Breaking Down How All 30 NHL Teams Built Their Rosters

Jonathan Willis@jonathanwillisNHL National ColumnistOctober 29, 2014

Breaking Down How All 30 NHL Teams Built Their Rosters

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    There's no set way to construct an NHL roster.

    The draft is often cited as the best way to add players, but it's far from the only method. There are teams out there that rely far more heavily on trades and free-agent signings to fill out their teams. 

    Read on for a breakdown of how all 30 NHL teams were built, based on their rosters as of Tuesday morning. One note: Some teams, thanks to injured reserve, have rosters in excess of 23 players; in these cases, each player was added to the count. 

Anaheim Ducks

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    Debora Robinson/Getty Images

    Draft: 15 players (55.6 percent)

    Trade: 8 players (29.6 percent)

    Free Agency: 4 players (14.8 percent)

    Summary: For the most part, the key players in Anaheim are drafted talent, while supporting cast members were added via trade. The defence corps is the position that draws heaviest on free agency. 

Arizona Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Draft: 8 players (34.8 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Free Agency: 8 players (34.8 percent)

    Summary: The Coyotes are a strange team in a lot of ways, and that includes the manner of their construction. While many of the key contributors to the club arrived via the draft—and as Shane Doan shows, the team can be phenomenally loyal to those guys—general manager Don Maloney has relied heavily on adding underrated players via trade and free agency to augment the group. 

Boston Bruins

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Draft: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Trade: 11 players (47.8 percent)

    Free Agency: 5 players (21.7 percent)

    Summary: The picture on this slide is nicely illustrative of where Boston's playerseven some of their franchise cornerstonescome from. Tuukka Rask was traded for while still a prospect. Supporting cast members like Loui Eriksson and Chris Kelly came via trade, too.

    The Bruins haven't leaned heavily on free agency, but Zdeno Chara stands out as a key acquisition that came that way. The team does lean on the draft but is as likely to use drafted players as trade bait as it is to keep them. 

Buffalo Sabres

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Draft: 11 players (44.0 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (28.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 7 players (28.0 percent)

    Summary: The Sabres are not a good team, and it's in no small part because they're extremely young. General manager Tim Murray made an attempt to add veterans via trade and free agency over the summer, but the core of the team is still largely high draft picks who aren't anywhere close to the peak years of their careers just yet. 

Calgary Flames

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    Gerry Thomas/Getty Images

    Draft: 6 players (23.1 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (26.9 percent)

    Free Agency: 13 players (50.0 percent)

    Summary: Calgary hasn't been built through the draft; if an injured Sam Bennett (still listed on the roster) is discounted, the number of drafted players on the team can be counted on one hand. Free agency has picked up the slack, sometimes through amateur acquisitions (Mark Giordano) and sometimes through pro-level hires (players like Jiri Hudler and Curtis Glencross). 

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Draft: 11 players (42.3 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (23.1 percent)

    Free Agency: 9 players (34.6 percent)

    Summary: The Hurricanes primarily rely on the draft or free agency to stock their roster, which is a bit of a problem. They haven't produced all that many impact players via the draft, and their free-agent additions have been hit and miss. 

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Draft: 11 players (47.8 percent)

    Trade: 5 players (21.7 percent)

    Free Agency: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Summary: When hockey people talk about building through the draft, Chicago is the dream scenario. Not very many teams land so many impact players in a cluster as the Blackhawks have, though it's worth noting that even the 'Hawks augmented their drafted players with key trades (Patrick Sharp) and free-agent signings (Marian Hossa). 

Colorado Avalanche

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    Draft: 5 players (20.8 percent)

    Trade: 9 players (37.5 percent)

    Free Agency: 9 players (37.5 percent)

    Waivers: player (4.2 percent)

    Summary: While much of the focus in Colorado is on the young stars the organization has drafted, the bulk of the roster has arrived via other routes, including its starting goalie, the vast majority of the defence corps and a whole pile of forwards. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Draft: 12 players (42.9 percent)

    Trade: 11 players (39.3 percent)

    Free Agency: 2 players (7.1 percent)

    Waivers: 3 players (10.7 percent)

    Summary: The Blue Jackets eschew free agency for the most part, choosing to build through the draft or through trade (the Rick Nash deal engineered by former GM Scott Howson being a major factor in the latter category). They're also a team that makes pretty extensive use of the waiver wire, adding Jack Skille and Adam Cracknell in 2014-15 after picking up Corey Tropp last season.  

