My 2009 NHL Draft List: Ranking the Top 50 CHL Forwards

Jonathan Willis
June 23 2009 11:17PM

tavares

I’ve now run the math (percentage of total team offense) against NHL scouts over the course of three drafts. The math isn’t perfect, but it clearly beat the NHL scouts two times out of three and tied them in the third instance; something which is clearly ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer in the value and practicality of statistics. What I do find ridiculous is that looking back at first round picks from 1998 to 2000, I can do a better job with my calculator drafting forwards out of Canadian junior than those scouts can. I mean, heck, I’m just using point totals, with no context whatsoever; that’s flat-out scary (although not quite as scary as Barry Fraser’s draft record).

With that in mind, I’ve decided to rank CHL forwards. I’ve extensively drawn on their percentage of total team offense in using these rankings; I’ve made minor adjustments for scouting reports, injuries and player size, but that’s it. Here then are my rankings (percentage of total team offense and league played in listed in brackets):

  1. John Tavares (OHL, 52.0%)
  2. Matt Duchene (OHL, 35.7%)
  3. Evander Kane (WHL, 35.5%)
  4. Brayden Schenn (WHL, 30.7%)
  5. Scott Glennie (WHL, 31.1%)
  6. Zack Kassian (OHL, 33.4%)
  7. Alex Hutchings (OHL, 34.3%)
  8. Ethan Werek (OHL, 33.0%)
  9. Landon Ferraro (WHL, 33.9%)
  10. Ryan Howse (WHL, 33.7%)
  11. Nazem Kadri (OHL, 33.0%)
  12. Jordan Caron (QMJHL, 30.5%)
  13. Benjamin Casavant (QMJHL, 34.9%)
  14. Ryan O’Reilly (OHL, 28.3%)
  15. Kellen Tochkin (WHL, 37.2%)
  16. Peter Holland (OHL, 29.6%)
  17. Cassidy Mappin (WHL, 29.2%)
  18. Gabriel Bourque (QMJHL, 33.6%)
  19. Byron Froese (WHL, 28.6%)
  20. Taylor Beck (OHL, 26.0%)
  21. Tomas Vincour (WHL, 27.7%)
  22. Linden Vey (WHL, 28.5%)
  23. Andrej Nestrasil (QMJHL, 26.8%)
  24. Michal Hlinka (QMJHL, 26.2%)
  25. Michael Latta (OHL, 25.8%)
  26. Guillaume Goulet (QMJHL, 33.5%)
  27. Michael Fine (OHL, 25.2%)
  28. Carter Ashton (WHL, 22.7%)
  29. Justin Dowling (WHL, 25.9%)
  30. Jeremy Boyer (WHL, 25.6%)
  31. Cody Eakin (WHL, 24.8%)
  32. Darren Archibald (OHL, 22.9%)
  33. Levko Koper (WHL, 24.5%)
  34. Willie Coetzee (WHL, 24.4%)
  35. Philippe Paradis (QMJHL, 16.7%)
  36. Jimmy Bubnick (WHL, 23.6%)
  37. Steven Anthony (QMJHL, 21.9%)
  38. Garrett Wilson (OHL, 19.9%)
  39. Philip Varone (OHL, 21.2%)
  40. Burke Gallimore (WHL, 19.0%)
  41. Jordan Mayer (OHL, 19.2%)
  42. David Gilbert (QMJHL, 15.5%)
  43. Stepan Novotny (WHL, 17.0%)
  44. Gabriel Dumont (QMJHL, 18.9%)
  45. Jonathan Lessard (QMJHL, 16.0%)
  46. Kristopher Foucault (WHL, 15.9%)
  47. Philippe Lefebvre (QMJHL, 13.9%)
  48. Jordan Szwarz (OHL, 16.6%)
  49. Casey Cizikas (OHL, 19.4%)
  50. Matthew Tipoff (OHL, 15.5%)

This is going to be an odd list, likely unique; unfortunately, we won’t know for five years or so how well it does. A lot of guys are close, and there are just a few things I want to touch on:

I don’t understand the love for Peter Holland. Aside from the fact that he didn’t light the world on fire offensively, his biggest problems are (according to scouting reports) lack of effort and a limited defensive game.

I understand the love for Carter Ashton even less. He’s got NHL bloodlines, but while he’s big he isn’t overly physical, and is another guy for whom “competitiveness” and defensive play are generally cited as negatives. He’s a big kid, and he’s got a good shot, but I don’t see him as a first-round pick.

