Hello once again! Welcome to the final rankings here at Scouching.ca. It's been a very interesting cohort of athletes to watch for a variety of reasons. While I don't believe the highest of high picks are going to completely transform a team's trajectory, they should be very valuable core members of any NHL team, with some having flashes of potential to be something more in certain areas of the game. While some may take that and label the draft as "weak", one thing I've learned over the years is to think of the draft as analyzing trends in the financial markets. Everything comes down to probability, and like in financial markets, there can be a lot of uncertainty that can affect the future of a security or commodity. In this year's NHL Draft, I think that level of uncertainty begins sooner than a few previous drafts I've analyzed, but there are a solid group of players in my top two rounds that bring potential to bring a positive impact to the NHL with time, patience, development and trust. Some have more to work on with some risk, some are more easier to project into an NHL role down the lineup at worst. Could we look back on this draft and see it as "weak"? I think it's possible, but not at all a certainty. I think certain teams could capitalize on certain inefficiencies that remain in the draft process and get some great value through strong development and accurate evaluation of strengths and weaknesses and this class could start to look a bit deeper than we think. I'd also think that these riskier probabilities stretch higher into the draft than we're used to, and some players drafted quite high may not carry much more if any value than some players cherry-picked at the tail end of the first round or even into the second.
In any case, this has been a very interesting year to add to my own resume of work to reflect on. I'm almost certainly going to be inaccurate when looking back in five years, and it's always important to constantly self-reflect and improve on processes and how to weigh certain areas of what I see on the ice and in the data. My core philosophy hasn't really changed all that much. I don't mind taking on more risk if it means the player in question could bring skills that make them talents you wish you had more of at the NHL level. I will always value players with higher end individual traits that could slot into a clear NHL role with possible success over players that are competent all-around if not exciting. Some may disagree and go for "safety" over risk, but that's the beauty of evaluating talent in a professional sports environment. There are many ways to be successful, it's just a matter of having a strong organizational philosophy that you trust can bring you success over the long term. In terms of the types of players I gravitate to, I've always held that speed, skill, pace and the ability to problem solve and make plays in close quarters are major factors that can make a player impactful at the NHL level. Biometric factors and other intangible factors carry a certain level of weight with me, but I always go back to the end results and the quality of play coming from a player. If the results are great but the players lack that speed, skill, pace and problem solving ability that I look for, that player is devalued, especially if they're undersized on top of it all. If they are struggling to produce those results on the scoresheet but carry those traits, they may be worth nurturing and working with over a long period to try to get that puck to go in the net more often than it does, and in my experience, betting on those traits leads to generally greater success, especially outside of the early rounds of the draft.
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 6 - Potential Guys and Projects
Tier 5 - Role Players and Higher End Projects
Tier 4 - Impressive Auxilliary Pieces
Tier 3 - The Group of Uncertainty
Tier 2 - Big Upside, Big Questions
Tier 1 - I Still Believe in Brad, Dangit... And Shane Wright and Logan Cooley...
And so we've reached the conclusion of my pre-draft coverage here at Scouching for 2022. Thank you so much for all of your time this year. It's an interesting crop of players that I'll be very interested to reflect on in a few years. There's some risk, but upside to be had. There are lots of directions a team could go, but there's good potential with many in this group.
If you'd like a playlist of all of my Scouching Reports over the years, click here.
Be sure to not miss the Scouching Draft-a-Thon on July 8, 2022, starting a half hour before Round 2 begins at a time yet to be confirmed. Set your reminders here!