How Many Prospects "Make It"?

Jarret Stoll was selected by the Edmonton Ice 1st overall in the 1997 WHL Bantam draft. He was selected 46th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2000 NHL Entry draft and 36th overall by Edmonton Oilers in the 2002 NHL draft.

I remember a story running around the time of the 2002 draft that several teams (including the Leafs) were angry at Edmonton’s management at the time. Why? There’s apparently a “gentleman’s agreement” among teams that no player who re-enters the draft will be selected earlier than his draft number in the original lottery. I’m no lawyer, but if true it might behoove the NHL to stop talking about it. Consdering the money these kids make based on draft number, isn’t that collusion? At the very list, it’s an act of tiny, tiny men if true.

I’m preparing for the winter edition of the Top 20 prospects (end November) and want to lay some groundwork for it. I’d like to start by establishing a “reasonable” number for legit NHL prospects. Not everyone on the top 20 is going to have a career, so it would be nice to have a number in our back pocket.

Below is a list of (my) summer 2003 top 20, and with it the current number of NHL games played (source hockeydb). Those in bold are “established” NHL players.

  1. Jarret Stoll (378)
  2. Jani Rita (66)
  3. MA Pouliot (141)
  4. Raffi Torres (374)
  5. Jesse Niinimaki (zero)
  6. Jeff Drouin Deslauriers (13)
  7. Doug Lynch (2)
  8. Kenny Smith (zero)
  9. Matt Greene (251)
  10. Mikael Joukov (zero)
  11. Ivan Kolstov (zero)
  12. Brock Radunske (zero)
  13. Colin McDonald (zero)
  14. MA Bergeron (350)
  15. Ty Conklin (156)
  16. Fredrik Johansson (zero)
  17. JF Jacques (75)
  18. Dwight Helminen (23)
  19. Tony Salmelainen (70)
  20. Kalle Olsson

I’ve selected 5 (Stoll, Torres, Greene, Bergeron, Conklin) as “established” NHL players. There could be as many as 3 more (Pouliot, Deslauriers, Jacques) who could make it. So, somewhere between 5-7? Is that a fair number?

Also of interest on this list: the number of undrafted players who made it (Bergeron, Conklin) and the number of first round picks who either failed (Rita, Niinimaki) or are in danger (Pouliot) of failing to make the grade.

One question that I have: is this a normal amount of players who are still trying to make the grade? By my count all of Pouliot, Deslauriers, McDonald and Jacques are still trying to climb that hill. Do the Oilers hold on to their prospects longer than other teams?

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