Since the creation of the Advanced Bracton score in 2014, and the beginning of our data collection in 2007, one of its biggest flaws was predicting the success of the incoming rookie classes. These players entered the league through various levels of the game, whether it be major junior leagues such as the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL in Canada, National Development programs in the United States, or professional men’s leagues in Sweden, Russia, Germany, or Finland. We have data on 1,992 NHL individual players since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, and all but 56 of them are included in this study. The purpose of this study was not only to give us a better idea as to where these 1,992 players played prior to the NHL, but to analyze which specific programs produce the most quality players according to our metric. Throughout the article you will get an explanation of the process we undertook to produce this end result, information on the methodology behind the study, as well as a detailed Top 25 list of programs outside the NHL who scored the highest in our system.
Before we list the Top 25, we must first detail the process and rules determining how the end result came to be. We had to go through the list of 1,992 individual players and determine where each of them played their pre-NHL hockey (shoutout HockeyDB for the reference). This was more difficult than it may seem, as some players spent time with multiple programs. In these instances, we first looked at the amount of games played for each team, and then examined whether the time spent with a certain program was in close proximity to the player’s eventual NHL season. We made the determination based off of that criteria. In order to be included, each program needed at least two players, and there were 56 programs registering a single player. We anticipate this addition to our collection of resources will continue to grow over time, and we will make the necessary adjustments to it as more players enter the league, or we find more data from before 2007. If players from one of those 56 teams are drafted in the future, we will add it to the database. For now however, 169 teams qualified to be in this study. However, the last major condition of inclusion was that the players in this study must have been drafted in 2007 or made his NHL debut during the 2007-08 season. Players such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Alex Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby, are not included despite the fact we have over half or the majority of their career data. Naturally, this hurts some program’s standings in our rankings (obviously the Rimouski Oceanic would’ve been higher had Crosby’s numbers actually counted). However, we tried to be fair in our point system for players of this condition.
Now let us explain the methodology behind the overall team score. Teams were evaluated on how many of the 1,992 players were developed by their program according to the criteria in the previous paragraph, what their rookie season AB score was, and whether or not those players are actually career-positive AB players currently. For the players such as Thornton, Marleau, Ovechkin, and Crosby like we mentioned above, we gave each team a point for having produced an NHL caliber player and negated their career AB and 1st year AB in the overall calculation. We thought this would be the fairest way to do it, as the data from the player’s rookie year was unavailable and we lacked all of the proper information. The point system we used to evaluate these programs is a new metric we created called the Sum of Ranges. In order to accurately count the number of players who were developed by a certain program, we used the Count If function in excel, and created frequency distribution charts for all 169 teams. We then assigned a point value to the following ranges. If a player scored a -1 AB score as a rookie or lower, we would assign a value of 0. If a player scored within the range of -1 to 0, we would assign a value of 1. If a player scored within the range of 0 to 2, we would assign a value of 2. If a player scored within the range of 2 to 4, we would assign a value of 3. If a player scored within the range of 4 to 8, we would assign a value of 4. If a player registered a score above +8, we would assign a value of 5. We did this to determine which of the players a program produced had effective starts to their NHL careers, and whether or not said program adequately prepared the player for NHL play. Lastly, we would combine the overall Career AB numbers from each of the players into one sum, and subtract that number from the sum of the total players produced by the program and the sum of ranges (Formula= (Sum of Ranges+ Total players)-career AB). It is also worth noting that if an AB score happened to fall exactly on the edge of one of these ranges, we factored it into the higher of the ranges. For example, Max Jones of the London Knights registered an even 0 AB score during his rookie season in 2018-19, and we gave the Knights 2 points as opposed to 1. In total, there were 11 total players that were eligible for this distinction. Lastly, for our reference, we also included the average rookie AB score of each program. It was not factored into the overall equation.
