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Does Draft Position Matter? Part 2


Yesterday I looked at 3 teams who have had very different situations and demonstrated what they have done in their particular circumstances.  While I was researching that post I saw an alarming number of top 10 busts, and wondered how  many teams would kill for a “do over”.  Which leads me to this unexpected sequel to that piece.  Today I will follow that up by looking at the drafts between 1992 (the Sens’ first draft) and the 2007 draft.  I will show the top 10 in each draft as it progressed, and also do a “hindsight” re-drafting of my own top 10 from each year the way it “should” have gone if management could see the future.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
TB1Roman HamrlikAlexei Yashin (2)
OTT2Alexei YashinNickolai Khabibulin (204)
SJ3Mike RathjeSergei Gonchar (14)
QUE4Todd WarrinerCory Stillman (6)
NYI5Darius KasparitisRoman Hamrlik (1)
CGY6Cory StillmanJere Lehtinen (88)
PHI7Ryan SittlerMartin Straka (19)
TOR8Brandon ConveryMichael Peca (40)
HAR9Robert PetrovickyAdrian Aucoin (117)
SJ10Andrei NazarovAnson Carter (220)

For all Yashin’s foibles in Ottawa, he is still arguably the best player from the draft.  Khabibulin would have been an early solution to the Sens goaltending woes, but at 204, he wasn’t a highly thought of prospect at the time.  Only 3 of the top 10 picks would still be in the top 10 after the fact.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT1Alexandre DaigleChris Pronger (2)
HFD2Chris ProngerPaul Kariya (4)
TB3Chris GrattonJason Arnott (7)
ANH4Paul KariyaSaku Koivu (21)
FLA5Rob NiedermayerPavol Demitra (227)
SJ6Victor KozlovTodd Bertuzzi (23)
EDM7Jason ArnottBryan MacCabe (40)
NYR8Niklas SundstromJamie Langenbrunner (35)
DAL9Todd HarveyMiroslav Satan (111)
QUE10Jocelyn ThibaultAndrew Brunette (174)

It was a toss up for me between Pronger and Kariya for who I would take 1st overall in hindsight.  The Sens had the biggest steal in Demitra, but they let him go for *cough* Christer Olsson *cough*.  Daigle was the consensus #1 that year, but didn’t pan out. Again, only 3 of the top 10 would still be in the top 10 if drafted today.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
FLA1Ed JovanovskiDaniel Alfredsson (133)
ANH2Oleg TverdovskyPatrick Elias (51)
OTT3Radek BonkRyan Smyth (6)
EDM4Jason BonsignoreTomas Vokoun (226)
HFD5Jeff O’NeillEd Jovanovski (1)
EDM6Ryan SmythMilan Hejduk (87)
LA7Jamie StorrChris Drury (72)
TB8Jason WeimerTomas Holmstrom (257)
NYI9Brett LindrosSteve Sullivan (233)
WSH10Nolan BaumgartnerJose Theodore (44)

Daniel Alfredsson is among the biggest steals ever in the draft, since he is the best player from his draft year and Ottawa got him at 133.  The talent level of this top 10 is very good, but only 2 of the hindsight top 10 players were actually drafted in the top 10.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT1Bryan BerardJarome Iginla (11)
NYI2Wade ReddenShane Doan (7)
LAK3Aki BergMikka Kiprusoff (116)
ANH4Chad KilgerWade Redden (2)
TB5Daymond LangkowMarc Savard (91)
EDM6Steve KellyPetr Sykora (18)
WIN7Shane DoanJS Giguere (13)
MON8Terry RyanDaymond Langkow (5)
BOS9Kyle McLarenBryan Berard (1)
FLA10Radek DvorakRadek Dvorak (10)

Iginla and Doan were Kamloops Blazers teammates and are the two best players from the draft.  Berard could have been higher but his eye injury limited what his talent might have shown.  Still, 4 of the top 10 would still go in the top 10 today.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
OTT1Chris PhillipsZdeno Chara (56)
SJ2Andrei ZyuzinDanny Briere (24)
NYI3JP DumontChris Phillips (1)
WSH4Alexandre VolchkovTomas Kaberle (204)
DAL5Ric JackmanJP Dumont (3)
EDM6Boyd DevereauxMatt Cullen (35)
BUF7Erik RasmussenDainius Zubrus (15)
BOS8Johnathan AitkenDerek Morris (13)
ANH9Ruslan SaleiMarco Sturm (21)
NJ10Lance WardPavel Kubina (179)

