Part of the reason I do an RE series every summer is to think in rational terms. It’s important, because as a fan, I have pendulum moments: thrashing wildly out of control and beyond the rational, in real danger of flying too close to the sun. I need that beautiful sea-level logic that brings me back to normal breathing.
With that in mind, let’s try to bring “reasonable expectations” to the 2014 entry draft.
What should we expect from Edmonton’s 2014 draft picks? Scott Cullen is a frequent guest on the Lowdown, and several years ago gave us a nice line in the sand. It is here. Please read the article, as I am about to steal liberally from it.
10 – Generational (Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin )
9 – Elite Player (Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley )
8 – First Line, Top Pair D (Thomas Vanek, Dion Phaneuf )
7 – Top Six Forward, Top Four D (Daymond Langkow, Chris Phillips )
6 – Top Nine Forward, Top Six D (Daniel Cleary, David Legwand )
5 – NHL Regular (Michael Rupp, Boyd Devereaux )
4 – Fringe NHLer (Kris Beech, Krystofer Kolanos )
3 – Very Good Minor Leaguer (Pavel Brendl, Jeff Heerema )
2 – Minor Leaguer, maybe gets a shot in NHL (Chris Hajt, Daniel Tkaczuk )
1 – No NHL games (Matt Zultek, Luca Cereda )
Scott set out 10 different levels in order to establish what we might expect historically from different spots in the draft. It’s a really cool way to approach it, gives us a quick reference point. If you’ve followed the draft for years, then expecting a top talent in the top 3 overall is a given—but HOW good will he be? That’s what Scott was trying to establish, and I like his idea. If you read the article, it will tell you (as an example) that Taylor Hall has already flown by the average and is on his way to something very nice.
OILERS 2014 DRAFT PICKS
- #3 overall (first round) 6.84—top six forward or top 4D. Martin Rucinsky
- #91 overall (fourth round, this is the Bryzgalov return) 2.15 Selmar Odelein
- #111 overall (fourth round, this is the Mike Brown return) 1.61 Alex Plante
- #130 overall (fifth round, this is the first pick of the Ales Hemsky return) 1.79 Dwight Helminen
- #137 overall (fifth round, this is the Nick Schultz return) 1.64 Alexei Mikhnov
- #153 overall (sixth round) 1.90 Michel Riesen
- #183 overall (seventh round) 1.77 Peter Sarno
That’s what we should expect from the 2014 draft. How many of us have expectations beyond that? How reasonable are we being? NHL draft history really is a sobering thing, as this article from ages ago reflects. The numbers echo and sway, but the truth is in those words. Example:
- From 1990 to 1999, about one-quarter of the players selected in the second round turned into NHL career players.
25% of the players in that decade turned into players. I think drafting has improved, but this is still a very difficult reality to beat for scouting staffs. How many of us will be pleased to see Martin Marincin emerge as a successful player among the three second round picks in 2010? That’s 33% success rate, correct? Even allowing for more successful drafting in the last 15 years, is it reasonable to expect two of three to connect consistently? Really?
- From over 2,000 players selected in the third round and beyond during 1990s, just 261 made it as NHL career players. That’s about 12 percent.
If you’re an NHL scout, the odds are amazing. The chances of finding an NHL player after No. 60 are poor, and the expectation is to score at the draft table.
The lesson here: Want Taylor Hall? Draft first overall.
Then light a candle.