The Best Player Available? Depends on who you ask...

Discussion in 'NHL Draft - Prospects' started by Slats432, May 27, 2004.

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  1. Slats432

    Slats432 Registered User

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    Through the HF Chat Mock Draft, and the corresponding discussion on the HF Oiler Board, it became apparrent that the Best Player Available means different things to different people.

    In this draft we took a goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 36th overall with Lyamin, Soderberg, Lisin and Korpikoski on the board.(Also having the 44th pick left over.)

    In the discussion with some HF Oiler fans, I described the strategy like this...

    "We knew we wanted to take a goalie with one of the two picks, (Either Shantz or Dubnyk) and didn't want to take a chance that they would both be gone by 44th pick."

    The response was "But that doesn't fall in to the Take the BPA strategy."

    So here is my question....if Barker is slightly rated higher than Olesz, are the Hawks bound by BPA strategy to take the blueliner when they are more deficient in skilled forward? Were we wrong in taking a goalie, even if Korpikoski would have been a little higher on our list?

    What does the BPA strategy mean to you and how best would you apply it?
     
  2. BAP for me means, what is are the most glaring weaknesses for your team and who is avaliable, and out of those that are avaliable, who is the best avaliable?

    IE: Minnesota needs both a number 1 defenseman and a some more skilled forwards along with probably a power forward but they don't need top line goalies. So in the first round if Thelen or Stafford dropped, I would take Thelen because to me (and I don't know about the Wild), Thelen is the best avaliable player at a position that I need.
     
  3. Captain Conservative

    Captain Conservative Registered User

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    BPA, to me, is drafting the player that you think is the best combination of NHL readiness and total overall potential. I think exceptions probably shouldnt be made, when looking at the draft record, except for goaltenders because goalies value is so low.
     
  4. Burke's Evil Spirit

    Burke's Evil Spirit Registered User

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    In fact, this is the precise opposite of what BPA *actually* is (and Doug MacLean agrees with me). BPA is when you rank all the players on merits alone, and choose the best one available regardless of organizational need.

    Personally, I don't think it's a particularly good way of drafting unless you're an expansion team with nothing...
     
  5. Drake1588

    Drake1588 UNATCO

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    To me, Best Player Available means ranking all the players in a list, and selecting the highest remaining player on the board when it is your turn to select. This list would remain your lodestone even if you were suddenly the scout or the GM for any other team. When you draft based on BPA, you select the player who you think will develop into the best player down the line, period.

    So if you have eight centers and no wings, one defenseman and no goalie in the system, and the best player left on the board at your turn (all things being equal) is a center three years from cracking an NHL roster... if you stand by the BPA strategy, you take that player.

    When you are drafting to fill a hole at a position, or drafting to find the most NHL-ready player, you are drafting out of team need, positional or urgency... meaning that if you were a GM or scout with another team, your drafting list might be different.
     
  6. Slats432

    Slats432 Registered User

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    I can understand that teams say that they pick the best player on their list...but that doesn't work. If the Oilers trade down last year at 17th overall to 22nd and gain a 2nd rounder, then that must mean that there is no best player available? Or there are so many players that are close that it doesn't matter which one you get? Or to gain a 2nd round pick in a deep draft, who cares if you get one of the top 3 or 4 guys on the top of your list?

    I think that an organization has to look at all of there assets, and all things considered close, pick the best fit for their organization. Teams that have been inclined to fill holes through free agency (Wings, Rangers) can pick the BPA when considering upward potential over 3-4 years of development.(Hugh Jessiman anyone? And with three picks in the first round last year Brian Boyle too for Los Angeles?) Teams like Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Buffalo, Calgary may be more inclined to pick the player closest to the NHL because they have to fill their stable from within.

    On top of it, I truly believe that you have to do a full scale projection of 3-5 years to determine what future needs are of the organization. As Doug McLean said, a power forward or good blueliner would be nice. What I read is best player available unless he meets a specific need and it is a close call between a few players.
     
  7. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    With player development being such a crap shoot because players are drafted so young, age 18, even the 'can't miss' players, I would take the BPA on my chart regardless of position. Worst case and you get a glut of development and you can make a trade. But trying to project your needs 4, 5 years out at times is impossible. For instance, the Pens are literally stacked in goal now, MAF leading at least 4 others who could play in the NHL, 3 of which (Aubin and Caron, Chiodo for one game) who have this past year. And yet if Montoya somhow slipped to number 31, the first pick of the second round I would hope that Patrick would be smart and take him.
     
  8. Mothra

    Mothra The Groovy Guru

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    I think the meaning in hockey is a little different than in other sports....or at least how you approach it.....BPA is/should be just that....the best player regardless of need/position...in hockey I think its very inportant to follow this almost all of the time....mainly because of the development procedure. In the vast majority of cases players drafted take a couple to a few years to even make the team...or to even have minor league eligibilty.....who is to say what team needs are 3 or 4 years down the road??? Is it ever a bad thing to have too many young NHL caliber d-men? with the frequency of trading in the NHL its also easier to move assets for needs when needs arise.

