Welcome back to the by-the-numbers analysis of the 2020 NHL draft! In case you missed part one, it goes over the methodology for how we determine things such as expected player and pick values, and we took at look at what the consolidated rankings perceive to be the draft’s biggest reaches/steals, as well as some undrafted players who slipped through the cracks.
Today’s post tackles on the larger and often controversial task of ranking each team’s performance at the draft. We’ll be utilizing all of the same stats, but now we’re shifting our analysis to the team level.
Typically there’s two ways to go about draft power rankings:
- Which team acquired the most total value?
- Which team acquired the most value relative to their draft capital?
There are good reasons to go down each path, and while I’m personally more interested in the latter since I feel it’s a better representation of each team’s ability to evaluate talent, it also intrinsically makes sense to bump up a team that came out with the highest-end players — even if those players were ‘reaches’ by way of the public consensus.
Call me indecisive, but I’ve gone for the hybrid. The following parts will be pieced together for each team:
- Cumulative expected player value acquired
- Cumulative expected player value minus the cumulative expected pick value
Each metric is converted to a z-score in comparison to the rest of the league and then averaged out to provide a rankable metric. The rank within each category is also provided below, as well as the consolidated rankings’ estimation of each team’s best player (highest player value), highest value pick (highest difference) and worst value pick (lowest difference).
Check out the interactive Tableau chart to see the pick-by-pick results for each team.
We’ll be starting with #31 and working our way up to #1, so buckle up for the loser of the draft...
Total value: 311 (27th)
Performance: -283 (30th)
Best player: Samuel Knazko (77)
Best value: Samuel Johannesson (175)
Worst value: Yegor Chinakhov (21)
The Loser Of The Draft award goes to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who blew everyone’s minds by taking the biggest swing of the draft on Yegor Chinakhov. Overage defenceman Samuel Johannesson was a savvy pick in the 7th round, but with nothing to make up for it in the middle, the Chinakhov pick plummets Columbus right to 31st.
#30: Boston Bruins
Total value: 136 (31st)
Performance: -146 (26th)
Best player: Trevor Kuntar (88)
Best value: Riley Duran (181)
Worst value: Mason Lohrei (57)
The team with the lowest total value coming out of the draft is the Boston Bruins, who had to wait until #57 to make their first pick. They then used it to select a player who was unranked by all 50 sources. After Mason Lohrei, forward Trevor Kuntar at the 88th pick was still too rich by the public’s standards, and that was their last pick in the top 100. Nothing to write home about for a team that’s understandably still trying to contend, but they didn’t make much of the little they were given.
#29: Chicago Blackhawks
Total value: 588 (17th)
Performance: -262 (29th)
Best player: Lukas Reichel (17)
Best value: Louis Crevier (187)
Worst value: Lukas Reichel (17)
When Louis Crevier is noted as the team’s best value pick of the draft — a 6’8” overage immobile defenceman — there’s a big problem. Lukas Reichel, while one of the sexier players on the data side, was regarded more of a late first/early second round pick by the consensus, with 17th comfortably outside of his expected range. After that, it’s the little missed opportunities that started to pile up in the later rounds for Chicago, with zero players boasting positive value relative to their pick. Not the best first impression for a team that just commenced their rebuild.
28: St. Louis Blues
Total value: 364 (26th)
Performance: -121 (23rd)
Best player: Jake Neighbours (26)
Best value: Dylan Peterson (85)
Worst value: Jake Neighbours (26)
Similar to Chicago, the Blues’ draft was marked by a reach in the first round on Jake Neighbours (expected range of 28-57), and little value produced in the later rounds; selecting the unranked Matthew Kessel at pick #149, for example. Dylan Peterson could show some value as a third round pick, as the lanky centreman’s flashes of playmaking brilliance had him potentially pegged as a 2nd rounder. But the Blues boasted little value in picks heading into draft week, and didn’t come out with much different.
Total value: 198 (29th)
Performance: -56 (19th)
Best player: William Dufour (151)
Best value: William Dufour (151)
Worst value: Alexander Ljungkrantz (89)
No first round pick, no second round pick, and a late third round pick spent on Alexander Ljungkrantz, ranked by only three of the 50 sources. Even their next pick of Alex Jeffries isn’t deemed as their best new prospect, with Drummondville winger William Dufour taking the honours. It’s hard to make much of just five picks, and while Dufour could be an interesting project moving forward, the Islanders’ swings were more questionable than not.