Dallas Stars

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Draft: 9 players (34.6 percent)

    Trade: 8 players (30.8 percent)

    Free Agency: 9 players (34.6 percent)

    Summary: The Stars lean pretty much equally on the three main tiers of player acquisition, though that's a little misleading in the sense that many of the team's free-agent acquisitions were undrafted prospects, people like Antoine Roussel and Brenden Dillon. Uniquely, many of the team's best players (Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, among others) have come via trade. 

Detroit Red Wings

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Draft: 16 players (66.7 percent)

    Trade: 1 players (4.2 percent)

    Free Agency: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Waivers: 1 player (4.2 percent)

    Summary: The Red Wings are almost entirely a draft-built team; even the lone player on the roster acquired via trade (Kyle Quincey) was originally a Wings pick, and several of the team's free-agent acquisitions were signed as undrafted prospects. Detroit's uber-patient development model is without question the best in the NHL. 

Edmonton Oilers

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Draft: 7 players (29.2 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 10 players (41.7 percent)

    Waivers: 1 players (4.2 percent)

    Summary: The primary method of player acquisition for the Oilers is a little ironic, given Edmonton's reputation as a city that struggles to attract free agents. Some of those players (people like Mark Arcobello) were undrafted prospects, but there are a lot of NHL types, too, including recent acquisitions like Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot.  

Florida Panthers

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Draft: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (26.1 percent)

    Free Agency: 10 players (43.5 percent)

    Summary: Panthers general manager Dale Tallon previously helped turn around the Chicago Blackhawks, and he's drawing from that playbook. Unfortunately for Florida, he's not drawing on the "draft a contender" model so much as he is the "sign a pile of middling free agents" approach, which backfired spectacularly on the 'Hawks in his early days with the franchise. 

Los Angeles Kings

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Draft: 12 players (54.5 percent)

    Trade: 8 players (36.4 percent)

    Free Agency: 2 players (9.1 percent)

    Summary: Much like the Blackhawks, Los Angeles drafted the core of its team. Along the way, general manager Dean Lombardi has augmented the group through trades, though he's largely left the expense of free agency to other teams.  

Minnesota Wild

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

    Draft: 9 players (37.5 percent)

    Trade: 4 players (16.7 percent)

    Free Agency: 10 players (41.7 percent)

    Waivers: 1 player (4.2 percent)

    Summary: The Wild have a pretty decent drafted core, but the team has also worked hard to augment that group with high-end free agents like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. At this point the split between the two groups is basically 50/50, with trade route being a minor contributor. 

Montreal Canadiens

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    Draft: 10 players (43.5 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Free Agency: 6 players (26.1 percent)

    Summary: Montreal has drawn significantly on the draft, trades and free agency to build its roster, but there's no question that the most important components have come through the draft. The list includes the team's five leading scorers and both of the club's franchise players.   

Nashville Predators

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    Jonathan Kozub/Getty Images

    Draft: 11 players (44.0 percent)

    Trade: 4 players (16.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 9 players (36.0 percent)

    Waivers: 1 player (4.0 percent)

    Summary: The Predators made a reasonably big splash in free agency for a pretty modest financial outlay over the summer, bringing in Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro and Anton Volchenkov. Those moves were almost enough to bring free agency even with the draft as the chief source for acquiring players on Nashville's roster. 

New Jersey Devils

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Draft: 9 players (37.5 percent)

    Trade: 4 players (16.7 percent)

    Free Agency: 11 players (45.8 percent)

    Summary: The Devils have a reputation as a strong club in the areas of drafting and development, so it's perhaps a little surprising to see that the majority of the roster has been assembled using unrestricted free agency. As in other cases, the caveat here is that some free agents (such as Andy Greene) were signed as prospects. 

New York Islanders

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Draft: 12 players (46.2 percent)

    Trade: 4 players (15.4 percent)

    Free Agency: 7 players (26.9 percent)

    Waivers: 3 players (11.5 percent)

    Summary: Most of New York's profile isn't terribly surprising; there's a heavy presence of drafted players and a lot of free agents, too. The interesting thing is the ability of general manager Garth Snow to find value on the waiver wire—Michael Grabner, Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait have all played significant minutes for the team.  

