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Fun with Numbers: Buzzing the Net's NHL Projections

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

For all of the advances scouting and player development have made, there is still an element to the draft that remains a crapshoot. Any number of factors can come into play over the course of the journey from major junior to the NHL, which have derailed many a prospect.

Mathematically, great strides have been made in recent years to project a player’s production across junior to the NHL. Yahoo!’s junior hockey blog, Buzzing the Net, have a yearly institution called ‘The Jeff Skinner Rankings’ wherein they equivocate a junior player’s season to forecasted NHL production.

Now, this isn’t a hard and fast projection. Nobody is saying “Player X would have scored Y amount of points this season.” It’s simply a measure that tries to demonstrate a player’s development relative to his peers. Consider the following...

Why have they been dubbed The Jeff Skinner Rankings? Well, prior to the 2010-11 season, their system projected Jeff Skinner’s NHL output higher than both Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall who were in a tight race for first overall honours. As we now know, Skinner won the Calder Trophy that season and has been a quality NHLer since he made the jump -- arguably the best of the bunch to-date.

Other forecasting wins have included:

- Tyler Toffoli projected just behind Taylor Hall in 2010-11; Toffoli made the jump in 2013.

- Brendan Gallagher projected as the 10th most productive player in 2010-11; nominated for the Calder in 2013

- Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk were projected among the top three a year prior to draft eligibility; they were both taken in the top three in 2012 and played in the NHL in 2013

While the system is far from flawless -- you can’t account for linemates, playing on a bad team, running up the score, playing defence, etc. -- it simply organizes players by how far along they are based on their output to give us a better idea of who is NHL ready.

Nathan MacKinnon tops this year’s list for a second consecutive year with Halifax teammate Jonathan Drouin close behind in the rearview. You’ll also note as you peruse this year’s top 25 that Connor McDavid makes an appearance. The Canadian phenom is not draft eligible until 2015. Not too shabby.

Here’s the top 25:

For a more thorough breakdown of the list, feel free to check out the post at Buzzing the Net alongside their comprehensive draft coverage.

Stick tap from hockey fans and pundits to Neate Sager and Rob Pettapiece who put this all together.

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