Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Best Players Not Taken in 2015

Looking back on the year that was, I think it is somewhat interesting to look at some of the players that were not taken, maybe that would help the homework process for next season... or maybe not. Who knows?

I thought a quick look at those players that were not touched by pool teams this past year, could provide some insight as to how well we selected this year and who we may want to consider for next season.  A lot of these questions will surface when I do a couple of my off-season posts, recapping and previewing, but it is good to get a jump on things, right?

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, but in hockey pool terms, you're not judged on your hindsight, rather you're trying to predict which players will have the greater scoring outcome... or in the goaltenders case, who will win the most games. There was no predicting Andrew Hammond at the beginning of the year or taking him seriously at the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft, where he had only just emerged and started his streak, unbeknownst to anyone that he would zoom to the top of the untouched player pile.

Hammond finished with 20 wins, 3 shutouts and an assist in 1,410 minutes of ice-time, which was good enough for 2 points per 60 minutes in net in the end.  Hammond's 47 points ended up ranking him 133rd overall in pool scoring and 27th among goalies.  In the pool, he was better than 20 goalies that still held positions on pool teams at the end of the season, a lot of which were taken at the opening draft.

The question quickly becomes, is he the real deal?  Well, we'll see a playoff run to better decide that for September's next draft, but if you haven't bookmarked him for next season, you've already fallen behind in the homework department.

Also in the untouched goalie section, Chicago's Scott Darling gave a late push for 20 points on the year, while Boston back-up Niklas Svedberg and Pittsburgh back-up Thomas Greiss were not taken at all during the year, picking up 19 & 18 points, respectively.

Up front, as a collective group, I thought the pool did really well taking forwards, as they picked them apart quite well.  One player that slipped through the cracks, maybe by lack of name recognition, was Rangers rookie forward Kevin Hayes.  Hayes signed out of the NCAA ranks last season, as a highly touted forward and a slow start really hindered his stock price (like you could actually buy him), but a late season push really amped up his numbers, as he finished the season with 17 goals and 45 points in 79 games with the Rangers, ranking 144th overall.

Hayes, 22, is one of the more mature rookies in the NHL this season, coming out of the college ranks, so there always seems to be a little less of a chance of a sophomore slump, but there always is a chance that the soon-to-be second year player may have a slight hiccup next season, but after watching some of his play this year, he does look to be one of those good power forwards, likely only to get bigger and stronger.

After Hayes, the talent got really thin, as Edmonton's Benoit Pouliot was next on the list of untouched, with a mere 19 goals and 34 points, tied with Calgary's Lance Bouma (16 goals), Pittsburgh's Daniel Winnik (9 goals) and New Jersey's Scott Gomez (7 goals).

New Jersey's Adam Larsson finished the season 63rd in blueline scoring this season with 3 goals and 24 points in 64 games, whilst being a healthy scratch for a number of games for the Devils.  That's a pretty good sign that the pool picked apart the bluelines of all the NHL teams.

There were quite a few defensemen taken in the pool, be it in the original draft or at either Waiver Draft, that were below Larsson in scoring.  By my count, there were over 20 blueliners that didn't quite live up to their expectations, someone like Jay Bouwmeester, who only finished with 13 points this season and could have vaulted Allan from 22nd to 21st, assuming that pick was made differently at the draft.

Pittsburgh/Anaheim defenseman Simon Despres was next on the list, scoring 3 goals and 23 points between his two stops, while Edmonton and Montreal had Jeff Petry, who had 7 goals and 22 points in the season.

This probably hasn't been the best tool for your homework purposes, but it is something to consider.  How excited is anyone going to be about Hammond next year?  Will they give him the number one job and will the team of youngsters carry them into some pretty good scoring numbers?  These will be questions asked during the Summer and adjustments may be made to annual projections, especially when the numbers start rolling for next year's draft.

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