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Using psychology to predict draft flights

There are always surprises at the draft. Guys who are drafted in the first round and don’t make the NHL, or others who have great careers without even being drafted. It’s difficult, almost impossible, to predict which players drafted in the later rounds will become talented in the future.

However, a team of researchers from Laval University has lent itself to the game.

In fact, post-doctoral intern Daniel Fortin-Guichard dealt with the Quebec Remparts in 2019 to test his experience. The idea was to establish the psychological profile of players between the ages of 15 and 16 who were going to be drafted into the QMJHL.

The research team met with 95 young players, along with Remparts scouts, to administer tests. The tests were psychological in nature, measuring the players’ thinking, emotions and behaviors.

70 of the 95 players tested were selected after the 2nd round of the 2019 QMJHL draft. As Kevin Dubé of Le Journal de Montréal explains, these players were not considered among the elite in their sport, so the study focused on them.

3 years later, the researchers went to the Remparts to ask them which of the 70 players they had studied they would have liked to select in hindsight. Quebec singled out 15 players, all of whom were classified as “sleeping talent”, as Kevin Dubé reports.

One of the test processes showed a video sequence to the players. The researchers paused the video and then asked them what they would have done in the same situation. The researchers analyzed not only the players’ responses, but also their gaze.

In fact, the players were fitted with sensors so that the researchers could follow their gaze. Players with good potential know exactly where to look in these situations. As a matter of fact, late draftees who went on to success in the QMJHL all had above-average results in these tests.

The Remparts used the technique in 2022 at the draft and selected two players based on these analyses. One of the two players impressed during the season, showing that there is potential in this technique.

For now, the experience is limited to the QMJHL. However, Daniel Fortin-Guichard confirmed that he would not close the door on the idea of continuing his experience with an NHL team.

However, some adjustments will have to be made to the process, since 17- and 18-year-old players do not act in the same way as 15- and 16-year-olds.

Daniel Fortin-Guichard had even asked Patrick Roy to put him in touch with Marc Bergevin in 2019, but Bergevin refused, wanting the researcher to do his experiment with the Remparts.

In gusto

– Drouin keeps number 27.

– The results, however, were not positive.

– It’s a good idea to keep the human side.

– Quebecer drafted by the Rays.

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