If the Oilers do indeed end up with the second overall pick at this year’s draft, and want to land defenseman Ryan Murray, they may be well-advised not to trade down. The NHL’s Central Scouting Service released their final list this morning, and it came with a bit of a surprise: Ryan Murray has leapfrogged Mikhail Grigorenko into the second overall position.
Central Scouting doesn’t provide a unified list; rather, they have four separate ones: North American skaters and goalies, and European skaters and goalies. Here are links to the lists:
Realistically, the Oilers’ selection is going to come off one of the top two lists, and unless they have a real affinity for Filip Forsberg, it’s probably going to be made off the top one.
While Murray’s ascendance over Grigorenko is interesting – and will probably help shield the Oilers from the ‘they didn’t take the best player available’ charge if they land Murray at Number Two, simply because Central says something doesn’t make it so.
Most scouting services have Murray and Dumba vying for the title of top defenseman. Central does not – in fact, they rank Dumba as the seventh-best North American defender, behind Murray, Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Olli Maatta, Jacob Trouba and Griffin Reinhart.
If that lineup sounds at odds with what we’ve been hearing from various hockey insiders, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Central’s final rankings don’t typically reflect the final rankings of NHL teams.
There’s a line in Gare Joyce’s book Future Greats and Heartbreaks that explains why. I can’t find it at the moment but the gist is basically this: NHL teams look at Central’s preliminary lists when they’re deciding who to go and look at. They look at the mid-term lists to see if there’s somebody they’ve missed or who Central has ranked far differently; then maybe they go back and take another look. By the time the final rankings come out, teams have firm opinions of these players, and those opinions typically differ from Central’s.
It also shouldn’t be a surprise that NHL teams typically do a better job ranking players at the draft than Central does in their rankings. These are 30 highly competitive, typically well-funded scouting services, each going head-to-head and under intense pressure to identify the best players. Central has less manpower, less funding, and one voice. All else being equal, one head scout simply isn’t a match for 30 head scouts.