directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Draft math

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Draft math

I just finished reading an EXCELLENT statistical breakdown and subsequent analysis of past draft picks.

Here are some highlights but if you're into the draft I highly recommend following this link and checking out all of the time and work this particular writer put into this piece.

* Less than 10% of all players drafted between 96-06 went on to play 200 games. That's 1 in 10. Anything you can only do well 1 out of 10 times, I would classify as difficult.

* 40% of first round picks have gone on to play more than 200 games. 24% of 1st and 2nd round picks go on to play in 200 games. After that, only 5.5% do. That’s 1 in 20 players. It’s not quite a crap shoot, but it’s pretty damn close. Put another way, for every 20 post-third round draft picks traded away, only one of them will go on to play 200+ games in the NHL.

Those statistics show why it's so important to retain those 1st round picks.

My favorite part -- some Detroit bashing:

I actually really like Detroit, but I'm going to pick on them here because there's just a bit too much hype about their drafting prowess for my liking. "Detroit has the best scouting department in the NHL" is one of most repeated phrases in any draft discussion, but I'm not convinced that's true. Player development? Top notch. But actually consistently drafting NHL-calibre players? Not their forte.

If you refer back to the first chart posted above, you'll notice that Detroit is DEAD LAST in 3 of the 4 categories (% that made it to the NHL, % that played 200 games, # of games played per player drafted), and 27th in the other. That’s not good. Of course, drafting 2 franchise players in the late rounds makes up for that, but when the bulk of your drafted players end up being "busts", that's not a good sign.

Here’s a look at the players Detroit drafted in the 1st round since 1994. First of all - let's count all of the first round picks in 97,99, 01,02,03,04. Oh my goodness – there are none! Where did they go? Someone must have stolen them, because the most well managed team in the history of the NHL would never trade away draft picks, especially first rounders, since they realize how important they are and that no team can have any success without them. Second of all - not an overly impressive bunch besides Kronwall (and weirdly, all defencemen except for last year's pick).

And here’s the full list of players Detroit drafted in 98 and 99 (the years Datsyuk and Zberg were drafted). There's no denying that they were both great late-draft steals, but given the other players selected by Detroit before and after, you could argue that they just got lucky. Really really lucky.

The writer makes a great point in that it's not that Detroit is good at drafting it's that they are extremely good at developing players.

This is an area I think we are seeing tremendous improvement on under Howson in terms of the Jackets organization. He has been patient giving blue chip guys like Brassard, Voracek and Filatov at least a year to develop. Think we would have seen that under MacLean? -- not a chance.

We have seen what can happen when picks are rushed like a Gilbert Brule or a Alex Picard. I can't help but think what kind of players these two could have been with at least a year of development in the AHL before seeing NHL action.

Now the good news is that Picard showed some strong signs towards the tail end of last season so maybe something can be salvaged there.

If you notice they are also being very patient with their later round picks, especially the d-men. Guys like Goloubef, Weber and Ruth will continue to bake in college. Mayorov, Legein, Sestito, and Clitsome are also guys being given time to develop on the farm.

Then of course they have gotten much better at hitting on guys in later rounds. Guys who have made the jump recently from draft pick, to AHL to NHL are Marc Methot and Derek Dorsett.

Now the Jackets under Howson haven't been perfect. Looking back I'm sure they would have liked to have given Russell more time to develop in the AHL but the lack of having anyone on the big team with his skillset accelerated his jump to the NHL.

Now it turned out great but the organization would be lying if they were to say they expected Steve Mason to have the ability to jump into the NHL the way he did and have the Calder winning season he did.

If guys take advantage of the opportunities given and show they are ready then great. Every prospect develops differently. They key is to recognize their development arc and not try to force feed them into the NHL before they are ready.

The writer also makes some great point about drafting d-men in the first round:

Pronger and Niedermayer were drafted top 5 (prior to 1994), but Lidstrom wasn’t. Neither was Chara, Boyle, Campbell, Kaberle, Markov, Green, Rafalski. I'm not saying drafting a defenseman early on is always a bad idea, but it would seem that you don't need to use a top 10 pick if you’re looking for a stud D.

Again it's a great read although its certainly clear this has a Leaf's spin. Here is the link again if you're interested in reading more or using their spreadsheet to do some analysis of your own!

Programming alert: For those that have the NHL Network there is some excellent pre-draft programming on this week. For instance today they have Bob Mckenzie's top prosect draft special on today as well as an all access look at the 2002 draft (i.e. the Rick Nash draft). Set your DVRs!



eplagge said...

Great articles lately about the draft...

Here's a similar page with similar findings...

In summary... 1st round draft picks will usually become NHL regulars.. but not all become studs. (Malhotra and Novotny anyone ??) After the third round it becomes a crapshoot.

I think the Detroit stats are interesting... it shows how important it is to mold these players in your system... I think under Howsen we are doing a fine job with our rookies..

BTW the rumor that Howsen might trade the CBJ's 16th overall pick for the Islanders 31, 37 and 56 in the second round.. is looking to get some more steam.. I would do that in a heartbeat if I was Howsen...

Lainey said...

Actually, the odds in craps are about 47% of getting more than your bet back, so actually it is much much worse than craps.

patrick said...

Thank you for this post that completely debunks this notion that detroit has the upper hand in terms of scouting. it has become a conventional truth and i assumed it to be true too (never argued against it, wasnt even skeptical about it). its as if all the empirical evidence they (detroit fans and anyone who subscribed to it) ever needed was datsyuk and Z to showcase their scouting prowess.