Total value: 305 (28th)
Performance: -95 (21st)
Best player: Joel Blomqvist (51)
Best value: Raivis Ansons (148)
Worst value: Joel Blomqvist (51)
The Penguins join the same club as Chicago with zero positive value selections to show for. With no first round pick in hand, they used the pick acquired for Matt Murray to draft goalie Joel Blomqvist — the second-highest rated netminder in the draft after Askarov, but the pick was still a bit rich given the steep drop-off in goalie talent. Calle Clang is a very similar story, with the Penguins stocking up their cabinet of young goaltenders.
25: Ottawa Senators
Total value: 1660 (1st)
Performance: -561 (31st)
Best player: Tim Stutzle (3)
Best value: Cole Reinhardt (180)
Worst value: Jake Sanderson (5)
Imagine winning the jackpot, and spending all of your winnings buying... more lottery tickets. The Senators are easily the weirdest team to evaluate in this year’s group: they came into the draft with more riches than any team in recent history, and according to the public consensus, they blew their plethora of picks on questionable players at the draft slots they were given. For a second year in a row, they ranked dead last in value performance.
Tim Stutzle and Jake Sanderson will no doubt be good, maybe exceptional players someday — but there’s still good reason why Sanderson was barely a consensus top-ten player heading into the draft. Spending valuable mid-round picks on Leevi Merilainen (unranked), Yegor Sokolov (double-overager) and Tyler Kleven (eek) aren’t inspiring moves either. It’s not a great sign when the best value-boosting decision was taking the unranked Cole Reinhardt with their last pick. Nonetheless, the team still finished 1st in total value by a hair so the system will be replenished — the consolidated rankings just think they could have done way, way better.
24: Arizona Coyotes
Total value: 192 (30th)
Performance: +15 (13th)
Best player: Mitchell Miller (110)
Best value: Mitchell Miller (110)
Worst value: Filip Barklund (172)
I include Mitchell Miller in this analysis to keep the data intact with how the public viewed him on draft day before his story gained mass attention, although the fact that the Coyotes had full knowledge of Miller’s actions and still went ahead with the pick is completely abhorrent, and goes beyond any set of skills that put him in draft conversations. Marking Miller as a zero-value player bumps the Coyotes’ total value to 31st and performance rank to 18th, overall to 28th.
Even aside from Miller, the Coyotes’ draft was a complete disaster before it began by having their second round pick revoked by the NHL (and messing up all my spreadsheet formulas, dammit). That left the Coyotes with four more picks from 141st onwards, and while winger Carson Bantle may provide some value coming out of the USHL, Filip Barklund and Elliot Ekefjard were two completely unranked players, followed by the singly ranked Ben McCartney. What a mess!
Total value: 549 (20th)
Performance: -121 (22nd)
Best player: Eamon Powell (115)
Best value: Eamon Powell (115)
Worst value: Gage Goncalves (61)
It’s generally excusable for a contending team to rank low on these lists given the draft capital they traded away to win their championship (Blake Coleman for Shakir Mukhamadullin looks reeeeallly good in hindsight), but even with all their late round picks I expected a bit more from the Lightning. Eamon Powell was by far their best value pick, a tad surprising given the tendency of most teams to reach on USDP players. Amir Miftakhov is also a savvy swing in the sixth round, from an up-and-coming crop of Russian goaltenders. But viewing both Jack Finley and Gage Goncalves as players worthy of second-round selections was a bit of a head-scratcher, especially given the talent that was still on the board.
22: Buffalo Sabres
Total value: 693 (16th)
Performance: -131 (25th)
Best player: Jack Quinn (8)
Best value: John-Jason Peterka (34)
Worst value: Jack Quinn (8)
The second team with a top-ten selection to make the list, picking Jack Quinn before *checks list* a bunch of other forwards was questionable, to say the least — especially in a draft with as deep a top group as 2020. Selecting John-Jason Peterka at 34th was a much better value pick for a player with such a high gear, and then the Sabres had to sit and wait until pick #130. Their draft hinged on that 8th overall pick, and the consolidated rankings say they failed to hit a home run.
