Alex Burrows and the second line

There seems to be a pretty well established consensus among media and fans that the biggest concern for the Canucks next season is their second line. Fair enough: Kesler has been pretty much carrying that line on his own for the last two seasons, and getting Nick Bonino back in the trade for him doesn’t fill that slot in a way that’s going to fill anyone with confidence. Any time a player of Kesler’s stature leaves a club there’s going to be a lot of hemming and hawing about how to replace them. Instead of obsessing over who is going to take his place as the second line center, the Canucks need to be asking who will drive play on their second line – no matter what position it comes from.

Barring a trade or acquisition, the second line isn’t going to be relying on their center to carry play anymore. The best they can hope for at that position is a fill-in who can at least tread water territorially while contributing offensively. No, play-driving on the second line is going to have to come from the wingers. Signing Radim Vrbata was a terrific move by Benning for a lot of reasons (mostly because signing good hockey players to good contracts makes for good hockey teams) but not enough attention has been paid to the impact it will have by pushing Alex Burrows down the depth chart for the Canucks.

Burrows had a nightmare season last year. Injuries and a shooting percentage collapse made him totally forgettable for most of the season. But if you take even a glance at the career possession numbers for Burrows, he really starts to look like the kind of player who can carry a second line. Over the past three seasons Burrows has had an average CorsiRel of +7.1%. In the same 3 year timespan, he is 11th in the league for CF% among players with more than 2000 minutes played.

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That’s a pretty good group of players he’s with in that list. His possession numbers aren’t just a product of favourable usage and great linemates, either (although he has benefited from both). His WOWYs (With Or Without You) are unreal: every single player who has played more than 100 minutes with him over the past three years has posted a better CF% with him than they have without him.

Burrows is, by any measure, an elite play driver even in his mid-30s. As far as non-possession production goes, Burrows has been to some extent underrated by standard goals/assists/points totals as he’s never gotten significant powerplay time. From 2010-2013 his P/60 at even strength was 2.24 (ignoring 2013/2014 because of his sh% collapse). He doesn’t pull any sort of a David Booth-ian disappearing trick when it comes to turning shot attempts into goals.

What’s the takeaway from all this? Don’t give up all hope when it comes to the Canucks second line. That isn’t to say that it shouldn’t be a concern – it definitely should – but there is some cause for optimism. In bringing in Vrbata, Benning has indirectly replaced Ryan Kesler on the second line by bumping Alex Burrows. Adding to the reasons for optimism, Burrows is actually a better possession player than Kesler at this point in his career. The key is to fill the other second line slots with players who can contribute offensively, and at the very least don’t drag Burrows’ play-driving down. Pass it to Bulis wrote about filling the center position with quantity, not quality earlier this week. Between Bonino, Kassian, Vey, Higgins, and potentially even Bo Horvat those two slots can be filled so as to give the Canucks a competent second line. I think the second line will be good enough to get the Canucks to the playoffs, and hopefully we will see some young players finally step up. The real thing to worry about with the Canucks this year is depth. If one of the Sedins, Vrbata, or Burrows got injured long-term, it could be another lottery pick.

FWIW I really started thinking about this only as it ties into something I’ve started to look at a little bit this summer: whether centers are more impactful in terms of driving play than wingers. I think the obvious intuition is that with centers having more important defensive responsibilities and greater freedom on the ice, they will have more of an impact on shot attempts than wingers. I think it’s worth checking if that’s correct and how significant the difference is, and I’m planning on working on that over the next while. Might shed some light on how realistic the expectation of Burrows carrying a second line from the wing really is.

A Closer Look at Nick Bonino

Trading for players coming off of a season where they put up a 103.0 PDO is bad business. That kind of puck luck makes players look better than they are, and can lead teams to misjudging things like whether a player is going to be a legitimate second line center or not. It’s hard not to see the Kesler trade as a big win for the Ducks and Bob Murray. They sold high on a bit piece and got the only positive possession player in the trade – one who is an elite finisher and will fill a glaring hole in the Ducks roster, at that.

