2012 Top 30, and Some General Draft Thoughts
As I continue to make these lists, year after year, I get less comfortable with my final rankings. I haven't really decided if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm particularly uncomfortable with my list this year - I'm the guy that made it and I'm not sure how much weight I put behind it. This draft is defense heavy, which always makes me nervous; it can be difficult to differentiate between D based on the descriptions available. Additionally, there were numerous injuries and that never helps.
Making a list is an interesting process to me. Being tasked with creating the list doesn't require one to be a great scout - you don't really need to be a scout at all*. The list is all about compiling, evaluating, and assimilating information. As the quality of your information improves, hopefully the quality of your list will improve in turn. For the most part, I think the publicly available information gives us a fairly good picture of a player. The other information that teams gather can potentially be invaluable, and in those cases makes a big difference vs. the generally available information. There is no doubt that, lacking that information, the quality of this list suffers. At the same time, there is generally a tendency in life to overvalue bits of (assumed?) exclusive information. If a team thinks they have unearthed something about a player that no one else has, there may be a tendency to put more weight behind that tidbit than is truly warranted.
In terms of my list, I look at the draft in a way that may be unconventional. I don't see the NHL entry draft as an exercise in picking the best players going forward. I mean, obviously you are picking players, and obviously you'd rather pick good ones than bad ones. But what you're really looking to do through the draft is create value for your team, not pick players. I have a definite tendency to favor forwards. Even given that preference I don't have as many forwards in the first round this year as usual; the quality, relative to the D, is lower than a typical year.
A space between two numbers is used to indicate perceived tiers, however slight the talent gap might be.
* That isn't, by any means, to say that a background in scouting would hurt you if you are in charge of creating the list. In fact, that background might well put you in a better position to ask questions, questions that could help to clarify certain issues.