Todd Cordell


Category Archives: U18’s

By The Numbers: Evaluating Prospects With Advanced Stats

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Analytics in hockey have been growing rapidly over the last few years but there’s still a long way to go – particularly in junior hockey and with prospects.

While there are some good websites (notably out there that provide more insight into what really is going on in the prospect world, there is essentially nothing available when it comes to underlying numbers on a game-by-game basis at the CHL and NCAA levels.

When I’m not scouting in a rink I often find myself watching junior hockey on TV whenever the opportunity presents itself. Since I’d watch a lot of games, anyway, I decided to start tracking numbers for prospects in the games televised.

Unfortunately it’s a very time consuming process so I only tracked a handful of players per game.

I didn’t start doing this until midway through the season so I missed the opportunity to track a good chunk of games, however, I tracked a fair amount in the latter half of the season and throughout the CHL playoffs.

What Can This Tell Us?

While there isn’t enough data available to make any dramatic conclusions, this can help give us an idea of how Player Y was utilized by his team, Player Y’s ability to drive play up ice and why Player Y produced as much/as little as they did.

For example, it’s tougher for a player with a lot of defensive zone starts to produce offense than a player who regularly starts in the offensive zone. If Player Y is being spoon fed defensive zone starts his ability to put up points is being hindered.

In terms of zone entries if a player gained the line with possession 20 out of 25 times it’s probably a reasonable bet to assume he’s normally good through the neutral zone.

Notes & Numbers

A couple notes before presenting the data:

– These numbers include all even-strength play (i.e. 5 v 5, 4 v 4, etc.).

– I sorted by league to make all the data easier to navigate.

– I didn’t combine international hockey to a player’s numbers in North America due to different levels of competition, larger ice surfaces, etc.

– Memorial Cup numbers have been added to a player’s league numbers since the level of competition is very similar. That means Leon Draisaitl’s numbers, for example, include what he did against WHL teams as well as what he did at the Memorial Cup against OHL/QMJHL teams.

– SAF and SAA are shot attempts for and against. OZS, NZS, and DZS are offensive, neutral and defensive zone starts. CE are controlled entries and EA are entry attempts.

Without further ado here are the zone start, zone entry and shot attempt numbers from the 2014-15 season for many of the top prospects in North America.


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World Hockey Championships

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Under 18’s

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If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!


By The Numbers: Canada vs Switzerland – April 26, 2015

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After losing their semi-final games to USA and Finland respectively, Canada and Switzerland squared off for the second time of the tournament with the Bronze medal on the line.

For Canada I tracked numbers for draft eligibles Jansen Harkins, Mathew Barzal, and Mitch Stephens, while I did the same for undersized draft eligible forward Denis Malgin of the Swiss.

Score: 5-2 Canada.

Zone Starts

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Denis Malgin started just two of 16 shifts in the offensive zone. He’s a good skater who is elusive in space, and excellent through the neutral zone, so it makes sense that he was relied upon to drive play up ice for the Swiss.

Jansen Harkins played primarily against Malgin’s line at even-strength, which explains the opposite zone start numbers.

Mathew Barzal and Mitch Stephens were asked to do the heavy lifting for Team Canada. They are certainly capable of doing so, as Barzal is excellent through the neutral zone, while Stephens is one of the best two-way forwards on the team.

Zone Entries

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After taking one glance at these numbers it’s not hard to see why Malgin started the majority of his shifts outside of the offensive zone. He’s a God when it comes to gaining the line with possession.

Harkins didn’t start a lot of shifts outside the offensive zone, but showed that he is quite capable of carrying the puck into the offensive zone safely.

Barzal was dominant through the neutral zone from his first shift – literally – until his last. He’s an excellent skater, is very patient and possesses very good puck skills, which makes him very tough to defend in space. The results can attest to that.

Stephens had a couple carry-ins, and also had an attempt broken up when he took a big hit at the line.

