Blending Old and New: How the Florida Panthers try to Predict Future Performance at the NHL Entry Draft

Traditional methods of scouting hockey, have, in many ways, produced great results. Hockey is a chaotic game steeped in nuance and predicting amateur performance years down the road takes an innate understanding of how the game is played in certain areas, and how that play translates to the professional ranks. The amateur scout of any NHL hockey team has one of the hardest jobs in the game. Night after night he travels across continents to see young players and make almost instantaneous judgements about their future capabilities. Amazingly, and with great credit to the scouting profession, these judgements are often right. However, when they’re not, teams struggle for years. Therefore, given the inherently high risk nature of amateur scouting, Florida Panthers management asked the question: How can we minimize our amateur prospects decision making risk to the best of our ability given known variables, and narrow the focus of our amateur scouts to focus on only those individuals with certain high upside profiles? Our answer, of course, is blending the traditional methods of scouting with a few simple statistical models created by our prospect analysts. Given these profiles, and the historical data that backs them up, we feel confident that when it’s time for us to choose between players, we have the fullest picture possible and that we make the absolute best bet.

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