However, the reaction to the trade from the hockey media community (particularly the stats people) has been harsh on Bonino in a way that I’m not sure is entirely fair. The story going around seems to be more or less that Bonino had a 13.8% shooting percentage this year, he was given PP minutes with Getzlaf and Perry that boosted his point totals, and he still didn’t come out a positive possession player. All of that is true.  Still, I don’t think people are giving Bonino enough credit for the legitimate step forward he took last season.

It isn’t easy to compare Canucks and Ducks players using Corsi or Fenwick because unlike the conference winning Ducks, the Canucks were a good puck possession team. The Ducks had a team Fenwick % of 50.2%, and even an elite player like Ryan Getzlaf only had a 51.1% Corsi For percentage. That definitely puts some helpful perspective on Bonino’s 49.7 CF%, but I think the most useful way to judge his play-driving ability will be using CorsiRel (relative Corsi).  In Bonino’s last three NHL seasons his CorsiRel percentages have been -4.5%, -4.7%, and last year -0.4%.

A negative CorsiRel is a bad sign for a player. It means that their team is controlling possession better with them on the bench than on the ice. What we can infer from a negative relative Corsi is that Bonino never carried the play for the Ducks. Even in his 49 point breakout year last year, he didn’t tilt the ice towards the other team in the way that really valuable hockey players do. However, the step he took from a -4.7% CorsiRel to a -0.4% is enormous. Bonino went from being a Brad Richardson-like anchor to actually holding his own relative to his teammates, as a roughly average play driver. What’s more, while he did this with somewhat sheltered minutes, they were actually slightly tougher than his previous two years for the Ducks. He really did get much much better at controlling play last year, and the Canucks have to hope that improvement continues into next season.

Besides his possession, the criticism I’ve seen a lot of about Bonino is that his point totals were inflated by a lot of PP time with Getzlaf and Perry. This is a well-founded point: his TOI/60mins on the powerplay increased from 1.7 in 2012/2013 to 2.8 last year. However, he still produced at a high rate at 5v5. His 1.97 P/60mins put him 63rd in the league, higher than Ryan Kesler (1.30), Martin St. Louis, Jeff Skinner, and many other elite forwards. While he shot at an obviously unsustainable 13.8% for the year, his 5v5 on ice sh% was less inflated at 9.4%.

That isn’t to say that his 5v5 offence was totally sustainable and not percentage related at all. His Corsi For/60mins of 56.4 put him much further back at 170th in the league (still a very good number, ahead of players like Ryan O’Reilly, Martin St. Louis, Ales Hemsky).

However you look at it, the Canucks have downgraded their center position by trading Ryan Kesler. However, Bonino did make legitimate strides last year as a possession player. The most important thing the Canucks should hope for is not that Bonino will put up 45+ points again, or continue to outscore Ryan Kesler. What the Canucks need is for him to continue to improve as a possession player. His offence last season was more legitimate than he is being given credit for, and if he can drive play even better than he started to last season the offence will continue to come.

People are putting Bonino down by saying he’s a third line center, and I think they’re missing the point. Yes, on an elite team he likely is a third line center. This Canucks team is not elite and is not going to challenge for the Cup next year. If Bonino is surrounded by good players (Burrows and Kassian would be solid choices) he can produce offence and be a useful Canuck without having to substantially drive possession himself.