Shot Attempts

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All things considered it was hardly a poor effort from Malgin. He started the majority of his shifts outside of the offensive zone, and was playing against a much deeper, better team. It’s tough to come out even or better in possession under those circumstances.

It was by no means a dominant effort from Harkins given his zone starts, but he played a solid game. He did well in possession, showed the ability to drive play up ice, and he also picked up a goal early in the game.

Barzal didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was excellent in this game. He was a force through the neutral zone, and drove possession at a high clip despite starting the majority of his shifts in his own zone.

Stephens’ numbers were lesser than Barzal’s in terms of shot attempts and zone entries, but he was still good in both aspects. It was a good final effort from Canada’s captain.


If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

By The Numbers: USA vs Finland – April 26, 2015

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USA entered the gold medal game against Finland looking to win for the 6th time in seven years.

The U.S. have a much deeper, talented roster so I tracked three of their players while I followed just one Finnish player.

For the Americans I kept my eyes on a pair of 2015 draft eligible forwards in Colin White and Jeremy Bracco, as well as 2016 draft eligible Auston Matthews. On Finland I tracked numbers for 2016 eligible forward Jesse Puljujarvi.

Score: 2-1 USA (OT)

Zone Starts

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Colin White and Jeremy Bracco formed 2/3 of a line that USA seemed adamant about getting on the ice in offensive situations. Finland was outplayed from start to finish, and they iced the puck extremely frequently, so that skewed the offensive zone start numbers a little bit.

Auston Matthews was utilized as USA’s two-way stud, but since USA carried play at such a decisive rate he still had a ton of offensive zone starts. He’s probably the best player at the tournament, though, so that’s certainly not a bad thing.

As was the case against Canada, Jesse Puljujarvi started more shifts in his own zone than the offensive zone. He’s very good at driving play up ice, which could be a factor.

Zone Entries

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As a team USA put on an absolute clinic through the neutral zone. Part of it was because it was a back and forth game so there were odd man rushes for easy carry-ins. Part of it is the two teams played 13 minutes of 4 vs 4 in overtime. The biggest factor, I think, was their team speed. All of these guys are good skaters – in some cases great – so Finland was forced to back off and respect their speed numerous times. In Bracco’s case, one thing he did was come through the neutral zone with speed and slow right down at the line, giving him some time and space to make a play after an easy entry.

Puljujarvi put forth a good neutral zone effort. A couple of his entries were blocked at the line, but there were times he wouldn’t allow himself to be stopped.

Shot Attempts

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Considering Bracco’s efficiency carrying the puck safely into the offensive zone and the amount of OZ starts he had I was actually surprised his possession numbers weren’t higher. Still, it was a very good game from Bracco, who made a beautiful play while assisting on Colin White’s OT winner.

Matthews was a stud from start to finish. He made several great individual efforts to create chances for himself, and he showed good playmaking ability as well. He was also a beast through the neutral zone. This was as dominant of a game as you’ll see.

White played on a line with Bracco so their numbers were almost identical. White made plays at both ends of the ice and – to a lesser extent than Bracco – was also very good through the neutral zone. White’s strong U18 tournament likely has him rising up a lot of draft boards.

Finland was outshot 62-20 in 73 minutes of play, so to come out anywhere close to 50% is impressive. Puljujarvi did just that despite starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. He’s going to be really good.


If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

By The Numbers: Canada vs Finland – April 21, 2015

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After winning their first three games against Latvia, Switzerland and Czech Republic, Canada faced their toughest test, as they took on an undefeated Finland team in their group stage finale.

For the Finns I kept my eye on underage forward Jesse Puljujarvi (a projected top-5 pick in 2016) while I tracked draft eligibles Mathew Barzal, Jansen Harkins and Graham Knott for Team Canada.

Score: 3-2 Canada.

Zone Starts

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Jansen Harkins is one of the better two-way forwards on Team Canada, and the coaching staff really trusts him, so naturally he was used in a more defensive role.

