It's obviously true that the job of amatuer scouting is to generate NHL players for the organization and that's how it should be ultimately be judged, but a massive indicator of how good of a job they're doing is also just by purely tracking professional development. During the Hunter drafts we had a lot of picks that simply sucked and very rapidly found themselves either out of 2nd tier (AHL/KHL/Liiga/SHL) professional hockey or at the most on the fringes of it.
From the 2016 & 2017 drafts we had 18 picks. Minus one really because Auston was a layup. Of the 17 non Auston picks look like this
NHL Players: Grundstrom
2nd Tier Pro studs: Lilly
Useful 2nd Tier Pro: Brooks, Korshkov, Middleton, McGregor
Fringe 2nd Tier Pro: Rasanen, Scott, Kara, Bobylev, Gordeev, Chebykin (may be moving up this list...but is already 24), Woll
Pro Washouts: O'Connell, Walker, Mattinen, Greenway
That's uhhhh...not good. That many picks turning into 2 good professional players (Grundstrom & Lilly) is just bad, bad drafting.
Contrast that with the 2018-19 drafts, with less development time and fewer picks
Despite less development time not interrupted by covid, there's just way more pro level talent here with very few relegated to being fringe or pro washouts. At minimum, we've drafted a bunch of guys who are going to go on to be star level talent in 2nd tier pro league, which is a necessary step to becoming an impact NHL player. If you're not a stud at lower pro levels, you don't become one in the show.
So obviously, obviously super fucking early but the quick takeaway is that our 2020 class has already produced as many solid professionals (through ages 19-20 instead of 23-24+) as the 16/17 drafts combined with a bunch of those players looking set to move up a tier this season.
Someone specifically to keep an eye on to move up is Rindell. 3rd best offensive performance in Liiga from a 20 yr old defender since 2000 (Vatanen and Lindell the only 2 better) after the 6th best 19 yr old Liiga season.