Comparables are the compasses that scouts use to get their bearings when they get into their teams' draft war rooms. Comps should provide a frame of reference and each player should have two, one representing the high end of a player's projected performance and the other being what he might "only" turn out to be. I surveyed a few scouts about the top prospects in this coming draft and eventually all talk wound back to comparables.
One Western Conference scout's take on the question of the relative merits of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier was pretty instructive. "It might turn out that they're Denis Savard and Doug Wickenheiser," the scout said.
Though one became a Hockey Hall of Famer and the other was a decent journeyman these two will be forever paired in draft lore. Back in 1980, the Montreal Canadiens owned the first overall pick and famously passed over the local favorite Savard and selected Wickenheiser out of Regina in the Dub (Savard ended up going third overall to Chicago). Winnipeg took defenseman Dave Babych at No. 2 and with 1,195 NHL games he turned out to be a reasonable value -- though not as much as the No. 4 and 6 picks, two more Hall of Famers: Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey.
Even though that draft is three decades old, it's useful this year because there are comparable players and comparable questions to consider.
To read more about the draft stock of top prospects, including Sean Couturier and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, you must be an ESPN Insider.