Prospect Ramblings: The Most Improved Prospects

Josh Tessler




Every year at the NHL Entry Draft, NHL teams are always looking to find the hidden gems. Of course, they are also trying to grab the marquis players like Alexis Lafrenière, Quinton Byfield, Lucas Raymond, Tim Stützle and Jamie Drysdale, but teams are also looking for the diamond in the rough. Plenty of exceptional hockey players have been selected in the later rounds. Anders Lee of the New York Islanders, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, former Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, former Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, former Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, former Vancouver Canucks forward Pavel Bure and former Washington Capitals forward Peter Bondra were all taken in the later rounds. 


So, every single year, each NHL team has their scouts zoned in on creating a list of prospects who might not appear to be a star on paper but have plenty of upside. With that being said, I decided to take a look at several drafted prospects (a decent percentage were drafted in the later rounds) to see how they have developed over time. The goal is to identify the most improved prospects. 


The Math

In preparation to write this post, I spent quite a bit of time looking at several drafted prospects who have significantly improved their pNHLe (NHL point equivalency) this season. I skimmed many profiles on Mason Black’s NHL Rank King application and I managed to come up with a list of 40 prospects who had improved their pNHLe. 


Once I put together the list of the 40 prospects, I began to look at their pNHLe from the 2019-2020 season and their pNHLe from the 2018-2019 season. After both pNHLe values were identified, I calculated the Year Over Year Growth of pNHLe. While that would give me a list of prospects who have improved over the last season, I wanted to see how prospects have improved over time (not just from the 2018-2019 season to the 2019-2020 season). With that being said, I decided to add an additional column that showed each prospect’s pNHLe from their first season that Black had pNHLe values for them. After those pNHLe values were added to the spreadsheet, I then calculated an Average Year Over Year Growth in pNHLe.