The NHL entry draft is upon us. Ruminations abound, as teams seek to replace players lost to Las Vegas the expansion draft as well as stockpile talent for the future. What follows in this article is a comparison of players available in the expansion draft, but with a twist; we rank them on possible Advanced Bracton (AB) scores. This was a monumental task since data we use to compile our metric are not readily available in the minor leagues. Instead, we compared the performance of this year’s draft hopefuls with the minor league statistics of current NHL players (irrespective of style or prototype). We than extrapolated a projected AB for each of what we think may be the top ten picks of the entry draft, by position, according to data we uncovered over the past seven years. That said, the Devils are on the clock……
- New Jersey Devils= Nico Hischier (Center) Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
This is our answer to the big Nico vs Nolan debate. Hischier is an 18 year old, 6ft tall, 174 pound Center. In 57 games Nico scored 38 goals and registered 48 assists for a total of 86 points. He was +20 and served 24 penalty minutes the entire year. On average, Nico scored about 1.5 points per game. Nico’s closest NHL comparable was St Louis’ Robbie Fabbri. Fabbri played 58 minor league games before his first NHL season and scored 45 goals and registered 42 assists for a total of 87 points. Fabbri was -2 and served 25 penalty minutes all season. Fabbri’s AB score in his rookie year was a positive 7.01. This is outstanding, and is his propensity for mistake minimization makes him our number one pick.
- Philadelphia Flyers= Nolan Patrick (Center) Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
A key reason why Nolan is #2 on our board is that he may be injury prone. When he was healthy, he played 33 games where he scored 20 goals and registered 26 assists (46 points). He was +9 and served 36 penalty minutes all year. Since Nolan had an abbreviated season, a similar stat line was challenging to find. However, if we project a full season with roughly double the point production, his closest match was Colorado’ Nathan Mackinnon. Mackinnon played 44 games in which he scored 32 goals and registered 43 assists (75 points). Mackinnon was +20 and served 26 penalty minutes prior to being picked by Colorado. Mackinnon’s AB score to his rookie year was a positive 6.25.
- Dallas Stars = Cale Makar (Defenseman) Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
In Makar, Dallas may obtain a solid, young, right shot Defenseman to play alongside Dan Hamhuis next year (assuming Hamhuis does not get selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. In 54 games played, Makar scored 24 goals and registered 51 assists (75 points). Makar was an even +/- and served 18 penalty minutes. Makar’s closest match we believe is Arizona’s Anthony DeAngelo. In his draft year, DeAngelo played 51 games where he scored 15 goals and registered 56 assists (71 points). He was -34 however and served 90 penalty minutes all year. Obviously the difference between Makar and DeAngelo is immense when it comes to PIM and +/-. Even though Makar and DeAngelo have similar point lines however, Makar also ranks more favorably than did Victor Hedman, Aaron Ekblad, and Oliver Ekman-Larson at the same point in their respective careers. His AB score may even be positive in his rookie season. Note – it is our assertion that general management league-wide generally does not value top flite defensemen nearly enough give the dearth of players at this position who are proficient at both generating offense and minimizing mistakes on the back end. Makar seems to be one of those players. If we were the Devils, with one of the worst D corps in the league, we would be tempted to forego Nico and Nolan to draft Cale. But that’s us.
- Colorado Avalanche= Miro Heiskanen (Defenseman) HIFK Helsinki (SM Liiga)
Colorado recently bought out defenseman Francois Beauchemin and are in desperate need for a positive AB defenseman. Like NJ, Colorado arguably has the worst defensive core in the league in terms of AB with Tyson Barrie (-7.82), Erik Johnson (-0.83), Nikita Zadorov (-10.37), Fedor Tyutin (-8.24), and Eric Gelinas (-8.10). This season Heiskanen played 37 games in which he scored 5 goals and registered 5 assists (10 points). He was -1 and served 4 penalty minutes in what amounts to half an NHL season. Heiskanen’s closest match was Toronto’s Morgan Reilly. In his draft year, Reilly got injured but he played in 18 games in which he scored 3 goals and registered 15 assists (18 points). He was +6 and served 2 penalty minutes that season. If you double Reilly’s stat line. The two are nearly identical in a few categories. Reilly would have played 36 games (one less) in which he scored 6 goals (one more) and registered 30 assists for 36 points. He would have been +12 and served 4 penalty minutes (same). Reilly’s AB score closest to his rookie season was a -3.54. Heiskanen although he might turn out negative is still a major improvement over what they have now therefore making it a good pick.
