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The 2000 NHL Draft

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In today's post I take a look at the 2000 NHL draft and how the Thrashers did. (In the previous post on the 1999 I explain my method for evaluating each draft.)

How Much is that Pick Worth?
The first step is to figure out what each draft pick is worth. For comparison's sake I've posted the success rate by round for picks in both 1999 and 2000. There a couple of interesting things here. The 1st round was clearly deeper in 2000 than in 1999. The players taken at the end of the 1st round in 2000 had a very high success rate (in fact, there were fewer misses in the late 1st rounder than in the middle or top of that round) and twice as high as players taken in the same area of the 1999 draft. The 2nd round was also better in 2000, but then things really fall off quickly. The 3rd-9th rounds all produced fewer NHL players than the weak 1999 draft. I think it is safe to say the 2000 was a bit better than 1999, but it was very top heavy. (Note: my study found virtually no difference between a 4th round pick and a 8th rounder so they are valued the same.)

Draft Pick 1999 Probability 2000 Probability
Top 1/3 of the 1st .78 .70
Middle 1/3 of the 1st .67 .60
Bottom 1/3 of the 1st .30 .80
2nd Round .21 .26
3rd Round .37 .13
4th-8th Rounds .12 .09
9th Round .03 .00

How Much Where Atlanta's Picks Worth?
So what sort of picks did Atlanta have available at their table that day? The #2 pick overall thanks to losing both a lot of games and the draft lottery (NYI won it). They also had the 1st pick in the 2nd round and another 2nd rounder, so they had picks in VERY good locations in a top heavy draft. The Thrashers had zero 3rd rounders and a load of extra late picks. Unfortunately, this was not a very good draft for late picks, so while they had multiple picks in the 6th, 8th, and 9th rounds the odds of any of those picks becoming players were very long indeed. (Something to keep in mind when you hear a player traded for a 4th rounder or 5th rounder--that pick is very unlikely to produce a NHL player.) Even with all those extra late round picks, the sum of the probabilities for Atlanta indicates that they should have found 2.03 NHL players once you take into account where those picks were located.

Picks by Round Probability of Success
1st (2nd overall) .70
2nd .26
2nd .26
4th .09
4th .09
5th .09
6th .09
6th .09
6th .09
8th .09
8th .09
8th .09
9th .00
9th .00

2000 NHL Draft Rankings
In the following chart I list every single NHL team and where they rank based upon their performance in the NHL Draft. I list the number of picks available to them, the value of those picks in terms of Expected NHL players, the Actual NHL players drafted and the Difference between team expectations and team performance. Finally I list the players who count as successful picks using my game played criteria.

NHL Rank NHL Team # of Picks Expected NHL Players Actual NHL Players Difference NHL Players Selected
1 MIN 9 1.6 3 +1.4 Gaborik, Schultz, Sekeras
2 LAK 11 1.6 3 +1.4 Frolov, Lilja, Visnovsky
3 NJD 13 2.6 4 +1.4 P. Martin, D. Hale, Rupp, Danton
4 CAL 9 1.7 3 +1.3 Stoll, Foster, Moen
5 NYR 9 .9 2 +1.1 D. Moore, Lundqvist
6 COL 13 2.1 3 +1.0 Nederost, Sauer, Liles
7 CBJ 11 1.4 2 +.6 Klesla, Nummelin
8 PHI 8 1.4 2 +.6 Justin Williams, Cechmanek
9 PIT 10 1.4 2 +.6 Orpik, Ouellet
10 WAS 6 1.5 2 +.5 Sutherby, Pettinger
11 TOR 10 1.8 2 +.2 Boyes, Tellqvist
12 CAR 8 .8 1 +.2 N. Wallin
13 NYI 9 1.9 2 +.1 DiPietro, Torres
14 DAL 10 1.9 2 +.1 Ott, Miettinen
15 OTT 10 1.9 2 +.1 Volchenkov, Vermette
NHL Rank NHL Team # of Picks Expected NHL Players Actual NHL Players Difference NHL Players Selected
16 MON 11 2.0 2 0 Marcel Hossa, Hainsey
17 ATL 14 2.0 2 0 Heatley, Hordichuk
18 ANA 5 1.1 1 -.1 Bryzgalov
19 BUF 8 1.3 1 -.3 Gaustad
20 PHO 8 1.4 1 -.4 Kolanos
21 EDM 10 1.5 1 -.5 Lombardi
22 TBL 10 1.6 1 -.6 Alexeev
23 BOS 12 2.6 2 -.6 Kultanen, Hilbert
24 STL 9 1.7 1 -.7 Taffe
25 SJS 7 0.8 0 -.8
26 NAS 12 1.9 1 -.9 Hartnell
27 DET 11 1.9 1 -.9 Kronwall
28 FLA 8 1.0 0 -1.0
29 VAN 7 1.3 0 -1.3
30 CHI 15 2.4 0 -2.4

