There are a lot of different draft strategies out there. You can go for quantity, acquiring as many picks as possible and hoping for the best. You can go full bore into analytics, ignoring any player that doesn’t have a high enough INV% and ESP1/60. You can draft for need, aiming to fill in gaps in your roster and system with every pick. You can even draft according to which player has the prettiest girlfriend.
Ultimately, most teams are trying to draft the best player available, which isn’t so much a drafting strategy as it is the end goal of every single team.
There is, however, another way. Instead of drafting the best player available, you can draft the best name available. These are guys with name intangibles that you just can’t teach. Literally, you can’t teach them, because they’re given these names at birth.
Picking the best name available makes a lot of sense when it comes to catering to your fans. Fans love wearing jerseys with the names of their favourite players, so why not make them the best names possible? Why have a “Smith” jersey when you could have a “Butcher” jersey? Names matter.
Also, if you’re going to hearing a player’s name said by your team’s play-by-play announcer for the next decade or so, why not have it be a name that is fun to say?
I produced a list of the 20 best names available in the 2017 draft, and the Canucks came through, picking one of my top names available: the guy with the metalcore last name, Jack Rathbone.
Rathbone came in at sixth overall in my name rankings last year. Will the Canucks grab a top-20 name this year?
Honourable Mentions: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jack McBain, Ryan O’Reilly (please get picked by Buffalo), Xan Gurney, Samuel L’Italien, Jan Sir, Oliver True, Dawson Butt.
Special Mention: Rickard Hugg
His name could potentially shorten to Dick Hugg, which is amazing, but it was also enough for him to make the list last year. No two-time finishers for this list. But I will note that “Hugg” could also translate from Swedish as “stab,” “chop,” or “hack,” and Dick Chop is also still hilarious.
20 | Jake Wise
Wise is just a great name to put on the back of a jersey. Also, you get to say, “That was a Wise pick,” when he gets selected at the draft. He’s just let down by a mediocre first name, which is why he’s likely to go in the second or third round, instead of the first.
19 | Dominik Bokk
Bokk played a little with Elias Pettersson for the Växjö Lakers last season and has some high-end skill, enough to make him a potential first-round pick. He’s a tremendous offensive talent and matches that talent with a tremendous name: Dominik Bokk is a superb name, even if it lends itself too easily to chicken jokes.
18 | Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup
Hyphenated last names are already going to a mouthful for a play-by-play announcer and then you go and make the second name “Svejstrup.” What a monster of a last name.
17 | Matthew Grouchy
That’s not a real last name; that’s the name of a rejected dwarf. “We’ve already got Grumpy, don’t need another bad-tempered dwarf in the house.”
16 | Blade Jenkins
His last name is only good because of its association with Leeroy Jenkins, but “Blade” is a superb first name for a hockey player. He just needs to petition his team to let him put his first name on his jersey.
Blade is expected to go late in the second round or early in the third round of the draft. If you can get a guy named “Blade” in the third round, you have to do it.
15 | Logan Cash
When you go to buy his jersey and get it customized, be sure to tell them, “Just make the jersey out to ‘Cash.’”
14 | Shaw Boomhower
Boomhower isn’t going to get drafted — he’s in his second year of eligibility and had just 16 points in the OHL — but he does share a name with one of the greatest characters in television history, even if it’s spelled slightly differently.
13 | Derek Gentile
He loses points for the thoroughly ordinary first name, but seeing “Gentile” on the back of a hockey jersey makes it all worth it.
12 | Alexis Gravel
He definitely has some grit to his game.
Yes, he’s a goalie. No, I will not apologize for that joke.
11 | Wyllum Deveaux
Willem Dafoe is definitely going to sue this guy for identity theft.
Deveaux will surely slide down the draft after missing most of the season with mono and a knee injury, making him an intriguing prospect in later rounds, particularly namewise.
10 | Martin Bucko
Look, bucko, I’m not going to let Jordan Peterson ruin the word “bucko.”
Bucko is ranked 80th among European skaters by Central Scouting.
9 | William Worge Kreü
I’m a sucker for a good umlaut. Also, if he makes it to the NHL, his fans could be called the Kreü Crew.
Unfortunately, that’s a longshot. Kreü was ranked 92nd among European skaters by Central Scouting in their mid-term rankings, but he’s fallen completely off their list since. He’s still intriguing — a 6’6” defenceman with some raw talent to go with his size — and a team might like his potential enough to grab him with a late-round pick. Considering his name, they would negligent not to draft him.
8 | Wyatte Wylie
This name's alliteration per 60 is through the roof. It’s just a fun name to say and one that’s sure to be a favourite of in-arena announcers everywhere.
Wylie also sounds like “wily,” which means “skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully,” which is a great trait for a hockey player and also lends itself immediately to comparisons to the greatest of Looney Tune characters, Wile E. Coyote.
This is a multi-dimensional hockey name, folks.
7 | Angus Crookshank
This is just a wonderfully Scottish name and there just aren’t enough Scottish names in the NHL. Add in that he shares a name with Hermione Granger’s cat (more or less) and this is just a superb name.
Crookshank is a local boy from North Vancouver who played for the Langley Rivermen and had 45 points in 42 games. He’s slated to go to the University of North Hampshire after the draft, where he could be a late-round pick.
6 | Mareks Mitens
I like to think that his parents named him after seeing Marek Malik’s unlikely between-the-legs shootout goal for the Rangers. Unfortunately, that goal came seven years after Mitens was born, but it’s still wonderful that his name sounds like a tribute to Marek’s magical mitts.
Mitens uses a different kind of glove than Malik, however, as he is a goaltender. Latvia has produced some pretty good goaltenders, but he’s a longshot to get drafted, as he’s already 20 and is coming off a bad year in the NCAA.
5 | Andrew Coxhead
Look, I’d like to tell you that I am too mature to chortle at the name “Coxhead,” but I would be lying.
4 | Bode Wilde
Bode Wilde is expected to get picked in the middle of the first round. The Minnesota Wild aren’t picking until 24th overall. You know that that means: they need to trade up in the draft. You know that a Wild jersey with “Wilde” on the back would sell like crazy. Don’t pretend it wouldn’t.
Also, “Bode” is a very American athlete first name.
3 | Arttu Nevasaari
R2-D2 never apologizes. Ever.
2 | Jett Woo
There’s a beautiful simplicity to this name. It brings to mind action star Jet Li or Mighty Ducks legend Kenny Wu.
It helps that Woo is an elite skater, making his name “Jett” an accurate description of him on the ice. He’s a potential first-round pick, ranked 21st by Hockey News, 26th by Future Considerations, and 30th by Hockey Prospect. There’s a possibility that he falls to the second round, where he might be available for the Canucks, who could use another defenceman prospect like Woo and could definitely use someone with an awesome name like Woo.
There’s another “Jett” available in the draft, but let’s be frank: Jett Alexander is not a great name. Adding the last name “Alexander” immediately makes the first name “Jett” ten times lamer.
1 | Nando Eggenberger
Frenemy-of-the-blog Wyatt Arndt has been stanning for Nando Eggenberger ever since he first heard his name and it’s understandable: this is an all-time great name. It’s an obvious pick for the best name of the 2018 draft class.
Eggenberger is a legitimate prospect too. He has great speed and a superb release on his shot. He’s been playing against men in the top Swiss league. He’s ranked all over the place, however.
Central Scouting has him 48th among European skaters. Future Considerations ranked him 88th overall, which would make him a third-round pick, while Bob McKenzie has him all the way up at 50th overall, suggesting a team might take him in the second round. My friends at Canucks Army have him 98th overall.
Eggenberger’s name also has endless marketing possibilities. Okay, correction, it has one marketing possibility, but it’s a good one: Nando’s needs to make a breakfast sandwich, call it the Egg ‘n’ Burger, and hire Eggenberger to be the spokesman for the commercials. Job done.