Total value: 741 (15th)
Performance: -127 (24th)
Best player: Yaroslav Askarov (11)
Best value: Luke Reid (165)
Worst value: Luke Prokop (72)
Of all the teams mock drafters were eyeing as potential destinations for Yaroslav Askarov, I don’t think the Predators were usually in that conversation. Even though I’m less a fan of that pick than the consensus, the Predators walk away with the best goalie to grace the (virtual) draft floor in recent memory. They didn’t make much of a splash afterwards, sticking mostly to the consensus range while not pouncing on any steals — although defenceman Luke Prokop wasn’t a swing many (if any) public analysts would’ve made in the third round.
Total value: 453 (23rd)
Performance: -6 (16th)
Best player: Hendrix Lapierre (22)
Best value: Oskar Magnusson (210)
Worst value: Hendrix Lapierre (22)
The Washington Capitals made arguably the riskiest pick of the draft in taking Hendrix Lapierre at 22nd, who can hopefully rebound with his first healthy season in ages. His skill level is obvious, and the potential is there for a massive reward if the risks play out right. They also made one of the biggest steals of the seventh round, swinging on the intelligent Swedish forward Oskar Magnusson at 210th. But with little value to work with in the first place, they end up pretty close to the middle of the league.
Total value: 444 (24th)
Performance: -2 (15th)
Best player: Justin Barron (25)
Best value: Jean-Luc Foudy (74)
Worst value: Justin Barron (25)
The first two of Colorado’s picks couldn’t have been much different, first playing it far too safe with defenceman Justin Barron in the first round, then completely swinging for the fences on Jean-Luc Foudy: a completely unleashed skater who creates chaos offensively but is studded with question marks. It was a quiet draft week for Colorado after that, being the closest team in the league to reach perfectly even value to what they had pre-draft.
Total value: 368 (25th)
Performance: +39 (9th)
Best player: Joni Jurmo (81)
Best value: Joni Jurmo (81)
Worst value: Jackson Kunz (112)
For a team with only five picks and none in the first two rounds, the Canucks did pretty well with minimal resources. Joni Jurmo is one of the most exciting defencemen outside the draft’s first round purely from his unique combo of size, creativity and mobility, easily making him Vancouver’s best value pick. The 143rd pick also ended up being a good spot to select the overlooked USDP defenceman Jacob Truscott, with the consensus valuing him significantly higher than their 112th pick of Jackson Kunz.
Total value: 499 (22nd)
Performance: +13 (14th)
Best player: Brendan Brisson (29)
Best value: Lukas Cormier (67)
Worst value: Jackson Hallum (90)
The fourth draft in Vegas franch... this is already their fourth draft?!? How time flies...
Regardless, the Golden Knights played the draft well with their first two picks, as many analysts pegged Brendan Brisson and Lukas Cormier to be selected ahead of their respective draft slots. They followed that up with Jackson Hallum at 90th, a player ranked by only a single source, and didn’t do anything to write home about afterwards. But it’s the top of the draft that matters most, and while they didn’t have any super high picks to work with, the Golden Knights still come away looking swell.
Total value: 568 (19th)
Performance: +20 (12th)
Best player: Tyson Foerster (23)
Best value: Emil Andrae (53)
Worst value: Tyson Foerster (23)
Tyson Foerster and Emil Andrae, while drastically different players, were pretty much even in terms of valuation by the consensus... right in the middle of where each of them were picked. Foerster wasn’t the best player available at 23rd, whereas Andrae was at 53rd. Another big value gain came from the addition of Connor McClennon with their last pick — he was anticipated to be a faller due to his size and lack of a special standout skill, but at 177th he was one of the top players on the board. For a team with only five picks, the Flyers came away with an impressive haul.
15: Edmonton Oilers
Total value: 570 (18th)
Performance: +30 (11th)
Best player: Dylan Holloway (14)
Best value: Tyler Tullio (125)
Worst value: Dylan Holloway (14)
In part thanks to one of the draft’s biggest steals in Tyler Tullio, the Oilers vault up the list by acquiring strong value in the mid-rounds — despite selecting Dylan Holloway at the upper end of his expected range (13-22, picked 14th). Evidently they were looking to bolster their young group of forwards, and they did exactly that.
