The Contrarian takes a look at “draft pick theory”
Today I am going to explore the idea behind draft pick theory.
The basic concept is that if you acquire players for your hockey pool roster that are drafted by NHL clubs in the first round you have a better chance of succeeding than if you go after players taken in the later rounds.
Premise #1: Today's players are scouted so much and so thoroughly that it is hard to imagine that someone with great talent can be missed. A great example that comes up is Luc Robitaille, drafted in the 9th round, 171st overall, in the 1984 draft. Martin St. Louis is another who was never drafted. Talent is to be identified better than it used to be and is supposed to rise to the top.
Premise #2: There are no more hidden gems. Gone are the artificial walls and borders of the past. Players like Igor Larionov taken in the 11th round, 214th overall, in the 1985 draft are not going to happen again.
Premise #3: Players drafted in the earlier rounds, especially the first round, will be given more opportunity to succeed than players picked in later rounds. Teams invest in their selections and they don't want to have them disappoint. They are more willing to give the first round pick time and resources where the late round pick has to really fight for everything because they can easily be replaced.
Premise #4: A first round pick usually doesn't displace another first round pick off a roster. If they require time to adjust, they are usually given third line minutes and some selective time with the top lines. If they are immediately ready to play top line minutes, the guy who was in the top six drops down to the bottom six players on the roster or possibly gets traded. First rounders displaced other first rounders either through injury or retirement.
All that being said there are exceptions.
Some guys coming out of college sign as free agents. Players taken in later rounds still can become productive players. With the threat of Russian even European players possibly playing in the KHL, NHL GMs might not draft them as high as they would if the KHL did not exist. Players drafted in the first round can flop too. Alexander Svitov, Stanislav Chistov and not to look prejudiced against Europeans there are also Rob Schremp and Angelo Esposito as examples.
So why all the commotion behind draft theory?
Hockey pool owners are looking to minimize their risk. Take a look at this table (column one is the draft round):