The Value Of A Pick

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taylor hall edmonton oilers tyler seguin boston bruins

On September 19th, 2009, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded two first round picks and a second rounder to the Boston Bruins for young, sniping center Phil Kessel. The first of those picks has turned out to be the 2nd Overall pick here in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. A pick that will surely turn into one of two extremely highly regarded prospects, either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin.

So the question presents itself. Just what is the value of that high a pick in this day and age? All draft classes are not equal but we can take a quick look at recent history to see that, more and more, such high picks are turning into readily available, elite NHL talent at a more consistent rate.

The factors that you’ve got to consider in order to evaluate: What percentage of the current elite level players in the NHL are coming from such high draft picks? Conversely, what percentage of those type of draft picks become high impact players?

Let’s look at the top twelve scorers in the NHL for 2009-10 and where they were drafted:

    1. Henrik Sedin, Van, 112 pts. 3rd Overall, 1999.

    2. Sidney Crosby, Pit, 109 pts. 1st Overall, 2005

    3. Alex Ovechkin, Was, 109 pts. 1st Overall, 2004.

    4. Nicklas Backstrom, Was, 101 pts. 4th Overall, 2006.

    5. Steven Stamkos, TB, 95 pts. 1st Overall, 2008

    6. Martin St. Louis, TB, 91 pts, Undrafted Free Agent

    7. Brad Richards, Dal, 91 pts. 64th Overall, 1998

    8. Joe Thornton, SJ, 89 pts. 1st Overall, 1997

    9. Patrick Kane, Chi, 88 pts. 1st Overall, 2007

    10. Marian Gaborik, NYR, 86 pts. 3rd Overall, 2000.

    11. Ilya Kovalchuk, ATL/NJ, 85 pts. 1st Overall, 2001

    12. Daniel Sedin, Van, 85 pts., 2nd Overall, 1999

So that’s some pretty plain evidence there that, in the last decade or so, those elite picks have produced some serious talent. Six Number One Overalls. Only Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis stand out as guys falling outside the 1-4 slots in the draft. If you look further down on the scoring list into the Top 20, there is even more proof of what a top pick can produce (Patrick Marleau, 2nd Overall; Dany Heatley, 2nd Overall; Evgeni Malkin, 2nd Overall; Vincent Lecavalier, 1st Overall).

Now, this isn’t the whole story by a long shot. Top scoring doesn’t account for the defense or goaltending positions which need be evaluated in a different manner. For the sake of this particular post, however, I’m going to focus mainly on the forward position, given that the two highest rated prospects we’re all talking about are forwards. Also, a list of the top scorers doesn’t tell us how many of those top few picks in recent years have failed to develop. Meaning, you certainly can get an elite, game changing forward at a pick like that, but is there any guarantee that you will?

It appears that, in this day and age, the answer just might be Yes. Or, at least, that the odds are pretty damn good.

Let’s look at the past 10 year’s draft classes, first three selections.

    2009

    1. John Tavares
    2. Victor Hedman
    3. Matt Duchene

    2008

    1. Steven Stamkos
    2. Drew Doughty
    3. Zach Bogosian

    2007

    1. Patrick Kane
    2. James van Riemsdyk
    3. Kyle Turris

    2006

    1. Erik Johnson
    2. Jordan Staal
    3. Jonthan Toews

    2005

    1. Sydney Crosby
    2. Bobby Ryan
    3. Jack Johnson

    2004

    1. Alex Ovechkin
    2. Evgeni Malkin
    3. Cam Barker

    2003

    1. Marc-Andre Fleury
    2. Eric Staal
    3. Nathan Horton

    2002

    1. Rick Nash
    2. Kari Lehtonen
    3. Jay Bouwmeester

    2001

    1. Ilya Kovalchuk
    2. Jason Spezza
    3. Alexander Svitov

    2000

    1. Rick Dipietro
    2. Dany Heatley
    3. Marian Gaborik

Again, only focusing on the forwards for the purposes of this discussion, you’d be hard pressed to find too many disappointments in the above list. Granted, every draft is different, but only Kyle Turris and the illustrious Patrik Stefan jump out as players who have not had much impact on their team. Even though it’s early to judge Tavares and Duchene, they have both jumped into the NHL and contributed right away.

Meanwhile, the clear majority of the others have become elite level, high impact players and, often outrights superstars. Look at how many Scoring Leaders, Hart Trophy winners, Calder Trophy winners, 50 goal-scorers and, yes, Stanley Cup winners are on that list. There’s a lot folks.

Here’s a little math. Averaged out based on an 82 game season, the point production of forwards taken at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the draft in the last 10 years.

    Pick # 1: 40.86 goals, 46.02 assists, 86.88 points.

    Pick # 2: 33.15 goals, 43.04 assists, 76.19 points.

Pretty impressive numbers, I must say. Not perfect indicators, as the more raw rookies and a defensive specialist like Jordan Staal bring the averages down a pinch but a decent overview of what the numbers can tell you. You’re probably to get one hell of a player with a pick that high. Add in that Hall and Seguin can essentially be flip-flopped into either draft position, as many scouts think, and you have to consider the very real possibility that you’ll be getting a 40 goal, 90 point, franchise type player.

Good news for the Edmonton Oilers and the Boston Bruins.

Times have changed, in that the NHL draft is not quite the crap shoot it once was. The technology of scouting and the technology of building a professional athlete have have not only made it easier to profile and predict who the stars are going to be but it’s made those stars ready to jump to the big leagues at younger ages. An 18 year old coming out of the CHL these days is already a finely tuned athlete with years of physical and mental preparation. They’ve played a professional style schedule, they’ve dealt with the media, they’ve honed their specific skills with the latest and best equipment available to the industry.

These are kids on a fast track and, for good or ill, it’s the way things are now.

It took Steven Stamkos two seasons to score 50 goals. Ovechkin one. Crosby won the Hart within two years and the Cup within four. Patrick Kane did it in three. These are players that can dramatically affect the course of your franchise.

So will Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin be those types of players? A lot of people think they will be. There are no guarantees but, like I said, the odds are on your side given recent history. That’s the reason Peter Chiarelli wouldn’t listen to any trade proposals that included that pick this season. It’s the reason the Edmonton Oilers and the Boston Bruins and their respective fans are looking forward to the Draft on Friday with such anticipation.

So the value of a pick that high? Huge. Monsterously huge. Franchise changing huge.

And a hell of a lot more than Phil Kessel, I’d say. Especially when you throw in a first and second rounder next year, too.

So do you think the Toronto representatives will all be sporting black armbands in L.A. tomorrow, or what?

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One Response to “The Value Of A Pick”

  1. Chris Ross Says:

    100% agree. Great analysis in your article! I’m always stoked for the NHL draft and excited to see what these young up and comers will do in the future. Could you check out my blog as well because I really wanna hear your opinion on my thoughts. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/toronto-maple-laughs/

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