If you’ve been reading my work over the years, you know that my Ramblings are sometimes just an excuse to find information on certain trends. The draft is a perfect time for this, and I suspect I’ll be digging into the results long into the summer. In the immediate aftermath of Round 2-7, I’ve jumped into the results to breakdown the leagues and countries that prospects are coming from.
Make no mistake – a player’s talent, character, or fantasy relevance are not determined by where they come from. Every human being is different. This is more of an interest project, to see the evolution of the NHL and where its players are coming from. I’m certain that if these numbers were compared to those from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or beyond, we would be blown away by the ever-expanding reach of the NHL scouting departments and the growth of legitamate development programs across the world.
So let’s take a look at where things stand in 2019:
Leagues contributing to the 2019 Draft Class
I could have gone further into the deep rounds, but I think the trend is on full display by Round 4.
- The CHL leagues and the NTDP dominated the first round. The first round was historic for the NTDP, as it out-drafted any other individual league. Top American prospects aren’t just on-par with top Canadian prospects anymore…this year they were the leaders.
- The WHL was the most favored CHL league in Round 1, followed by the OHL and QMJHL. But this evened out quickly starting in Round 2.
- Most of the European Pro leagues outnumbered their respective Junior leagues in the early rounds. The available prospects in the Sr. leagues were mostly gone by the 4th Round, which is when the Russian, Finnish, and Swedish Junior leagues all got bigger pieces of the pie.
- The “AJHL, BCHL, USHS, DEL, Other” category also becomes bigger each round. It appears that although it takes a special talent to become a 1st-rounder from one of these lower-quality-of-competition leagues, they are still regarded as a serious source of talent worthy of flyers in the 3rd Round and beyond.
- The Russian leagues have a surprisingly low (in my opinion anyways) share of the charts in Rounds 1 and 2. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Russians weren’t taken in the draft (segue into the next graphs below) – it just indicates that a fair number of the top Russian players are transitioning to North America prior to their draft year, to gain experience with the different style of play (or perhaps see more ice time than they would in leagues that often favor veterans).
As mentioned above, let’s now look at the overall nationalities of the prospects in question.
Again, normally I would not give credence to the people who choose to judge a player by their nationality. I’m showing this information because I want to show how times are changing in the NHL.
Nationalities of the 2019 Draft Class
- That’s right – Americans equaled or exceeded Canadians in Rounds 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the 2019 draft. It was a historic year for a lot of reason for the American development program. The Canadian contingent grabbed a major share overall, but don’t be caught sleeping on the legitimacy of the American kids that are kicking ass out there.
- It may be fear of non-commitment or it may be just an off-year, but the Russian contribution to Round 1 was very low. They rebounded in all subsequent rounds, which may indicate the risk-reward weighting the scouts believe in.
- Sweden and Finland both held an extremely consistent share of almost every round of the draft. This is good sign that these development programs are spitting out a wide variety of quality players, at a volume that is sustainable for drafting through all seven rounds. Quantity of prospects doesn’t seem to be an issue, now they will want to push for a bigger share of the first two rounds…
- At the end of the day – don’t judge a prospect by the nationality. Some may be rarer than others, but every round from 1-7 is extremely diverse. Scouting departments are not shy of picking players with non-traditional development if the talent is there, and neither should you.