How Well Have the Montreal Canadiens Drafted Since 2000?

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For those of you who haven’t seen my earlier post(s) I am going through each of the 30 teams and breaking down how they have drafted over the past 15 years. The other teams can be found here:

To make this post I went through all of the Montreal Canadiens picks between 2000 and 2012.

Many of these players were drafted but traded to other teams where they played most of their careers. Despite playing most of their careers on other teams I still used their full NHL stats for two reasons:

1) The team drafted players they believed to have potential; whether or not they fulfilled their potential on that team doesn’t necessarily matter. The important thing is that the team recognized a players true potential and the players that were selected lived up to it.

2) You could argue that they wouldn’t turn out to be the same players if they stayed on the team, and you’re probably right, but I decided to do it this way so that I could specifically focus on the teams drafting ability and not the player development.

TOTAL PICK DISTRIBUTION

Position Drafted GP PTS
Center 24 2787 1158
LW 12 1340 671
RW 14 1807 815
D 37 3584 1224
G 7 766 15
Unspecified 5 18 6
Total 99 10302 3889
  • 27 of 99 players drafted since 2000 have played 50+ games in the NHL (27%)
  • 25 of 99 players drafted since 2000 have played 100+ games in the NHL (25%)
  • Draftees (incl. goalies) since 2000 have played a total of 10302 games
  • Skaters (excl. goalies) drafted since 2000 have played a total of 9536 games and accumulated 3874 points (0.41 PPG)
  • Draftees since 2000 have an average of 42 points and 104 games played
  • Best draft year: 2007 – Ryan McDonagh (12th), Max Pacioretty (22nd), P.K. Subban (43rd,), Yannick Weber (73rd)
  • Worst draft year: 2008 – No first round pick. None of their five picks in the draft ever played an game in the NHL.

All Time Best Picks

  • Forward: Max Pacioretty
  • Defenseman: P.K. Subban
  • Goaltender: Carey Price
  • Most Games Played by a Draftee: Tomas Plekanec (761)
  • Most Points by a Draftee: Tomas Plekanec (499)

FIRST ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
Center 3 655 206
LW 3 1314 670
RW 2 526 256
D 6 1752 453
G 1 435 11
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 15 4682 1596
  • 11 of 15 players drafted in the 1st round have played 100+ games in the NHL (73%)
  • First round picks have played a total of 4682 games and accumulated 1585 points (0.37 PPG)
  • First round picks have an average of 113 points and 312 games played
  • Notable picks: Carey Price (5th, 2005), Max Pacioretty (22nd, 2007), Ryan McDonagh (12th, 2007), Ron Hainsey (13th, 2000), Chris Higgins (14th, 2002), Mike Komisarek (7th, 2001), Kyle Chipchura (18th, 2004), Andrei Kostitsyn (10th, 2003), Marcel Hossa (16th, 2000), Alex Galchenyuk (3rd, 2012), Nathan Beaulieu (17th, 2011)

SECOND ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
Center 3 661 147
LW 0 0 0
RW 4 346 148
D 4 369 227
G 0 0 0
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 11 1376 522
  • 3 of 11 players drafted in the 2nd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (27%)
  • Second round picks have played a total of 1376 games and accumulated 522 points (0.38 PPG)
  • Second round picks have an average of 47 points and 125 games played
  • Notable picks: Maxim Lapierre (61st, 2003), P.K. Subban (43rd, 2007), Guillaume Latendresse (45th, 2005)

THIRD ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
Center 4 937 528
LW 1 0 0
RW 1 0 0
D 5 769 152
G 0 0 0
Unspecified 1 18 6
Total 12 1724 686
  • 5 of 12 players drafted in the 3rd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (42%)
  • Third round picks have played a total of 1724 games and accumulated 686 points (0.40 PPG)
  • Third round picks have an average of 57 points and 144 games played
  • Notable picks: Tomas Plekanec (71st, 2001), Ryan O’Byrne (79th, 2003), Alexei Emelin (84th, 2004), Yannick Weber (73rd, 2007) Ryan White (66th, 2006)

