The San Jose Sharks trade picks 82 and 91 to the New Jersey Devils for pick 55. At 55, they select Dillon Hamaliuk, a 6-foot-3 winger from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Hamaliuk was ranked anywhere from 48 to 153, depending on the scouting service, but his average rank value put him around 87 overall. This pick is a reach in that capacity. However, we know teams, on average, can exceed the Central Scouting ranks’ expected career value by differing from the service’s rankings.
Hamaliuk played just 31 games this season after suffering a season-ending injury in December. In those 31 healthy games, he scored 11 goals and added 15 assists for 26 total points. His estimated 5-on-5 primary point scoring rate during those 31 games was the third-highest rate among all first-time draft-eligible WHL forwards who played more than 10 games this season.
While Hamaliuk’s individual scoring rate was impressive, his impact on his team’s scoring network was not quite as exciting. Among all Canadian Hockey League (CHL) skaters, his impact there was a 64th-percentile affair and just the ninth-best on his own team.
In this range, few picks go on to become regular members of their team’s roster, as measured by average time on ice during the first seven seasons.
Around the Sharks’ pick at 55 is when, historically (since 2008), picks stop reaching the NHL during their first or second year post-draft. If Hamaliuk is going to play somewhat regular minutes, recent draft history tells us that won’t happen until six or seven years into his National Hockey League (NHL) career.
Namita Nandakumar shows in an (paywall) article at The Athletic that the majority (about 57 percent) of second-round picks never make the NHL. Nearly one-third of those that do make the bigs take at least four years after the draft to appear in major-league games.
To select any player who lasts this long in the draft is to begin a years-long quest for depth players. Teams can give themselves better odds by finding players in this range with strong scouting profiles, whether statistical or otherwise.
In an article about potential second-round picks, we discussed some research that may highlight market inefficiencies teams can exploit in selecting players later in the draft. That the Sharks picked Hamaliuk before he probably would have gone but also at the last moment they could have — he likely wouldn’t have been available at pick 153 — is a good thing.
He’s in a bucket of players that has gone on to make the NHL just 37 percent of the time. However, it appears age and weight may be predictors of potentially successful players in that group. With an October birthday and a 201-pound frame already on him, Hamaliuk seems to fit those descriptions.
Another draft model, this time by Emmanuel Perry, believes Hamaliuk has about a 25 percent chance to make the NHL, with a potential wins above replacement (WAR) per-82 game upside of 0.25, a solid if unspectacular number, especially given who was still undrafted when Hamaliuk went (cough, Alex Beaucage, cough).
Prashanth Iyer’s model projects Hamaliuk to score about 0.29 points per NHL game played, which isn’t great. It would put him in the company of aging forwards who don’t score much anymore, depth players, and younger guys who didn’t spend all of last season in the NHL.
It’s worth noting, before we dig into scouting reports, that Central Scouting game him a “B” rating before his injury, suggesting he’d be a player with second- or third-round ability.
Especially with prospects, statistics aren’t everything. Language in scouting reports can also tell us a bit about his American Hockey League (AHL) potential.
From Last Word on Hockey:
His quick hands allow him to score in tight, beating goalies with dekes, deflecting in shots from teammates, and burying rebounds or passes from teammates. He also has a strong wrist shot and a quick enough release to fool goaltenders from further out
On the Forecheck sees a similar type of player:
You won’t see Hamaliuk moving north to south in the offensive zone with the puck often, but he is a menace in the high-danger area of the ice
It sounds as though the Sharks have a rough-and-tumble power forward who may just have the tools to be successful, despite the low probability players in his historical bucket have of making the NHL. Despite his size, Hamaliuk still has some dangles.