The amateur draft is not a perfect science and professional teams know that better than anyone. Everyone can determine where a prospect is at a given time simply by scouting and looking at numbers but you see, that’s not what scouting is all about. No matter how many games scouts watch, no matter how much expertise they have on their scouting teams, no matter what the numbers certain players are putting up today, the fact remains that they are all trying to project how much young players will develop over a certain period of time.
However, it seems like some fans think that it’s easier than it really is. Some go as far as following prospects and play their mini Bob McKenzies prior and during the annual NHL event by having their own Mock Drafts, even going as far as criticising the professionals in that domain. At times, they will come back a few years later pointing that they were right way back when, but never will they do the same the umpteen times that they were wrong. Yet, NHL teams’ scouting records will always be for all to see, even years later.
But before going any further and look at all 30 teams’ track records when it comes to amateur drafts, let’s hear what Montreal Canadiens’ Vice President of player personnel Trevor Timmins, whose role is to oversee the Canadiens’ amateur scouting system, including the annual NHL Entry Draft and amateur free-agent recruitment, as well as overseeing the team’s amateur scouting staff, covering Canada, the United States and Europe.
As Timmins joined the Canadiens’ organisation back in the summer of 2003, this is when we well start our research to help determine exactly where he stands and why General Manager Marc Bergevin thinks so highly of his employee. However, we will only be focusing on one aspect of his role: drafting amateur prospects.
For starter, let’s state that Mr. Timmins has drafted a combined total of 99 amateur players from 2003 to 2016 inclusively. Those players have played a combined total of just under 8,500 games in the NHL. Okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but where does that rank him in comparison to his peers, will you ask? Let’s break it down.
First and foremost, let’s say that it’s not fair to have the Winnipeg Jets in these discussions. They only started drafting back in 2011 and it takes a long time to see the results of drafts. It’s also not a fair comparative when it comes to games played. of course. Also, let’s not forget that like any statistic, no matter what advanced stats people want you to believe, no statistic tells the whole story. Last but not least, we calculated the games played even after a player was traded to another organisation as we’re not judging the GMs’ jobs, but rather the draft history of those teams.
Since 2003, here is a chart showing how many first round selections a team has made, then second round and third round. Because the number of rounds has changed over the years, I have combined picks from the fourth round and later all together, as historically, fewer players from those rounds make it to the NHL. Without further due, here are the numbers.
I think that we can all agree that the more players you draft, the better are your chances at seeing some of them break into the league but as you can see, the Canadiens are in the bottom half of the NHL since 2003 and in total, only five teams (6 if you include Winnipeg) have drafted less often than Trevor Timmins. That’s the first point of reference when it comes to how many players should make it to the NHL, comparatively speaking in relation to all other NHL teams.
Another reference point for any NHL team is the number of players drafted have made it to the NHL. Here are the total number of players who have played in the NHL.
Just looking at the number of players reaching a sniff at the NHL isn’t fair as not all teams have had the same number of picks, as we’ve seen before. So let’s look at the percentage representing the number of players with NHL experience over the number of players drafted by each team. Those players were, at one point or another, worth enough to get a look at the NHL.
That is all fine and dandy, but these numbers include players who have made a career in the NHL as well as those who have only played a handful of games (or less). Let’s look at another chart, this time at the number of NHL games played in total but the players drafted by each team.
It looks like the Canadiens have drafted players who have actually made an NHL career in comparison to other teams, doesn’t it? But finally, for a more complete assessment of the work done by each team, let’s take the average of the number of games played by the players drafted by each team, divided by the number of draft picks they have taken overall.
What the above chart is saying, it’s that the Canadiens under Timmins, while having selected the 24th least amount of picks, have the highest average of games played by player drafted. So there you have it folks. If someone ever tells you that Trevor Timmins is overrated, or that they Canadiens aren’t drafting well, show them proof that they are just blowing hot air, and that their opinion is based on nothing but the optic and not on evidence. This includes all NHL teams, so you have something concrete to base the comparisons, much better than listening to people who just like to hear themselves talk.
On a side note, can you imagine if Pierre Gauthier didn’t trade so many draft picks? Marc Bergevin understands the value of those picks and give Timmins the necessary freedom to do his work.
Source for numbers: hockeydb.com as of December 9, 2016