Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 Draft Preview - Fishing Holes

Another day, another occasion to give thanks to Kent over at Five Hole Fanatics. This is from Kent's recent article on draft strategy:

"This may be why clubs develop what I call "fishing holes", by which I mean they concentrate their scouting in certain amateur/developmental leagues (for the Flames, it's the WHL/CHL) - they can become familiar with the relative degree and value of the competition and therefore can more capably gauge a prospects level of performance."
I found this idea intriguing and so I decided to look at the NHL draft for all thirty teams over the last five years (2004-2008). What teams have "fishing holes" and where are they located? If there is an overemphasis on one area, then another is getting neglected. Which areas are teams neglecting relative to their peers? In order to answer this question I calculated the percentage of players taken from various leagues over the last five years and then compared that to the draft record of each individual team. Here are the percentages for the league as a whole (I only included areas that had at least 0.5% of all players drafted. The others will be mentioned later on):

The next several charts are for the individual teams. I've included the raw numbers instead of percentages to give people a sense of just how many players are being drafted from any given area (i.e. I find "3" easier to understand than "8.36%"). I also decided to colour code the chart to make it easier to see whether a team is varying from the norm. I used red for "cold spots" and red for "hot spots." If the individual team is less than 2% of what the league as a whole is doing the space is left unshaded. So, for example, if 14.49% to 18.47% of a team's draft picks came from the OHL the space would be unshaded. If the individual team varies from the league percentage by between 2% and 5% then the square is shaded blue if that league is underrepresented and red if that league is overrepresented. So, for example, if 11.49% to 14.48% of a team's picks came from the OHL the space would be shaded blue and if 18.48% to 21.47% of a team's picks came from the OHL the space would be shaded red. If the individual team varies from the league percentage by between 5% and 10% the shading is darker. It the individual team varies from the league percentage by 10% or more then the shading is darker still. Here are the results:


There were a few teams who took players from other leagues. Chicago and Vancouver each took one player from the SJHL while Washington took two. Columbus took one player from the MJHL. Colorado drafted one player out of Norway. Dallas, Detroit and Montreal drafted one player each out of Belarus. Los Angeles took one player from Japan and another from a Quebec junior B league. Phoenix took one player from the MJAHL. And then there's Ottawa... they took one player from the BCJL, one from a Canadian High School, one from Denmark and one from Latvia.
I suppose this is turning into more of a data dump than anything... so let's keep the party going! Here is a quick synopsis of each team's favourite and least favourite "fishing holes":

A few notes:
1. The most divisive leagues are the OHL (17 teams vary 5% or more) and the QMJHL (16 teams). The next closest are the WHL (10 teams) and Russia (10 teams).

2. Don Cherry would have a pretty awesome rant about the Maple Leafs drafting fewer players from the OHL than every team in the league except Vancouver over the last five years. They've drafted as many Germans as they have Ontarians. The Flames have the opposite tactic drafting over 42% of their players from the WHL. That's the largest amount for any team.

3. In the department of things that were already obvious, Detroit loves Sweden. Over 31% of their picks come from Sweden... 0% from Finland.

4. The Dallas Stars must feel like Junior B is an untapped resource because they draft a lot of players out of many different Junior B leagues. The San Jose Sharks seem to look at various US junior leagues and high schools as an underdrafted market.

5. The Ottawa Senators are the only team that are underrepresented in all three Canadian Major Junior Leagues and instead favour Russia, the USHL, and markets where, literally, no one else is looking. Their drafting strategy really does look wacky.

6. The Oilers don't stray far from any of the league norms. They've taken a couple more Swedes than average but nothing to get too excited about.


Kent W. said...

Well, I see you got my payola check in the mail...

In all seriousness, that was actually just a passing thought I threw into the article at the time. Nice to see it fleshed out with some real data.

YKOil said...

Go back and take a look at the Barry Fraser years (I have the stuff at my site):

USHL, US Colleges and Finland are all over-represented.

Sweden and Russia... like they didn't exist.

Black Dog said...

Scott - great great stuff

Interesting the Oilers and Sweden, I would have never ever have guessed.

Scott said...

Kent, I know it wasn't the main point of what you were gunning at, but I found it really interesting.

YKOil, thanks for the heads up. All of your draft stuff is great, both this year and the historical stuff as well.

I was a bit surprised as well Black Dog. I thought they would be heavy on the Canadian leagues. The other thing is that with some of this it's probably just chance. The Oilers don't have any extreme outliers and there's bound to be something above or below average so for us it's Sweden. In the more extreme cases I'm more convinced that there's some real team strategy being evidenced.

Black Dog said...

yeah YKoil's stuff is the bomb, as the kids say.

Agreed Scott. Its not like they have drafted fifty Swedes, just a handful. I think my surprise is more of a function of the belief that the Oilers' Euro scouting is not so good and the fact that I can't remember the last time a European draft pick made any sort of impact. But things could change - Omark and Motin may pan out. Quist was a throwaway and I don't know the others off the top of my head