Lombardi Draft Algorithm Revealed

[This post is an updated version of something I wrote for the SBN mock draft -- however, it has been enhanced with new and better numbers]

Some people are too quick to dismiss advanced stats and their role in evaluating hockey players. I hear a lot of "if you've ever played the game, you know..." or "there's more to hockey than numbers..."

Well, you know what, there isn't.

If you dismiss the numbers, you just don't understand what the numbers are telling you, or you don't want to know.

In his career, Dean Lombardi has made 23 selections in the first two rounds of the NHL draft. If you look at the names on that list, one stat leaps off the page. Taken as a whole, they are composed of the letter E at a whopping 12%. N is close behind, at 10%, followed by S, A and R, at 8%, 8% and 7% respectively. Lombardi has consistently shown a tendency to draft players whose names contain B, C, S, H, L, J, K, V, Y or Z, relative to the letter frequency in the English language as a whole. Z is twenty times more likely to appear in a Lombardi selection than in the dictionary. Only once has Lombardi failed to draft at least one J.

D and T, meanwhile, are under-represented (which is why his 2008 selections so confounded cryptographers at the time). Meanwhile, the Thomas Hickey selection, which surprised many, was no shock at all to fans who were looking at the right stats (due to the presence of H, C, K and Y; the only pick in the last twenty years to have contained four of Lombardi's most prized consonants*).

(*some theorists have noted, perhaps sarcastically, that, drafting using the Lombardi algorithm, the ultimate prospect name would indeed be h-o-c-k-e-y.)

If Lombardi's picks sometimes seem "off the board," it's completely consistent with his philosophy of drafting from the consonants outward. He has been known to buy a vowel, but it has to be the right fit.

The most telling stat, however, is that an overwhelming seventeen of Lombardi's picks in the first two rounds contain either a double-consonant (Cheechoo, Hannan, Moller, Simmonds, Schenn) or the initials of the player form a double-consonant (Doughty, Voynov).

A few notes about the chart below. "Init 2x" means the player's initials form a double-consonant. "1st name" and "last name" columns show whether the player has a double consonant in either name. "# of Es" shows the number of Es in the player's name. The J and Z columns indicate the presence of at least one J or Z. The last column shows the cumulative Lombardi Algorithm. 

However, so the Kings staff doesn't seek me out and break my purple thumbs, I have removed a random selection of prospects and also have removed an entire column which Lombardi uses to arrive at the final value for each player. So this chart is close but not identical to the real one. 

(It's also possible this entire post is disinformation meant to throw off Brian Burke.)

Almost forgot (though it goes without saying), the last column before the Algorithm gives a bonus point for any player from the WHL. 

CS rank Init. 2x 1st name last name # OF Es J? Z? WHL Algorithm
Nino Niederreiter 12 1 1 3 1 11.00
Brett Connolly 3 1 1 1 1 9.00
Emerson Etem 23 1 2 1 9.00
Jeffrey Skinner 34 1 1 2 1 8.33
Jonathan Merrill 21 1 1 1 7.33
Beau Bennett 32 1 1 3 7.00
Jarred Tinordi 38 1 1 6.33
Charlie Coyle 24 1 2 6.00
Brock Beukeboom 41 1 1 2 6.00
Nick Bjugstad 13 1 5.33
Gregg Sutch 101 1 1 5.00
Kirill Kabanov 31 1 1 5.00
Brad Ross 59 1 1 5.00
Jaden Schwartz 28 1 1 1 4.67
Luke Moffat 95 1 1 4.00
Ryan Spooner 39 1 4.00
Patrick McNally 40 1 4.00
Craig Cunningham 108 1 1 4.00
Jason Zucker 51 1 1 1 3.67
Justin Holl 47 1 1 3.33
Justin Shugg 53 1 1 3.33
Brendon Woods 83 1 3.00
Sam Carrick 90 1 3.00
Scott Wamganz 204 1 1 2.33

I would not rule out Lombardi trading up to grab Neiderrieter, the coveted "double-double" (double consonant last name AND double-consonant initials) the likes of which Lombardi has not seen since he drafted the legendary triple-double, Jeff Jillson (14th overall, Sharks, 1999). But I think we're likely looking at a selection of Merrill, Tinordi or Etem.

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