Value of NHL Team Scouting relative to Central Scouting

Scotiabank Place 2008 Entry Draft

 With the 22nd pick in the 2008 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers selected Jordan Eberle, center. With the 25th pick the Calgary Flames selected Greg Nemisz, center. Since they were drafted Eberle has played 195 NHL games, while Nemisz has played in 15 NHL games. Going into the draft the NHL’s Central Scouting Service (CSS) had ranked Eberle as the 33rd best North American skater while Nemisz was ranked 22nd best in that same category.  This choice by Edmonton seems to have been a good one.  This is part of a bigger picture.  In general, when teams have deviated from Central Scouting rankings, they have on average outperformed expectations.      

The 2013 NHL Draft will take place in a couple days on June 30.  In the time leading up to that draft, teams will spend countless hours interviewing players, watching players and debating players.  Teams will also have information from the NHL Central Scouting Service (CSS) along with the information that they have from their internal scouts.  Past history suggests that team selections will deviate from CSS rankings regularly  The Colorado Avalanche, who hold the first selection in 2013 NHL Entry Draft, have announced that they are not interested in Seth Jones who grew up in Colorado and is the highest rated North American skater per CSS.  This may be true or it may be trade bluster.  

The goal of the paper below is to put a monetary value on the benefit that teams get from their own internal scouting relative to the rankings from CSS.  There is good news and bad news here for team scouting.  First, the good news: teams get an estimated $4M to $10M per year from their scouting groups.  Now the bad news: for the five drafts that we studied (1998 to 2002), there was not significant evidence that any one team outperformed the others.

Here’s the link to this paper:

 Value of NHL Team Scouting Relative to Central Scouting

 Previous work that we have done on the value of a draft pick can be found here:

 Value of NHL Draft Pick

Special thanks to Steve Argeris and Brian Chezum for conversations regarding this paper.

Photo By Alaney2k

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