Nazem Kadri’s totals are inflated by playing in London. Yes, he had a good playoffs, but he probably shouldn’t be a top-ten pick.

I really like Alex Hutchings; I liked his scouting reports before I saw a scoring number. He’s supposedly a leader, intensely competitive and a clutch player. On top of that, his offensive totals were excellent, and while some projections have him as a third-round player I think he’s probably a top-thirty talent. Here’s a fun quote for those of you who are interested:

The thing I would hate to be called is a soft forward," said Hutchings. "That's something I despise being called. I like to get into the exciting stuff. I like being known as a guy who plays both ends of the ice, go into the corner and take the hit. I'm always willing to battle in the corners. I'll do some things other guys wouldn't do, like take a hit from a 6-4 defenseman and try to get the puck again."

Zack Kassian fairs well by these marks, while Schenn and Glennie don’t look quite so good. All three of those were a big surprise to me, but scouting reports convinced me to slot them where I did.

There are a couple of guys who are likely to be available in the mid-rounds this weekend who I really like – Benjamin Cassavant, a big power forward out of the QMJHL and Kellen Tochkin, a pint-sized WHL scorer. I’m going to follow their careers with interest.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 RossCreek
June 24 2009, 11:21AM
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Jonas Gustavsson to Toronto (e4)

that means its done, right? Just waiting for confirmation from Ludzy lol

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#52 RossCreek
June 24 2009, 11:27AM
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I’m calling: TO DALLAS: 14th pick & rights to Jay Bouwmeester TO FLORIDA: 8th pick

Dallas needs to find a top notch d-man and Joe Nieuwndyk wants to make a splash. He knows Jay and might just figure the only way to ensure the Stars land him is to make a deal for him and talk him into signing in Dallas by June 30th.

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#53 Jonathan Willis
June 24 2009, 12:04PM
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@ Traktor:

Ashton's a very good test case for the usefulness of this measure. I don't like him at all, by either the numbers or the socuting reports. Fact of the matter is that he managed 50 points on a decent team, put up a lousy plus/minus playing what were likely relatively sheltered minutes, and gets knocked by scouts for things like "competitiveness", "desire" and "play in all three zones".

Frankly, I don't think he brings nearly enough offense; he strikes me as a guy who looks like he should be a player but isn't.

Then again, I'm a rank amateur at this, so don't take this opinion too seriously or personally; it's just based on second-hand reports and vague numbers, so it's nothing more or less than an opinion.

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#54 The Menace
June 24 2009, 12:06PM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

Hemmertime wrote: hxxp://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Oilers+serious+contention+Heatley/1727698/story.html Oilers not in serious contention for Heatley according to Matheson. I think we need to up the package or Murray is posturing for better offers. I’m pretty sure Heatly isn’t coming to Edmonton after reading that. He doesn’t want to be here and we don’t have a good enough package that we are willing to dump for him. I thought all this Heatly talk was a waste of time right from the beginning, a pipe dream if you will. This confirms it.

I don't think Matheson's article confirms anything; in negotiations, Tambo isn't going to drop his pants on his first offer, knowing that he's got some time. I'm sure he is feeling out what it's going to take to have an offer taken seriously by Murray. There will be another offer by the Oilers before all is said and done. And I don't know why you think Heatley wouldn't want to be here. It's come out that we aren't on his list of top/preferred cities, but he's also publically stated that he would accept a trade here. He's not the one that makes the final deal.

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#55 roughneck
June 24 2009, 12:08PM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

@ roughneck: The Toronto Makebeliefs win the scowling contest hands down in the NHL, Burke and Wilson should be poster boys for depression.

or at least dickheads and perennial pompous ass award winners

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#56 Fiveandagame
June 24 2009, 12:11PM
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DUDES! Bob Mackenzie is quoting Jonathan Willis!!!!!!

hxxp://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=282744

Jonathan you are officially in the hockey Zietgiest! Well done! I think this deserves a large round of Kudos from us in the OilersNation.

Awesome work dude!

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#57 The Menace
June 24 2009, 12:16PM
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@ Fiveandagame: I think it was Scott Cullen quoting JW, but terrific nevertheless. Nice work Jonathan!

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#58 Archaeologuy
June 24 2009, 12:18PM
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Good Job Willis.

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#59 bingofuel
June 24 2009, 12:22PM
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Well done Willis. Fame and hundreds of wives await you, no doubt!

