Grading the Draft

Every so often, Scott Cullen at TSN comes up with a gem, and today he wrote a great article explaining the value of draft picks and just how little that value really is. He makes some interesting conclusions:

  • There is not much difference between picking in the middle of the fourth round and the eighth or anywhere in between.
  • First round picks are the only ones likely to make it to the NHL (though he does mention they get more opportunity, I think he undervalues this).
  • The drafts in 1995 and 1998 offered the best return
After breezing through the article, I have come up with some of my own thoughts regarding this:
  • Of the players who do turn out in the later rounds a majority appear to be defenceman. It is generally regarded that they take longer to reach potential and peak in later years which is probably a likely explanation.
  • The top 5 is generally a safe bet but picking in the 20's has provided some solid results. It would be interesting to learn about scouting department's philosophies depending on the spot their picking from. I think this plays a role in why 6-10 shows a decline.
  • You have to think that the 2003 draft will provide outstanding results and probably out do the 95 and 98 drafts. They have been given 14 and 11 years to yield where as the 03 draft only 6. Late blooming NHLers still have time to gain traction from the 03 draft.
  • Don't draft goalies with your high picks!
So the article provides solid evidence that draft picks can be over valued by some, specifically outside the 2nd round. Basically the draft is a crap shoot outside the top 5 picks, and some teams spend money to improve drafting, but all your doing is improving your odds. They're still bad odds.


Pad Stacking

One of the biggest holes on this team has been a lack of consistently great goaltending. This team has lacked it probably since Joseph save for maybe a season or two of Salo and Roloson's post trade 2006 season. As for Roloson, he has had some great games and is playing well of late, but he has had some horrendous games to go along with that. What I feel you should be looking for in this position is a goaltender who keeps you in almost every game and will steal you the odd one. This team needs to end the roller coaster ride that its been suffering through for almost a decade. If you look at our track record you will see, consistently good goaltending = playoffs.

So I've tried to compile a list of possibilities that this team could look at come July (I don't see goaltending address at the deadline, we have other issues). When looking at the goaltenders out there I tried to use common sense before putting them on the list. This is why you won't see a guy like Backstrom on this list, there is no way Minnesota lets him walk and if they did it would be for astronomical dollars, which this team has already spent. Some of them are free agents (RFA and UFA) and some would have to come via trade, which I also tried to use common sense on, which is why you won't see Luongo or Brodeur on here :).

I've broken them down into two categories: sure things that you can expect to know what you'll get from them and then projects, who have shown the ability to be good but have not flourished in their current role. Each has its pros and cons, with money being a big one, and as you'll see I've tended to lean towards knowing what you're going to get.


1. LEHTONEN, 25 (RFA) - Second overall draft pick back in 2002 has been mediocre on a bad team. The Thrashers have the 2nd worst GA/G in the league this season and were tied for last in 07/08. He has maintained a sv% over .900 since entering the league. In his four seasons as an NHL starter he's posted: .907, .916, .912, .906 from most recent to least. Lehtonen destroys AHL competition so the possibility of playing for a better defensive team may allow him to become a dominant goaltender in this league.

Money: He was a 3 mill cap hit on what I believe was a one year deal. As an RFA I wonder if it may be easier to trade for his rights then sign for Roloson money?

2. NIITTYMAKI, 28 (UFA) - A late round pick of the flyers, he has not had a great start to his career, but after some rough years he looks to have settled down. Posting career bests with a 2.59 GAA and .916 sv% he is outdoing his counterpart on the Flyers (Biron) and getting less playing time. I'm not sure what the Flyers plans are for who they intend to keep (both are UFAs) but I think NIITTYMAKI is worth a look.

Money: He was a 1.225 cap hit so his price tag should not be much, possibly as low as in the 2.0 million range.

3. KHABIBULIN, 36 (UFA) - The dominating, cup-winner that was great for Tampa has been far from since signing his big contract with Chicago. But this season with Chicago's resurgance as a dominat team Khabibulin has also recovered posting 2.37 GAA and .924 sv%, so we know he has the possibility to be a great goaltender. I do have reasons for putting him in this group. For one, who knows what his intentions are going forward and what the possibility of Edmonton being in his plans. Another is his age, he has been splitting games 50/50 with Heut and at 36 he likely only has a couple years left but at what level and for how many games?

Money: Coming off a 6.75 mill 5 year deal I doubt he is looking for a big pay cut. Your likely paying at the least 6.0 for his services.

4. LECLAIRE, 26 (2yrs/3.8mil) - The 8th overall pick in 2001 has had a hit and miss career. In 07-08 he was amazing, posting a 2.25 GAA/.919 sv% and league leading 9 shutouts only to be snubbed from Vezina voting and not even receive a single vote (11 goalies did). This season Leclaire has been out a large portion of the year with an ankle injury. He's young and not exactly proven, but if you could get similar seasons like last year out of him you'd be in the gravy. If Mason is CBJ's goalie going forward they may look to deal Leclaire to get depth and make a playoff push.

Money: he has 2 years left at a 3.8mil cap hit then UFA. Takes Roloson's money and is signed for another two years.


5. GIGUERE, 31 (2yrs/6.0) - Since joining Anaheim he has elevated his career to be a great starting goalie, even winning the Conn Smythe in '03 on the losing team. Amazing numbers since the lockout, Giguere has faltered this year. He is being outplayed by his counterpart Hiller, and being out played badly. Giguere is posting a 3.09 GAA and .903 sv% in 35gp compared to Hiller's 2.20 GAA and .924 sv% in 30 gp. Hiller is a 24 year old sophmore but Anaheim may want to throw the reins to him come next season. Its a positive asset just to remove Giguere's cap hit off the books. As for Edmonton, even though Giguere is having a bad year he too good of a goalie to be bad for long and a new motivation may be what he needs.

Money: Edmonton would need to clear cap space for him, as Roloson will only be 3.667 coming off of our books.

6. FERNANDEZ, 34 (UFA) - Was a very good goalie in Minnesota (why they trade Roloson to us) and when he plays he has continued that in Boston. The problem with Fernandez has been a nagging knee injury that wiped out his entire year last year and caused him to miss ample time the year before, including the playoffs. But if you can get a healthy Fernandez you have a great starter that will provide you with consistent goaltending. He's taking about 40% of the games in Boston and isn't being outdone by their hero Thomas (GAA 2.12 / 2.15 SV% .931 / .925) so both are putting up equal stats. Age and injuries may be risky with him, but he is likely available as Boston will choose to keep the higher profile Thomas.

Money: coming off of a deal that had a 4.33 cap hit Fernandez will be looking for money in the 5.0+ range and his boxcars are likely slightly inflated playing on a dominating team like the Bruins.

There are some interesting choices this offseason and there is definately options available to the Oilers to shore up their goaltending situation. There are questions as to whether this team should spend money on goaltending or go with a journyman and use the money elsewhere in the roster. I think with a very good defence and excellent goaltending this team can go far, especially in the second season where these things stand out more than any other.

Just some food for thought regarding the available tenders this summer.



I've never seen this team lose so big, so often. That first period was possibly the worst period of hockey in this teams history. It was like a beer league team came to play shinny against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Only they forgot the beer.

Here's a little gem....if you can't laugh at your own team who can you laugh at. Besides the Leafs of course.


We're back.....again?

Built from limbs and organs of useless dead corpses.....