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Psychology researchers predict hockey draft steals

Psychology researchers predict hockey draft steals

We repeat it every year: The NHL Draft is an inaccurate science, and year after year players selected in the last rounds will be able to get better careers than first-round picks. This is also true of junior hockey and a research team from Université Laval believes that it was able to create a profile of those players who we would then label “flights” status from the draft.

The study was recently published in Sports Science JournalAnd the results are great. Led by postdoctoral student Daniel Fortin-Guichard, the research group partnered with Remparts de Québec in 2019, to conduct their study. The plan, at first, was to work with the Montreal Canadiens.

“I went to see Patrick Roy and asked him if he could put me in touch with Mark Bergevin. He immediately told me, ‘No, you’re going to try it with us,’” he laughs on the phone.

The idea was both simple and complex: it was necessary to create a psychological profile of hundreds of young hockey players aged 15-16, eligible for participation in the next draft from the LHJMQ. With Remparts recruits, they met 95 of them, making them pass tests “measuring psychological characteristics that influence thoughts, emotions, and behaviors,” as we explain in a University Laval press release.

Of the 95 players tested, 70 were selected after the second round of the 2019 draft, and thus were not considered among the elites of their age group. Scholars have focused on these seventy.

Typical profile

The study group let three seasons pass, then turned back to the Remparts scouts with a very simple question: Looking back, of the 70 players that were drafted between Rounds 3 and 14 of the 2019 Draft, which ones should you have drafted? , based on their performance in the QMJHL.

In total, they identified 15. The research team went back to see the psychological profile of these 15 players and a score was raised among those they describe as ‘potential talent’. [sleeping talent]”.

“In their psychological profile, we observed that they are players who control their learning and know where to find information in the hockey scene by moving their gaze slightly.”

Not sure you understand? We put it simply: during their meetings in 2019, they presented hockey sequences to the players, which they turned off at specific times, and asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the player in question and say what they would do with it. its place. Three years later, those who were not considered among the elite, but who passed the QMJHL demonstrated above average abilities to determine the action.

If he continues to develop, then Canadiens' 2021 fifth-round draft pick Joshua Roy could be considered a steal from the NHL Draft in a few years.

Below is an example of the results obtained by Daniel Fortin-Guichard and his team in a test intended to assess the movement of a player’s eyes, by watching a video sequence.

Photo provided by Daniel Fortin-Guichard

“A novice player scans the screen. He doesn’t want to miss anything. He doesn’t know where to look so much that in the end he misses everything. An expert, he knows where the action is and will fix his sight and increase his information intake.” Photo by Daniel Fortin-Guichard.

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first test

The study could not be conducted with the 2020 and 2021 versions, due to the pandemic, but resumed in 2022. During this draft, Remparts tested, for the first time, the data from Fortin-Guichard and his team.

We used this data as if another recruiter had a different opinion. In the end, we took two players to the final rounds based on that and one was a nice surprise camp last year. We’ll see if he can get a job in the QMJHL,” revealed the Remparts’ chief scout at the time, Christian Vermeet, who now works as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers.

to the NHL?

For now, Daniel Fortin-Guichard reserves his experience for Remparts only, in the QMJHL.

What if an NHL team is interested? He was listening.

“We’re in year 4 of our research program with the Remparts. The way we’re using it, NHL teams can use it, but we’re going back to year 0 because a 15-year-old isn’t the same as a 17-year-old. Same pool of tests, with 100 guys per year and we’ll go out with the forecasters,” he estimates a person who, in an ideal world, would be able to continue his research as a university professor rather than as an employee of a private company.