Value of the 1st vs. 6th Overall Draft Choice

Linden and Benning have promised to use their 6th overall draft choice. How they use it is another story.

Linden and Benning have promised to use their 6th overall draft choice. How they use it is another story.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the Vancouver Canucks moving up to the 1st overall draft slot from where they currently sit at 6th overall. There has been a number of price tags attached to this pick from Jason Garrison plus the 6th overall pick to Bo Horvat plus the 6th overall pick. Here at Drop It Like It’s Ott I decided to take a look at the true value of each of these picks by comparing over a decade of production.

 

Take a look at our findings:

1st Overall Picks  Stats Courtesy of hockeyreference.com

1st Overall Picks
Stats Courtesy of hockeyreference.com

6th Overall Picks Stats Courtesy of hockeyreference.com

6th Overall Picks
Stats Courtesy of hockey-reference.com

 

I’ve excluded the goalies because their production is obviously different. Coincidentally there were two goalies taken with Marc-Andre Fleury and Al Montoya being selected 1 and 6 respectively. So I was left with eight forwards and one defenceman from each group. Position-wise I didn’t decypher between wingers and centers as often times centres will change their position post-draft. As a result I classified them all as Forwards (F) or Defenceman (D).

Also, I decided to exclude the last few years as I felt that players from those drafts have not had enough time to establish their true value. The timeframe that I looked at was 2001-2010. The 2001 draft allowed for ample sample size. The 2001 draft was also optimal as the players had the majority of their careers and games played after the 2004-2005 NHL lockout in which we saw a variety of rule changes. This group is representative of the style of play that is being played in the current NHL.

One of the first things that I noted was the points per game. With a 1st overall pick you are getting an average of 0.98pts/game. Taking Erik Johnson out of the equation and you’re over a point a game. To put that into perspective during the 2013-2014 NHL season only 10 skaters produced at a point per game rate (of players who played at least 62 games). 5 of those point producers were a 1st overall draft choice, with only Joe Thornton (1997) not being selected between 2001-2011. Of note is that John Tavares would’ve also been on the list, producing over a point per game last season in his 59 games played.

 

Verdict: The 1st overall pick yields a true superstar and 1st line calibre player.

 


 

Looking at the 6th overall pick things get a bit more interesting. First, there is a smaller body of work to look at. Players selected 6th overall have played an average of 162 games less than their 1st overall counterparts. That is nearly two entire seasons worth of games per player. Clearly it takes longer for them to establish themselves as everyday NHL players.

Next, they’re scoring at a lower rate with only 0.55 points per game. To average this production over the course of an entire season would be 45 points. During the 2013-2014 season 115 players scored at least 45 points, 101 of which were forwards, 14 defencemen.

To look at the defenceman part of that sample first it would be fair to assume that the top 14 scoring defenceman are all top pairing players. To lower the criteria to 44 points would expand the list to 17 players including number 6 overall Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

With a sample of 101 forwards that would be an average of 3.37 per team that produce at a 45 point pace. Essentially any player who is scoring at this rate is the equivalent of a high-end 2nd line player. So to draft a player who is likely to become the 3rd or 4th best scoring player on an NHL roster is nothing to scoff at. It certainly is very valuable production for any roster.

 

Verdict: 6th overall pick yields a high-end 2nd line player.

 


 

The question now becomes what should Vancouver do with their pick? At what cost should they trade-up from a player like William Nylander to select a Sam Reinhart. History would suggest to us that it would be the equivalent of trading up to grab a superstar compared to selecting a 2nd line player.

How does selecting a point per game player rather than a 45 point player sound? Pretty good doesn’t it. The only reason that this pick is up for discussion is because Florida is rumored to be interested in a top-4 defenceman. If the price is just a top-4 defenceman and the 6th overall pick it is certainly worth it. Consider that a top-4 defenceman would be between the 60th-120th best defenceman in the NHL.

Will that be the price?  The last time the 1st overall pick was traded was also by Florida. Having a young Roberto Luongo on their roster they had no need to select Marc-Andre Fleury. The trade therefore ended up being the following:

The Florida Panthers trade the first pick (Marc-Andre Fleury) and 73rd pick (Daniel Carcillo) to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third pick (Nathan Horton), the 55th pick (Stefan Meyer) and Mikael Samuelsson.

Their price to drop 2 picks, rather than 5 was essentially:
1. Moving up from an mid 3rd round pick to a late 2nd round pick
2. Mikael Samuelsson

At the time Samuelsson was a proven AHL scorer who was struggling to produce at the NHL level. He would only go onto play one partial season for Florida before establishing himself in Detroit.

So what would the equivalent price be for Vancouver?

To Florida:
6th Overall (Vancouver) – 2014
36th Overall (Vancouver) – 2014
Zack Kassian – 73 GP, 14 G, 15 A , 29 PTS
Frank Corrado – NHL: 15 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PTS
AHL: 59 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 PTS

To Vancouver:
1st Overall (Florida) – 2014
92nd Overall (Florida) – 2014

Florida benefits from moving down by moving up from the 4th round all the way up to the early 2nd round, giving them two high 2nd round picks to work with. In Kassian, Florida gets a power-forward who has struggled to find his niche in the NHL, however he has had previous success in the AHL. He is the closest comparable that Vancouver has to where Samuelsson was in his career. Corrado needed to be thrown in to sweeten the pot. The former 5th rounder is coming off a very successful first pro season. Next season he will be looked at to take a permanent jump to the NHL. Florida gets another young defenceman to add to their roster.


 

What does Drop It Like It’s Ott think that it will take for Vancouver?

To Florida:
6th Overall (Vancouver) – 2014
66th Overall (Vancouver) – 2014
Chris Tanev – 64 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 PTS
Nicklas Jensen – NHL: 17 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS
AHL: 54 GP, 15 G, 6 A, 21 PTS

To Vancouver:
1st Overall (Vancouver) – 2014
143rd Overall (Pittsburgh) – 2014 – Previously acquired along with a 2015 3rd round pick by trading Marcel Goc

While Jason Garrison is the name that has been thrown out there for Vancouver to trade, I realistically think that Dale Tallon doesn’t have too much interest in taking him back. With Trevor Linden recently saying that the club isn’t looking to move Alexander Edler, Tanev makes himself the obvious choice. In the previous trade Corrado doesn’t seem like the perfect fit as Florida is looking for more of an established defender. Jensen is the choice for a prospect as Florida is already loaded with prospects at centre so a prospect like Brandon Gaunce doesn’t make too much sense. In the previous trade, trading Kassian in this spot didn’t make too much sense either. Vancouver likely wants to see a better return on their Cody Hodgson investment and will be hoping that the third coach in as many years can bring just that. (I’m not even going to make that Lucic comparison that everybody loves to make).

All in all trade number two seems like a more complete trade that will provide value to each roster. Will it happen? Probably not, but it has as good of a chance as any proposal. Think you’ve got a better idea of what will work for a trade? Leave a comment below, here at Drop It Like It’s Ott we would love to hear it!

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