    One thing that could be considered is NHL potential.....maybe you select a guy that you feel will be an NHL player for sure....you also realize that he is unlikley going to be a top 6 forward....but is a very good 2-way guy (or more defensive let say)....has a real quality about him (future C maybe) but again...not going to be even a 40-50 point guy.....and yet again....feel very stongly that in a couple years he will be wearing an NHL sweater.....depending on the prospect depth of your team, maybe you take him as a "safe pick"......
     
  9. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    Damn Mothra, you and I almost said the same thing . . . wasn't our agreeing on something one of the seven signs of the world coming to an end? . . . :eek:

    I sense a lost hockey year for sure.
     
  10. Blind Gardien

    Blind Gardien nexus of the crisis

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    "We plan to take the best player available" to me has become a tired cliche used on draft days now by scouts/GMs/etc, much like many of the standard player interview cliches. It is a gross simplification which gives you a soundbite or a catch phrase to print in an article, but really says nothing.

    Some people in this thread have posted good descriptions of what the BPA strategy is supposed to mean. (i.e. picking absolutely without regards to your organisational strengths/weaknesses). If I had to guess, I'd say that NHL teams do that an awful lot less than the press clippings from their scouting directors would have you believe. Why? Because it is utterly impossible to know who the best player available is at any point in the draft, and instead you have a big mix of players who could be just as good, although in different ways, and at different positions. There are many versions of the best player available co-existing at most points in the draft. So it's only natural to pick the version of the best player available who also happens to suit your organisational needs best.

    If some truly "Best" player happens to fall down unexpectedly, but happens to play a position your team is already strong at, then of course it still makes sense to pick that clearly best player. But to me, that's a very rare occurrence in a draft of 300 players.
     
  11. Dr.Sens(e)

    Dr.Sens(e) Registered User

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    Agree- BPA available means you DON'T take into consideration the position or your team's depth chart.

    Here is an article I wrote a while back about how the Sens have used the BPA strategy over the last 10 years. There were a few edits done, that make a few of the paragraphs fragmented, but you certainly get my perspective from the article.
    http://www.hockeysfuture.com/article.php?sid=6070&mode=threaded&order=0

    I truly believe if you're looking at your depth chart to determine who to draft, you are doing your team a major dis-service.
     
  12. Mothra

    Mothra The Groovy Guru

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    Ha!!....yes, and I think I just spotted The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ;)


    I fear the same.....
     
  13. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    Damnit, stop agreeing with me . . . :amazed:

    I am going out to build an ark, you are really tempting fate . . . hey I know, go down and read my thread on picks 20 - 30 below . . .that certainly is bait for you to set the world right and to hammer me telling me how wrong I am.
     
  14. Flames Draft Watcher

    Flames Draft Watcher Registered User

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    To me it means that they thought the guy they would have grabbed at 17 was still going to be available at 22nd. OR that they had a couple guys closely ranked and thought that one of them would still be available at 22nd.

    If they had traded out of the first round for two early 2nd rounders that to me would have said that they didn't think anybody left was worthy of the 17th selection and that they liked the depth in the draft and wanted to take two gambles on B+ players as opposed to grabbing a guy they might have thought as an A- player...
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2004
  15. Flames Draft Watcher

    Flames Draft Watcher Registered User

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    To me it means the same thing as many have said, the highest player left on your list regardless of position.

    The problem is that goaltending does not fit in well with this strategy because of the relative rarity of them in the draft and importance of the position in hockey. So if you have an organizational need for a goalie, you're drafting top 10 and a goalie you have ranked as the 12th best player available at the draft is there maybe you have to take him because you're not assured of getting a good option in a later round and not assured of getting a good option in the first round of the next draft. In addition another factor is that there is often limited spots in the minor leagues to develop your goalies so a team may want to spend their time, money and effort developing a guy they really think will make it as opposed to grabbing a few goalies in the later rounds and then spending a lot on developing several guys none of whom they are completely sold on.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that the reason to ditch the best player available strategy would be to grab a goalie if you have a need, much like it looks like what happened in your mock draft.

    Of course there's other complicating factors. For example Darryl Sutter believes that bluechip young defensemen who can move the puck are the rarest commodity in the NHL right now. Therefore he placed an emphasis on this last draft which likely ended up moving all attractive defensemen up our draft list in comparison to the forwards and goalies. So are we still selecting the best player available? Yes, but the Flames criteria for the best player available is different than some teams. But this is true across the NHL. Some teams will place an emphasis on skating, or size, or heart and thus their lists have the players who exemplify those attributes higher than on other teams lists.