The Vancouver goaltending dilemma and the odd Markstrom out

It’s very possible that in a couple years we are going to look back and thank Mike Gillis for how he managed goaltending for the Canucks. Trading Schneider and Luongo was a mess and if not for that fiasco Gillis probably still has his job as the Vancouver GM. However, he has left the Canucks with three very promising young Swedish goalies costing the team a combined 3.275 million  per year – an enviable situation. As Cam Charron wrote about some time ago, having effective goaltending for so little in the way of a cap hit is an enormous boon to the organization and changes the complexion of how the team can be built. Two of the ‘Three Kings’ have obvious roles for the Canucks. Lack (Markstrom’s old backup for Brynas IF), is the incumbent starter coming off of a solid rookie season. Eriksson is going to continue to start in Utica after a respectable rookie season of his own. Markstrom, however, doesn’t obviously fit in any one spot in the Canucks organization.

Jacob Markstrom has, to this point, been a brutal NHL goaltender. He has more than a half-seasons worth of games under his belt, and so far he has performed like a significantly below replacement-level goalie. If you believe that he is going to continue performing this way going forward, his 0.896 sv% isn’t worth paying a single cent for, not to mention his 1.2 million dollars against the cap.

The curious thing about Markstrom is that he has excelled at every level up to the NHL. In 131 AHL games, he has a 0.918 save percentage. If we ignore his first AHL season (his first in North America), that improves to a 0.922 save percentage in a 94 game sample. This is, to put it simply, really good. Eddie Lack, in his three healthy AHL years (I’m discounting the season following his hip surgery) left the AHL with a 0.926 save percentage and was suggested to be one of the best goalies in the league by some. Jonathan Bernier, in his 115 games in the AHL, also had a 0.926 save percentage. Braden Holtby pulled a 0.917 in 132 games, the Ducks’ much heralded John Gibson put up a 0.919 this season, and Corey Schneider had a career 0.921 save percentage in his AHL career. These are all goalies with elite AHL pedigrees, and Markstrom is right up there with them. 

The question the Canucks need to be asking is whether Markstrom is going to be able perform at an NHL level in the future. In this article, Eric Tulsky suggests that the ‘replacement-level’ save percentage for goalies may be 0.907 or slightly lower. Markstrom’s 0.896 NHL save percentage is so far below even replacement level that if he can’t improve on it, he will lose his team games even just as a backup. This work suggests that the save percentage translation for the NHL from the AHL may be -0.007. If we take that to be the case, Markstrom’s equivalent save percentage in the NHL would be either 0.911 or 0.915, depending on whether you included his first AHL season. Either of these results are an enormous improvement on what he has put forth so far, and could make him a legitimate starting option in the NHL. Of course there is no guarantee that 0.911-0.915 is the NHL save percentage level he is playing at, but at the very least it’s a good indicator that he has a chance of being an above-average goalie in the big league.

The real challenge is that if the Canucks do decide that Markstrom could develop into a useful asset, their hands are tied. In an ideal world they would probably want to keep Markstrom and Eriksson in Utica and sign a veteran to share time with Eddie Lack. Unfortunately, Markstrom is on a one-way contract so to send him to the AHL would make him available to every other team to claim off of waivers. If they want to be sure to keep Markstrom around they are stuck running a duo of Eddie Lack and Markstrom in net for the year ahead. 

Unfortunately for Markstrom, there are a lot of good goaltenders available this summer. Thomas Greiss, Devan Dubnyk and Justin Peters all are young, will be relatively inexpensive, and have a history of strong NHL play behind them. They would all be great candidates to share time with Eddie Lack in net, and their upside may be just as high as Markstrom’s. James Reimer is almost certainly going to be available for trade at a low price, and has an even more impressive history of good NHL play as a starter. Most of those goalies will be available at similar prices to Markstrom’s 1.2m ticket. The Canucks are in a great position with so little cap space dedicated to their starting goalie, Lack. To fully take advantage of this they need to look for other cheap young talent within and without their organization. This means not doing what they are considering and signing an expensive veteran goalie to serve as a mentor. The obvious targets are Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller. I don’t believe that either of those two are better right now than any of the young goalies previously mentioned, and possibly may not be better than Lack himself. 