It is also important to note that there were various teams across the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL that rebranded or relocated to different markets, as well as some expansion franchises. The teams included in this study are representative of the league’s landscapes in today’s world, with players on older franchise’s team being included with the modern ones. For example, players from the Niagara Falls Thunder were factored into the Erie Otters’ overall calculation, and players of the Owen Sound Platers were factored into the Owen Sound Attack’s overall calculation. It would be as if we factored Atlanta Thrashers team history into an overall calculation of the Winnipeg Jets. They’re still the same organization just under a different city, name, and re-brand. To give an example of one of these players, Matt Stajan played for the Belleville Bulls from 2001-2003. The Bulls later moved to Hamilton and became the Hamilton Bulldogs. Often times, these specific players, such as Stajan, played NHL seasons dating prior to 2007, which caused their AB numbers and range number to be omitted. In total, there were 27 programs who have combined scores of organization’s pasts.
With all the necessary background information finally out of the way, we can move on to the actual rankings, starting with #25, and eventually leading up to #1. Please note that all players listed in Red’s AB numbers are omitted from the final equation and remember that the numbers you do see for these players in red aren’t reflective of their actual NHL rookie season numbers. All players in red count as just one point towards the team’s total amount of players. The numbers at the very bottom of the attached tables show the numbers used to calculate the overall scores.
#25- University of Minnesota, Big-10, Total Score= +30.06
The University of Minnesota produced 30 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 30 players, we have full career data on 21. The Sum of the Ranges for the University of Minnesota was 31. They had a +0.14 average rookie AB score, and a combined -30.94 total career AB of their 21 eligible players.
|U. of Minnesota||1st year AB||Career AB|
#24- Spokane Chiefs, WHL, Total Score=+30.07
The Spokane Chiefs produced 13 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 13 players, we have full career data on 8. The Sum of Ranges for the Chiefs was 9. They had a -0.82 average rookie AB score, and a combined +8.07 career AB score of their 8 eligible players.
|Spokane Chiefs||1st year AB||Career AB|
#23- Vancouver Giants, WHL, Total Score=+31.78
The Vancouver Giants produced 17 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 17 players, we have full career data on 15. The Sum of Ranges for the Giants was 26. They had a +0.27 average rookie AB score, and a combined -11.22 career AB score of their 15 eligible players.
|Vancouver Giants||1st year AB||Career AB|
#22- Brynas IF Gavle, SHL, Total Score=+31.9
The Brynas IF Gavle hockey club produced 10 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 10 players, we have full career data on 8. The Sum of Ranges for the Brynas IF Gavle was 16. They had an average rookie AB score of +0.81, and a combined +5.87 Career AB of their 8 eligible players.
|Brynas IF Gavle||1st year AB||Career AB|
#21- Miami University (Ohio), NCHC, Total Score=+33.06
The University of Miami (Ohio) produced 14 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 14 players, we have full career data on 10. The Sum of Ranges for Miami (Ohio) was 17. They had an average rookie AB score of -0.24, and a combined +2.06 Career AB of their 10 eligible players.
|Miami University (Ohio)||1st year AB||Career AB|
#20-U-Mass-Amherst, H-East, Total Score=+33.60
The University of Massachusetts (Amherst) produced 11 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 11 players, we have full career data on 9. The Sum of Ranges for U-Mass Amherst was 16. They had an average rookie AB score of +0.82, and a combined +6.60 Career AB of their 9 eligible players.
|Umass-Amherst||1st year AB||Career AB|
#19- Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL, Total Score= +33.90
The Brandon Wheat Kings produced 20 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 20 players, we have full career data on 14. The Sum of Ranges for the Wheat Kings was 20. They had an average rookie AB score of -0.97, and a combined -6.10 Career AB of their 14 eligible players.
|Brandon Wheat Kings||1st Yr AB||Career AB|
#18- Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL, Total Score=+34.22
The Halifax Mooseheads produced 17 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 17 players, we have full career data on 11. The Sum of Ranges for the Mooseheads was 24. They had an average rookie AB score of +1.49, and a combined -6.78 Career AB of their 11 eligible players.
