NHL Prospect rankings are hard. Maybe harder than any other sport.
Obviously that’s might not be entirely true, there is a lot of trial and error when it comes to evaluating minor league talent, a lot of hits and misses with any sport, except maybe top two picks in the NBA. The difficulty in hockey talent evaluations is that you’re dealing with 17 year old kids when they’re drafted- the youngest of any sport. But even the NFL, which waits until the age of 20 to draft prospects, has a lot of trouble evaluating talent.
A huge reason for this is because you’re dealing with human beings, and with the slight exception of hockey experts calling the Wild boring, you can never really predict what human beings are going to do.
But that’s just drafting. At least baseball prospects are in the same minor leagues as everyone else, and football and basketball players make the leap to the highest levels right away. Hockey prospects are all over the world, playing all kinds of different talent levels. We can all figure out that Mikael Granlund’s 38 points in 32 SM-Liiga games are pretty damn valuable. But what’s more impressive? Zack Phillips’ 54 points in 32 games playing against kids his own age in Juniors, or Johan Larsson’s 23 points in 31 games in the Sweedish Elite League? It’s kind of hard to say.
And therein lies the beauty of the World Junior Championships. For a magical two weeks, all the top prospects are on a level playing field. Even in a small sample size, we can still glean quite a bit of information from this tournament. With the Wild sending six prospects to the WJCs next week, let’s break down the prospects participating, and what to expect from them. Continue reading