If the Oilers pick #3 and we can safely assume that McEichel is gone … the choice will likely come down to Hanifin, Marner, or Strome (with Provorov given an outside Craig Button shot).
Is it a mistake to draft a D that high?
I crunched the numbers on that issue, lots of ‘em, a while back to test that theory. And it’s partially true. (I won’t repost the charts, you can read the article here). In general, you can say the following:
- Drafting F high (top 5) is less risky than drafting D high
- The sweet spot (lowest risk relative to draft) is 5 to 15 for high end D.
- Goalies are voodoo. If a drafting sweet spot exists, it is #85 plus or minus 20.
But! All of this is probabilistic. It doesn’t mean you don’t draft a D in the top 3. You just have to recognize it is higher risk than drafting a forward. The issue has less to do with scouting and more to do with development. D usually take longer to bake.
In other words, anyone that thinks drafting Hanifin at #3 is just as safe as drafting Strome or Marner is ignoring history.
That said, a number of folks have rightly pointed out that deconstructing draft history suggests that high D drafts often fail because of skating issues. The D drafting record is more favourable when it comes to elite skaters.
And Hanifin’s skating is elite. (This, however, doesn’t give me as much comfort as it does others, as Justin Schultz’s skating is also elite. And when he signed with the Oilers, a number of pundits said that was kind of like the Oilers getting another free #1, or at least free first round pick, because that’s likely where Jultz would have gone if he’d gone back in the draft).
So when all is said and done – I’m absolutely fine with drafting Hanifin. He has 1D potential. The Oilers will never contend without a 1D, and 1D are nearly impossible to get without drafting them.
So it’s a sensible risk to take.
Let’s just not pretend there’s no risk.