NHL Drafts Top-10: The Tale of Missed Opportunities

This is a continuation of a previous article on this blog about the Drafts redone for those years. This time around though, we will look at the teams who have clearly missed out on some great picks, selecting the wrong player(s), and how many times those teams blew up opportunities. That said, hindsight being 20-20, every single NHL team messes up at the Draft as they’re not comparing talents at the time, but rather they’re trying to determine, to the best of their abilities, the ceiling those young men will reach in their development. Lots of room for errors at the Draft… as we’ve all seen. As looking at all 30-31 teams for even just the first round would be quite the undertaking, we’ll only focus on the Top-10 once again.

For the purpose of this exercise, I’ve decided to skip 2017 though, as it is, in my opinion, too soon to talk about mistakes as some players take more time than others to reach their peaks. Therefore, we’ll focus more on 2003 to 2016 as it will provide a more accurate picture.

Number of Picks per team

The Columbus Blue Jackets have had more top-10 selections between 2003 to 2016 than any other teams with 10, followed closely by the Winnipeg Jets (and Atlanta Thrashers) and Edmonton Oilers with nine each.

TEAM1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thTOTAL
11231210
11112219 (incl. ATL)
4111119
113128
111227
113117
211127
112116
2215
11125
111115
2125
11215
11125
1214
11114
11114
1124
1214
11114
1113
1113
1113
123
123
112
112
112
112
0

Pretty incredible to see that the Detroit Red Wings haven’t had a single top-10 selection from 2003 to 2016 inclusive. They did get a sixth overall pick at the last two NHL Drafts however, which aren’t included in this research.

Quality of picks / Points attribution

Here’s how I have attributed the points based on the quality of picks. Of course, the higher you pick, the better the chances of getting a player. So I have given the #10 pick = 1 point, the #9 pick = 2 points, all the way to the #1 pick = 10 points. So if we take the Edmonton Oilers, they had four first overall picks, worth 40 points right there.

1st3rd4th6th7th10thTOTAL PTS
411111
4×101×81×71×51×41×1
TOTAL408754165

In addition, for tie-breakers, I have used the team(s) with the highest pick(s) to determine the best positioned. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders both have 41 points. However, the Pens have selected first overall twice and second overall twice as well, to the Isles’ selecting first overall only once. So of course, the Penguins got the best players (or should have), so I put them ahead of the Islanders.

RANKTEAMPOINTS
165
256
349
444
541
41
739
837
936
1033
1130
30
1329
1423
1522
1620
1719
1817
17
17
2116
16
2315
15
2512
12
279
286
294
300

From looking at this board, it is rather amazing to see the missed opportunities by the Edmonton Oilers, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Florida Panthers and by the Carolina Hurricanes. Edmonton has completely messed up with Nail Yakupov, Jesse Puljujarvi, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner. There were also better choices than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and even Darnell Nurse. Such decisions go a long way in sending a franchise into a tailspin as we’ve seen the Oilers do for many years now.

Trevor Timmins and the Habs

In 2012, the Canadiens selected Alex Galchenyuk in what turned out to be a very weak draft year. While some will claim that he was a bad pick, the fact that he has played the most NHL games from his draft class and he’s second in scoring only to Filip Forsberg clearly shows that he wasn’t that bad of a choice. To think that Nail Yakupov (EDM) and Ryan Murray (CBJ) were selected ahead of him, and that Griffin Reinhart (NYI) was picked immediately after, it could definitely have been worse.

The Canadiens’ biggest mistake during that time under Timmins picking in the top-10 might be the selection of Andrei Kostitsyn at #10 as one would be hardpressed to blame him for picking Carey Price at #5 (when many experts wanted to them to pick Gilbert Brule) in 2005 and Mikhail Sergachev at #9 in 2016, he who was later traded to land Jonathan Drouin, a former 3rd overall pick. We have had a few researched-based articles on this blog clearly showing that the blame on Timmins is far from being justified, particularly when compared to his peers. But it is very difficult to reverse thoughts based on rhetorics. Go Habs Go!

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