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Grading the Florida Panthers at the 2015 NHL Draft

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The draft floor at the BB&T Center has been shut down, the other general managers are heading home, and with our own development camp on the horizon, let's assess the prospects the Cats added to their cupboard.

Either this kid is really photogenic, or he's genuinely ecstatic to be playing for the Cats. Probably a bit of both.
Either this kid is really photogenic, or he's genuinely ecstatic to be playing for the Cats. Probably a bit of both.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Florida Panthers entered the 2015 NHL Entry Draft with nine draft picks, and are leaving (well, staying?) with eight new prospects and an extra selection in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft. Dale Tallon certainly felt that the draft was a success, though it would be surprising if an NHL GM ever went to the press and said "Well, we got none of the guys we wanted, and overall, I think this draft just sucked for us."

(Another thought: Of course you're excited for the future. Every GM is "excited for the future". There isn't a general manager in the league that could tell the media "Well, we're going to be atrocious in seven years, so hopefully we win a couple of playoff series before then" and still keep his job.)

What we do know, however, is that NHL scouting staffs have been historically bad, and constantly ignore available information that could give them an extra edge at the draft table. From the article linked above:

Using metrics to determine when scouting staffs have outperformed the very simple algorithm, based on money spent and NHL games played to earn a profit, we found that 19 of 30 teams did not outperform the computer...

NHL’s Central Scouting Staff rankings compared to those players’ NHL games played only had a correlation of -0.19 (or "No or negligible relationship").  When using very simple metrics such as a prospect’s draft-year points/game, the correlation with NHL games played is much higher, at 0.41 (or "Strong positive relationship").

For a graphical representation of this, here's the Vancouver Canucks scouting staff vs. the computer from 2000-2011.

That's kind of sad.

Given that NHL front offices aren't infallible, let's grade Tallon Inc's performance at the 2015 NHL Draft, given the information and statistics we have available.

To do this properly, we'll be weighing the value of each draft pick according to a study done by TSN's Scott Cullen. Each pick has a different value; the No. 1 overall selection isn't worth the No. 210 selection.  Using each value from the study, we'll assign points/grades on a scale of 1-10, and use that as a percentage rate (ex. Pick Value = 5, Panthers assigned 9/10, they receive 4.5 total points), which will be added up at the end.

No. 11 overall pick

The Selection - Lawson Crouse

The Value - 5.15

The Skinny - Big, fast, and talented, Lawson Crouse is Dale Tallon's prototypical power forward. The Cats had the Kingston Frontenac standout sixth on their final list, and were absolutely thrilled that the winger fell to 11th overall.

Looking at statistics, however, Crouse is anything but a slam dunk selection. The jury is still out, and it has actually been deliberating on the winger's status for quite some time now. Several articles look into "the Sherrif's" value as a top ten draft pick, with some, such as the one by Jonathan Willis of Sportsnet, being negative, and others, such as this one from Along the Boards, being slightly more positive.

If that Along the Boards article looks familiar to anyone, it's because I wrote it shortly after the LBC Staff made Lawson Crouse our selection in the SBN Mock Draft (going to pat myself on the back here; I totally called that one).

Essentially, Crouse got screwed in his draft year. Not only did he play on a bad team, but the Frontenacs also had a ridiculously low shooting percentage. That type of bad luck usually changes at some point, especially at the NHL level.

If we bump Crouse's numbers up slightly by giving his team league average shooting percentage, and then recalculate his NHL probability using the cohort model at the Projection Project, the big-bodied winger's chance of being an NHLer stands at 72%; the sixth highest forward on their entire list.

In the end, that's great value at 11th overall, especially considering spots 1-4 were occupied by Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Strome, and Mitchell Marner.

The Grade: 10/10

Total Points: 5.15/5.15

No. 77 overall pick

The Selection - Samuel Montembeault

The Value - 2.32

The Skinny - Standing at 6'3", Montembeault continues the NHL's ongoing trend of bigger and bigger goalies. The 18-year-old was the net minder for the the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, which finished 3rd overall in the QMJHL during the 2014-2015 regular season.

The scouting reports on Montembeault are good, and his save percentage is good, though it isn't impressive. Overall, goalies are nothing but voodoo, and given the talent that was still on the board, a better selection probably could have been made.