Total value: 818 (11th)
Performance: -15 (17th)
Best player: Jan Mysak (48)
Best value: Jan Mysak (48)
Worst value: Kaiden Guhle (16)
With three picks in the top 50, each one tells a different story for the Habs. First was Kaiden Guhle at 16th, one of the most disagreed-upon players by the consensus, still taken significantly higher than the average projected him. Next up was Luke Tuch selected amid a string of USDP players, again picked higher than anticipated given the talent on the board. But it was a turn for the better in their second of the back-to-back picks, adding consensus first-round forward Jan Mysak to their pool of forward prospects; Mysak was the draft’s fourth biggest steal. The other savvy pick to watch out for is Sean Farrell, one of a handful of USHL forwards who slipped out of the first few rounds while other teams reached on defencemen.
Total value: 1306 (5th)
Performance: -179 (27th)
Best player: Alexander Holtz (7)
Best value: Jaromir Pytlik (98)
Worst value: Shakir Mukhamadullin (20)
The Senators had the surefire best group of picks heading into draft week, but the Devils were a pretty clear second place, boasting three picks in the top 20. Alexander Holtz is one of the best shooters the draft has seen in a while, and Dawson Mercer could be the elite setup man he’ll need down the road.
After that they took Shakir Mukhamadullin — a defenceman who only made 28 of the 50 lists, and of the 28 was viewed as anywhere from a late 2nd to early 4th round caliber player. Even with a couple of good value picks in the later rounds (Jaromir Pytlik, Ethan Edwards), the Mukhamadullin pick bumps them down a few spots from where they could’ve been.
12: San Jose Sharks
Total value: 773 (12th)
Performance: +31 (10th)
Best player: Thomas Bordeleau (38)
Best value: Daniil Gushchin (75)
Worst value: Ozzy Wiesblatt (31)
The Sharks made some of my personal favourite picks of the draft: Daniil Gushchin will be supremely fun to watch no matter where he ends up in the future, Thomas Bordeleau is already proving what he can do in the NCAA, Tristen Robins is a darling to WHL followers, and Brandon Coe packs a strong amount of skill for someone with a pro-level frame. They’ve earned a spot in the top half according to the consolidated rankings, although they didn’t quite hit a home run with their first pick of Ozzy Wiesblatt, who was viewed pretty tightly as a mid-2nd round player while a bunch of consensus top players were left for teams to feast on in the 2nd round. Still, tons of credit to the Sharks’ scouting staff.
Total value: 1392 (4th)
Performance: -191 (28th)
Best player: Lucas Raymond (4)
Best value: William Wallinder (32)
Worst value: Cross Hanas (54)
Twelve picks is a heck of a lot to work with, and the Red Wings came away from the draft like the Ottawa Senators-lite, albeit with a bit less lottery luck. Lucas Raymond was the consensus favourite (and a personal favourite) at 4th overall, and selecting William Wallinder at 32nd was a pick well spent according to the consolidated rankings. The holes start to show in the mid-rounds — Cross Hanas, Donovan Sebrango and Sam Stange in particular representing draft slots where the Red Wings could’ve looked elsewhere. Capping it off by drafting the head scout’s son was just the cherry on top, but at least they did the smart rebuilding move of gathering as many picks as possible.
10: Calgary Flames
Total value: 753 (14th)
Performance: +62 (7th)
Best player: Connor Zary (24)
Best value: Connor Zary (24)
Worst value: Jake Boltmann (79)
The back half of the first round is always a fun time, as the Flames were preceded by New Jersey, Columbus, Washington and Philadelphia: four teams who reached to various degrees to draft their guy. That left WHL forward Connor Zary ripe for the picking, and the Flames took full advantage to bolster their pipeline’s centre depth.
Adding more to the positive side, seeing Jeremie Poirier fall as far as he did was a tad unsurprising with all the risk he packs, but the Flames took that risk and could be supremely rewarded if things break right even just a little bit. That doesn’t mean they avoided the questionable decisions altogether, balancing out Poirier’s chaos with Yan Kuznetsov up at 49th, taking a chance on high-schooler Jake Boltmann at 79th, then promptly drafting the unranked goaltender Daniil Chechelev at 95th. It’s still an impressive haul for the Flames on the whole, one that could see them rewarded down the road.
