NHL

Ranking the 10 Best Drafting Teams in the NHL

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best Drafting Teams in the NHL

1 of 12

    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    NHL teams cannot win without draft success. Procurement of talent takes all forms: trades, free agency, college and junior signings, but the entry draft is the heart of every quality team.

    From 2003 through this past season, 10 teams have had significant success. It's no coincidence that these teams are also winning more than their competition.

    Here are the 10 best drafting teams in the NHL.

10. New York Islanders

2 of 12

    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Chief Scout

    Trent Klatt is the director of scouting for the New York Islanders. As this article by Alyssa Hollenback of Let's Play Hockey indicates, Klatt has strong opinions about developing players. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    In the last decade, the Islanders have enjoyed some first-round success. Kyle Okposo and John Tavares are the best of the group, but they missed several times at the top of the draft. In later rounds, the club added Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic and Jared Spurgeon, among others.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 4,984. Byron Bader of NHL Numbers suggests the Islanders are among the better drafting teams in the league. New York had 12 draft picks who played over 200 games in the past decade. The Islanders don't rank higher due to a lack of impact talent and very little playoff success.

9. Washington Capitals

3 of 12

    USA TODAY Sports

    Chief Scout

    Ross Mahoney was the scouting director for well over a decade, but he has been moved up to assistant general manager. The team website says he will oversee the organization’s amateur scouting staff.

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    Washington has enjoyed success in the first round. Alexander Ovechkin emerged as the face of the franchise, and Nicklas Backstrom is a point-per-game player 500 games into his career. Mike Green has also enjoyed a quality career with the Capitals, and Semyon Varlamov is a solid NHL goalie. John Carlson is emerging as a strong NHL defenseman. The club has not been very good in the later rounds.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 4,998. Bader shows the Capitals have been about average during the decade. The club makes this list because of their home run picks, notably Ovechkin and Backstrom.

8. St. Louis Blues

4 of 12

    USA TODAY Sports

    Chief Scout

    Bill Armstrong is the director of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Blues. He has been with the organization since 2004. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Blues have enjoyed success with quality role players taken in Round 1. T.J. Oshie, Erik Johnson, Patrik Berglund, Lars Eller and David Perron have all been taken in the first round, with only Alex Pietrangelo reaching the elite level. St. Louis has scored well in later rounds, with David Backes, Lee Stempniak and Ben Bishop, among others.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,176. Bader tells us the Blues had 10 players during the decade who played 200 or more games. The club was average in other areas as well but make the list because of the overall high quality of their selections.

7. Anaheim Ducks

5 of 12

    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Chief Scout

    Martin Madden is the director of amateur scouting for the Anaheim Ducks. A fascinating look behind the scenes is available via a Q&A article with Madden by Adam Brady on the team website. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Anaheim Ducks hit some towering home runs in the early part of the century. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were both taken in 2003, and Bobby Ryan came along two years later. Since then, the first-round selections haven't been as strong, but later picks include Justin Schultz and Shane O'Brien.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,280. Bader shows the Ducks have had only nine drafted players exceed 200 games in the study period. Anaheim makes the list because of the sheer quality of its top-end players and its one Stanley Cup.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

6 of 12

    USA TODAY Sports

    Chief Scout

    Randy Sexton and Jay Heinbuck are co-directors of amateur scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Penguins spent several years at the top of the draft, and that does skew things. However, it's one thing to get the chance and another to deliver. First-round home runs include Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Later-round gems are Daniel Carcillo, Matt Moulson, Kris Letang and Jake Muzzin.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,463. Bader suggests the Penguins are about average in terms of players developed, but the enormity of the top-end players gets them a strong ranking in the draft.