2000 Winners
The Minnesota Wild had a very good draft day picking up a star player with Marian Gaborik in the 1st round and finding a solid NHL player in Schultz and an overage European veteran in Sekeras who contributed for three seasons. The Kings also did better than expected finding two impact players in Frolov and Visnovsky and a depth defensemen in Lilja. The Devils found quantity if not great quality in the draft landing Paul Martin, David Hale, Michael Rupp and the now incarcerated Mike Danton. The Avalanche and Rangers had some success late in the draft with J-M Liles and Lundqvist.

2000 Losers
Teams that came away empty handed were the Sharks, Panthers, Canuks and Blackhawks. But the Blackhawks ranking is fairly deceptive. Chicago drafted three Russians who played less than a full season Vorobiev, Yakubov and I. Radulov. These players have returned to Russia and it is entirely possible that they are capable of making it in the NHL. The Red Wings are listed at the bottom but one of the players they took in 2000 Tomas Kopecky debuted as a rookie this year. If he makes it past the 82 games played mark next year that will pull Detroit out of the basement in these rankings.

Another example of a ranking that is a bit deceptive is Calgary. They rated high (as a winner) because their scouts located three guys who could play in the NHL (Stoll, Foster and Moen). Unfortunately for the Flames franchise all three players made the NHL with another club and thus the work of the scouts was undone by the front office.

2000 Atlanta Thrashers
How did the Thrashers fare in 2000? My approach puts them at 17th which is slightly below average given their number of picks and location within the draft. Heatley went on to become a star player and was traded for Hossa who is also a star player so that is a successful pick. Even if the Islanders had taken Heatley the team would have landed Gaborik that year. Bottom line, 2000 was a lot like 1999 draft. Not terrific, but not terrible either. Another middle of the pack draft for the team.

The Thrashers also picked up figher/checker Darcy Hordichuk who was then dealt to Phoenix for two prospects, one of whom was used to get Marc Savard from Calgary. It is interesting to see that both players taken this year were subsequently traded. But in return the Thrashers received two of their three leading scorers for last year's club. Good trades translated an average draft performance into two impact players on the ice.

Simon Gamache was taken in the last round. He worked very hard and turned into a borderline NHLer. He was given NHL looks by Atlanta, Nashville and St. Louis and has since headed over to Europe to play. Not a single player from the 9th round of 2000 has played 82 NHL games so far. That is two drafts in a row where the Thrashers almost found a gem in the 9th round. 4th round selection Carl Mallette put up some nice numbers in the Q but went unsigned by the Thrashers and spent a few years in the ECHL before heading over to some of the weaker European leagues.

The big missed opportunties in this draft where the two 2nd round picks. In 2000 roughly one out of every four players taken became a NHL player and the Thrasher had 2 picks in that round, but came away empty handed. The real wild card is Ilya Nikulin who I still hear could be a NHL caliber defensemen. He has always played on very good teams (Moscow Dynamo and Kazan Ak-Bars) over in Russia--which is probably the top league outside of the NHL. But for whatever reason he has never signed. Is it because he doesn't want to learn English? No desire to play in North America? Funny stuff with his agent? For what ever reason he has never donned a Thrashers jersey and thus the team has never gotten anything out of him. Were the Thrashers to sign him this summer and he makes the club it could pull their score up for this draft, but we've been waiting to see that happen for some time, so I'm not going to count on it.

Next up: The 2001 Draft.