Jacob Markstrom might turn out to be a good NHL goaltender. He’s definitely better than a lot of the media reports I’ve seen since he’s come to Vancouver have made him out to be. He’s put up numbers to suggest that he has the potential to be a very good NHL goalie, and so from a purely player development perspective, he is worth keeping around. However, it’s hard not to like the idea of a Reimer/Lack or even a Peters/Lack duo in net more than Markstrom/Lack. After seeing Lack struggle with the starting role after the trade deadline, it would seem that if the Canucks want to make the playoffs this year they need another goalie capable of 30/40 quality starts this upcoming season. Despite Markstrom’s promise, the Canucks are most likely going to have to send him down to Utica and hope that some team (maybe even Florida) doesn’t like him enough to claim him and keep him on the bench until he becomes an RFA at the end of the year. 

 

Evaluating Jordan Schroeder

Jordan Schroeder, 22nd overall pick in 2009, is a restricted free agent this summer. He is 23 years old and has only two partial NHL seasons and almost 200 AHL games under his belt. He’s a player who has yet to make a significant impact with the Canucks organization, and is still an unknown quantity going forward. To make matters more complex, if he can’t put up scoring numbers he will have a hard time finding a place on a roster, as not many bottom-six slots go to players standing 5’8.

With only 56 NHL games played, we need to dig a little deeper to try to figure out where Schroeder’s ceiling is. I’m sure the Canucks are hoping that he’s going to develop similarly to Mats Zuccarello or Martin St Louis, as similarly diminutive players who didn’t establish an NHL presence until their mid-twenties who have gone on to be star offensive contributors. However, over the past five years Schroeder has put up 0.6 PPG at the AHL level. That’s fine offensive production, but certainly doesn’t suggest that he’s going to be a big point scorer for the Canucks – this is borne out by his NHL stat line of 0.27 PPG, translating to 22 points over a full 82 game season. Zuccarello and St Louis, conversely, each produced at over a point-per-game pace in the AHL. As Tyler Dellow has noted, players who produce significant offence in the NHL tend to score at a level of 0.75 PPG or higher in the AHL, a benchmark Schroeder falls short of. So the question becomes whether Schroeder can establish himself as a bottom-nine or more likely a bottom-six forward.

Schroeder very clearly doesn’t match a traditional prototype for a bottom-six forward. He isn’t big and physical, he hasn’t spent much time penalty killing, and he isn’t great at the faceoff dot. That all becomes moot, in my mind, if he can control play. Watching LA and NY advance through their conferences this summer should have made everyone take note of how important it can be to have 4 effective lines, especially with LA having played three seven game series already. Schroeder doesn’t need to try to be a new type of player. If he can play at a level so that the Canucks out-possess their opposition when he’s on the ice, then he is worth a roster spot.

How has Schroeder done in terms of possession? In 2012-13 he had a Corsi For of 51.8%, and in 2013-14 he posted a CF of 52.4%. However, he was used very carefully. He has started 57.3% of his shifts in the offensive zone in his career, and his QoC Corsi Rel for his career is -0.751. What this means is that he has most often been on the ice against some of the weaker players on opposing teams. The 2012-13 season saw him being sheltered more than players like Max Lappiere and David Booth, and less than only Dale Weise and Chris Tanev, among the regular players that year. In 2013-14, Schroeder had the lowest QoC Corsi Rel of any Canuck who played more than 10 games. However, this past year Schroeder also posted up a 96.1 PDO, mostly due to an abysmal on-ice save percentage. Whatever your impressions were of Schroeder from watching the games this year, it’s safe to say he was playing better than he looked.

The numbers do nothing to suggest that Schroeder can drive possession at the NHL level. He certainly hasn’t at this point in his career. However, he remains a career 52.1% Corsi For player, and that alone is enough to suggest that it’s worth keeping him around. Few players drive possession early in their career – even likely Calder winner Nathan Mackinnon posted a dead even Corsi Rel of 0 this year – and it seems reasonable to project some improvement from him if kept around.