- Vancouver Canucks= Gabriel Vilardi (Center) Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Vancouver could use an upgrade at center and therefore need to pick an NHL-ready player. In some mock drafts, Vilardi is projected to go as high as 3. This season, but we see him at 5. Vilardi played 49 games in which he scored 29 goals and registered 32 assists for 61 points. He was +13 and served 12 penalty minutes the entire season. Vilardi’s closest match was Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. In his draft year Scheifele played 47 games (2 less) in which he scored 23 goals (6 less) and registered 40 assists (8 more) for 63 points (2 more). He was +21 (8 more) and served 36 penalty minutes all season. Scheifele’s AB score closest to his rookie year was a positive 8.08. Vancouver should pounce if he does fall to 5.
- Las Vegas Golden Knights= Cody Glass (Center) Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Note – we love when one of the Winterhawks goes high in the NHL draft! Glass is a 6ft 179 pound center who had a monster season in the WHL this year playing in 69 games in which he scored 32 goals and registered 62 assists (94 points). He was a mammoth +31 but served 36 penalty minutes this season. Glass’ closest match was Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who was a first overall pick). In his draft year RNH played the same amount of games (69) as Glass, scored 31 goals (1 less), and registered 75 assists (13 more) for 106 points (12 more). RNH was +29 (2 less) and served 51 penalty minutes. RNH is a solid second line center in the NHL right now, however at the time he came into the NHL without a real veteran to mentor him at his position. RNH’s AB score closest to his rookie year was a -0.71. That would be excellent for Las Vegas, since we surmise that they potentially could make the playoffs in their inaugural season if they pick the players we outlined in our prior article covering the team.
- New York Rangers= Casey Mittlestadt (Center) Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)Owen Tippett (RW) Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Mittlestadt apparently struggled at the NHL workout combine which may be why many pundits feel he should fall to the 7th selection. He played 24 games this season in which he scored 13 goals and registered 17 assists for 30 points. He was +3 and served 2 penalty minutes the whole season. If you double Mittlestadt’s stat line, his closest match was the Islanders’ Matt Barazal. Barazal played 44 games in which he scored 12 goals, registered 45 assists for a total of 57 points. He was +3 and served 20 penalty minutes the whole season. Barazal’s AB score for his rookie year was a +1.94.
- Buffalo Sabres= Owen Tippett (RW) Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Buffalo could use a right wing and Owen Tippet may be their man. He played 60 games this year in which he scored 44 goals and registered 51 assists for 95 points. He was +24 and served 36 penalty minutes this season. Tippett’s closest match was Detroit’s Anthony Mantha. In his draft year, Mantha played 67 games in which he scored 50 goals and registered 39 assists for 89 points. He was +21 and served 71 penalty minutes that season. Mantha’s AB score closest to his rookie year was a positive 2.88.
- Detroit Red Wings= Nick Suzuki (Center) Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Suzuki had monster year this year in the OHL. He played 65 games in which he scored 45 goals 51 assists for a total of 96 points. He was a ginormous +51 (!!) and served 10 penalty minutes. His stat line resembles that of last year’s first overall pick Auston Matthews. If you double Matthews’s stat line it comes out to 72 games in which he scored 48 goals and registered 44 assists for a total of 92 points. Matthews would have been +32 and would have served 12 penalty minutes the whole season. Matthews’s AB score in his rookie year was a +4.89. As is so often the case, and as we opined in a past article, will the real Detroit Red Wings please stand up……you know, the team that gets guys like Suzuki and not the one that leaves Darren Helm unprotected in the expansion draft……
- Florida Panthers= Michael Rasmussen (Center) Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Rasmussen is an 18 year old, 6ft tall, 215 pound center. He played 50 games this season in which he scored 32 goals and registered 23 assists for a total of 55 points. He was a -13 and served 50 penalty minutes all season. His closest match was Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons. In his draft year, Girgensons played in 49 games in which he scored 24 goals and registered 31 assists for a total of 55 points. He was a +17 and served 69 penalty minutes all season. Obviously there is a significant difference in +/-, however the two players are similar in size and weight. Girgensons is also 6ft tall and weighs 203 pounds. Girgensons AB score in his rookie year was +5.62, which is top decile league-wide.