"upside"

Discussion in 'NHL Draft - Prospects' started by agentfouser, Apr 13, 2004.

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  1. agentfouser

    agentfouser Playoffs?!?!

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    "upside" is obviously one of the most used terms on this site and, as such, i think it would be instructive to explore it in detail. so, the following questions to the board:

    - how exactly do you define upside? (just to ground the discussion, don't bother if you agree with prior answers)

    - how do you determine the upside of a particular prospect? is it a function of talent alone, or are other factors taken into consideration? is it improvment of play at certain times? what are key indicators of high upside, or, just as important, low upside?
     
  2. Flames Draft Watcher

    Flames Draft Watcher Registered User

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    Upside to me is an equivalent term to "ceiling" or "top end". A prospect's "upside" is the top level the scouts think he could achieve in the NHL.

    If a prospect has a chance to be a top 2 defensemen or first line forward or starting goalie I'd say they have a high upside.

    To use some examples from recent drafts I recall Lars Jonsson taken top 10 by Boston as being a guy listed with a very high upside because of his offensive skill and skating but a guy who was recognized as riskier because his defensive and physical play wasn't up to par. On the other hand you have a guy like Eric Nystrom taken top 10 by the Flames who's upside isn't as high (nobody think he'll be a top line forward, most would say 3rd or perhaps 2nd line) but who plays a far more NHL ready style of game and is therefore less of a risky pick than Jonsson.

    That's how I use the term...
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2004
  3. Vagrant

    Vagrant The Czech Condor

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    Upside is another word for potential. If a player has great upside, he has the inherent ability to raise his game to another level. Often times, young players haven't filled out their frame or matured enough in a physical way to maximize the talent that they possess. Often times the conotation of this word is a direct result of a player who "hasn't put it together", at the highest level. Usually, the player has been seen to have star quality but is just inches away from realizing it. If a player has high upside, there is a lot of room for improvement from where his current game is and where it could possibly end up. If a player has low upside, he has nearly maximized the potential he has to be a productive player. A "safe bet", if you will. You know what you're getting.


    Evidence of this can be seen as recently as the 2003 NHL Draft. The New York Rangers selected Hugh Jessimen with their 1st Round selection. This wasn't because Jessimen's talent level demanded he go so high, it was because he was percieved to have "high upside". The particular reason that the scouts saw potential in Jessiman was his size. At 6'6 240, Jessiman had the body of a powerforward at the ripe young age of 18. Despite other inconsistancies in his game, the Rangers scouts saw the potential to hit a home run with this type of selection. His upside was high, but his risk was high as well. Upside and Risk are almost synomous in most cases. That is due to the fact that taking a more established player is less risky, but taking what's behind door #2 occasionally ends up being the better reward.


    Teams that live by the "upside" also die by it. Teams that draft players on this alone often end up with a track record that is mostly hit or miss. While teams who tend to draft in a more conservative way tend to have less great draft selections and more solid contributers. The key to drafting is to find the happy medium between taking chances and the sure thing. Nobody is able to perfect it, because there is no accurate way to judge the future development of a player. That is why in almost every draft you'll find that a player taken in the top 15 selections didn't get there on merit alone.
     
  4. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    I think a team that drafts well needs to find the mix between how good of a player the kid is now, and has been, along with there upside. Hugh Jessiman was a risk because he only put it together that one year up untill the draft. So going by upside only is just wrong...but also going by a players stats is also just as bad. It takes the correct mix to find the player you want to draft.
     
  5. Hockeycrazed07

    Hockeycrazed07 Registered User

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    It also depends on when a player is taken and what is supposed role is to be with the team. X's hard rule of being wrong by going by pure upside is...well...wrong. If you're a top team going for a game-breaker, that's the only way to draft, for example. The word draft implies risk, and that's what you take when you're at the draft table. If you take a sure thing, but someone behind you drafts purely on upside, and he's better, you eat crow. If, on the other side, you take the guy with the higher upside and he doesn't reach it, you just feel stupid. It's give-and-take.

