clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is there a better way to rank NHL prospects?

New, comments

Baseball has a uniform point system for all of its prospects; why shouldn't hockey?

The top prospect for this year's draft was never certain.
The top prospect for this year's draft was never certain.
Bruce Bennett

Every summer (or, at least, every summer we can) my family does a wonderful thing called the "mancation".  Essentially, me, my brothers, father, grandfather, uncles, cousins, and pretty much any man on my dad's side of the family do nothing but tour the Southeast and watch Minor League Baseball games.  Minor league games are so much more fun; for $7-$15 dollars (depending on the league), you can get seats at field level, or right behind the dugout, or pretty much wherever you want.  At the Tampa Yankees game this year, there were less than 100 people in the ballpark (Single A baseball, everybody), meaning we got to sit wherever we wanted the entire game.  We've also perfected the art of 1) acquiring baseballs and 2) getting them signed by legitimate MLB prospects.  As of now, we have baseballs signed by Billy Hamilton, of the Cincinnati Reds, and a bat signed by Jake Smolinski of the Texas Rangers.

The system is such; my youngest cousins and brothers focus on looking incredibly adorable and acquiring a ball/bat/etc, while I do research online to see if any of the players on the team are legitimate prospects with a chance of making it to the pros.  This brings me to the point of this article; baseball has an efficient rating system for its prospects, that is uniform across the league and allows people to compare prospects across organizations as well as current prospects to past prospects.  It's extremely convenient and really helps people who don't quite understand baseball scouting reports assess prospects that have chances at the MLB (like myself.)  The NHL could easily implement a system like this, that would not only allow for the easy comparisons, but also help people who don't quite understand the game, get into it.

Baseball's Current System

Baseball's current system has five separate ratings that all contribute to a final rating.  Each prospect receives a rating from 20-80, in intervals of 5, with 80 being incredibly elite and 20 being barely capable of playing in the minors.

Hit

The ability of a player to put the ball in play, regardless of power.  Someone with a Hit rating from 65-80 will probably have a high batting average and on base percentage in the pros.

Power

The ability of a player to hit the baseball very far, regardless of how often.  Someone with a Power rating from 65-80 will be a 3-4-5 hitter in the pros and considered a slugger.

Run

How fast a player is, as well as how smart he is on the basepaths.  A speedy, but reckless player may see a Run rating of 65, whereas a player with baserunning smarts who doesn't have elite speed could receive the same rating.

Arm

Arm strength of the player.  An outfielder who can throw the ball on a line to home plate will have a high rating.

Field

How good the player is at fielding.  Faster players who can cover more ground will have higher ratings here, as well as players who are good at making the right plays with the baseball.  Someone with Gold Glove potential would have a 70-80 rating.

Overall

The combined totals of the 5 previous ratings.  The best prospects have ratings from 70-80, and prospects that still have MLB potential are generally ranked 50 or above.

Baseball does well to cover the necessary attributes that a prospect needs to be good at in order to have a shot at the pro level, and does well to provide framework that allows for comparison of prospects across time periods and organizations.  Hockey could implement a similar system, that would allow for the same benefits of the baseball system that could be applied to the vast majority of NHL prospects.

Proposed NHL System

Prospects receive ratings on a 1-10 system, with the number values already having been given to us by Hockey's Future. They will receive five ratings that culminate in the final, overall rating, as well as a risk factor rating that gives us an idea of how likely it is to see the prospect in the NHL.

Skating

The ability of a prospect to skate, in regards to top speed, quickness, and lateral movement.

Shot

The ability of a prospect to place both a hard and accurate shot on net.

Puck Control

The ability of a prospect to help his team control the puck, either through good passes to teammates or the ability to carry the puck themselves.

Offensive Hockey IQ

The ability of a prospect to create offense, either from the back end or from a forward position.

Defensive Hockey IQ

The ability of a prospect to prevent the opposition from creating offense.

Compete Level

How a prospect carries themselves, both on and off the ice.  Players who are lazy, or do not show strong desire to improve/win, will receive lower ratings and players who consistently give "110%" will receive higher ratings.

Overall

The combination of the other ratings into a final rating.

Risk Factor

The likelihood that a player will reach his maximum potential; high ratings mean it's very likely that the player will reach his potential, while a low rating means that it's very unlikely.

This is just an idea, and one that probably needs work before it could be considered a legitimate option.  Still, I would like to see something along these lines applied to the NHL, especially by Central Scouting, as it has benefits that can be seen from similar systems in other sports.  Hopefully, the NHL can figure something out, and implement it soon.  There really aren't too many reasons not to.