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2002 NHL Draft Evaluation

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Today I return to my examination of recent Thrasher drafts. The 2002 will be the final year I look at because it is simply too early to look at 2003. Even in the case of 2002 there a large number of draftees who have not yet played a season's worth of NHL games, but almost certainly will at some point next year.

How Much is that Pick Worth?
So how much were those draft picks worth in 2003? If you compare the NHL player success rate of 2003 with the previous years it is lower, however this is due in part to the fact that not enough time has elapsed for some of these guys to qualify as NHL players. If I redo this study in a year I expect some modest improvements in the success rate at every level.

Draft Pick 1999 Probability 2000 Probability 2001 Probability 2002 Probability
Top 1/3 of the 1st .78 .70 1.00 .80
Middle 1/3 of the 1st .67 .60 .70 .50
Bottom 1/3 of the 1st .30 .80 .40 .50
2nd Round .21 .26 .27 .18
3rd Round .37 .13 .18 .09
4th-8th Rounds .12 .09 .14 .04
9th Round .03 .00 .03 .00

How Much Where Atlanta's Picks Worth?
So what sort of picks did Atlanta have available at their table that day? The Thrashers had two first round picks #2 and #30 overall. Other than that their lower round picks were unlikely to produce much. The sum of all those picks comes to just 1.6 NHL players expected given the number of picks and their location in the draft.

Pick Location Pick Probability
2 .80
30 .50
116 .04
124 .04
144 .04
167 .04
198 .04
230 .04
236 .04
257 .04

2002 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. Then, I list the players who count as successful picks using my game played criteria.

I have added a new category of Possible NHL Players. There are still individuals from this draft who have are getting close to passing my full season threshold but have not done so this year. The truth of the matter is that it is too early to totally close the book on this draft so I list the guys that still have a shot at qualifying as NHLers (For example, I think it is very like that Novotny, Paetsch and Oduya will qualify early next season).

Team Rank NHL TEAM # of Picks Expected NHL Players Actual NHLers Drafted Difference NHL Players Possible NHL Players
1 PIT 11 1.4 3 +1.6 Whitney, Christensen, M. Talbot
2 TBL 13 0.6 2 +1.4 Ranger, R.Craig
3 CHI 9 1.0 2 +1.0 Babchuk, D. Keith Wisniewski, Ellison
4 TOR 9 1.0 2 +1.0 Steen, Stajan Ian White, S. Kronwall
5 WAS 13 2.1 3 +.9 Eminger, Semin, Gordon
6 BUF 10 1.4 2 +.6 Ballard, Wideman Paille, Hecl
7 CBJ 13 1.5 2 +.5 Nash, Pirjeta Tollefsen, Balastik, Goertzen
8 EDM 15 1.5 2 +.5 Stoll, Matt Greene
9 NYR 9 0.5 1 +.5 Prucha
10 ATL 10 1.6 2 +.4 Lehtonen, Slater
11 CAR 10 .7 1 +.3 C. Ward
12 DET 4 .7 1 +.3 Hudler Filppula, Fleischmann
13 MON 6 .8 1 +.2 Higgins Ferland
14 NJD 11 .9 1 +.2 Janssen Tallackson, Ryznar
15 NAS 8 1.0 1 0 Upshall
Team Rank NHL TEAM # of Picks Expected NHL Players Actual NHL Drafted Difference NHL Players Possible NHL Players
16 PHI 7 1.1 1 -.1 Pitkanen
17 FLA 10 2.1 2 -.1 Bouwmeester, Greg Campbell Globke
18 ANA 8 1.2 1 -.2 Lupul
19 MIN 10 1.3 1 -.3 P-M Bouchard Harding, Foy, Brandner, Brust
20 CAL 12 1.4 1 -.4 Lombardi
21 DAL 12 1.5 1 -.5 Daley
22 PHO 11 1.6 1 -.6 Eager LeNeveu, Jones
23 STL 9 0.7 0 -.7
24 VAN 11 0.8 0 -.8

25 NYI 7 0.8 0 -.8
26 BOS 7 0.9 0 -.9
Toivenen, Yan Stastny
27 SJS 7 0.9 0 -.9

28 OTT 8 0.9 0 -.9
29 COL 10 1.0 0 -1.0

30 LAK 11 1.1 0 -1.1
Grebeshkov, Kanko

2002 Winners
It is likely that in another year, our rankings at the top might change some as a result of more draftees qualifying as NHL players. At the moment the Penguins are your leader having found three contributors (Whitney, Christensen and Talbot). Tampa places second despite having many lower ranked picks. The Lightning managed to find two non-star players who could be on their roster. Chicago places third (Babchuk and Keith) and will likely move higher as (Wisniewski and Ellison) become NHL players. Likewise, Toronto is in 4th but could further climb the list if White and Kronwall player more NHL games. The Blue Jackets also have potential to move up with three players in the potential NHLers. If they all make it that would give them 5 players out of this draft, although only Rick Nash is what I would consider an impact player.

2000 Losers
At the moment there are a lot of teams at the bottom of this list who have yet to see one of their draftees play a full NHL season. However, most of these teams toward the bottom have at least one player who is on their way to meeting that goal. Only three teams have no players climbing toward the 82 games played mark. Those three teams are: Vancouver, San Jose Colorado.

2002 Atlanta Thrashers
How did the Thrashers fare in 2002? My approach puts them at 10th which is right on the edge of the top third and the middle third. They had a very high pick and they took a quality player (Lehtonen). Later in the 1st round they had a pick that was basically a coin toss in terms of value, a 50-50 shot of producing a player. That pick was Jim Slater who has arrived with the big club. They made that pick count and right now that pushes the team's ranking up.

What about the non-1st round picks from this year? Levokari came over to North America but didn't make it. Fretter is scoring at a good clip in the ECHL but he is long way from the NHL. Schell is also still in the ECHL for the third year. Flache, Manson, Dwyer also spent some time in Gwinnett but are not likely NHL players. The only guy I really have some hope for at this point is Nathan Oystrick who just turned pro this year after playing at Northern Michigan. He started out in the AHL and was leading all defensemen in scoring the last time I looked. My guess is that he will be one of those defensemen prospects fighting for a NHL job fall.

We can almost close the book on this draft as far as the Thrashers are concerned. Right now the Thrashers are ranked 10th but they will slid down as prospects from other teams qualify as NHL players. If Oystrick were to make it to the big league that would change the team's grade from average to outstanding, but for the moment it is yet another average draft for the Thrashers.

Next up: The combined 1999-2002 rankings.