Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Predicting 2018 NHL Future Watch Rankings

Every year the Hockey News releases a magazine that ranks the best NHL prospects who are not currently playing in the big leagues. I always buy the first copy I see on newsstands every spring and keep Future Watch rankings in my spreadsheet of draft picks from 2004-2016. I lack detailed knowledge of the process that goes into making their rankings, though it is obvious they conduct dozens of interviews with scouts and are clients of the International Scouting Service.

I'm curious to see if I can predict what the top 75 order will be in 2018 with any reasonable accuracy. There is really no point trying to predict who will be in the individual Team top 10, since that will be mostly made up of the same players printed in their beginning of the season yearbook, with some minor alterations. They recently started ranking their top 100 prospects, but historically it was just 75 so I'll be sticking with that number. The HN excludes players currently playing in the NHL at the time they compile their list, who could have been sent back down by the time I made my list. So there will be some players excluded because they were promoted or demoted, before or after submission deadlines.

I started with a statistical estimate of where prospects would be based on draft position and last year's ranking (if they are not already in the NHL), then moved them up and down based on how they are performing so far this season. Hockey News Prospect "guru" Ryan Kennedy shares significant responsibility for Future Watch rankings, and I do listen to his Prospects Podcast. That does provide me with some indication of where they are leaning on certain players. Also, I don't bother ranking goalie prospects.

For more reading on the subject of Future Watch, check out these posts "Probability of Draft Picks Being Ranked In Future Watch" and "Expected Future Value of Future Watch Prospects".

Expected 2018 Future Watch Top 75 Rankings Order:

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