The Grade - 7.0/10

Total Points - 1.62/2.32

No. 88 overall pick

The Selection - Thomas Schemitsch

The Value - 2.16

The Skinny - The trade of Colby Robak and the graduation of Alex Petrovic to the NHL left the team low on defensive prospects, and Tallon filled that need with a potential draft day steal.

Thomas Schemitsch, of the OHL's Owen Sound Attack, looks to pan out and become a solid contributor at the NHL level.

Some of his more notable statistical comparables are Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Dougie Hamilton.

Those are lofty comparisons, but even if he ends up as a top four defenseman who plays a similar style to those guys, he's going to be a quality NHL player.

Not too shabby for a third round pick.

The Grade - 10/10

Total Points - 2.16/2.16

No. 102 overall pick

The Selection - Denis Malgin

The Value - 1.85

The Skinny - Denis Malgin had one of the best skill sets in the entire draft, and could end up being one of the draft's biggest steals if he pans out. Corey Pronman, one of the more analytically inclined prospect writers, has loved Malgin's play throughout the year.

Brendan Ross, of McKeen's Hockey, also loves the undersized Swiss forward.

Kevin Fiala 2.0 in the fourth round? That's a great selection.

The Grade: 10/10

Total Points - 1.85/1.85

No. 132 overall pick

The Selection - Karch Bachman

The Value - 1.85

The Skinny - Smart, skilled, and fast is a recipe for success in the NHL, and Karch Bachman is the perfect cookie. The 5'11" forward posted 43 points in 32 games for Culver Prep, and will be moving onto the USHL in 2015-2016, before going the University of Miami (OH) in 2016-2017.

His potential is obvious, and hopefully he pans out. There were other options with this pick (such as Nikita Korostelev), but Bachman's speed should get him to at least the AHL, and any other improvements to his game could see him become a consistent NHL performer.

The Grade - 7.5/10

Total Points - 1.39/1.85

No. 162 overall pick

The Selection - Christopher Wilkie

The Value - 1.78

The Skinny - Tallon already added a goaltender and a defenseman to his squad, and decided to stick with forwards in the later rounds. Wilkie, one of those forwards, is a goal-scoring winger from the USHL who will follow in the footsteps of past prospects and play for the University of North Dakota next year.

Wilkie isn't a bad player. The issue I have with his selection is that there were more than a few remaining players who offered better value. Those that hate charts may just want to skip ahead, as I've got several of them coming up.

Wilkie's NHL chances:

Defenseman Sebastian Aho's:

Nikita Korostelev's:

Wilkie's probable NHL impact:

Aho's:

Korostelev's:

There was better value to be had later in the draft, not just in higher chances of making it to the NHL, but also in terms of reward. Less risk, and higher reward? Normally would seem like a no-brainer, but it just didn't happen here.

The Grade: 6.0/10

Total Points: 1.07/1.78

No. 192 overall pick

The Selection - Patrick Shea

The Value - 1.54

The Skinny - High school center Patrick Shea scored 19 goals and added 20 assists in 33 games for New Hampshire prep school Kimball Union. He's slated to play for the University of Maine in the fall. At this point in the draft, everyone is a complete project, so whoever is taken is bound to need some work.

I personally really wanted Sebastian Aho here, but if the Cats fell like they got their man in Shea, then more power to them.

The Grade: 9.0/10

Total Points: 1.40/1.54

No. 206 overall pick

The Selection - Ryan Bednard

The Value - 1.54

The Skinny - Goalies are voodoo, man. I'm not going to say anything about Bednard's value, because I honestly have no idea as to what it is. The team does need goaltenders, and drafting is around so that teams can fulfill their needs. Hopefully Bednard pans out and becomes what management expects him to be.

The Grade: N/A

Total Points: N/A

Conclusion

Though there was more value to be found elsewhere, especially in the later rounds of the draft, Dale Tallon's early draft picks were great, and all four will likely make an impact at the NHL level. I personally love Crouse, Schemitsch, and Malgin, and am thrilled to see how Montembeault develops.

Tallon's final grade is an 88% (14.64/16.65). That's a B+, a very solid grade given that last year he only managed to score a 75% in our draft grades.

Development Camp starts right away (on Monday), so be sure to check back at LBC for all your prospect coverage headed forward.