Even without driving possession, there are some indications that Schroeder is more useful than he seems. Without a lot of data for him, we saw this year that he performed phenomenally at entering the zone with control of the puck. This is clearly affected by sample size, but this year he kept control of the puck (as opposed to dumping it in) for over 90% of his zone entries. That’s an unsustainable rate over a full season, but with 31 games under his belt it does suggest that he is a good puck-control player when it comes to entering the offensive zone. This, intuitively, results in far more shots and far more sustained offence than playing a dump and chase style. It’s an enormous asset to have a bottom six who can play this type of hockey, as it really enhances their ability to play against the opposing top six, instead of just their counterparts in the opposing bottom six.

The type of player that Schroeder most optimistically projects to being, at this point, is one like Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames. Only two years older than Schroeder and a fellow first round pick, Backlund has put up pretty meager point totals until this year, but has excelled as a play-driving third line centre, putting out pretty outstanding possession numbers for the Flames (no mean feat). Backlund has posted Corsi Rel numbers of +7.3%, +4.6%, and 5.4% over the last three years. Skill does not necessarily manifest itself in point totals, and skilled players like Backlund and Schroeder do have value in the bottom six of a hockey team. Another alternative for Schroeder is moving him away from center. He may not be able to handle the responsibilities of playing center in the NHL, but he is a skilled player – his point per game totals in the AHL and zone entry numbers show that – and may be able to find a better home on the wing.

Icing a bottom six who do more than play chip and chase hockey is one of the biggest competitive advantages available in the NHL right now, and if Schroeder can mature into one of those pieces he will have real value to the Canucks moving forward. His size frankly just does not matter one bit if he can outpossess and outskill his opposition. It’s on that basis that I think he still may have a shot at being an NHL regular. For the time being, however, he is a totally unproven RFA with little NHL experience, and no real leg to stand on in contract negotiations. Even if the Canucks are pessimistic about his development, he can at the very least be a valuable piece for the Comets.

Scouting thoughts continued

I saw a couple tweets from Corey Pronman (hockey scout and Insider for ESPN, among others) today on the level of uncertainty in the draft that I thought were worth posting as a follow-up to my last post.

 

 

The point I’m trying to emphasize again here is that after the “sure things” of each draft there is just so much uncertainty. Every scout is going to have a different opinion and every team is going to have a different draft board, but nobody really knows whether the guy picked at number 17 is going to develop better than the guy at number 38.

Ron Delorme, scouting woes, and process over results

Recently Canucks Army and Pass it to Bulis have each looked at just how dreadful the Canucks have been at drafting and developing their prospects in recent years. You can read their takes on that here and here. What each of them found is that using very simple methodologies and data available to the public, you can easily (EASILY) do better at the draft than the Canucks have in the past decade.

Ron Delorme is a former Canucks player who retired in 1985. By 1988 he had a job with the Canucks as a scout, and in 2000 he took over as the Canucks’ Chief Amateur Scout. Graphics like the one below (courtesy of That’s Offside! at Canucks Army) show just how ineffective the Canucks have been at drafting since he took over in 2000, up until 2010. Drafts after 2010 are hard to judge as many or most of the players selected in those drafts are still prospects. The graphic measures Games Played per draft pick as measured against the league average.
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Of note to Canucks fans is that both Boston and Buffalo have had excellent drafting records during Jim Benning’s time at each.

My one concern with this type of analysis is that it judges results, not processes. Of course this is by necessity, as we have no way of knowing how Delorme and his scouts work so there’s no method to judge their process. Nonetheless, any time you are judging results instead of processes you have to be very careful to consider things like sample size, randomness, and luck or else you risk sounding like Steve Simmons on the Corsi Hockey League. In other words, what I’m suggesting is that careful consideration needs to be given as to how much of Delorme’s failure and Benning’s success actually comes down to luck and factors outside of their control.

