Buzzing on Yahoo Sports

Buzzing The Net

Memorial Cup 2013: A statistical comparison of MacKinnon and Drouin ahead of the tournament

Drouin (right) celebrates a goal with Nathan MacKinnon (The Canadian Press)

Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon are a rare breed of prospects. It's not often that two players from the same CHL team get selected in the first round, and particularly not two forwards on the same line.

Raffi Torres and Rostistalv Klesla were selected at No. 4 and No. 5 from the Brampton Battalion in 2000, but Klesla is a defenceman. Oleg Saprykin went No. 11 in 1999 and Seattle Thunderbird teammate Scott Kelman went No. 15 in 1999.

You could count Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov, selected No. 1 and No. 3 at the 2012 NHL Draft, but Galchenyuk missed all but eight games due to injury and the Sarnia Sting finished fourth in the Western Conference and won two playoff games. The Halifax Mooseheads not only boast top prospects Drouin and MacKinnon, but they (and prospect goaltender Zachary Fucale) are big parts on a team that's going to the Memorial Cup.

There's some debate over whether MacKinnon or Drouin is the "better" player. Drouin showed Canada a little more than MacKinnon at the World Juniors, but Team Canada coach Steve Spott restricted MacKinnon's usage in a move that cost Canada a medal. Last season, TSN's Bob MacKenzie suggested on air that some scouts thought that MacKinnon would be selected higher than Yakupov, that the head of the 2013 draft class was higher than the 2012 class.

But things change. Corey Pronman put Drouin ahead of MacKinnon in his final prospect rankings. Central Scouting Services ranked Portland rookie defenceman Seth Jones No. 1 in its final rankings. Jones, introduced to hockey in the Denver area, is almost a cinch to go to the Colorado Avalanche, desperate for both marketable players and defencemen.

So who does Florida pick No. 2? They ought to have made their decisions by now. The three-to-six games the Mooseheads play at the Memorial Cup shouldn't be enough to change opinions that sharply.

Drouin came second in the league in scoring: 105 points and 41 goals, to MacKinnon's 75 points and 32 goals. Those were in 49, and 45, games respectively. Drouin led the team in playoff scoring.

However, I looked a couple of columns over at "shooting percentage" and compared them over two seasons. In the NHL, typically you can spot an outlying shooting percentage season for a player:

Goals Shooting %
Drouin 2012 7 15.9%
Drouin 2013 41 23.7%
MacKinnon 2012 31 14.8%
MacKinnon 2013 32 15.9%

There is *such* limited data available for the CHL. The QMJHL is the only league that publishes the shot statistics it records, and cross-referencing highly-ranked prospects from single QMJHL seasons to see if it can predict the future is a useless exercise. There are only two or three such prospects a season.

MacKinnon takes about 4.5 shots per game, and Drouin takes 3.5. This means MacKinnon also fires more "dangerous shots" which the Q records as "lancers dangereux" and generally counts as a hard shot between the circles.

MacKinnon's shooting prowess on the surface seems better than Drouin, but I was impressed by Drouin's tendency at the World Junior's to gain the zone with control and play-making ability is such a difficult skill to analyze since simple "assists" hinge on the ability of your linemates to put the puck in the net. I will be checking Memorial Cup games to see if he is indeed proficient at this skill, moreso than MacKinnon.

There's another issue you run into with junior hockey statistics: sample size issues. We have just 102 regular season games available for MacKinnon and just 82 for Drouin. We have even less from when the players were separated due to extenuating circumstances.

I checked to see if either player scored remarkably less when the other was out of the lineup (Drouin missed time in October, MacKinnon in February and March) and, well:

MacKinnon Games Goals/GP Pts/GP Shots/GP Sh%
With Drouin 6 0.64 1.76 4.58 13.90%
Without Drouin 35 1.33 1.83 5.00 26.70%

Drouin Games Goals/GP Pts/GP Shots/GP Sh%
With MacKinnon 42 0.76 2.02 3.40 22.50%
Without MacKinnon 11 1.00 2.64 4.09 24.40%

While I like to use data to compare players at the NHL level, it's quite clear it's just not possible to look at it at the CHL level, even in the QMJHL where they record shots.

If I were an NHL team, however, I would probably be cautious ahead of taking Drouin and making sure the pick isn't being made based on sleek-looking point totals in the draft year.

(stats and game logs via the QMJHL)

Follow Yahoo Canada Sports

Yahoo! Sports Authors

Regular Contributors:

Cam Charron, Kelly Friesen