9: Dallas Stars
Total value: 520 (21st)
Performance: +166 (4th)
Best player: Mavrik Bourque (30)
Best value: Mavrik Bourque (30)
Worst value: Remi Poirier (184)
Five picks, five chances to add to their barren prospect pool, and the Dallas Stars nearly went five-for-five. Mavrik Bourque, a QMJHL superstar originally expected to be taken in the mid-first round, was the biggest steal in the back half of day one. A couple more chaotic forwards in Antonio Stranges and Yevgeni Oksentyuk also fell past public expectation — they each come with some large risks that could bring their progression to a halt, but at their respective draft slots were worth taking the chance.
Total value: 772 (13th)
Performance: +145 (5th)
Best player: Cole Perfetti (10)
Best value: Cole Perfetti (10)
Worst value: Daniel Torgersson (40)
Dealing with even less picks than Dallas, the Jets managed to snag Cole Perfetti at 10th overall, who by most accounts would’ve been a top-five player in most other draft years based on the versatility of his elite skillset. Anton Johannesson is another pick worth celebrating in the fifth round, as he and the Jets will be hopeful for a full season of strong play ahead after injuries previously took a lot of his playing time away.
Total value: 1218 (7th)
Performance: -25 (18th)
Best player: Jamie Drysdale (6)
Best value: Jacob Perreault (27)
Worst value: Ian Moore (66)
Few teams had a stronger first round haul than the Ducks, with Drysdale-Perreault potentially being a defence-forward combo that could carry them for the next decade; even if the latter player has some scouts concerned about consistency issues. They didn’t swing for the fences as much on day two, although with four picks in the top 70, Anaheim accumulated a strong amount of value in another year of rebuilding.
Total value: 1093 (10th)
Performance: +137 (6th)
Best player: Anton Lundell (12)
Best value: Anton Lundell (12)
Worst value: Emil Heineman (43)
Five picks inside the top 100? Positive value on four of them, including Anton freaking Lundell at 12th overall? The consolidated rankings thinks the Panthers did fantastically well with their group of picks, and they even selected one of my personal favourites Justin Sourdif all the way at 86th. Lundell is the big prize, however, as he was part of a tightly-valued group in the back half of the top ten despite a wide range of opinions from the consensus.
Total value: 1648 (2nd)
Performance: -69 (20th)
Best player: Alexis Lafreniere (1)
Best value: Brett Berard (133)
Worst value: Braden Schneider (19)
Armed with the first overall pick, it’s tough to say the Rangers had anything but a good draft based on that alone. Their next few picks were definitely on the more questionable side, however, opting for a couple hulking players in Braden Schneider and Will Cuylle that the rankings were not as fond of. They made up for it in the fifth round of all places, with forwards Brett Berard and Evan Vierling representing two of the round’s biggest steals. It’ll forever be remembered as the Lafrenière draft for New York, but he’s far from their only player to keep a close eye on going forward.
Total value: 1114 (9th)
Performance: +208 (3rd)
Best player: Rodion Amirov (15)
Best value: Veeti Miettinen (167)
Worst value: Rodion Amirov (15)
The Leafs’ draft strategy this year was clear: stock up on all the late round picks, and wait for some high potential players to fall in their laps. Only Detroit matched their league-high twelve picks, as the Leafs did exceptionally well in the mid-rounds with their selections of William Villeneuve, Dmitri Ovchinnikov and Veeti Miettinen. Rodion Amirov was the best player on the board when they made their selection too, so the fact that he still represents their biggest value loss (due to a tier gap right before him) is a huge testament to the smarts of their draft research team.
Total value: 1599 (3rd)
Performance: +48 (8th)
Best player: Quinton Byfield (2)
Best value: Martin Chromiak (127)
Worst value: Brock Faber (45)
There’s zero question now: the Los Angeles Kings have the best prospect pool in the NHL. They probably already held the title before, but with a riches of high picks and some high-value choices in the mid-rounds, it’s hard to remember the last time a prospect pool looked this good. Quinton Byfield is obviously the crown jewel, but picking up Martin Chromiak in the fifth round could look really good down the road as well. Helge Grans was also in the running for the draft’s third best defenceman by some analysts, so seeing him fall to the early second round was yet another home run for LA. They are well worthy of a top-three placement on this list.
