Could 2020 Be One Of The Best Draft Classes Ever?

It has been widely speculated that the 2020 is a very deep draft. I believe this to be the case as well. There’s actually a substantial possibility that this could be one of the best drafts in modern history.

When we look back over the past 20 years, but really only from the period of 2000 to 2012, as there’s still players becoming NHLers from drafts from 2013 and later, we see the best drafts occurred in 2003 (56 NHLers), 2004 (51 NHLers) and 2009 (51 NHLers). The average success rate by draft is 25% and the high-watermark is 28% (2003 and 2009). In a span of 12 years, only three times have their been 50 or more NHLers to come out of a single draft. As well, 10 or more stars emerging from a single draft only happened twice, again, 2003 and 2009. So we can say, a draft that produces 50 NHLers and 10 stars is an exceptional draft.

A note about some of the more recent drafts, 2015 and 2016 were notably deep drafts as well but we just don’t know about them yet. These drafts may well produce 50 or more NHLers when everything is said and done. We’ve seen many NHLers come from these years already. In 2015 alone, there has been nine stars emerge from it and will likely have at least two more cross the star boundary (Boeser and Kaprizov). The 2015 draft I would expect to near 50 NHLers. 2016 could as well but it’s too early to tell.

So what about 2020? How can we tell how deep it will be? The way we’ll do this is to use the Hockey Prospecting model and group the draft year NHLer probabilities into buckets and determine the strength from there. We’ll first pull the average success rate within each bucket between 2000 and 2012. That looks like this.

Clearly, as you’d expect, you’re going to have more NHLer success from drafting from the higher probability buckets. Let’s call the higher probability group anything 50% or greater. On average, from 2000 to 2019, this group made-up 16% of all skaters drafted (~30 players out of ~190 per draft). In that period, only twice, in 2016 and 2017, were there over 40 of these players taken in a draft (43 and 41, respectively). In the 2020 draft there could be anywhere from 45 to 53 of these.

In the Hockey Prospecting database there is currently 366 2020 eligible draftees. Obviously, not all of these players are going to get taken. There’s not enough spots. Actually, only about half of them will be taken. Of those 366, 53 have a 50% or more NHLer probability. Lets assume that, even though these players project highly as NHLers, a few of these players won’t even be taken. In fact, let’s work backwards from our total 366 potential draftees, working within each probability grouping, to get a real estimate of the ~190 players that will actually be taken.

For this exercise, we’re going to assume…

  • 100% of the 70%+ probability players will be taken (5)
  • 90% of the 60% to 70% probability players will be taken (14)
  • 80% of the 50% to 60% probability players will be taken (26)
  • 60% of the 40% to 50% probability players will be taken (49)
  • 50% of the 30% to 40% probability players will be taken (76)
  • 30% of the 20% to 30% probability players will be taken (18)
  • 20% of the 10% to 20% probability players will be taken (1)
  • 10% of the 0% to 10% probability players will be taken (1)

In all, this gets us to 191 players taken. Perfectly inline with the average number of skaters drafted in the past 20 years per draft. This gets us to 45 players with a probability of 50% or greater in the draft, which would be the highest amount in the entire period between 2000 and 2020.

But that’s not all. The 40% to 50% bucket is a large bucket. This one bucket makes-up 16% of a draft on average. This bucket in 2020 is also huge, projected to make-up 26% of the entire draft. So not only is the 2020 draft very good at the top end, it is good in terms of middle depth as well.

Now let’s use those average success rates within the probability groupings from before. Using those averages, and applying it to the counts derived by the exercise above (to get down to 191 players)… we can estimate there to be about 58 NHLers that will come out of this draft. And, looking at the quality of that top end, among those 58 NHLers, I would ballpark there to be 9 to 11 stars in the 2020 draft as well. Add it all up and this could be the deepest draft since the league expanded to 30 teams. Even edging out, slightly, the 2003, 2004 and 2009 drafts.

To dive deeper and find out what the 2020 draft class looks like become a Hockey Prospecting member here.

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