Measuring Success: Part 1 - Carolina Hurricanes Draft Analysis

How do you measure the success of a hockey franchise?  By the number of wins and losses?  By the number of Stanley Cups won?  By how profitable or popular the team is?  Perhaps it comes down to a bit of each of those criteria, as well as what contributes to each of them.  And the very beginning of the process? One could argue that everything starts with the draft.  

It would seem likely that clubs with the best ability to judge talent and develop that talent would have a jump on others in the league.  But is that reality?  Let's take a look and find out.  I have totaled up the number of draft picks for each team over the past 12 years, (when this franchise first participated in the draft as the Carolina Hurricanes).  I also added up the number of NHL games each draft pick played, along with the total number of points they scored.   How did the Hurricanes compare with the rest of the league?

 

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of

 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored

picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick












Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4

 

Once again, the analysis starts from 1997.  (*Four teams did not exist at that time, so I took the data for them starting from the first year they participated, with a note).  One thing that sticks out immediately is that the Hurricanes had fewer draft choices, (90), than any of the other teams who participated over that complete 12 year period.  If the expansion teams would have had more time, they would have also had more selections than Carolina.

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of
 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored
picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7

 

Why does Carolina have fewer picks, (column one), than most of the other teams?  I believe that there are a couple of reasons.  First of all, the Canes were involved in two playoff runs which took them to the Stanley Cup Finals.  The team traded away several picks, (especially when they acquired Mark Recchi and Doug Weight), to help them get to the finals.

Also, the franchise does not seem to place the same value on draft picks as some other teams do, such as Chicago, who had 37 more picks over the same time frame.  For instance, the Canes could have acquired Jussi Jokinen for free on the waiver wire.  Instead, they traded Wade Brookbank and Josef Melichar and threw in a draft pick so that they could make that deal.   There is an example of using up a draft pick, simply to save money.

Now let's re-sort the stats to see which team got the most playing time, (column two), out of their picks.  

 

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of
 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored
picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3

 

Colorado, Ottawa, Buffalo, San Jose, and Boston all did very well as far as having their selections actually make it to the NHL.  Of course, the pure number of picks might inflate this stat, so I also looked at the average playing time per draft pick, (column four). But those teams are still at the top.

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of
 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored
picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3

 

Carolina performs in the middle of the pack in this scenario as their 90 draft picks averaged playing 46 games each.  Chicago, with their 127 picks, actually averages less playing time, so quantity does not necessarily equal quality.  Some people might be surprised at Detroit's position, as well as a few other high profile teams.  While the Red Wings did an outstanding job selecting both Zetterberg and Datsyuk in later rounds, they really have not had many other coups during this time frame, (Franzen).  Keep in mind though, when you finish near the top of the league every year, you do not get favorable position in the draft and there is not really a great opportunity for your draft picks to take jobs away from veterans.

Phoenix has done a deplorable job in the draft, no matter how you look at it.

Next we will see how well these draft picks performed at the NHL level, (column three).   While one team's draft picks might be playing in a lot of games compared to others, are they scoring points?

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of
 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored
picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick
Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3

 

The usual suspects are at the top again with Ottawa far and away the leader.  But we should look at the averages again, (column five), to make sure that the sheer quantity of picks don't skew the results.

 

Team Total Number Number of NHL Number of Average of Average of

 of Draft Games Played by Points Scored by Games Played  Points Scored

picks Draft picks Draft picks per pick per pick












Ottawa 103 7326 3403 71.1 33.1
San Jose 93 6921 2820 74.4 30.3
Boston 97 6876 2834 70.9 29.2
Buffalo 107 6980 2805 65.2 26.2
Los Angeles 116 6277 2697 54.1 23.3
Montreal 104 5606 2414 53.9 23.2
Pittsburgh 109 6270 2517 57.5 23.1
Colorado 113 7355 2547 65.1 22.5
Vancouver 95 4943 2067 52.1 21.2
Nashville* (1998) 104 5286 2086 50.8 20.1
Minnesota* (2000) 77 3788 1547 49.2 20.1
Florida 105 5654 2066 53.8 19.7
Philadelphia 101 4422 1986 43.8 19.7
Atlanta* (1999) 89 3923 1745 44.1 19.6
Edmonton 107 4977 2007 46.5 18.8
Tampa Bay 109 4515 1982 41.4 18.2
Toronto 98 4442 1752 45.3 17.9
Chicago 127 5833 2248 45.9 17.7
Anaheim 92 4922 1593 53.5 17.3
New Jersey 107 4271 1836 39.9 17.2
Detroit 96 3188 1582 33.2 16.5
NY Islanders 105 5783 1675 55.1 15.9
Carolina 90 4147 1418 46.1 15.8
Washington 110 4012 1689 36.5 15.4
Dallas 104 4659 1602 44.8 15.4
Columbus* (2000) 90 3617 1266 40.2 14.1
NY Rangers 113 5020 1524 44.4 13.5
St. Louis 109 3537 1420 32.4 13.1
Calgary 110 3784 1326 34.4 12.1
Phoenix 99 2845 718 28.7 7.3

 

Once again, the numbers indicate that Ottawa, San Jose, Boston, and Buffalo get the most out of their draft picks.  While a number of those picks were traded at some point and are playing for other teams, in my analysis the original teams that drafted them get credit for them because they initially recognized the talent.  (Perhaps the scouting staffs are more astute than some of the general managers?)

While the Hurricanes are not grouped with the top performers, they are not at the bottom either.  Could they do better if money was not so much of an issue and they held onto more of their draft picks?  Would it make a difference to have full-time scouts in Europe?   

As with any comparison like this, there are bound to be imperfections.  Some teams might have drafted more goalies or defensemen, and of course their scoring totals would be lower.  But over a fairly long period of time, those picks should even out because all teams need the same number of defensemen and goalies.   Also, the expansion teams might have had to play some borderline players at the NHL level, when those players would not have necessarily made a roster in an established market.  Still, that team should be given credit for filling a spot internally.

The next question is, does success at the draft translate to a winning record on the ice?  In Part 2 of the series, we will compare the wins and losses of the teams over the same time frame.  

(all data compiled from HockeyDB.com.)

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