Scouching's 2022 Prospect Pyramids
Hello once again and welcome to another season of NHL Draft analysis here at Scouching. If you aren’t familiar, last season I stole an idea from Steve Dangle who organizes the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects into a pyramid every year. I find it an elegant solution to the uncertainty in this work, considering the ups and downs that occur in a young athletes career. I extended this practice to every team in the league beginning last year and after some creative and COVID-related delays, this years update is finally here!
It is helpful to understand how I’ve organized these names to avoid screaming matches. The NHL is a tough league and it requires extreme levels of talent to consistently drive good possession results at 5v5 year over year. As such, I set my expectations relatively low and on the reserved side and hope the players surpass those expectations over time as they unseat NHL veteran talent. I’ve split the players into tiers from a Franchise-level talent (think McDavid, Matthew’s, Crosby, etc.) to a tie for players where I’d be surprised if they ever saw NHL minutes. A Core-level player is an important player on your roster that you’d really not want to trade unless you really had to. Ryan O’Reilly or Dylan Larkin come to mind immediately. You’d want a lot for them but in the right circumstances It could be possible. Depth to me is hugely nebulous. Day in and day out reliable players that may not lead your team in scoring, but certainly help out. There are a lot more of these in the NHL than core and franchise players, and this is reflected in my pyramids. A Maybe is either a high upside longshot with flaws, or a player with a decent floor without high upside traits that I maybe could see filling into NHL games. Maybe they play every game for years under a certain system and can’t get into the league under another. The Maybes are potential depth filler players or untested high upside players around the world I’ve liked. All good? Hopefully that clears things up a bit better.
One last definition I need to get out of the way is what I mean by “prospect”. Anyone beyond 5 years of their first year of draft eligibility is excluded, so this year the cutoff is the 2018 Draft and later. If a player has played 41 NHL games or passed Calder Trophy eligibility, they are also excluded. Looking at you, Matt Boldy, even if it pains me to leave him out. These pyramids were also locked in preseason as a principle of mine, and some players are likely to shift a bit over the course of this year, especially the "maybes" who have found themselves in depth roles.
I hope you enjoy this year’s update. It’s a lot of work making sure everyone is up to date and I still make mistakes but it’s fascinating to see the landscape change over the years with how teams seem to strategize and adapt to new groups of players. Please feel free to leave a comment, or zip into my Twitter DM’s for questions! We’ve also got a new newsletter over at Substack which you can subscribe to if you’re so inclined. If you’d like to directly support my work, check out what’s offered over at my Patreon!
Top Prospect: Mason McTavish