5. Los Angeles Kings

7 of 12

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Chief Scout

    Rob Laird is the senior pro scout for the Los Angeles Kings. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Kings have delivered Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Brian Boyle and Drew Doughty in the first round, and they are all key elements to the team's success. Later-round NHL players include Jonathan Quick and Wayne Simmonds. Several draft picks have contributed to Los Angeles' two Stanley Cup wins in recent seasons.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,428. Bader has the Kings graduating 31.8 percent of their picks to 50 NHL games, with 15.2 percent making it all the way to 200 games. Both figures are average, but the Kings make their strong showing based on elite-level talents like Doughty and Kopitar.

4. Boston Bruins

8 of 12

    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Chief Scout

    Keith Gretzky is the director of amateur scouting. This is his first year in the role. 

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    Over the last decade, the Boston Bruins have enjoyed little first-round success. Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin are the only home run picks during this era for the team, and Dougie Hamilton is trending in that direction. Boston's impact at the draft came in Round 2, with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic. The Bruins also scored well with Brad Marchand in Round 3. 

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,436. Bader gives Boston a strong grade from 2003-2013. The Bruins saw 11 draft picks play over 200 games, and it all paid off with a Stanley Cup victory in 2011.

3. Chicago Blackhawks

9 of 12

    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Chief Scout

    Mark Kelley is the director of amateur scouting for the Chicago Blackhawks. He has been a member of the Chicago scouting staff since 2006.

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Blackhawks have missed several times in the first round but were splendid when they hit pay dirt. Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are a big part of the current team, and all came in the first round. Later picks that had a big impact were Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. 

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 5,770. Bader confirms Chicago is a strong drafting team. It selected 11 draft picks who played over 200 games, and several of them are impact NHL players. The Blackhawks' postseason success makes them a strong contender for the best drafting team.

2. San Jose Sharks

10 of 12

    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Chief Scout

    Tim Burke is the director of scouting for the San Jose Sharks. He has been a member of the their scouting staff since 1992-93.

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    Since 2003, San Jose has delivered first-round hits Milan Michalek, Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture, and it looks like Tomas Hertl will join them soon. Lower picks that clicked during this period include Matt Carle, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Jason Demers.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 6,003. Bader suggests San Jose is one of the NHL's best drafting teams during the decade. San Jose had 11 draft picks play over 200 games, tied with Boston. The lack of playoff success is frustrating for fans, but the procurement department is among the league's best.

1. Montreal Canadiens

11 of 12

    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Chief Scout

    Trevor Timmins is the director of amateur scouting for the Montreal Canadiens. He arrived in the organization in 2002-03.

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    During the period of 2003-2013, Montreal scored very well in the first round. Andrei Kostitsyn, Carey Price, Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk represent outstanding first-round value. Later picks that shine include Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski and Mark Streit. Montreal's late-round gem from the era is P.K. Subban, selected in the Canadiens' watershed 2007 draft.

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 6,082. According to Bader, the Canadiens are above average through this period at the draft table. Montreal saw 14 draft picks play over 200 games, the best total in the league. Its on-ice success has been paid for with strong drafting over the last decade.

Bonus: Edmonton Oilers

12 of 12

    Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Chief Scout

    Stu MacGregor is the head amateur scout for the Edmonton Oilers, a role he filled after the 2007 draft.

     

    First-Round Home Runs and Late-Round Hits

    The Oilers have scored very well with their first-round picks in recent years, owed mostly to selecting No. 1 overall for three straight seasons. During the period after 2003, Edmonton added Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov in the first round. In later rounds, the team has not been successful, although Kyle Brodziak and Jeff Petry were able to make the grade. 

     

    Measuring the Success

    NHL GP 2003-13: 4,944. Bader gives the Oilers credit for getting players to the NHL, but he is also critical of their tendency to advance them too soon:

    Edmonton has actually graduated the most draftees to NHL players since 2003. Given Edmonton’s success, or lack thereof, does this mean that Edmonton is rushing their draft picks into the league?

    I would say it most certainly does. While the Oilers lead the league in converting draftees to NHLers, only 30% of those players (8 in total) have gone on to play 200+ games in the NHL so far, by far the biggest drop off between 50-game players and 200-game players.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices