Team selections in the NHL Draft are usually a product of a consensus decision within each organization, but when the general manager of each team steps to the podium in Montreal this year to announce his team's selections, those selections will be indelibly linked to his name and his record, his success or his failure.
This report is the first I know of to systematically track and evaluate draft success or failure by general managers rather than by teams. Sixteen current general managers have records that are substantial enough to be evaluated: each draft pick they have made, as GM for any team, since 1990 has been recorded ,analyzed for tendencies (position,nationality, league source), and their overall record has been ranked by comparing their records of success with the average expected success rate by draft position over fifteen years of draft history (1990-2004). Success is measured by the number of players selected who play 200+ NHL games.* Each general manager has then been assigned a +/- rating versus the average expected success rate by draft position. Full reports (22 general managers in all) are at Under Review. Charts like these are included:
1.Lou Lamoriello +12 2.Darcy Regier +8 3. Bob Gainey +5 4. Don Maloney +4 5. Dean Lombardi +3 6. Ken Holland +2, Bryan Murray +2 Jim Rutherford +2 9. Larry Pleau +0, Doug Wilson +0 11. Brian Burke -1, Darryl Sutter -1 13. Don Waddell -2 14. George McPhee -3 15. Glen Sather -6 16. David Poile -10
Note-Both Poile and Sather had successful drafts prior to 1990. So this survey is somewhat unfair to them:in fact, the year this survey begins (1990) Sather had perhaps the worst draft in history at Edmonton:none of his 11 picks ever played a single NHL game. At least we now know the price the Hockey Gods extract for beginners’ luck (Sather took Coffey and Kurri with two of his first three picks ever in 1980): it’s 15 years of sub-par drafts.
Lamoriello’s success would seem to refute theories about the randomness of the draft: in 15 years he has drafted 22 more players with 200+ games than David Poile (one less draft). That’s essentially a complete NHL roster and a pretty good one. On the other hand, Lou’s more recent picks are suspect (HF ranks the Devils 28th in organizational strength) suggesting possible regression toward the mean.
The following ratings and tendencies may be of interest to those compiling Mock Drafts (as should the full reports):
Best and Worst %-Forwards-Best-Wilson 33% Worst-Sutter-8% Defensemen-Best-Lombardi-40% Worst-Sather-8% Goalies- Best-Gainey-30% Worst-Several, 0% Highest # of Picks By Position-F-Sutter 69% D-Waddell-35% G-Wilson-20% Best Success Above Pick #180-Pleau-21% Worst-Sutter-0%(note-Holland is at 4%)
Tendencies- Europhile-Holland-52% Europhobe-Sutter 13% Highest Pct by Country and League- Canada-Sutter-69% US-Wilson-38% OHL-Poile-38% WHL-Sutter-40% QMJHL-Burke,Regier-15% NCAA-Tallon-20% US High School-Wilson-18%
* Other ranking systems use 100 NHL games as a threshold. That would add 137 players (over 15 drafts) to the list and would not change the rankings very much (except to boost Lou L.'s lead even more). My judgement is that the vast majority of players with between 100-200 games played are below replacement value statistically. It's worth noting that at least 137 undrafted free agents have entered the NHL during the 15 years surveyed and many of those non-draftees have had careers exceeding 200 games. Using 200 games as a standard, in short, is an attempt to ascertain the quality as well as quantity of a GM's drafting.