50 Percent On Draft Day

Inspired by Edmonton Oilers President Kevin Lowe’s comment that a real win for his organization at this summer’s entry draft would entail getting five solid NHL’ers with their 10 draft picks, I decided to see how many times between 1980 and 2004 NHL teams managed to hit the magical 50.0% plateau.

Knowing what a crapshoot the NHL Entry Draft is, I figured it would be a fairly rare occurrence. What follows are the team-by-team success rates over those 25 years. I’ve stretched the definition of “solid NHL’er” as far as I dare, including people like Gordie Dwyer and giving younger players like Mark Mancari the benefit of the doubt.

Team No. of Drafts 50%+ Drafts Last 50% Draft
Ducks 12 0
Thrashers 6 0
Bruins 25 2 2004
Sabres 25 2 2004
Flames 25 0
Hurricanes/Whalers 25 2 1993
Blackhawks 25 1 1980
Avalanche/Nordiques 25 2 1988
Blue Jackets 5 0
Stars/North Stars 25 0
Red Wings 25 1 1981
Oilers 25 1 1980
Panthers 12 0
Kings 25 1 1980
Wild 5 0
Canadiens 25 1 1998
Predators 7 0
Islanders 25 1 1991
Rangers 25 0
Devils 23 2 1990
Senators 13 2 2001
Flyers 25 0
Coyotes/Jets 25 0
Penguins 25 0
Sharks 14 1 2001
Blues 25 2 1995
Lightning 13 0
Maple Leafs 25 2 1990
Canucks 25 1 1981
Capitals 25 1 1984
TOTALS 610 25  

I ended up with a 4.1 success rate using this definition of success – in other words, the typical NHL team can expect to convert 50.0% of its draft picks into real life players about four times a century.

I’m all for high expectations from NHL scouts, but while it’s fine to hope for a 50.0% success rate, I certainly wouldn’t state it publicly because it’s an incredibly difficult bar to measure up to.