    Do most teams go by their "list" and just draft the highest ranked guy left? I believe most do from all the quotes I've heard and all the people in the business I have talked to. I think goalies are the exception to this rule, sometimes you just have to take an attractive one while he's there even if you might like a skater slightly better.

    The title of your post sums it up quite nicely. Depends who you ask...
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2004
  16. Enoch

    Enoch This is my boomstick

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    I've argued this out with the Preds board alumni many a times. For some background, the Preds are absolutely stacked in defensive prospects, so much so, that many over there feel that we will not need to draft a dman in the top 3 rounds for a few years. My feelings, however, is that if the best player at the time by a significant margin is a Dman.....we have to take him. When a weaker player is drafted to fill a need, you take two risks. 1.) By the time he makes it to the NHL, you will have different organization weaknesses. 2.) There is higher bust potential. Whereas by taking the BAP.......you only have the first risk.

    Hope that makes sense ;)
     
  17. West

    West Registered User

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    If I was a GM taking the BPA it would mean...

    Make a short list of the next couple of players on the draft list.

    Take a look at my list give an edge to the players that I've got the best information on. I really believe this is why someone like Hulder falls into the second round. The teams that everyone thought would grap him pass and the teams later in the first round pass because they didn't bother to scout him enough.

    Next I'd draft by position, Defensemen then Forwards and Goalies last. Why? I've never seen a team that didn't want to improve their defensive depth and if you ever had to many it's an easy trade. I draft goalies last because you only really need one excellent goaltender every decade or so and your well stocked and every GM knows it. Forwards get the middle gound by default.

    If it's still really close I'd go by orginizational need.

    But mostly I'd just pick the actuall BPA because your average draft pick will never play in the NHL regardless of round so getting someone who can play where you don't need him is still better than getting someone who's not good enough to play a position that you need. Also the vast majority of player's can't/won't make any real impact for several years so unless you've got a crystall ball picking for position is crazy.
     
  18. degroat*

    degroat* Guest

    The people who responded are correct ... you didn't use the BPA strategy.

    People for some reason tend to think that teams either a strictly BPA or draft by need when in reality, what you did is in all likelihood what teams actually do... a combination of the two. Teams recognize their needs and attempt to fill them, but not at the expense of letting a significantly better player go unpicked.
     
  19. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    The whole point of BPA is that you can at any time trade any position you have a surplus of, for a position you have a lack of. So it doesn't matter you just drafted eight centres, trade one for the goalie you need.

    In theory, it sounds good. I'm unsure whether it's actually the case in real life. Here in Vancouver, we've never really been able to trade for that goalie we've needed for what seems like 20 years now.

    My draft theory is a modified BPA. In the first couple of rounds, go BPA regardless of position. If there is a certain position that you have a crushing need for, it's ok to pursue that, but in the *correct* manner. Don't wait until your pick comes up, then skip over X guys to get to the correct position you're looking for. The better way is when the guy you want (your BPA) is up and certain to go, you make the trade to move up 5, 10 spots or whatever to get him. This is what Lamoriello seems to do a lot. In short, move up your list, not down.

    In the mid to late rounds, start considering position more. The differences between the 113th and 114th forward on your list are negligble. If the 114th guy is a position I need, and the 113th isn't, then I take 114.
     
  20. Mizral

    Mizral Registered User

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    This is more or less how I feel. Unless you're running an expansion team as BES noted, 'Best player available' is quite foolish. However, if you are running an established team (such as the Oilers), You've got to project, as you say, and try to find the best player amongst the future team needs. IE: If the best player available is Mike Green for the Oilers at #14, but Radulov is available, take Radulov.. since the Oilers are stacked on defense.
     
  21. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    But that's just it. You *don't* know your future needs. Some guys bust, some guys develop that you didn't project, some guys get traded that you didn't plan on trading, new guys come in from trades, some guys decide to go back to Europe, some guys get career ending injuries...

    Drafting is hard enough, without intentionally messing up your list. Consistently passing over better players to take lesser ones is a sure recipe for disaster. "Well, we knew that Heatley was going to be good, and in fact had him rated higher on our list. But we needed a defenceman, and we feel confident that J. Schmoe will one day make our team."

    Yeah, that'd go over real well.
     
  22. Hiishawk

    Hiishawk Registered User

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    Almost all teams make a full ranking list and draft completely according to that in the 1st three rounds (this is to the best of my knowledge and experience). After that, when it is even more of a crapshoot, they will draft by position to SOME degree. In other words, if a team has not taken any DF in the first 5 rounds, even if their next next guy on the list is a FW, they MAY opt for the next ranked DF on their list instead.

    You are drafting a player primarily as an ASSET, that means tradeability, marketability, not just how he might fit into your squad. But, at the same time, you try to draft at least a reasonable balance of FWs, DFs, and Goalies precisely because you don't know what your needs will be 4-5 years down the line after trades, players who don't work out, those who surprise etc.
     
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