“He’s a skilled player, but it’s a risky pick.”
You’re sure to hear that line on draft day when it finally arrives, but what does that actually mean? Skill, and risk. In some ways, the two words have become almost synonymous in some circles of prospect evaluation, or at least in the perception of prospect evaluation. Hockey players who demonstrate a high aptitude in certain characteristics such as puck skills have almost become automatically perceived as risky types of players, despite a looming ignorance for whatever their defensive aptitude may be. Hopefully, by now you’re catching my drift that this is obviously a misconception. While those who evaluate players for a living, or even on a semi-serious basis are forced to confront this head-on, as a casual fan or fantasy owner, it’s quite easy to misconstrue the linguistic association of the two terms. In fact, the two factors – skill and risk, MUST be evaluated exclusively from one another.
Many NHL teams, in addition to moving towards an analytics-supported evaluation system, have also continued to develop analytics in terms of draft strategy, which sadly, doesn’t get quite the same amount of press. While some teams are sure to have unique iterations of their supplemental strategies, the concepts are likely very similar across the league. Today, I hope to convey the concept and how it can be applied to the draft, by using the method of comparative risk assessment that I’ve developed at my day job for less fun things, like triage and cost justification.