Drafting Analysis - Just how bad has it been?

In the limited discussion taking place on DBD these days in the absence of hockey, I commented that "one of these days I'll do a full writeup of the failure to draft impact players on this franchise, and compare it to other teams."

Bear with me, I'm bad at writing pretty looking posts - feel free to clean it up and make it look nice, DBD editors. I'm not too proud to ask for help.

Well, with a few hours playing with Excel spreadsheets, that day is here. I'd attach the spreadsheet, but I'm not quite sure how to do that. So, down to business.


This is always controversial. To make things as streamlined as possible and to make it "equal" across the board, here is what I analyzed and how:

1. All NHL drafts for all teams from the year 2000 until 2017 were analyzed.

2. Analysis was based upon one factor and one factor only - did the player play in the NHL. I disaggregated that data by separating it into two types of "played" - one of a "tweener" as in someone who may have had a cup of coffee, but was mostly an AHL or minor league level player (Fewer than 82 games played in their career) and a vested veteran - more than 82 games played. No stats were analyzed. This means that the contributions of Rich Clune were considered equal to Alex Ovechkin for purposes of this methodology. I only analyzed "Did the player make it to the NHL for the equivalent of a full season?"

3. I checked when a player was drafted, in which round, and counted two additional factors as well - picks in the first three rounds, and picks after the 6th round.

Data on the spreadsheet has the total number of picks made, number of NHL "regulars" (>82 games played), # of busts (players with ZERO games played in the NHL), % of drafted players that played in the NHL at all, even if one game, % of regulars, number of picks in the top three rounds that became NHL regulars and number of picks from the sixth round or later that became NHL regulars.

Here's the spreadsheet in all its horrifying glory:


Drafting Results 2000-2017

  1. Dallas is 7th in drafting legit NHL players in the past 20 years. (Even if they don't play for this franchise).
  2. Dallas is also 9th worst in the NHL at wasting draft picks completely. We have blown (never played in the NHL at all) 82 of 139 picks since 2000.
  3. The league average is 44% of picks make the NHL at all, and 24.7% become NHL regulars, about one in four players drafted.

In short - yes, we think we draft terribly. And we are below average - but it's complete feast or famine. Either we hit on a pick (which we do, approximately two out of every five times, for a 28.78% success rate at becoming an NHL regular and a 41.01% overall make-it-at-all rate) or we might as well burn the card the other three times.

Other things I noticed that may interest only me:

  • There have been 4,211 draft picks made since the year 2000. Only 167 players have been legitimate contributors to the NHL that were drafted in the sixth round or later. I'm willing to bet the number of undrafted players approaches that, but that's WAY more research than I want to do on a weekend.
  • In that time, 175 undrafted players played 100 or more games in the NHL after playing their first game beginning in the 2000-2001 season.
  • The teams with the worst drafting success (in terms of drafting NHL-caliber regulars) in the past twenty years, discounting Vegas, are Vancouver, Winnipeg, New Jersey, Arizona, Philadelphia, Calgary, Colorado, and the Islanders. None of those teams have won a Cup save Colorado, who won in the first years of this analysis.

Now, to get to some Stars specific stuff:

If you take Nill out of the equation, the Stars numbers actually go *up* in terms of successes. 43.69% of the pre-Nill picks made the NHL, as compared to 41.01% post-Nill. Of course, that includes the 2017 and 2016 drafts, and few of those players league-wide have made it yet. Taking that out would actually make Nill's drafts *worse* when you consider Miro and Jason Robertson, who both count as (different degrees of) successful picks by my metrics.

Joe Niewendyk hit on 60% of his draft picks, bolstered by a 2009 in which 4 of the 5 players drafted became NHL regulars, and all of which played at least one game in the NHL.

Like I thought, Doug Armstrong was a major part of the problem. 41.51% of his picks made the NHL, which is on par with Nill, but only 22.64% of those players made an impact of more than 82 games.

More specifically:

So, all in all - there are a ton of picks who MAKE the league, at least for a while, and always have been. The Stars also tend to draft better than most of the league - 28.78% of picks becoming NHL regulars ranks 7th, like I said. However, if you look at those picks, the number of players who make a significant impact with other NHL franchises is the issue. We don't have a problem with scouting, we don't even necessarily have a problem with development. We have a problem with patience in this organization. For example:

Dallas had 40 NHL regulars drafted in that time frame. Of those players, Dan Ellis, Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen, BJ Crombeen, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, Rich Clune, Luke Gazdic, Reilly Smith, Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, and arguably Colton Sceviour, Nicklas Grossman, Steve Ott (played half here and half elsewhere), and likely to join them Val Nichuskin, Devin Shore, and Julius Honka all made their NHL careers not in Victory Green (or the time-specific Stars sweater of the era). That's 11 for sure, three arguables, and three likelies given current status of those players. When you only have 40 successful drafted players, and seventeen of them play better/more for other franchises than your own, that's a significant downturn.

Even if you take half of those probables and give the Stars credit for them - twenty six successfully drafted players in twenty years will not make your franchise successful, right?

Twenty six successful drafts would place the Stars just ahead of Vancouver and Vegas (who, again, it isn't fair to compare them yet). Of course, I could go back through and see how many other teams have players who succeeded elsewhere - after all, Mattias Janmark wasn't drafted by Dallas, for example - but it's pretty obvious to me.

Dallas can draft with any team in the league. Dallas either can't develop players, or won't invest the time into developing them consistently and successfully. Maybe we'll see a turnaround of that with the next year or two of Nill drafts coming up, but his management style shows me that the team still can't/won't develop. Why else would there be a half dozen 24+ year old blueline "prospects" sitting in Cedar Park while we sign aging veterans Sekera and Polak - and, realistically, Fedun for that matter, and make trades for guys like Lovejoy? That only happens if your coaching staff thinks the kids aren't ready and won't be ready.

It's why the current incarnation of this team has Blake Comeau, Corey Perry, Joe Pavelski, and traded for Andrew Cogliano - there's no one developed enough to come up and fill the role. Guri had to force himself into the lineup here. So did Hintz - they finally played too well to be sent down. It's why this franchise has signed retread free agent after retread free agent over the past twenty years. Nill and his staff doesn't trust players to come up and fill the spots - and then those "marginal" players get traded or go elsewhere, and make an impact at the NHL level.

So, long story short? Our drafting is actually pretty good, our development sucks, and our coaching staff needs to learn to be patient. And we need to stop wasting millions of dollars on players at the ends of their careers, and let the damn kids play.

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