So Let's Jump to Conclusions - FA Ratings, Draft Ratings, and Who Makes The Playoffs

The off-season is in full swing - the draft has come and gone and the big haul of free agents has been had. What better time to predict who makes the playoffs than right now? I mean, who really cares about training camp, pre-season, injuries, regular season games, etc.? We just care about the Cup Playoffs!

So in the interest of being unbiased, let's base this on how teams improved so far through the free agent frenzy and the draft. Below you will find a compilation of each team being graded by columnist. Those grades are averaged and each average grade is worth a certain number of standings points. The numbers are run a couple of times to give an idea of whether this actually means anything or not.


Position Team Points
1 Boston 117
2 Tampa 101
3 Montreal 100
4 Detroit 93
5 Ottawa 88
6 Toronto 84
7 Florida 66
8 Buffalo 52

2014 Draft Grades

Draft grades have been obtained from the following three sources:

Nate Loop - BR

Chris Roling - BR

Adam Gretz - SBN

Team BR1 Grade BR2 Grade SBN Grade Avg Grade
Boston C+ C B C+
Tampa B B B+ B
Montreal C+ C+ B+ B-
Detroit C C B C+
Ottawa C- C- I C-
Toronto B+ B+ A A-
Florida A- A B+ A-
Buffalo A A+ A A

2014 FA Grades (Articles that could be found through two days and I didn't have to pay for - Screw you ESPN)

Grades obtained from:

NHL Files

Rory Boylen - THN

Team NHL Files THN Avg Grade
Boston D C- D+
Tampa B+ A A-
Montreal B C C+
Detroit D D D
Ottawa F D+ D-
Toronto B- C C+
Florida A B- B
Buffalo A+ A A

So What Does it All Mean??

First, it is good to see consistency across the ratings. It is what us statistic geeks call "inter rater reliability", or, IRR. High IRR basically provides more validity to the average since it implies that the ratings are close to the true score (if you could have such a thing when we are dealing with things that are arbitrary like NHL FA Gradings through 2 days!).

Assuming that these average rating do mean something, how would they translate to standing points? First, my basic argument would be that the draft, while important, does not affect a team as much as FA does. Sure, a good pick could have an effect this year (i.e. Huby and Barky in the past, perhaps Ekblad this year), but not always. So I would assume that the draft scores really only affect this years points by at most 50% of what free agency does. Most likely it is even less.

So how much is free agency worth? I looked back at Puck Daddy's grades for the 2013 FA period. Then, I looked to see if there were any patterns for changes in points to the next season. It was a little tough since the year before was the lock out season of 48 games. But, for the most part it seem the following is a fair enough translation of grades to points the next year (and is simple to understand and work with). Also, it seems to counteract graders' tendencies to rate higher (more A's and B's) than lower (not a ton of D's or F's).

A+ =12

A = 10

A- = 8

B+ = 6

B = 4

B- = 2

C+ = 1

C = 0

C- = -2

D+ = -4

D = -8

D- = -10

F =-12

So Who Makes the Playoffs Next Year?

If the draft is worth 50% of FA points:

Position Team 13-14 Pts Draft PTs FA PTs 14-15 PTs
1 Boston 117 0.5 -4 113.5
2 Tampa 101 2 8 111
3 Montreal 100 1 1 102
4 Toronto 84 4 1 89
5 Detroit 93 0.5 -8 85.5
6 Ottawa 88 -0.5 -10 77.5
7 Florida 66 4 4 74
8 Buffalo 52 5 10 67

If we double the points earned for FA and keep draft points the same (25% of the new doubled up FA points):

Position Team 13-14 Pts Draft PTs FA PTs 14-15 PTs
1 Tampa 101 2 16 119
2 Boston 117 0.5 -8 109.5
3 Montreal 100 1 2 103
4 Toronto 84 4 2 90
5 Florida 66 4 8 78
6 Detroit 93 0.5 -16 77.5
7 Buffalo 52 5 20 77
8 Ottawa 88 -0.5 -20 67.5

So What Does it All Mean?

Nothing really. This is HORRIBLE statistical methods that would get me yelled at by my PhD adviser. This is opinions turned in to quantitative data altered in to assumed value in terms of standings points next year (and poorly done at that!). But, it does seem to quantify what most of us on LBC would most likely agree with. Tampa got a lot better, Boston and Montreal will still be good, Toronto improved a little, Detroit got a lot worse, and Florida and Buffalo improved (just not enough for either team to make the playoffs). In some ways this shows just how bad Florida and Buffalo were last year, we were both so far off from the other teams that even with good drafts and good FA efforts, we were still really far from the rest of the division.

But really, there is not actual science here. Even if these grades were spot on predictors of next year performance, it still would not take into account trades thus far and player improvement/regression due to aging.

But, it is still fun to contemplate and jump to REALLY early conclusions :)

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