    ~Crazed.
     
  6. agentfouser

    agentfouser Playoffs?!?!

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    okay, so we've established how to use the term and draft strategies in upside, but i'm still not clear on how the upside of a particular prospect is determined. what are indicators of high upside? what do scouts look for when they want to determine what the upside of a player is? how can you tell if a player may have a lot more to offer? if he often tries to make extra-fancy moves? if he shows a knack for getting clutch goals?

    another way to think of it, what are some players in this draft or recent ones that have huge upside, and what do they all have in common? what makes a scout so sure that a young player can be so much better?

    it sounds like "high upside" could be synonymous with "inconsistant" or "playing below ability." and that may be the case with some prospects who, for example, lack nightly motivation or who shy away from traffic or who have some flaw in their game that can be corrected through good coaching. if that's the case, however, then what about players like ovechkin, who are often spoken of as though they have no holes in their game, but at the same time are also said to have enourmous upside? what is it about his game that makes people so sure he's going to be so much better?
     
  7. Flames Draft Watcher

    Flames Draft Watcher Registered User

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    What makes scouts think a guy is a high upside player? Skill, hockey sense, skating and size I would imagine. If someone combines all of these then he's as elite a prospect as you can imagine. Ovechkin, Lindros, Pronger, etc were all thought of as extremely high upside for this reason. The more a prospect lacks in any of those areas the lower his upside will be. Something like defensive play wouldn't raise a forward's "upside" IMO but it would make him more likely to make the NHL and achieve his "upside".

    As for "high upside" = "inconsistent" maybe a couple of us just confused you with our examples.

    As you say there are guys like Ovechkin with huge upside and no holes in his game. Thus a bluechipper and a guy that everybody wants. Contrast that with a guy like Pavel Brendl who has an amazing goal scoring touch, good size and a great offensive sense (which leads scouts to believe his offensive upside is huge) but he was lacking in skating (only average), defensive play and work ethic which makes him far more riskier than an Ovechkin and a guy who is less likely to achieve his upside. The offensive upsides of Brendl and Ovechkin are not that far apart but Ovechkin is a far, far better prospect because his game is more well rounded and mature.

    Vanek is another good example. Probably has a higher offensive upside than Horton or Staal due to his elite goal scoring touch but was not a consensus top 3 pick because the rest of his game (defensive, physical, skating) was not as good as theirs.
     
  8. West

    West Registered User

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    When I talk about players with alot of upside I'm usually talking about guy's with fairly large but fixable weaknesses and one or more truly above average pluses.

    Like big skinny players who lacks strength, no problem a little time and send them to the gym.

    Or the offensive all-star with great speed who plays horrible defense, he'll be fast enough to pressure the play both ways once he learns the defensive side of the game.

    Also there's the player that has just been brought along slowly and has been playing a defensive role and just needs a little more ice-time and cofidence.

    and finally if someone's really weak in one area even bringing him up to average will make a huge improvement in his game hence alot of upside

    p.s. It's alot easier to go from bad to average than good to excellent.
     
  9. Oilers Chick

    Oilers Chick Registered User

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    IMO "upside" is synonomous with "potential" and "growth". I don't mean growth as in simply physical growth either. I mean growth in terms of mentally as well as overall skill development.

    When I watch NCAA players, I don't simply watch what they ALREADY possess, I look at what can and/or should be improved. How quickly does the individual, if at all adjust/adapt to a changing role, demands of his coach, the opposition's style of play, etc.? I don't always look at whether the individual is NHL material, because I realise that not all NCAA players...even some of the best players, are never going to reach the NHL level. So I look at them as how they are as collegiate players and how well are they progressing in the various facets of their skill/talent as well as how do they fit into the overall grand scheme of things as far as their team and league is concerned.
     
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