Each year, both the NEFHL and the NHL draft separately from the junior leagues the best prospects available. While the NEFHL possesses the best scouts of the two leagues, it's nevertheless interesting to compare the result of each draft.
While there are differences between the sets drafted by each league, the fact that one league drafted a player ahead of another is not necessarily an indication that it is a better choice. Every year, some players are selected in a league and passed in the other, just to be selected the year after. Players never selected in the NHL but drafted in the NEFHL sometimes end up earning a contract in the NHL and vice-versa.
Let's start with the differences in the format of both drafts. In the NEFHL, the draft consist of 8 rounds compared to the 7 rounds in the NHL. This is probably due to the superiority of the NEFHL scouts that can spot talent up to the 240th draftee. However, in the NHL, there can be compensatory picks that can extend the draft beyond 210 picks. The NEFHL draft is done the day before the NHL draft which can tip off somewhat the NHL on which player goes where. Beyond that, the rules are pretty much the same, draft the best 17-21 years old prospects!
Now let's check the results. From the 211 selections made by the NHL in 2015, the NEFHL has selected 160 prospects. The NHL also picked a couple of 2014 NEFHL drafted prospects (Jaros, Mangiapane, Gavrikov, Desrocher). In the end, close to 80% of the prospects selected in the NHL draft were also picked in the NEFHL. A total of 69 junior players were selected in the NEFHL draft that went undrafted in the NHL. Considering that about 30 more players are selected in the NEFHL, this reconciles with the 80% figure.
In general, the NEFHL has a tendency to pick players ahead of the NHL. To make this calculation, each undrafted player in the NHL draft was assigned a draft position of 241. For the draft overall, the NEFHL picked on average each player 19 selections above the NHL for the same prospects. Here's the break-down for each round:
The largest difference can be seen in rounds 4, 5 and 6. The explanation behind this is probably that the 4th round is where the lists start showing a lot of variation between the different teams.
What were the largest differences in each round of drafting between the NEFHL and the NHL (in terms of rank of selection)?
In round 1, Jakub Zboril, the Maple Leafs pick at rank 30, was selected at rank 13 in the NHL. The +17 jump in rankings was the highest in the first round. At the other end of the spectrum, Thomas Novak, the Kings selection at 23 only went 85th in the NHL, a slide of 62 ranks.
In round 2, the Canadiens were able to draft a player that went in the 1st round in the NHL. Gabriel Carlsson was still there at 50 which was 21 ranks below his selection in the NHL at 29. This round, the Senators selected the biggest NHL faller in Nikita Korostelev at rank 55. In the NHL, Korostelev was only selected at rank 185 for a whopping difference of 130 ranks.
In round 3, the Flyers, profiting from five selections in a row, drafted Brendan Guhle at 86 who went 35 ranks higher in the NHL at 55. The Canucks, with the 76th pick, drafted the first player in the NEFHL that went undrafted in the NHL: Brett McKenzie. No other third round picks went undrafted in the NHL.
In round 4, the Flyers selected once again the biggest jumper. They selected a prospect at 104 that went early in the 2nd round in the NHL at 35: Sebastian Aho (from Finland). This was good for a jump of 69 ranks. As a result of diverting lists starting in the 4th round, several players went undrafted in the NHL in each round up until the 8th round.
In round 5, the Hurricanes grabbed Vili Saarijarvi with the 130th selection. This prospect was selected 57 ranks before in the NHL at 73 in the third round.
In round 6, the first selection of the round by the Panthers, Martin Dzierkals at rank 151, was the biggest riser of the round, selected at 68 in the NHL third round.
In round 7 and round 8, the largest movers both were selected over 100 ranks ahead in the NHL. The two teams that achieved this result made up for players that went lower or undrafted in the previous rounds. The Canucks, who selected the NHL undrafted Brett McKenzie in the third round, were able to pick Mike Robinson at 197. Robinson went 111 ranks higher in the third round of the NHL. Then in the last round, the Kings went with overrager Lukas Vejdemo at 214, who was selected in the third round in the NHL at 87. This jump of 127 ranks eclipsed the drop seen by Kings 1st round selection of Novak.
Without limitations based on the draft rounds, here are two tables showing the risers and fallers by at least 50 ranks amongst prospects that were selected both in the NHL and in the NEFHL:
Since the NHL undrafted players were excluded from the risers and fallers, here's a table with the 10 earliest selections in the NEFHL draft that were not selected in the NHL draft:
In the end though, the sheer number of NHL selected players is probably the most important figure. Obviously, teams with a higher number of picks have a higher chance of ending up with more undrafted prospects or fallers. Here is a ranking of the teams that were able to bolster their prospect list with the highest number of NHL selections (excluding NHL redrafts from the NEFHL 2014 draft) and the teams who came home with the least number of NHL selections:
|NHL Drafted prospects|
|NHL Drafted prospects|