Top five picks: The superstars
It’s obvious that teams want to draft players who will become NHL superstars. But do you have to have a top five pick to do that?
The answer is no, but you really improve your odds if you do. There were ten superstars drafted in the ten years from 2007-16. Six of them were top five selections. Those five players are Connor McDavid, John Tavares, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin and Drew Doughty.
I am going to add the following 12 players to the superstar list as they are all going to attain the superstar criteria in the coming years: Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Leon Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, Taylor Hall, Aleksander Barkov, Johnny Gaudreau, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Patrik Laine, P.K. Subban, John Klingberg and Victor Hedman. Eight of them were top five picks.
So, of the 50 players selected in the top five those ten years, 14 current or future superstars were drafted. That’s a 28 percent chance, pretty good odds.
Top five picks: The elite
What about elite players? 19 of the players on the elite list (including the superstars) were top five picks those ten years. There are some players who will soon make an appearance on the elite list, including Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, Aleksander Barkov, and Gabriel Landeskog. That means 24 of the 50 players selected in the top five or 48 percent qualify as elite players. Again, really solid odds for getting an elite talent with a top five pick.
Top five picks: The rest
So, if 24 top five picks out of 50 selected from 2007-16 were superstar or elite players, what about the 26 other players? The good news is that there are relatively few absolute busts.
Only two out of the fifty players picked have yet to make it to the NHL on a regular basis. Olli Juolevi was a 2016 number five pick by Vancouver. He has been hampered by injuries and had season-ending knee surgery this year while playing in the AHL.
The other player who has yet to make an impact is the Islanders fifth overall pick in 2014, Michael Dal Colle. He finally made it to the big leagues this season and played 23 games, but has spent most of the season in the AHL. His future is questionable.
There has been only one absolute bust out of 50 top five picks in those ten years and the distinction of making that pick belongs to the Islanders. In 2012, they took defenseman Griffin Reinhart with the fourth overall pick. In seven years he has played 37 NHL games with only two assists. He is now in the Vegas organization as a career AHL player.
Many like to call Edmonton’s selection of Nail Yakupov as an absolute disaster. He was the first pick overall in 2012, but never scored more than 17 goals in a season and Edmonton finally gave up on him and traded him to St. Louis. Had then had a cup of coffee in Colorado, but couldn’t stick there and now is a regular for St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL. He was a bust as a top overall pick, but he did last six seasons in the NHL.
Oddly enough, the Strome brothers are considered two of the less successful top five picks. Ryan Strome (#5, 2012) has rejuvenated his career with the Rangers this season, while it appears that the Coyotes gave up on Dylan Strome (#3, 2015) too early. After two mediocre seasons in Arizona, they traded him to Chicago where he has become a point-a-game player.
The bottom line on top five picks is that only three players (Dal Colle, Juolevi, Reinhart) have not become NHL players out of the 50 selected. That means 23 non-elite players are successful NHLers. Those players range from future stars like Pierre-Luc Dubois and Aaron Ekblad to established upper tier NHL players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin.
Top five picks: The numbers
- Odds of picking a superstar: 28 percent
- Odds of picking an elite player: 48 percent
- Odds of picking a solid NHL player: 46 percent
- Odds of a complete bust: six percent