New York Rangers

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Draft: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 12 players (50.0 percent)

    Summary: Henrik Lundqvist is the exception to the rule in New York, a superstar who was originally drafted by the team. The Rangers have actively sought talent from other teams, often acquiring players via trade and building up much of the supporting cast through unrestricted free agency, where the club is always a contender.

Ottawa Senators

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Draft: 16 players (66.7 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 2 players (8.3 percent)

    Summary: The low-budget Senators have kept their costs low in no small part through their willingness to stick with drafted players. Big-money free agents are virtually a non-starter for the team. If the Sens have a need that can't be filled by the prospect pool, they usually address it via trade. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Draft: 4 players (16.0 percent)

    Trade: 10 players (40.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 11 players (44.0 percent)

    Summary: The Flyers have drafted an excellent team; it just now plays in Los Angeles. Philadelphia's penchant for making splashy free-agent signings and pulling off blockbuster trades shines through here, as those avenues have been the primary way the current roster was assembled. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Draft: 8 players (36.4 percent)

    Trade: 5 players (22.5 percent)

    Free Agency: 8 players (36.4 percent)

    Waivers: 1 player (4.5 percent)

    Summary: The Penguins' primary star power comes from their drafted players, and that's true at pretty much every position. Trade and free agency have primarily been used to fill in the supporting roles on the roster.

St. Louis Blues

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Draft: 12 players (50.0 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 6 players (25.0 percent)

    Summary: The Blues have landed some important players via trade and free agency, but the heart of the the team's roster consists of drafted players, including team captain David Backes and franchise defender Alex Pietrangelo. 

San Jose Sharks

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    Jared Silber/Getty Images

    Draft: 12 players (48.0 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (28.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 6 players (24.0 percent)

    Summary: The Sharks haven't been averse to addressing their needs via trade and free agency, but drafted players form the backbone of the team. The club always seems to be able to count on one or two of its prospects to graduate to the NHL every year. 

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Draft: 11 players (44.0 percent)

    Trade: 5 players (20.0 percent)

    Free Agency: 9 players (36.0 percent)

    Summary: The Lightning made some big additions via trade and free agency over the summer, but amateur procurement remains the team's bread and butter. There should be a definite asterisk next to the Lightning's free-agent additions; players like Tyler Johnson technically fall under this category, but they entered the Tampa Bay system as prospects.  

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Abelimages/Getty Images

    Draft: 3 players (13.0 percent)

    Trade: 12 players (52.2 percent)

    Free Agency: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Waivers: 1 player (4.3 percent)

    Summary: Toronto is one of the very rare NHL teams that's primarily been built via trade. It's not just the support players that the team acquired in this manner; team captain Dion Phaneuf came over in a deal with the Calgary Flames, while Phil Kessel was acquired in a pretty (in-)famous deal with the Boston Bruins. 

Vancouver Canucks

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Draft: 6 players (26.1 percent)

    Trade: 7 players (30.4 percent)

    Free Agency: 8 players (34.8 percent)

    Waivers: 2 players (8.7 percent)

    Summary: Free agency narrowly tops out trade and the draft as the primary source of Vancouver's roster, though the club has added key pieces through all three avenues. 

Washington Capitals

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Draft: 10 players (41.7 percent)

    Trade: 4 players (16.7 percent)

    Free Agency: 10 players (41.7 percent)

    Summary: After a big summer that included massive contract offers to free agents Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, the Capitals roster is composed of equal parts drafted players and free-agent additions. There isn't any question as to which group is more important, though; the most critical pieces of the team came through the draft. 

Winnipeg Jets

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Draft: 10 players (43.5 percent)

    Trade: 6 players (26.1 percent)

    Free Agency: 5 players (21.7 percent)

    Waivers: 2 players (8.7 percent)

    Summary: The Jets primarily have relied on the draft to fill out their roster. Even the players acquired via trade, for the most part, were added prior to the team's relocation to Winnipeg. The roster has been surprisingly stable given the lack of results. 

    All statistics courtesy of NHL.com and HockeydDB.com.

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