|Halifax Mooseheads||1st year AB||Career AB|
#17-Djugardens IF Stockholm, SHL, Total Score=+34.4
The Djugardens IF Stockholm hockey club produced 16 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 16 players, we have full career data on 9. The Sum of Ranges for the Djugardens IF Stockholm club was 21. They had an average rookie AB score of +1.44, and a combined -2.60 Career AB of their 9 eligible players.
|Djugardens IF Stockholm||1st year AB||Career AB|
#16- U.S. National Development, USA Hockey, Total Score=+35.35
The United States National Development hockey team produced 15 players in our database since 2007-08, and we have full career data on all 15. The Sum of Ranges for the U.S. National Development team was 24. They had an average rookie AB score of -0.69, and a combined -3.65 Career AB of their 15 eligible players.
|U.S. National Development||1st year AB||Career AB|
#15- Ottawa 67’s, OHL, Total Score= +36.04
The Ottawa 67’s produced 23 players in our database since 2007-08, and of those 23 players, we have full career data on 12. The Sum of Ranges for the Ottawa 67’s team was 15. They had an average rookie AB score of -1.13 and a combined -1.96 Career AB of their 12 eligible players.
|Ottawa 67’s||1st year AB||Career AB|
14- U. of Minnesota-Duluth, NCHC, Total Score=+36.68
The University of Minnesota-Duluth produced 15 players in our database since 2007-08, and we have full career data on all 15. The Sum of Ranges for Minnesota-Duluth was 25. They had an average rookie AB score of +0.32 and a combined -3.32 Career AB of their 15 eligible players.
|U. of Minnesota-Duluth||1st year AB||Career AB|
#13- Portland Winterhawks, WHL, Total Score=+37.97
The Portland Winterhawks produced 35 players in our database since 2007-08 (4th most in the study), and of those 35 players, we have full career data on 22. The Sum of Ranges for the Winterhawks was 31. They had an average rookie AB score of -1.21 and a combined -28.03 Career AB of their 22 eligible players.
|Portland Winterhawks||1st year AB||Career AB|
#12- Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL, Total Score=+41.22
The Medicine Hat Tigers produced 20 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 20 players, we have full career data on 10. The Sum of Ranges for the Tigers was 18. They had an average rookie AB score of +1.63 and a combined +3.22 Career AB of their 10 eligible players.
|Medicine Hat Tigers||1st year AB||Career AB|
#11- Harvard University, ECAC, Total Score=+41.86
The Harvard University hockey program produced 15 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 15 players, we have full career data on 11. The Sum of Ranges for Harvard was 17. They had an average rookie AB score of -0.48 and a combined +9.86 Career AB (4th highest in study) of their 11 eligible players.
|Harvard University||1st year AB||Career AB|
#10- Skelleftea AIK, SHL, Total Score=+42.81
The Skelleftea AIK hockey club produced 16 players in our database since 2007-08 and we have full career data for all 16. The Sum of Ranges for Skelleftea was 22. They had an average rookie AB score of -0.16 and a combined +4.81 Career AB of their 16 eligible players.
|Skelleftea AIK||1st year AB||Career AB|
#9- University of Notre Dame, Big-10, Total Score=+46.19
The University of Notre Dame produced 18 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 18 players, we have full career data on 15. The Sum of Ranges for Notre Dame was 25. They had an average rookie AB score of +0.79 and a combined +3.19 Career AB of their 15 eligible players.
|Notre Dame||1st year AB||Career AB|
#8- Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL, Total Score=+46.61
The Gatineau Olympiques produced 14 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 14 players, we have full career data on 8. The Sum of Ranges for the Olympiques was 17. They had an average rookie AB score of +2.15 (3rd highest in study of teams with 10+ players) and a combined +15.61 Career AB of their 14 eligible players (1st in entire study).
|Gatineau Olympiques||1st year AB||Career AB|
#7- U. of Michigan, Big-10, Total Score=+59.37
The University of Michigan produced 38 players in our database since 2007-08 (2nd most in study behind London Knights) and of those 38 players, we have full career data on 26. The Sum of Ranges for the University of Michigan was 48 (2nd best in the study behind Barrie Colts). They had an average rookie AB score of +0.37 and a combined -26.63 Career AB of their 26 eligible players.