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#60 Ogden Brother
June 24 2009, 12:24PM
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Fiveandagame wrote:

DUDES! Bob Mackenzie is quoting Jonathan Willis!!!!!! hxxp://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=282744 Jonathan you are officially in the hockey Zietgiest! Well done! I think this deserves a large round of Kudos from us in the OilersNation. Awesome work dude!

Wow, congrats Willis.

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#61 Cam
June 24 2009, 12:44PM
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@ Ogden Brother: It's so awesome to see people outside of Edmonton begin to take notice.

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#62 Jon Kerber
June 24 2009, 12:50PM
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Jonathan Willis:

According to the comments section at LT the Kadri split before and after Tavares is the following:

Prior to Tavares: 29 16-29-45 +13

After Tavares: 27 9-24-33 E

It's worth noting that Kadri broke his jaw right before the WJC so that will also coincide with the timing of this split.

To clarify further, I'm not pro-Kadri. I think there are a lot of holes in his game and he is neither large nor fast.

I just think that he gets a raw deal by this metric unless we look at it separately before and after the arrival of Tavares.

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#63 Word
June 24 2009, 01:04PM
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Here's some important hockey news: Stoll dumped Hunter. No, not Dave - Rachel.

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#64 The Menace
June 24 2009, 01:20PM
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@ Word: That woul free him up to come back to edmonton then?

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#65 Bob Loblaw
June 24 2009, 01:23PM
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Can we get a site like this for the Eskimos too? If we linked the 2 sites then I'd never have to go to another internet site ever again.

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#66 Cam
June 24 2009, 01:23PM
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@ roughneck: I preferred it when Burke was in a market that didn't get much exposure, but since that hot air maker has been in Toronto he is getting entirely too much press and it is making me a little irritated listening to all his bluster being repeated by every website.

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#67 Traktor
June 24 2009, 01:25PM
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Jonathan deserves some recognition so that's nice to see.

Jonathan certainly didn't come up with advanced statistics but he lays it all out in a way that the average fan can read and enjoy the math side of the game and want to learn more. Some other guys I think are a little too arrogant and unwilling to budge on views and that just makes the average fan dislike stats.

I think Willis does a wonderful job of bridging the gap between the two sides.

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#68 Jonathan Willis
June 24 2009, 01:25PM
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@ Jon Kerber:

Thanks, Jon. That's very interesting and you're probably right; particularly since I'd imagine London scored more goals after Tavares came over too. I'm not sure how I missed that over at LT's.

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#69 Jonathan Willis
June 24 2009, 01:27PM
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Thanks all.

I emailed Scott this morning just to toss out the idea of using percentage of total team offense to compare between eras, and he was nice enough to link to me.

As for the hundreds of wives, pass, thanks ;)

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#70 RossCreek
June 24 2009, 01:29PM
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FROM DARREN DREGER’S TWITTER:

on flight bound for Montreal. Sounds like Jacques Lemaire will be an assistant for Canada in 2010.

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#71 Jonathan Willis
June 24 2009, 01:37PM
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@ RossCreek:

Bless Twitter.

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#72 DK0
June 24 2009, 01:39PM
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What's the departure time of the Gregor train to Information Town? He heading out a day early or what? Why can't the draft happen on a work day so I can get nothing done and get paid :D

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#73 Wainwright Dan
June 24 2009, 02:01PM
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Bob Loblaw wrote:

Can we get a site like this for the Eskimos too? If we linked the 2 sites then I’d never have to go to another internet site ever again.

AGREED!

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#74 scorecoff hemmercules
June 24 2009, 02:17PM
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@ The Menace:

I must missed him saying he would accept a trade here. I guess I just don't see it happening, I would be shocked if it did.

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#75 OvenChicken8
June 24 2009, 02:23PM
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DK0 wrote:

What’s the departure time of the Gregor train to Information Town? He heading out a day early or what? Why can’t the draft happen on a work day so I can get nothing done and get paid

If it did I think most employers would get suspicious seeing a bunch of guys get sick on draft day and trade deadline day. Hell just the lack of production overall from the others that couldn't take it off would be overwelming lol.

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#76 The Menace
June 24 2009, 04:25PM
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@ scorecoff hemmercules: Ryan Rishaug told Gregor that on 1260, he did an article about it the next day on tsn.ca and here's a link to the ON blog where it was discussed: oilersnation.com/2009/06/heatley-or-j-bo-the-oilers-cant-have-both/

Maybe he was just making nice, but I will take him at his word.

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