So the Vancouver Canucks selected Nicklas Jensen, a product of the Herning Blue Fox of the Danish league, with the 29th overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. It's a "safe" pick from Mike Gillis. Jensen is an Ontario Junior Hockey player, and a player with size and all the tools to compete.
Yahoo! Sports' junior hockey blog, Buzzing the Net, led by Neate Sager, partnered up with amateur sabremetrician and editor of the CIS Blog Rob Pettapiece to create something they called the "Jeff Skinner rankings" which expands on work done by hockey analyst Gabriel Desjardins to project a player's production level at a higher (or lower) level of hockey. This year's rankings offered up a pair of players who were not draft-eligible as #1 and #2 in the crop (Neil Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk of the OHL's Sarnia Sting).
The following draft-eligible players from major junior hockey were listed above Jensen, and his 36 goal campaign, who were available at the time of the pick:
-Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor, OHL -- Boston, 40th overall)
-Boone Jenner (Oshawa, OHL -- Columbus, 37th overall)
-Vincent Trocheck (Saginaw, OHL -- Florida, 64th overall)
-Michael St. Croix (Edmonton, WHL -- NY Rangers, 106th overall)
-Ty Rattie (Portland, WHL -- St. Louis, 32nd overall)
-Shane McColgan (Kelowna, WHL -- NY Rangers, 134th overall)
-Nick Cousins (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL -- Philadelphia, 68th overall)
-Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Gatineau, QMJHL -- Ottawa, 96th overall)
-Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL -- Detroit, 35th overall)
-Shane Prince (Ottawa, OHL -- Ottawa, 61st overall)
-Daniel Catenacci (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL -- Buffalo, 77th overall)
-Rickard Rakell (Plymouth, OHL -- Anaheim, 30th overall)
So Jensen had a lower ranking than a number of Major Junior forwards, some of whom were highly regarded and went in the top 40. Khokhlachev was actually ranked fourth overall in the rankings and behind only Ryan Strome as a draft-eligible player. However, Mike Gillis evidently doesn't think it's worth the headache of drafting a Russian player (even one who scored 43 goals) for increased production.
Again, Jensen was the safe pick. Since he's only been in the OHL for a year, that accounts slightly for his lower ranking. Explained to me over email:
"Jensen's at 22 P/82, which is mostly the same as what you found. Mine's a bit lower because I use two years of data (he only has one, so he gets downgraded) and I adjust for quality of competition (more downgrading - OHL East teams have weaker schedules). " -Pettapiece
(The 22 P/82 means that, over the next seven years in the NHL, Jensen would average 22 points per 82 games played)
It is worth noting that other than Khokhlachev, who's P/82 number was 36, all the other draft-eligible players were within four points of Jensen.
(Again, stick tap to Rob for allowing me to use snippets of the data. He had a terrific post last week on the effects of age on drafted players. The Canucks frequently draft older players in the late rounds of the draft: bigger, more developed, safer picks)