Graham Knott started the game in the bottom-6, but after Anthony Beauvillier went down with an injury Knott took his spot on the top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Mitch Stephens. His zone starts are similar to Barzal’s as a result.

Jesse Puljujarvi is one of the younger players in the tournament, and was still trusted in a defensive role. He was clearly capable of taking on the tougher assignments, though, as you’ll see below.

Zone Entries

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Barzal was dominant through the neutral zone. He’s an excellent puck handler as well as a very good skater, and was regularly able to gain Finland’s line with ease.

Puljujarvi was also quite good through the neutral zone. Given his ability to drive play up ice it makes sense that he wasn’t spoon fed offensive zone starts. Gaining the line with possession is an underrated trait that impacts hockey games a lot more than you’d think.

Shot Attempts

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Harkins came out a negative in possession, but overall posted pretty good numbers considering he only had one offensive zone start at even-strength.

Graham Knott started 70% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and barely came out even in possession. Part of it is that he played a handful of shifts against Puljujarvi, but I think one reason for it is that he continually dumped the puck in, and Finland grabbed it and went the other way more often than not.

Barzal played a very good game. He was given plenty of offensive zone starts, but he made the most of it generating the majority of the shot attempts at even-strength. He also tallied a couple points on the man advantage, including this snipe.

Puljujarvi was excellent in this game. He drove possession at a good clip, was effective carrying the puck through the neutral zone, and he recorded an assist against an elite team while playing as an underager.


If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

By The Numbers: Canada vs Czech Republic – April 19, 2015

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After starting the U18 tournament with consecutive wins over Latvia and Switzerland, Team Canada faced their first real test while taking on Czech Republic.

Canada is the much deeper team, however, Czech Republic does have some high-end talent led by projected top-10 pick Pavel Zacha.

In this game I tracked draft eligible forwards Pavel Zacha and Filip Chlapik for the Czech, while I kept my eyes on Mathew Barzal and Jansen Harkins for Canada.

Final score: 3-2 Canada.

Zone Starts

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Jansen Harkins didn’t play much in the 1st period, but was used more as the game went on. He’s generally an effective forward at both ends of the rink – he plays on both special team units as a result – so I don’t think the coaching staff was overly concerned with a) where he started his shifts or; b) who he was squaring off against.

Mathew Barzal and his linemates played primarily against Czech Republic’s best player in Pavel Zacha, who started most of his shifts – particularly in the first two frames – in the offensive zone. As a result Barzal started a big chunk of his shifts in his own zone.

Filip Chlapik is a good prospect, but he doesn’t have the skill set or ability to drive play up ice the way Zacha does, which likely factored into his usage.

Zone Entries

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Mathew Barzal and Pavel Zacha were the key neutral zone players in this one. Barzal is an excellent skater with very high top-end speed, so Czech Republic’s defense was forced to respect his speed, and they backed off several occasions as a result.

Zacha was absolutely dominant through the neutral zone. He’s a very good skater and is extremely powerful. Even when Canada tried to meet him at the line he skated through contact, anyway.

And then there was this.

Shot Attempts

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Harkins didn’t fare too well in possession considering he only started two shifts in his own zone, however, Czech Republic put pucks on net whenever they gained the line, whereas Canada tried to sustain pressure by cycling down low, so that could have factored in. Nevertheless, he wasn’t great – at least at even-strength – in this one.

Barzal played primarily against one of the best draft eligible players in the world in Zacha, and started a good chunk of his shifts in the defensive zone. As a result, he came out below 50% in possession, but he tallied a couple nice assists, and was very good through the neutral zone.

Zacha was perfect through the neutral zone, and he fired pucks at the net every chance he had. Given the power in his shot, it wasn’t the worst idea in the world. He started more in the offensive zone than defensive zone, and he certainly made the most of it.

Chlapik was spoon fed offensive zone starts, but really didn’t generate a whole lot in this one. It wasn’t a great performance from him, but he was facing tougher competition than he had to work with, which didn’t help his cause.


If you use or share this data, please cite this blog as the resource. Thanks!

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