FOURTH TO NINTH ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
Center 14 534 227
LW 8 26 1
RW 7 935 411
D 22 694 392
G 6 331 4
Unspecified 4 0 0
Total 61 2520 1085
  • 6 of 61 players drafted between the 4th and 9th rounds have played 100+ games in the NHL (10%)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have played 2520 games and accumulated 1081 points (0.49 PPG)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have an average of 20 points and 41 games played
  • Notable picks: Mikhail Grabovski (150th, 2004), Brendan Gallagher (147th, 2010), Matt D’Agostini (190th, 2005), Sergei Kostitsyn (200th, 2005), Mark Streit (262nd, 2004), Jaroslav Halak (271st, 2003)

WHAT WE LEARNED

Since the 1st overall is very different from 30th overall I used this TSN article, which estimates a player’s probability of playing 100+ NHL games based off their round selection, to determined how well a team drafted in the first round relative to their pick placement. In other words, I determined if a team drafted well or poorly in the first round by comparing their success rate to the historical league average.

1st Round Pick Position # of Picks Probability of Success
1 – 5 2 96%
6 – 10 2 74%
11 – 15 3 54%
16 – 20 5 62%
21 – 30 3 58%

Since 2000 the Canadiens have had a fairly even distribution of picks with 7 in the top 15 and 8 in the bottom 15. The Canadiens surpassed the expected success range of 63 to 69 percent with 11 of 15 draftees (73%) playing 100+ games in the NHL.

Round Expected Success Rate Actual Success Rate
1 63 – 69% 73%
2 26 – 32% 27%
3 21 – 26% 42%
4+ 10 – 15% 10%

In the first round the Canadiens have had an obvious preference for drafting defensemen. 40 percent of their first round picks since 2000 have been defensemen which is the highest of all teams studied so far. The result of drafting so many successful defensemen is lots of games played (4th highest of all teams) but a low points per game (second lowest of all teams). I don’t think many Canadiens fans will be upset with Montreal’s strategy of drafting defensemen considering they’ve used those picks on the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Mike Komisarek and Ron Hainsey. That being said, using the bulk of your first round picks on defensemen means passing up on high scoring forwards. Only four of Montreal’s first round picks have more than 200 career points and Chris Higgins is the Canadiens highest scoring first round draft pick.

The second round has been a bit of a mixed bag for Montreal but they’ve finished within the expected success range. Montreal’s second round success rate ranks 11th of all teams studied but their average points and average games played are on par with the league average for the second round. Maxim Lapierre accounts for almost half of the groups games played and has solidified himself as an effective bottom six player. By far the Habs best second round success is P.K. Subban who significantly inflates the groups underlying stats and masks what is a relatively underwhelming group of picks.

Montreal has absolutely dominated third round drafting. In fact Montreal has actually drafted NHL players more consistently in the third round than the second. Outside of the difference in success rates (27% compared to 42%), third round draftees also outperformed the second round in games played (1724 vs 1376), points (686 vs 522) and points per game (0.40 vs 0.38). Similar to the second round their numbers are inflated by one player, in this case it’s Tomas Plekanec who accounts for 96 percent of their total points. Outside of Plekanec they haven’t drafted point producers but have picked a number of bottom six regulars who have stuck around in the NHL.

While the Canadiens success rate in the depth rounds doesn’t appear to be special it might be where they’ve done their most impressive drafting. The six players that made it in the NHL are Grabovski, Gallagher, S. Kostitsyn, Streit, Halak, and D’Agostini. The groups PPG of 0.49 is not only the best of all rounds for Montreal but also ranked first of all teams studied so far (tied with Dallas). It appears that in the depth rounds Montreal is willing to take more risks on players with the highest potential instead of looking for bottom six players, a strategy we’ve seen a number of teams implement.

Looking at their drafting as a whole Montreal has fared very well against the current league average:

Category League Avg. Montreal Difference
Draftees 106 99 -7
100+ GP 23 25 +2
100+ GP (%) 21% 25% +4%
Total GP 8956 10302 +1346
Skater PTS 3490 3874 +384
Skater PPG 0.41 0.41 +0
AVG PTS 37 42 +5
AVG GP 85 104 +19

Despite having seven less picks the Canadiens absolutely dominated the league in the games played department and as a result their average games played per player ranks second best in the league. Their skater points and PPG numbers are less impressive which we learned is a result of drafting more defensemen than most teams, especially in the first round.

Overall, the Canadiens have consistently drafted well in the first round, picked average in the second (with the exception of Subban), found a number of bottom six role players in the third, and taken risks in the depth rounds on players with the highest potential. In my final rankings Montreal should be positioned somewhere in the top ten and perhaps just outside of the top five.

My original post on Reddit with full comments can be found here

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