Potato Picks: Team Evaluations

In this post I will pit each team against the potato and then rank their respective results relative to one another. This will establish a ranking of draft performance based upon early results for the 2014-17 drafts.

My original plan for this was to go through each team such as I did for Vancouver last week. However, what I have found is that since the potato so often goes "off the board," it makes many of the same picks for each team. Thus, going through every team and seeing the same names is a bit repetitive and boring. I will thus omit these details but can provide any team upon request.

I should also note that the model has been tweaked somewhat in terms of the values of the adjustments. The players chosen for Vancouver for the purposes of this evaluation does not match exactly the players chosen last week, which was more of an illustration of the methodology; it is mostly the same but there are some minor differences (such as Anthony Beauvillier instead of Jack Roslovic in 2015.)

Finally, since the potato has a few players ranked much higher than they were taken, those players were taken by the potato when selecting for virtually every team (in particular, Viktor Arvidsson and Brayden Point.) This has led to every single team under-performing the potato so far, but this is partially due to a bias in how the model was constructed and we should not expect it to continue as we do future drafts. For more information on the methodology see the introduction.

In other words, we should not read too much into the fact that all teams appear to have "underperformed" the potato. The potato had an unfair advantage by the fact that we could evaluate it and make adjustments based on data that teams did not have at the time they made their selections. Thus there is some concerns about over-fitting which I can go into more detail in a future post. This post is not really about comparing each team to the potato, but about ranking the teams relative to one another, so let's get to that.

Each team is measured by comparing the NHL TOI received by its players compared to the players picked by the potato in the exact same context. By comparing teams against each other in this way we are controlling for the amount of picks and the quality of those picks. Whether you have five first-round picks or you don't draft until the 4th round, you are in either case measured against the players chosen by the potato using the exact same selections.

Here are the rankings so far, based on data through 2017-18, for players selected from the 2014-17 NHL drafts. The ranking is based on net TOI above the potato's players, where every team is currently in the negative mostly due to the Arvidsson-Point bias.

RKTeamTeam TOIPotato TOI Net TOI TOI%
1BOS 11,563 11,677 -114.00 99%
2FLA 9,449 10,061 -612.00 94%
3EDM 10,830 13,028 -2,198.00 83%
4PIT 1,436 4,349 -2,913.00 33%
5TOR 8,971 12,225 -3,254.00 73%
6NYR 219 3,880 -3,661.00 6%
7WPG 8,641 12,436 -3,795.00 69%
8DET 4,439 8,438 -3,999.00 53%
9CHI 3,584 7,818 -4,234.00 46%
10COL 5,129 9,786 -4,657.00 52%
11ANA 6,425 11,797 -5,372.00 54%
12PHI 8,078 13,569 -5,491.00 60%
13ARI 9,986 15,537 -5,551.00 64%
14STL 4,655 10,414 -5,759.00 45%
15SJS 4,246 10,130 -5,884.00 42%
16NSH 6,924 13,080 -6,156.00 53%
17MON 3,201 9,594 -6,393.00 33%
18LAK 1,865 8,677 -6,812.00 21%
19TBL 4,209 11,115 -6,906.00 38%
20CAR 8,562 15,854 -7,292.00 54%
21NYI 4,437 11,952 -7,515.00 37%
22MIN 2,704 10,263 -7,559.00 26%
23CGY 6,143 13,968 -7,825.00 44%
24OTT 1,884 10,006 -8,122.00 19%
25BUF 8,918 17,230 -8,312.00 52%
26WAS 1,258 9,580 -8,322.00 13%
27NJD 4,695 13,441 -8,746.00 35%
28CBS 7,504 16,402 -8,898.00 46%
29VAN 7,613 17,776 -10,163.00 43%
30DAL 838 11,385 -10,547.00 7%

Here is the same table, sorted by TOI% instead of Net TOI

RKTeamTeam TOIPotato TOI Net TOI TOI%
1BOS 11,563 11,677 -114.00 99%
2FLA 9,449 10,061 -612.00 94%
3EDM 10,830 13,028 -2,198.00 83%
4TOR 8,971 12,225 -3,254.00 73%
5WPG 8,641 12,436 -3,795.00 69%
6ARI 9,986 15,537 -5,551.00 64%
7PHI 8,078 13,569 -5,491.00 60%
8ANA 6,425 11,797 -5,372.00 54%
9CAR 8,562 15,854 -7,292.00 54%
10NSH 6,924 13,080 -6,156.00 53%
11DET 4,439 8,438 -3,999.00 53%
12COL 5,129 9,786 -4,657.00 52%
13BUF 8,918 17,230 -8,312.00 52%
14CHI 3,584 7,818 -4,234.00 46%
15CBS 7,504 16,402 -8,898.00 46%
16STL 4,655 10,414 -5,759.00 45%
17CGY 6,143 13,968 -7,825.00 44%
18VAN 7,613 17,776 -10,163.00 43%
19SJS 4,246 10,130 -5,884.00 42%
20TBL 4,209 11,115 -6,906.00 38%
21NYI 4,437 11,952 -7,515.00 37%
22NJD 4,695 13,441 -8,746.00 35%
23MON 3,201 9,594 -6,393.00 33%
24PIT 1,436 4,349 -2,913.00 33%
25MIN 2,704 10,263 -7,559.00 26%
26LAK 1,865 8,677 -6,812.00 21%
27OTT 1,884 10,006 -8,122.00 19%
28WAS 1,258 9,580 -8,322.00 13%
29DAL 838 11,385 -10,547.00 7%
30NYR 219 3,880 -3,661.00 6%

David Pastrnak was one of those players who was ranked highly by the potato, as he was putting up impressive numbers in a men's league. A lot of teams have been burned so far by passing on him when the potato would have taken him. The Bruins, of course, are not one of them. In addition to Pasta, they also selected Heinen in that draft, and Brandon Carlo in 2015. The potato had McAvoy in the same spot as Boston for 2016 so they did not get any added-value there.

Vancouver is ranked 29th. The 2014 draft is just killing them here. As illustrated last week, the potato had Nylander, Pastrnak, Arvidsson and Point with the first four selections so even though Vancouver had a good draft at a surface level, picking up fringe NHL players like Forsling and McCann, they are being brutalized by the potato.

Dallas ended up with the lowest score, getting NHL minutes only out of Honka (816) and Gurianov (13.) Using Dallas's picks, the potato not only selected the usual Pastrnak/Arvidsson/Point which hurt almost every team, but also picked up some NHL minutes from Rasmus Andersson (173,) Tage Thompson (489,) Evgeny Svechnikov (150) and Alex Carrier (21.)

Teams like Pittsburgh and the Rangers are doing alright mostly because they had so little to work with. Both teams traded away a lot of their picks so while they did not get a lot from their selections, neither was the potato able to select much from the same picks. This illustrates the value of this method for ranking teams, as we can evaluate how a scouting staff performed based on what was actually available to them.

Buffalo is ranked 25th and subjectively might have the worst looking results thus far. The potato took William Nylander and Brandon Montour along with the usual Arvidsson/Point, agreed with the obvious Eichel selection and also added Charlie McAvoy in 2016. I hope that Buffalo is right about Mittelstadt because this is not looking so great for them right now.

All of the teams with their "potato selections" have been saved and I am eager to track these results over time to see which teams eventually pull ahead of the potato.

I hope you are enjoying the potato draft series so far. Please feel free to send me any questions on here or on Twitter.

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