The Canucks have picked 79 players in the 11 drafts of the Delorme era. Those 79 players can be broken down as follows:

  • 9 first round picks (averaging out to the 19th pick in the draft)
  • 7 second round picks
  • 9 third round picks
  • 8 fourth round picks
  • 11 fifth round picks
  • 12 sixth round picks
  • 9 seventh round picks

Since 2005 there have been 7 rounds in the draft, instead of 9 as it was previously. From 2000-2004 the Canucks also picked:

  • 6 eighth round picks
  • 5 ninth round picks (one of whom turned out to be Jannik Hansen)

In every round of every draft there will be players who don’t turn into effective NHL players. Even in the first round, there will be good hockey players picked who won’t make it as NHLers for reasons that are usually totally unforeseeable. On every team’s draft board there will be players who will end up being bad picks. There’s a large element of luck involved in whether or not each team actually ENDS UP with those players. A good example of this is former Vancouver Giant Gilbert Brulé, picked in the 2005 draft at 6th overall. He had a great junior career and was ranked 5th by Central Scouting leading up to the draft. You can bet that the Canucks would have been thrilled to take him at their number 10 slot had he not already been taken. In this case the process of the Blue Jackets picking him at number 6 was probably sound, but the result doesn’t necessarily show that. Furthermore, as you get further and further down the draft order, the randomness involved in each pick increases. The odds of drafting a useful NHL player out of a 5th round pick are slim. I’m not suggesting that the entire business of the draft is random, just that it’s closer than we think. The most important work scouts do is identifying what traits lead to successful NHL players and ones that are valuable to their team (more on this later), ranking all the available prospects by those standards, and picking the best available. After they do that it is largely luck that determines whether draft picks turn into useful contributors or not.

I would be very, very surprised if the Canucks scouting department is substantially different from many others across the league. The job of scouts, above all, should be to identify the traits that will make 18 year old hockey players become successful NHLers and to draft for those qualities. There are teams across the league who have long been drafting for things that aren’t necessarily likely to lead to success at the NHL level – grit, size, and character, among others – like Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia and others that are all above the league average for GP per draft pick, unlike Vancouver. What that suggests to me is that randomness, not scouting effectiveness, is dictating much of these results. The Canucks have drafted 79 players in the 11 drafts under Delorme, and with those players ranging across 9 rounds I think it’s very likely that isn’t a sufficient sample size to draw the conclusions being drawn from it.

Finding the qualities that lead prospects to become successful NHL players is perhaps better done with data analysis than by scouts. For example, we know that drafting defencemen who don’t put points on the board in junior (often picked for their strong defence, size, or grit) is unlikely to produce NHL players. Every single NHL defencemen has strong puck skills, and at the junior level that shows through with substantial point totals. What I’m going to do is examine the 9 first round picks that the Canucks have made in the Ron Delorme era and compare them to the Central Scouting rankings on those players to see if there are any obvious differences between what the Canucks are doing as compared to other scouts.

2000: Nathan Smith, 23rd overall, ranked 13th among North American skaters by Central Scouting
2001: R.J. Umberger, 16th overall, ranked 5th among North American skaters
2003: Ryan Kesler, 23rd overall, ranked 16th among North American skaters
2004: Corey Schneider, 24th overall, ranked 7th among North American goalies
2005: Luc Bourdon, 10th overall, ranked 6th among North American skaters
2006: Michael Grabner, 14th overall, ranked 23rd among North American skaters
2007: Patrick White, 25th overall, ranked 23rd among North American skaters
2008: Cody Hodgson, 10th overall, ranked 9th among North American skaters
2009: Jordan Schroeder, 22nd overall, ranked 5th among North American skaters

What I’m trying to show with these rankings is that other scouts and other teams thought these were good players. They were not bad prospects that the Canucks, because of their uniquely mistaken draft philosophy, chose. They were good prospects chosen by the Canucks because they were available at that time. I doubt that the Canucks draft board often differs all that much from the Central Scouting rankings – and that’s okay. To try to test my intuition about the draft being largely random, I computed the GP/Pick of just first round draft picks for each team and compared them to the GP/Pick of all picks used in the graph above.

