There are always questions about the quality of different draft classes. The 2003 draft was the richest in recent memory, with star players getting selected even late into the first round, while in draft years like 1999 even the top ten picks don’t seem to pan out as hoped. For NHL teams – especially teams with a lottery pick – there’s a world of difference between taking a player like Patrik Stefan first overall or drafting a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, or Patrick Kane.
One rough estimate of quality we can use is scoring ability, as measured by points per game. How do projected top-10 picks in this year’s draft compare with other players taken in the top 10 since the lockout? To answer that question, I measured the point-per-game scoring rate of the top-ten OHL players (and I tossed in Crosby for good measure) from every post-lockout draft and put them on the following chart. Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and John McFarland are shown for this year’s draft, since the first two are the likely candidates for the first overall pick, and because they were the three OHL forwards listed in the top ten of this October’s ISS list.
Of course this only qualifies as a very rough look, and there are any number of factors that could have an impact on how well a junior player does offensively. For instance, by this measure Sam Gagner is the third-best player on this list, but while I think he was an excellent pick he did benefit from playing on a stacked London team (including the second-ranked player, Patrick Kane).
That said, what this shows us is the likely top pick, Hall, sitting directly between John Tavares and Steven Stamkos in scoring and with Seguin immediately behind. That would seem to indicate that the top end in this summer’s draft is going to be pretty comparable to the top end from the last few drafts, something that fits well with the scouting reports I’ve read and what I’ve seen of the respective players.
It also shows us that McFarland’s scoring to date hasn’t been what we would normally expect of a top-10 pick, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he slips outside that range on draft day.