The NHL Entry Draft takes place this Sunday at 2:30 pm EST
The NHL Entry Draft is the single most important recruitment convention in professional hockey. While Unrestricted Free Agency may get a bit more attention because of the movement of established players, the impact that the draft has on an NHL team completely dwarfs UFA day. While you can always fill holes in your line-up with free agents – a #4 d-man, a 2nd line right winger, maybe even a starting goalie – the ability to get a franchise player is an exclusive *draft-day privilege.
*Some people will point to trades as another way to acquire top talent, but in most cases, you can only get quality by giving up quality, meaning you need to have drafted/signed well in the first place in order to make a trade. The one exception is in the case of trading away high draft picks, like the Toronto – Boston trade involving Phil Kessel and two 1st round picks, which became Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
I watched a TSN draft retrospective yesterday, which briefly chronicled the historic 2003 NHL Entry Draft. This is the draft that was instrumental for several Stanley Cups of the past 8 years, including Carolina (’06 winner), who took Eric Staal 2nd overall; Anaheim (’07), who stole both Ryan Getzlaf (19th) and Corey Perry (28th); Pittsburgh (’09), who drafted M.A Fleury – 1st overall; and Boston (’11), who plucked Patrice Bergeron at 45. Other impact players taken in the 1st round – and there are too many to mention – include Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and Ryan Kesler.
But the problem with the ’03 draft is that it creates false hope. The 1st round of that draft alone, produced 17 guys that could be considered “impact players” – top-line forwards, top-2 defencemen, and a few dominant 2-way centres. I compared that draft to the 9 other drafts that fell between 1997 – 2006, and in no draft were more than 9 impact players taken in the 1st round. Here are the overall results:
If these averages were to apply directly this year, then the draft would consist of:
- 9 high-end players
- 8 reliable, long serving NHLers
- 6 journeymen, and;
- 7 utterly wasted picks
But that’s the nature of drafting players when they’re just 18 years of age – you may not know James Sheppard from Claude Giroux until a few years after draft day, and by then, it’s far too late…
When I do research for the mock draft, the main scouts/scouting services I trust when looking into the draft are:
- Craig Button
- Red Line Report
- TSN (Bob McKenzie – who basically aggregates the opinions of a survey of NHL scouts)
- ISS (least of the 4, but still interesting)
I also look at their regular-season stats, taking into consideration the league they played in (OHL/QMJHL a little higher scoring than WHL, which is far higher scoring than European pro leagues), their age (i.e some players are born in ’94 and, all-else-equal, should have better stats than their peers born in ’95), and whether they had any supporting players/environments which may have benefitted those stats. (For example, Nic Petan in Portland had the most points of any draft-eligible player, but the Winterhawks were an offensive juggernaut…).
Now, without further ado, here’s the mock draft. If you’d like more info on some of any of the prospects, check out yesterday’s write-up on the top-20 prospects.
2013 NHL Mock Draft