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What we get here is Vancouver now in the 22nd slot, fairly in line with their average selection of the 19th overall pick during that time period. This is obviously a good sign of process for the Canucks scouting and drafting methods. The first round should be the least random (while still affected significantly by chance), so this suggests that the Canucks are actually doing a better job drafting than what their GP/Pick ranking (29th) suggested.

There is not a particularly high correlation between the rankings of each team in the two lists. Tampa Bay, it seems, has been genuinely awful at the draft in the past decade or so (hello Jonathan Drouin), and Ottawa and Pittsburgh both have top 5 spots on each list, but on the whole drafting well in the first round does not seem to indicate that a team will draft well in the later rounds, as it gets more random.

I think there have been some promising tendencies showing up within the Canucks drafting record in recent years. Picking Jordan Subban (who should not have fallen to the third round) showed a willingness to avoid the kneejerk reaction we have against small defencemen. His puckhandling, skating and vision all make him far more likely to make the NHL than most third round picks. Further, the Canucks’ draft strategy with picks in late rounds showed a willingness to try different things as opposed to sticking with the tried and true scouting methods used as long as the NHL has been around. There are definitely ways to improve the way teams handle their scouting and player selection, and while that particular method was not effective for the Canucks, it shows a good attitude towards trying new things with drafting.

Yes, something as simple as drafting the highest ranked player by Central Scouting has outperformed the Canucks for the last decade. I’m not arguing that Ron Delorme should keep his job with the Canucks. His record is such that there’s no compelling reason that he should be kept on as Chief Amateur Scout or even be kept on as a Canucks employee in any capacity. My only defence of him is that I think his process is probably fine and he’s just been unlucky. I think odds are that he’s probably a reasonably competent scout who for the most part does things the right way, but has had some tough luck. Some draft picks that were risky, but worth making didn’t turn up for him (Jordan Schroeder, as the 5th ranked skater but standing at just 5’9), some went wrong for things totally unforeseeable (Luc Bourdon), and some picks just didn’t work out. That’s the nature of the game and the nature of the draft. I think Delorme’s processes are in all likelihood very similar to most other teams out there, and I’m sure he would find a new job without too much trouble if he were let go. Hence I’m not actually too pessimistic about Delorme staying on with the Canucks, as seems likely from what Benning and Linden have said so far. I think what the Canucks (and other NHL teams) need more than anything is better analysis of the types of players and types of skills they should target when scouting. Nonetheless, 26 years is a long time to have a job with any organization, and there is no compelling reason why Ron Delorme should be kept on by the Canucks.

The Canucks have an astonishingly low drafting PDO. Let’s all hope really really hard for some #regression

Note: I don’t think the GP/pick model is an effective way of judging drafting without a bigger sample size. The most effective (albeit labour intensive) method I can think of to judge drafting effectiveness is to come up with an expected GP number for each pick: for 1st overall, 2nd, 3rd, all the way down to 210th. This would account for selection advantage in the draft, and from there one could see how close to that expected value for GP teams are able to get, and whether that difference is within what can be attributed to variance or if certain teams really are underperforming at the draft.

Note on note: this http://www.puckwatch.com/2014/05/vancouver-canucks-draft-record.html analysis came out not long after I wrote this post and is, I think, the best I’ve seen on the topic.

REASONS WHY MIKE GILLIS IS GR8

So the next time you hear somebody bitching about Gillis’ drafting record or his trade history, remember these guys and how much we had to give up to get them (hint: not even second line player Tom Sestito)

PS Ryan Stanton for most surprised looking player in the NHL and Chris Tanev for um great hair I guess