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Dallas Stars Daily Links: The Relative Value of a Draft Pick

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Just what exactly do the Stars have (and not have) come this year's entry draft? Also, Minnesota and Anaheim make trades while Boston covets Cole

The 2012 Dallas Stars and their first-round draft pick.
The 2012 Dallas Stars and their first-round draft pick.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars traded a conditional 3rd-round draft pick in 2016 to Buffalo for Jhonas Enroth just a little while back.  Given the events since that trade, it looks like that condition may soon become irrelevant (much like the fact that the Stars also sent Anders Lindback to Buffalo in that deal).

Over the summer, Jim Nill dealt a package to Ottawa that included Nick Paul and a 2nd-round draft pick in 2015 (that's this year) for Jason Spezza (and Ludwig Karlsson).  The Stars sent away three young players including the then-current contributor Alex Chiasson in order to acquire Spezza, who is slightly older than I am.

Prospects aside, both of these trades saw the Stars sending away a draft pick for a veteran player.  While neither pick was a first rounder (meaning that the Stars still retain their McDavid lottery ticket for this year and the opportunity to add to their infamous first-round pool of years gone by), both selections will inevitably turn into real live hockey players who may become a Spezza or Enroth, metaphorically, for Ottawa or Buffalo.  That is a good thing for such teams as these, lacking in significant current talent as they are.  Draft picks are lottery tickets, but they are weighted tickets, and you always win something with your ticket in the way of the rights to employ a real live human hockey player.  They are also free, which is especially important for Ottawa.

Buffalo in particular has been loading up on draft picks lately, although they did notably send the latest pick of their (three!) first-rounders to Winnipeg in the Evander Kane deal. Clearly these picks are not the end goal for even a horrible, horrible, horrible team like Buffalo, and so we can conclude that their value is, if not known, at least estimated in some manner by teams across the league.  While we can only infer each team's estimate of said picks' value, Stephen Burtch amassed a pretty impressive means of showing the average production from each forward drafted at a certain position in the draft:

XPPG

Using this graph, we can see that the most significant value in NHL draft picks lies in the first three selections, and the largest drop-off in pick value occurs between picks three and four. Players selected in the four-to-15 range are still generally very valuable across their careers with a 15th-overall pick being worth about 1/3rd of a first-overall selection.

The most interesting aspect here may be in the relative value disparity of picks within the first round. It becomes quite apparent that not all first rounders are created equal. A sixth-overall pick is approximately twice as valuable as a 30th-overall selection, which would be important for NHL front offices and outside observers to keep in mind when they casually discuss the idea of trading pending UFA rental players at the cost of a first-rounder.

Another way to think of this is the comparative worth of picks in various ranges of the draft. For example the value of a late first-round pick from a contending team is actually closer in value to any third-round selection than it is to a top-five pick. Thinking of this from a glass-half-full perspective for a team trying to rebuild, this suggests that adding multiple second- or third-round selections is likely an easier way to improve the roster of a team than holding out for that tough-to-obtain first-round choice when the market is far more thin.

[snip]

Draft picks contribute significant value as a currency in getting other moves done. Rebuilding teams and their fan bases need to keep that concept at the forefront of their thinking. Just try to remember that though not all draft picks are created equal, there’s still significant value in those mid- to late-round selections. The lottery tickets in the second, third and fourth rounds are significantly cheaper than those in the first but there is a smaller difference in value between a mid-round pick and a late first-rounder than between a late first-rounder and a top-five pick. Accumulating as many of the cheap lottery tickets as possible still increases your chances of winning the jackpot.  [SportsNet]

There are more and prettier graphs there as well.  It's a good read.

So, two takeaways here:

1)  While the Stars aren't picking in the top three this year, their pick will still be solidly in the second tier of talent available after the "generational talents" you've all heard so much about.

2)  The Stars don't really have to get a second-rounder before the draft this year.  Sure, it would be great, but as you can see, it's not like the second round tends to yield inordinately greater talent than the third.

If Nill can get more picks in a deal that benefits the Stars, I'm sure he will do it; however, if he instead decides to trade the pending UFAs (and others) for a slightly better prospect than you would expect instead of a draft pick, it is probably nothing to worry about.

Most of all, let's hope he piles up the fifth-rounders in order to perpetuate the Stars' late round alchemy of years past.

* * * * *

Add that first goal against Enroth last night to the growing list of evidence for time travel, ghosts and talking animals. A shanked one-timer going off Goligoski's pantleg, the back of Enroth's blocker and into the net? Seriously, that's cartoonland stuff.

Josh Bogorad has a comprehensive look at where the Stars are in the [regionally applicable traffic jam metaphor] that is the Western Conference wild card race.  Bogorad also has some sad numbers about the Stars' failure to delight the home fans this year.  Good stuff as always. [On the Radar]

Henrik Zetterberg isn't blaming Jamie Benn for his ongoing headache.  "I think both me and him have done worse things than that on the ice."  [Red Wings]

Mike Heika answered everyone's questions yesterday because he's just that kind of guy.  [DMN]

The Stars don't have many options left as the trade deadline approaches, says Tabatha Patterson.  [Hockey Writers]

Erik Cole is right in between "milk" and "clam chowdah" on the Boston Bruins' shopping list, says Pierre LeBrun.  [ESPN]

"Despite leading the league in total saves this season, Lehtonen has a .906 save percentage, tying a career low."  But hey, league leader!  [TSN]

The Stars' struggles in the final frame may have caused their downfall this year.  [Hockey Writers]

If you are a leading scorer in the NHL, I would highly recommend that you don't play the Florida Panthers.  Patrick Kane took a rough spill into the boards last night after a bit of a shove from behind.  His status is still unclear as of this writing, but the speculation is that it is a wrist or shoulder injury.  Not good for a Chicago team that is stumbling a bit more than usual down the stretch.  [Pro Hockey Talk]

Craig Custance has a more in-depth look at the Blackhaws' emphasis on analytics with one Stan Bowman, GM. [ESPN]

Devan Dubnyk's Minnesota Wild acquired Sean Bergenheim from the Florida Panthers yesterday for 2016 pick.  Next year, Cats.  [SB Nation]

The Ducks traded Devante Smith-Pelly for Jiri Sekac yesterday in a "hockey trade" that doesn't totally make "hockey sense" for the Habs.  [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

Karri Ramo had one of the best saves of the year last night against the Rangers.  Wow.  [NHL Video]

A team in New York that is really good named the Islanders signed defenseman Nick Leddy to a seven-year extension yesterday.  This looks like a great deal for a team ready to become an Eastern Conference powerhouse for the next few years.  [Lighthouse Hockey]

The always-worth-reading Bob McKenzie had a couple of wonderful Herb Brooks memories, in case you missed them.  [TSN]

Finally, German hockey can be beautiful, too: