While looking at entry draft data, I stumbled upon something quite peculiar. In my series on acquiring first-pairing defencemen, I noticed that the trends that top defencemen were found in the draft were completely different from the first half to second half. I decided to follow this up in more detail and what I found lead me to ask the question in the title of this post.
My exercise was fairly simple. I started by looking at the average GVT/year for all players who had been drafted in the last 20 years. For those of you who are unfamiliar with GVT, Hockey Prospectus explains it best:
Goals Versus Threshold. Developed by Tom Awad
of Hockey Prospectus, GVT measures a player’s
worth in comparison to a typical fringe NHL player.
GVT has two major advantages over most metrics: it’s
measured in goals, which are easily equated to wins,
and it is capable of comparing players across multiple
positions and multiple eras.
To put it in other words, GVT is a measure of a player’s value in terms of the amount of goals he generates/prevents for his team. Nothing too complicated.
So after determining each player’s average GVT/year, I calculated the average GVT/year of all players drafted at each individual spot in the draft. I wanted to know what the average GVT/year of a player drafted 1st overall looked like compared to a player drafted, say 10th overall. I then plotted it all out:
This was the graph I made for the first 100-ish draft picks, trendline included. It looks as one might expect, with a steep drop-off after the first couple selections, followed by a gentle downward slope as the draft roles along. This trend suggests that teams are in general, decent prospect evaluators. Players won’t be picked exactly where they should go, but better players are generally picked earlier in the draft and worse ones, later on.
Now here’s my plot for the rest of the draft:
Looks a tad different, doesn’t it? From pick 100 and on, the draft looks completely random. This is more or less just white noise. There is no discernible trend and it appears that a pick at 110 has just as good a chance at finding talent as a pick at 210.
What are we to make of this then?
Should teams quit listening to their scouts after the third round and start throwing darts at their draft list? Is there even a point to having a draft list past the 100th pick?? Should teams attempt to trade all their later picks, back and back until they’ve stockpiled as many picks as they can??? Is the first half of the draft, skill and the second half, luck????
If I had to answer right now, I’d say:
-Hmmm, quite possibly
-I don’t know..maybe?