Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Historical Evaluation of Kerby Rychel

Kerby Rychel, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft this June and a winger for the Windsor Spitfires, is one of just 12 players since 2000 that have had 40 goals in 2 of their first 3 seasons in the OHL. The other 11 players are, in chronological order: Jason Jaspers, Steve Ott, Derek Roy, Greg Chambers, Corey Locke, Patrick O'Sullivan, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Cody Hodgson, Taylor Hall, and Christian Thomas.

I took a closer look at comparing their numbers below:

-The most obvious thing that stands out here when comparing Kerby Rychel to these other players is that he actually has the lowest Points Per Game of any of the players, tied for the lowest in Goals Per Game, and is 2nd last in Assists Per Game.

-That said, look at the drafted column.  The four guys that I think are busts went 56th, 71st, 113th, and one of them, Greg Chambers, wasn't even drafted.  That says that despite their numbers, scouts felt that they didn't have enough tools/had too many deficiencies in their game to both make the NHL and warrant being a high draft pick.  The other guy, Christian Thomas, is still too young to really say whether or not he is a bust, and he went 40th overall.  Now, I don't know a lot about how most of these players played and what their pros/cons were, but I will say this: Kerby Rychel, at roughly 6"1' and 200 pounds, does not have the concerns about size that Christian Thomas, roughly 5"9' 165 in his draft year did (and still probably does today).

-The remaining 6 guys went no later than 32nd overall.  John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, and Taylor Hall, who are all NHL stars in my opinion, went 1st overall.  Cody Hodgson, a very solid top-six forward, went 10th overall.  Steve Ott, a high-end 3rd liner/low-end 2nd liner, went 25th overall.  Derek Roy, another solid top-six forward, went 32nd.

-Historically speaking, this bodes well for Rychel who is ranked 17th among North American Skaters by Central Scouting, 20th by International Scouting Services, 23rd by Bob McKenzie and his 10 scouts mid-season, and 27th by Craig Button.  In other words, he's likely not going any lower than 32nd where Derek Roy went.  And, as we can see, nobody who went lower than 32nd overall that scored 40 goals in 2 of their first 3 OHL seasons since 2000 have busted in the NHL.

-Now, Rychel did technically speaking have the worst numbers of any of those 6 NHL players, though 3 of them went 1st overall and have gone on to become NHL stars.  Cody Hodgson is a budding, young, top-six center with room to grow that went 10th overall.  Ott and Roy may be the best comparables, who are less productive than the other 4 players and went essentially in Rychel's range.  In my mind, at least offensively, Derek Roy is a high-end second line center and Steve Ott is a high-end third-liner.  Rychel probably lies somewhere in between (if he does pan out).  The main concerns about Rychel's game seem to be that he isn't good at creating chances for himself, but as evidenced by his resume, he sure can finish them.  Other question marks surround his skating and defensive ability, though those aren't major red flags.  Rychel has drawn comparisons to a player like Chris Kunitz, which is probably fair: a sturdy, top-six winger that can score goals in a few different ways and may only be as good as the players he is on a line with.

-I should finish by saying that I'm in no way saying Kerby Rychel will definitely, 100%, make the NHL as a top-six forward.  I'm also in no way saying that the way I'm evaluating him is fair or effective.  I simply saw him, his numbers, his consistency, and where's he's expected to be drafted, and thought he'd be an interesting case to look at to see who else historically compares with him.  What I am saying is he is in pretty good company, and if history is any indication, there's a good chance Rychel does in fact pan out.  The fact of the matter is that not very many players at all have accomplished what he has (scoring 40 goals two straight years at his age).  Also keep in mind that since 2005, the Windsor Spitfires have produced forwards Cal O'Reilly, Steve Downie, Adam Henrique, Josh Bailey, Scott Timmins, Eric Wellwood, and Taylor Hall.  Bob Boughner is a great coach and Kerby's playing in a great program.  All of these things considered have to bode well for Kerby Rychel and whichever team ends up drafting him.

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