|U. of Michigan||1st year AB||Career AB|
|Mike Van Ryn||-8.18||-7.01|
|Phil Di Giuseppe||-1.6||-3.01|
#6- London Knights, OHL, Total Score=+59.42
The London Knights produced 40 players in our database since 2007-08 (most in study) and of those 40 players, we have full career data on 27. The Sum of Ranges for the Knights was 38 (tied for 6th in study with Kitchener Rangers). They had an average rookie AB score of -0.98 and a combined -18.58 Career AB of their 27 eligible players.
|London Knights||1st year AB||Career AB|
#5 Barrie Colts, OHL, Total Score=+60.89
The Barrie Colts produced 20 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 20 players, we have full career data on 18. The Sum of Ranges for the Colts was 49 (1st in entire study). They had an average rookie AB score of +2.72 (1st in study of teams with 10+ players) and a combined -8.11 Career AB of their 18 eligible players.
|Barrie Colts||1st year AB||Career AB|
#4- Boston College, H-East, Total Score=+64.11
The Boston College Hockey Program produced 33 players in our database since 2007-08 (tied for 6th best in study with U. of Wisconsin) and of those 33 players, we have full career data on 20. The Sum of Ranges for Boston College was 40 (4th best in study). They had an average rookie AB score of +0.49 and a combined -8.89 Career AB of their 20 eligible players.
|Boston College||1st Yr AB||Career AB|
#3- Windsor Spitfires, OHL, Total Score=+66.01
The Windsor Spitfires produced 24 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 24 players, we have full career data on 17. The Sum of Ranges for the Spitfires was 35 (8th highest in study). They had an average rookie AB score of +0.58 and a combined +7.01 Career AB (8th highest in study) of their 17 eligible players.
|Windsor Spitfires||1st year AB||Career AB|
#2- U. of Wisconsin, Big-10, Total Score=+68.58
The University of Wisconsin produced 33 players in our database since 2007-08 (Tied for 6th most in study with Boston College) and of those 33 players, we have full career data on 22. The Sum of Ranges for Wisconsin was 39 (Tied for 4th highest in study with Erie Otters). They had an average rookie AB score of +0.06 and a combined -3.42 Career AB of their 22 eligible players.
|U. of Wisconsin||1st year AB||Career AB|
#1- Erie Otters, OHL, Total Score=+73.45
The Erie Otters hockey program produced 28 players in our database since 2007-08 and of those 28 players, we have full career data on 16. The Sum of Ranges for the Otters was 39 (Tied for 4th highest in study with U. of Wisconsin). They had an average rookie AB score of +2.12 (4th highest in study of teams with 10+ players) and a combined +6.45 Career AB (5th best in study of teams with 10+ players) of their 16 eligible players.
|Erie Otters||1st year AB||Career AB|
|Greg de Vries||1.31||-4.90|
After working relentlessly for two weeks to produce these rankings, we are not very surprised by these results. One of the main purposes of the AB metric in general is to measure intelligence, and to find out that 36% of our Top 25 were college teams made sense. Harvard, Wisconsin, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Amherst are considered to be some of the most elite schools in America, and our findings confirm that. Granted, college hockey competition may not be as fierce as junior and pro leagues across the world, however the star players showed their greatness and it reflected long term into this study. It was also very interesting to see that the OHL and WHL were both equally represented in our Top 25 (five teams each), and to see that the QMJHL may be the weakest of the three CHL leagues when it comes to our metric. We can also infer, based on these results, that the most competitive leagues outside of North America are domiciled in Sweden, as three Swedish teams cracked our Top 25. This data is going to be used for so many future projects pertaining to how rookies perform in their debut seasons, as well as determining draft winners/losers on this website for years to come. Thank you so much for reading if you made it this far and stay tuned for much more to come.