This is one of the weaker drafts in the list.  It was a series of busts for the top 10’s, but Chara was a steal for the Islanders.  They simply gave up on him before his potential was reached.  Only 2 of the top 10 would still merit that selection today.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
BOS1Joe ThorntonJoe Thornton (1)
SJ2Patrick MarleauRoberto Luongo (4)
LAK3Olli JokinenMarian Hossa (12)
NYI4Roberto LuongoPatrick Marleau (2)
NYI5Eric BrewerBrendan Morrow (25)
CGY6Daniel TkaczukBrian Campbell (156)
TB7Paul MaraOlli Jokinen (3)
BOS8Sergei SamsonovSergei Samsonov (8)
WAS9Nick BoyntonDan Cleary (13)
VAN10Brad FerenceKristian Huselius (47)

This is the first time in 7 years that the actual first player chosen is the one who would still be in that spot today.  Thornton is the top player, while Luongo might have taken over the top spot with a Stanley Cup this past spring.  Still, half of the top 10 was warranted, and in my redraft would still be top 10 picks.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
TB1Vincent LecavalierVincent Lecavalier (1)
NSH2David LegwandPavel Datsyuk (171)
SJ3Brad StuartBrad Richards (64)
VAN4Bryan AllenAlex Tanguay (12)
ANH5Vitaly VishnevskiScott Gomez (27)
CGY6Rico FataSimon Gagne (22)
NYR7Manny MalhotraBrad Stuart (3)
CHI8Mark BellMike Ribeiro (45)
NYI9Mike RuppBrian Gionta (82)
TOR10Nik AntropovJaroslav Spacek (117)

The second year in a row that the top pick would still be tops.  Tampa had a good draft as they got the 2 of the 3 best players in the draft.  Datsyuk could end up overtaking Lecavalier in the next few years, should we revisit the list at a later date. Datsyuk would rival Alfredsson as the biggest steal ever from the draft, and may yet overtake Lecavalier as the best of the class.  It was a year of surprises, as only 2 of the top 10 would get back to that level in a re-draft (although Legwand would be close to making it 3).


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
ATL1Patrik StefanHenrik Sedin (3)
VAN2Daniel SedinDaniel Sedin (2)
VAN3Henrik SedinHenrik Zetterberg (210)
NYR4Pavel BrendlRyan Miller (138)
NYI5Tim ConnollyMartin Havlat (26)
NSH6Brian FinleyMartin Erat (191)
WSH7Kris BeechTim Connolly (5)
NYI8Taylor PyattRyan Malone (115)
NYR9Jamie LundmarkMike Comrie (91)
NYI10Branislav MezeiJordan Leopold (44)

Wow Atlanta, how different it might have gone for you.  Either of the Sedins would have made a difference, as would Zetterberg who completes the trifecta of best steals ever.  Only 3 of the top 10 would still qualify for the honour today.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
NYI1Rick DiPietroDany Heatley (2)
ATL2Dany HeatleyHenrik Lundqvist (205)
MIN3Marian GaborikMarian Gaborik (3)
CBJ4Rostislav KleslaIlya Bryzgalov (44)
NYI5Raffi TorresLubomir Visnovsky (118)
NSH6Scott HartnellScott Hartnell (6)
BOS7Lars JonssonRick DiPietro (1)
TBL8Nikita AlexeevJustin Williams (28)
CGY9Brent KrahnAlex Frolov (20)
CHI10Mikhail YakubovBrad Boyes (24)

DiPietro hasn’t fulfilled the promise that made him the first overall pick.  He has had health issues, but even when he plays he doesn’t have the consistency and isn’t even the best goalie to come from the draft.  This was a deep goalie draft as Lundqvist and Bryzgalov would both be among the top 10 as well as DiPietro.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
ATL1Ilya KovalchukIlya Kovalchuk (1)
OTT2Jason SpezzaJason Spezza (2)
TB3Alexander SvitovMike Cammalleri (49)
FLA4Stephen WeissAles Hemsky (13)
ANH5Stanislav ChistovDerek Roy (32)
MIN6Mikko KoivuPatrick Sharp (95)
MTL7Mike KomisarekTomas Plekanec (71)
CBJ8Pascal LeclaireMikko Koivu (6)
CHI9Tuomo RuutuStephen Weiss (4)
NYR10Dan BlackburnMarek Zidlicky (176)

