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# Examining the productivity of 1st round draft picks (2000-2003)

Since the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup (albeit with less first round picks than most think), fans and analysts have continued to emphasize the importance of the NHL entry draft. With the draft just over a week away, it seems like the right time to examine how productive first round picks were from 1999-2003. I will not examine the 2004 draft and beyond, because not enough time has passed between the 2004 draft through the beginning of the 2007/08 season to enable us to determine how productive those players have been.

Productivity for the purposes of this study will be based on total NHL games played through the end of the 2008 regular season. To make the analysis a little more clear, we will break down the drafts in groups of ten (for example: 1-10, 11-20, 21-30). Let’s examine how many games have been played on average from each of the four draft classes mentioned above.

2000 NHL Entry Draft

Picks 1-10 have played an average of 263 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 11-20 have played an average of 148 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 21-30 have played an average of 215 NHL games over the course of their careers.

2001 NHL Entry Draft

Picks 1-10 have played an average of 240 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 11-20 have played an average of 206 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 21-30 have played an average of 116 NHL games over the course of their careers.

2002 NHL Entry Draft

Picks 1-10 have played an average of 226 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 11-20 have played an average of 136 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 21-30 have played an average of 101 NHL games over the course of their careers.

2003 NHL Entry Draft

Picks 1-10 have played an average of 228 NHL games over the course of their careers

Picks 11-20 have played an average of 180 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 21-30 have played an average of 116 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Summary of the 2000 through 2003 NHL Entry Drafts

Picks 1-10 have played an average of 239 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 11-20 have played an average of 168 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Picks 21-30 have played an average of 137 NHL games over the course of their careers.

Thoughts and analysis:

First of all, I realize that games played are not always an indicator of successfulness. Nonetheless, goals, assists and wins are also not without their statistical flaws as well. So, for the purposes of this study, I limited my analysis to games played.

What we learned:

Not surprisingly, as the draft goes on, the chances of grabbing a productive NHLer are far more difficult. But looking more closely, we can see that (in this small sample size) the difference between a 1-10 draft pick and a 11-20 draft pick is more significant than the difference between an 11-20 pick and 21-30 pick.

That seems to indicate that there are generally around ten consensus players that most hockey people believe merit being selected in the top ten picks. After that, it appears the difference between a 15th overall pick and a 24th overall pick is not as big of a gap. The difference in these two picks may merely be dependent on different scouting beliefs and rankings systems.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.

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