Total value: 1139 (8th)
Performance: +230 (2nd)
Best player: Marco Rossi (9)
Best value: Marco Rossi (9)
Worst value: Daemon Hunt (64)
It’s difficult to justify putting a team with only five picks this high in the rankings, but Minnesota knocked it out of the park with every single pick. As we learned in yesterday’s post, Marco Rossi took home the honours as the draft’s biggest steal — an achievement rarely earned by a player picked in the top ten. But when you can draft an elite, creative centreman who happened to lead the CHL in scoring at 9th overall, you should take that opportunity.
From there on the Wild played the draft pretty mistake-free, turning some heads with a gamble on Marat Khsunutdinov in the second round. Pavel Novak’s scoring rates in the WHL are also eye-catching for a fifth round pick, and sandwiched between them were Ryan O’Rourke and Daemon Hunt: two fine defencemen who they didn’t have to massively reach on like other teams tended to do with blueliners.
Total value: 1248 (6th)
Performance: +335 (1st)
Best player: Seth Jarvis (13)
Best value: Noel Gunler (41)
Worst value: Alexander Nikishin (68)
Could it be anyone but the Computer Boys? The list of steals in part one probably gave it away, but the second day of the draft kept giving me the same feeling: looking at the list of falling players, seeing a Canes pick in the near distance, and the two meeting together in a predictable fashion.
Noel Gunler at 41st was the peak for this — everybody knew before the draft that one of the most talented offensive rearguards was going to sneak down the draft board for fear of taking on too much risk with his defensive play and consistency. Zion Nybeck is the same, breaking apart the Swedish U-20 league, but pushed down the board by being 5’8” (although he’s beat by 5’7” Alexander Pashin). Alexander Nikishin was a bit of a departure in the third round going for the big-hitting Russian defenceman. But according to the consolidated opinion of 50 scouts & analysts, the Carolina Hurricanes had the best draft of 2020.
As it always goes with these sorts of exercises, it’s important to state why we do this type of analysis to begin with. Players will obviously under- and over-perform from this system’s evaluation, so why pick things apart now if we haven’t even seen these players in the NHL yet?
It’s a common question, and I think it’s worth remembering that there are reasons why Alexis Lafrenière went first overall, and, say, Declan McDonnell didn’t — even though neither of them have recently played league games outside the CHL. Teams are working with the information available to them on draft day, and it’s their job to process and decipher that to make the best decisions possible. Player development inherently packs a lot of randomness, so personally, I find it more meaningful to look through the lens of current information rather than constantly putting on the hindsight goggles and pressing refresh.
Another common critique of this method is that NHL teams are way better at scouting than the public. I think there’s some element of truth to that: NHL front offices have thousands to millions of dollars of a scouting budget to work with, allowing them to see players more frequently, access more insightful data, and even get to know some players more personally. At the same time, I also think it’s worth acknowledging how often we still see teams falling into the same bad habits — drafting purely for size, drafting CHL goalies with no track record, drafting from the same limited regions, the list goes on. The public isn’t infallible to their own biases, but I believe there’s value in the comparative openness of the processes behind each ranking, as well as just being based on a large collection of opinions.
As a final point, I think it’s also worth noting what the value differences look like between the top and bottom ranked teams. Six teams gained +100 or more value, while ten lost over 100. The league-wide sum comes to -914 — nearly the value of the first overall pick! To me this makes sense, treating the draft as a negative-sum event rather than positive- or zero-sum. As noted in part one, there were still a bunch of ranked players who went undrafted, and some of them will inevitably provide some value at the NHL level as either re-entries or free agent signings. The -914 may be a bit inflated since completely unranked players are treated as having zero value when naturally that isn’t the case. Nonetheless I feel pretty comfortable with this setup, even if it naturally paints more teams as losers than winners.
Anyways, that (finally) wraps up the 2020 draft coverage for Silver Seven Sens! Sound off in the comments if there are any rankings you agree or disagree with.
On to 2021!