NHL Draft 2016: Drafting is educated guesswork
Jun 23, 2016
On the heels of the NHL draft, research from SFU Beedie School of Business professor Peter Tingling suggests that the draft tactics of NHL teams are often no better than randomly assigning players across the entire draft.
Tingling, an expert on decision-making, particularly in sport, will be attending the draft in Buffalo June 24-25 and can be available for comment to media. He has extensively studied the decision-making process in the NHL and has found that many of the commonly held assumptions related to the draft are misconceptions, and that success or failure in drafting are largely random.
Tingling is contributing a chapter “Educated Guesswork – Drafting in the National Hockey League” to the 2017 CRC Handbook Statistical Methods for Design and Analysis in Sports, edited by T. Swartz. His chapter explores the reasons why NHL teams make drafting mistakes and the inconsistencies in teams’ recruitment approaches. For example, Tingling found that decision makers are unable to differentiate athletes in the later rounds of the draft, with no substantive benefit in making the 120th or 210th selection.
The chapter builds on Tingling’s 2011 paper, “Does decision order matter? An empirical analysis of the NHL draft,” which includes a comprehensive study of the history of NHL draft selections. He found that no team in the NHL has been able to consistently identify and select talent at a level any better than randomly assigning players across the entire draft.
The study also found no significant difference in future success between players chosen late in the second round of the NHL draft with those taken at any point in the third round.
His latest study, “Friends with Benefits: an analysis of NHL relationships,” examines the relationship between the movement of hockey executives and players. Tingling will present findings from his latest research at the Hockey Conference at the University of New Brunswick from July 6 to 7.