Potato Picks: Vancouver Canucks

Using the methodology outlined in the Introduction, I use Vancouver as an illustration, going through the drafts and comparing their selections to the potato.

Remember the purpose of this exercise is to establish a baseline for comparison. The potato represents an objectively poor way to pick players, but shows us that even picking players using a poor methodology, you are not going to walk away with nothing. Please read the introduction for more information on how this is setup.

In order to measure the Canucks against the potato, I decided to use NHL minutes played. This is a rough way to compare players, but is based on the general accepted practice of using "games played" as a barometer, and takes it one step further. Using minutes played rather than games played helps to account for player quality, since the better the player, the more minutes he will play.

After each draft year I will index the amount of NHL minutes gained (so far) by Vancouver's picks against the minutes played by the potato's picks. This gives us an objective metric that we can update and monitor over time.

Having said all that, of course it is worth remembering these are recent drafts and many of these players are still playing in minor pro leagues and amateur leagues.

These are the selections.

2014
Team PickMinutesPotato PickMinutes
Jake Virtanen1,636William Nylander2,975
Jared McCann2,086David Pastrnak4,138
Thatcher Demko61Brayden Point2,718
Nikita Tryamkin1,333Viktor Arvidsson3,481
Gustav Forsling1,349Vladimir Tkachev0
Kyle Pettit0Spencer Watson0
Mackenze Stewart0Tyson Baille0

The 2014 draft was an especially good one for the potato. Nylander and Pastrnak were preferred over a lot of junior players, as they were putting up good numbers in a men's league. Brayden Point was passed over by many NHL teams for his size, while Arvidsson was passed over both for his size and his age. The potato accounts for both size and age but apparently did not penalize these players as harshly as did NHL teams.

Overall, Vancouver is lagging behind the potato selections in this draft, with 6,465 NHL minutes played vs. 13,312 by the potato's selections.

2014 Potato Score: 0.49

2015
Team PickMinutesPotato PickMinutes
Brock Boeser1,230Jack Roslovic366
Guillaume Brisebois0Blake Speers28
Dmitry Zhukenov0Cooper Marody0
Carl Neill0Ryan Pilon0
Adam Gaudette64Nikita Korostelev0
Lukas Jasek0Tyler Soy0
Tate Olson0Tanner Laczynski0
The Canucks are very much outperforming the potato in this draft. Boeser and Gaudette had excellent seasons, with Boeser tracking as a Calder candidate before his injury and Gaudette winning the Hobey Baker. Nevertheless, the potato has some interesting prospects. Roslovic split time between the NHL and AHL and put up some decent numbers. Tyler Soy would get picked in 2016 instead; the potato seems to frequently pick players a year before NHL teams do. Unfortunately, Ryan Pilon abruptly announced his retirement after losing his interest in hockey. This is something a potato would never be able to foresee.

2015 Potato Score: 3.18

2016
Team PickMinutesPotato PickMinutes
Olli Juolevi0Matthew Tkachuk2,287
William Lockwood0Noah Gregor0
Cole Candella0Simon Stransky0
Jakob Stukel0Collin Adams0
Rodrigo Abols0Dmitry Sokolov0
Brett McKenzie0Grant Jozefek0

The potato preferred Matthew Tkachuk to a lot of players in the draft, based on his tremendous numbers playing alongside Mitch Marner. So far, it has an edge as Juolevi is still developing in the Finnish Liiga. Stransky was expected to be drafted and his being passed over completely was a surprise even to the scouting agencies, but perhaps teams had some extra informaton there. Sokolov was selected by the Wild and just completed a 96 point OHL campaign. Adams and Jozefek are playing in the NCAA.

2016 Potato Score: 0.00

2017
Team PickMinutesPotato PickMinutes
Elias Pettersson0Elias Pettersson0
Kole Lind0Kole Lind0
Jonah Gadjovich0Jonah Gadjovich0
Michael DiPietro0Nick Henry0
Jack Rathbone0Artyom Minulin0
Kristoffer Gunnarsson0Zach Solow0
Petrus Palmu0Austen Keating0
Matt Brassard0Ben Jones0

Yes, that is correct. The potato would have made the same initial three selections as the Canucks did. The potato actually had Pettersson as #1 in the draft, and had Lind and Gadjovich highly rated as well. Minulin, Solow and Keating all went undrafted in 2017, but Minulin and Solow are possible late-round selections in 2018. Minulin is of particular interest as a defender with 43 points in 64 WHL games this year. Jones was taken in the 7th round by the Knights and had 79 points in the OHL this season.

2017 Potato Score: N/A

Overall Potato Score: 0.49

Well, there you have it. Hopefully this exercise was interesting in establishing a minimum level of expectations for the Canucks. You can see that even by using a very crude and poor methodology for picking players, the Canucks would not only still have Pettersson, Lind and Gadjovich, but would also have a decent number of other interesting prospects. Guys like Minulin, Sokolov, Soy and Marody are all players who fans would be following with the same level of interest that they follow some of their current prospects.

Time will tell how much better the Canucks perform over the baseline, and I intend to update these numbers and post updates as players debut in the NHL.

Next up: I will perform a similar exercise for the other 30 teams, provide the gory details on my calculations, and post some metrics for the upcoming 2018 draft.

Please feel free to message me with your thoughts, comments, criticisms and suggestions.

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