Its a toss-up between Spezza and Kovalchuk, but I had to give the edge to Ilya (if for no other reason than my past Spezza favortism).  However, I don’t think Ottawa would deal Spezza for Kovalchuk straight up if all other things were equal.  Both are pretty much exactly at a point per game in their career, but Spezza makes others around him better.  The first time that the 1-2 picks would still apply today.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
CBJ1Rick NashRick Nash (1)
ATL2Kari LehtonenCam Ward (25)
FLA3Jay BouwmeesterDuncan Keith (54)
PHI4Joni PitkanenAlexander Semin (13)
PIT5Ryan WhitneyJay Bouwmeester (3)
NSH6Scottie UpshallPierre-Marc Bouchard (8)
ANH7Joffrey LupulJoni Pitkanen (4)
MIN8Pierre-Marc BouchardJarret Stoll (36)
FLA9Petr TaticekJoffrey Lupul (7)
CGY10Eric NystromKari Lehtonen (2)

Rick Nash is the best player, but Cam Ward has a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe which would lend credence to those who might slot him ahead of the Blue Jackets’ sniper.  Six of the top 10 have proven themselves worthy of being in the same situation after the fact.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
PIT1Marc-Andre FleuryMarc-Andre Fleury (1)
CAR2Eric StaalEric Staal (2)
FLA3Nathan HortonCorey Perry (28)
CBJ4Nikolai ZherdevRyan Getzlaf (19)
BUF5Thomas VanekMike Richards (24)
SJS6Milan MichalekZach Parise (17)
NSH7Ryan SuterDion Phaneuf (9)
ATL8Braydon CoburnShea Weber (49)
CGY9Dion PhaneufRyan Kesler (23)
MTL10Andrei KostitsynPatrice Bergeron (45)

This is easily the best draft year in this study group, and probably ever.  There could be as many as 15 other players that would get consideration to be on the top 10 list of any other year.  Looking at the names left out of the top 10, there could be an argument for each one to be included.  Leaving Tomas Vanek and Nathan Horton off my list was tough.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
WSH1Alex OvechkinAlex Ovechkin (1)
PIT2Evgeni MalkinEvgeni Malkin (2)
CHI3Cam BarkerMike Green (29)
CAR4Andrew LaddMark Streit (262)
PHX5Blake WheelerPekka Rinne (258)
NYR6Al MontoyaJohan Franzen (97)
FLA7Rostislav OleszDavid Krejci (63)
CBJ8Alexandre PicardTravis Zajac (20)
ANH9Ladislav SmidDrew Stafford(13)
ATL10Boris ValabikAlex Edler (91)

Easy 1-2 picks, but after that the rest of the top 10 has disappointed.  There are some good players there, but not among the class some of the players who were picked after them.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
PIT1Sidney CrosbySidney Crosby (1)
ANH2Bobby RyanCarey Price (5)
CAR3Jack JohnsonPaul Stastny (44)
MIN4Benoit PouliotBobby Ryan (2)
MTL5Carey PriceAnze Kopitar (11)
CBJ6Gilbert BruleKris Letang (62)
CHI7Jack SkilleJonathan Quick (72)
SJS8Devon SetoguchiDevin Setoguchi (8)
OTT9Brian LeeJames Neal (33)
VAN10Luc BourdonKeith Yandle (105)

Crosby was and still is the run-away top pick.  Ryan took some time, but is now coming on as a dominant force that Brian Burke thought he would be.  It is unfortunate that  we will never know just how good Luc Bourdon could have been, as his fatal motorcycle accident took his life and his career before it really got started.


TeamPick #ActualHindsight (Their actual spot)
STL1Erik JohnsonJonathan Toews (3)
PIT2Jordan StaalNicklas Backstrom (4)
CHI3Jonathan ToewsJordan Staal (2)
WSH4Nicklas  BackstromClaude Giroux (22)
BOS5Phil KesselPhil Kessel (5)
CBJ6Derick BrassardErik Johnson (1)
NYI7Kyle OkposoMilan Lucic (50)
PHX8Peter MuellerChris Stewart (18)
MIN9James SheppardBryan Little (12)
FLA10Michael FrolikPeter Mueller (8)

I think the Blues might want this one back, as Johnson is becoming and will improve to be a star player.  However, the dynamic forwards I would have in the top 5 would all have suited the Blues better. You could also argue for Lucic and Stewart to also be slotted ahead of Johnson.  Mueller could improve the standing if he can return from serious concussion problems.

So this is just more evidence that having a lottery pick isn’t always the best thing. The pressure is on those players is immense and many can’t live up to the hype.  Only 7 times out of 15 years was the top pick indeed the top pick, and a couple of those are even debatable.

Of the 150 top 10 picks between 1992 and 2006, I would have slotted only 54 as legitimate top 10 picks in hindsight, or barely over 1/3. In fact, 26 players that were drafted 100th or later would be in my top 10 for that particular year.

More evidence that it doesn’t matter what pick you have, its what you do with it that counts.  Its not an exact science and there is an incredible amount of luck involved.


Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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