players as they are today, and beyond that, there's a pile of about 50 players that I think bring various desirable traits to the table that could turn into something interesting. Time will tell, but at worst, this draft could be a very interesting learning experience for myself to see how development can affect these players over the years and what traits to pay closer attention to.
Thanks to all of you for reading and perusing, and if you'd like to support my work, click below and check out my Patreon.
Good day! We meet again. I do hope you and yours are all well and safe during this holiday season. I hope I can bring some kind of holiday happiness by presenting the first batch of my findings for the 2022 NHL Draft! Over 100 players have been tracked, some as many as three times, with plenty more coming in the near future. Because you're all so wonderful, I've taken a ton of time focusing on watching and tracking as much as I can since September and held back on putting out a completed list to ensure that my list is as robust as possible, casting as wide a net as I can before refining things as the year goes on.
If you're a Patron of the project, you can view my rankings as they change over the year, with the full list unlocked at the $25 tier along with my full data sheet of >800 skaters and goaltenders' data.
If you're unfamiliar, I generally tend to think of my rankings in "Tiers", which attempts to group players into a pool from which I feel the order could be interchangeable, with the numbers ordering the players as how I might push for them in a draft discussion. I find that it creates much more balanced and nuanced discussion, especially considering these players are so young and may have wildly different potential trajectories that may differ reasonably depending on which NHL organization picks them up. I track all data myself through video at 5v5. Shots, passes, and transition data are the main points I try to hit, and I try to capture exactly what kind of impact the player is having while on the ice.
I also feel it’s prudent to share my personal philosophy so readers can better understand the types of players that I value. Others may have a differing view on what to look for in a young player, and that’s all fine and good, but if I can help you get inside my head a little, it may make for more interesting discussion when those competing opinions inevitably collide. In the NHL Draft, I’m always looking for traits in a player that you can’t often find in the NHL in plentiful amounts. Scoring is of course important, but scoring is the result of strong procedural play that starts with earning puck possession, maintaining possession, getting pucks into the offensive zone, creating scoring chances from high risk areas, and only then will the puck go in the net. A lot of things need to be done well in order to get the puck in an NHL net. Skill at game pace in 5v5 minutes is pivotal, as is speed, but I also look for pace in a player. Can a player put their tools together at game speed to achieve the goals I mentioned earlier? You can be as fast as you want, but if you can’t handle the puck at those speeds, you’ll be useful in fewer scenarios. You can be as skilled as the best on Instagram, but if you can’t read, anticipate and adapt to physical pressure from grown men and maintain possession, you’ll have trouble finding the time and space needed to use that skill, let alone if you lack the quickness and speed that always helps escape that pressure as well. Are you small? I’m far more charitable to smaller players, but only if you display remarkable quickness, fearlessness under pressure and projectable scoring ability that could beat NHL goaltenders one day. I’ll almost always prioritize players who get everything but the scoring right over players who can score, but have trouble driving results elsewhere. My focus is always on what a player could be with the talent presented, even if in short spurts, and I’ll always bet on quick, creative players that drive play with pace and skill at all positions, with a bonus being the fun factor of the player’s game.
With all that out of the way, enjoy the list and please let me know what you think!
Tier 1 - Yeah I'm Doing This, Fight Me.
Tier 2 - High End Wild Cards
Tier 3 - The Fun Guys
Tier 4 - Potentials and Projectables
Tier 5 - A Big Giant Mess of Curious Cases
Tier 6 - The Fun Longshots
Tier 7 - The "I'm Not Sure" Tier
That's all folks! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season. I think this year's class is a little underwhelming, but there's very interesting and exciting depth to be had. As always, there are guys around the world I've just enjoyed watching, regardless of NHL upside, which is often where a lot of the joy of this work comes from for me. It's just a bunch of gifted kids chasing their dreams, and I have the utmost respect for them. I don't expect another ranking until March, but expect a World Junior recap post in January, along with further McKeens Video team work now that the 2022 Draft is creeping up to us!
Be safe and be well.
It's the greatest season of all! Happy Holidays everyone and I hope you're all well. If you've read these in prior years and just want access to the data sheet, say no more and click here!
The 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship is upon us, and I think we're looking at one of the closer and more exciting tournament in the last couple years. While I believe there are medal favorites, some teams are bringing strong goaltending , some are loaded with young firepower, some are relying on strong defense, but many teams bring individuals who can help you win a tournament where a single line can land you in the medal rounds. COVID-19 prevented the promotion and relegation from last year, which unfortunately kept a relatively talented Belarusian group out of this tournament, and left in some teams that are likely to be back in Division 1A next year in Germany and Austria, but in any case, this tournament could turn out to be one of the closer installments we've seen recently.
Before getting into the team-by-team previews, I'd like to just clarify what the metrics you're looking at are and what their caveats are. INV% is simply the average percentage of goals the team scores where the player has a point. Typically 20-25% is a great measure for defenders, and over 30% is quite notable for forwards. NHLeS is a metric I developed to age, league and position adjust a player's production and INV% to illustrate their general value. 20+ is historically 1st round production, but this metric can be a bit misleading in men's league hockey in Europe, as ice time can affect the likelihood of production, and many skilled players are held back from scoring situations more than higher end players in those leagues. It's a nice catch-all, but it does not illustrate "who is better than whom".
In any case, onto the team previews, starting with the team I believe is likeliest to be demoted to Division 1A, ending with my gold medal pick.
Stay safe, enjoy the holidays, get vaccinated, and thank you so much for reading!
10. Austria - 6.00 AvgNHLeS