Hockey is an immensely unpredictable sport, where factors both tangible and intangible can alter the fortunes of players, teams and everyone from the scouts to the general managers. Twitter analysts, casual fans alike and sometimes front office personnel get it wrong more often than not.
Suppose despite that, you decide you want to prognosticate the future. In that case, the mission is simply to be a bit less wrong than everybody else, using the information you have available to the best of your ability.
That the trained eye test of countless scouts and general managers has led them to ruinous player transactions and the analytics in front of me led me to put Tomas Tatar in my top 20 left wings ranking a year ago is a testament to that. That’s why, despite the objectivity implied by the stark numbers that appear on my player cards, I’d be the last person to say that the wisdom derived from analytics is the final gospel on player quality.
There are many factors; players play different styles for different teams, they’re instructed to abide by different systems, they might be hindered by unseen nagging injuries that might cause calamitous drop-offs with no notice or they get stuck with a bad partner on a bad line.
Trying to come up with some arbitrary ranking is a fool’s errand. But sometimes you just gotta do it. It’s September, after all.