How Well Have the Toronto Maple Leafs Drafted Since 2000?

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For those of you who haven’t seen my earlier posts 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 Toronto Maple Leafs 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
C 21 2095 945
LW 15 2037 974
RW 16 1097 593
D 35 3258 911
G 9 562 10
Unspecified 4 0 0
Total 100 9049 3433
  • 26 of 100 players drafted since 2000 have played 50+ games in the NHL (26%)
  • 23 of 100 players drafted since 2000 have played 100+ games in the NHL (23%)
  • Draftees (incl. goalies) since 2000 have played a total of 9049 games
  • Skaters (excl. goalies) drafted since 2000 have played a total of 8487 games and accumulated 3423 points (0.40 PPG)
  • Draftees since 2000 have an average of 38 points and 90 games played
  • Best draft year: 2006 – Jiri Tlusty (13th), Nikolay Kulemin (44th), James Reimer (99th), Viktor Stalberg (161st), Leo Komerov (180th)
  • Worst draft year: 2011 – Tyler Biggs (22nd), Stuart Percy (25th). 30 NHL games played between 9 draft picks.

Best Picks Since 2000

  • Forward: Alexander Steen
  • Defenseman: Ian White/Carlo Colaiacovo/Anton Stralman
  • Goaltender: Tuukka Rask
  • Most Games by a Draftee: Matthew Stajan (774)
  • Most Points by a Draftee: Brad Boyes (481)

FIRST ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 1 250 152
LW 2 1095 602
RW 2 762 481
D 4 1091 323
G 1 266 6
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 10 3464 1564
  • 8 of 10 players drafted in the 1st round have played 100+ games in the NHL (80%)
  • First round picks have played a total of 3464 games and accumulated 1558 points (0.49 PPG)
  • First round picks have an average of 173 points and 346 games played
  • Notable picks: Tuukka Rask (21st, 2005), Brad Boyes (24th, 2000), Alexander Steen (24th, 2002), Jiri Tlusty (13th, 2006), Carlo Colaiacovo (17th, 2001), Nazem Kadri (7th, 2009), Luke Schenn (5th, 2008), Morgan Rielly (5th, 2012)

SECOND ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 2 791 362
LW 2 503 226
RW 2 168 66
D 4 91 30
G 0 0 0
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 10 1553 684
  • 3 of 10 players drafted in the 2nd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (30%)
  • Second round picks have played a total of 1553 games and accumulated 684 points (0.44 PPG)
  • Second round picks have an average of 68 points and 155 games played
  • Notable picks: Matthew Stajan (57th, 2002), Nikolay Kulemin (44th, 2006), Jimmy Hayes (60th, 2008)

THIRD ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 2 4 0
LW 3 18 3
RW 2 0 0
D 4 484 105
G 4 121 2
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 15 627 110
  • 3 of 15 players drafted in the 3rd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (20%)
  • Third round picks have played a total of 627 games and accumulated 108 points (0.21 PPG)
  • Third round picks have an average of 10 points and 42 games played
  • Notable picks: Jay Harrison (82nd, 2001), Mikael Tellqvist (70th, 2000), Brandan Bell (65th, 2001)

FOURTH TO NINTH ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 16 1050 431
LW 8 421 143
RW 10 167 46
D 23 1592 453
G 4 175 2
Unspecified 4 0 0
Total 65 3405 1075
  • 9 of 65 players drafted between the 4th and 9th rounds have played 100+ games in the NHL (14%)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have played 3405 games and accumulated 1073 points (0.33 PPG)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have an average of 18 points and 52 games played
  • Notable picks: James Reimer (99th, 2006), Matt Frattin (99th, 2007), Kyle Wellwood (134th, 2001), John Mitchell (158th, 2003), Ian White (191st, 2002), Viktor Stalberg (161st, 2006), Leo Komarov (180th, 2006), Anton Stralman (216th, 2005), Carl Gunnarsson (194th, 2007)

FUN FACT

  • The Leafs drafted Niklas Kronwall’s younger brother, Staffan, in the 9th round (285th) of the 2002 draft. He played 66 NHL games between the Leafs, Capitals, and Flames from 2005 to 2010.

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 on 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 1 74%
11 – 15 1 54%
16 – 20 1 62%
21 – 30 5 58%

Since 2000 the majority of the Leafs first round picks have been in the latter half of the first round. Based on the dispersion of these picks the Leafs have an expected success rate of 64 to 70 percent.

Round Expected Success Rate Actual Success Rate
1 64 – 70% 80%
2 26 – 32% 30%
3 21 – 26% 20%
4+ 10 – 15% 14%

Strictly looking at their success rate the Leafs have met or surpassed expectations in almost every round (missed in the third round by one percent). What’s most impressive is their first round drafting where they have the fourth highest success rate in the league. So we know that the Leafs draft players who reach the 100+ games played mark, but how well do they perform beyond that? The average Leafs first round draftee has 173 points and 346 NHL games played which rank 9th and 7th league wide. While a top 10 ranking in points and games played is something to be content about it’s difficult to ignore the noticeable difference between the points/games played rankings and the success rate ranking.

The difference between the two numbers tell me one thing: Toronto has consistently drafted NHL caliber players in the first round but none have grown to become superstar skaters. Looking at their list of first round picks, Brad Boyes and Alexander Steen are the only first round draftees with more than 200 career points.

In the second round the Leafs drafted six forwards and four defensemen, with three of their ten picks going on to play at least 100 games. Their success rate of 30 percent falls within the expected parameters and ranks 13th best in the league (tied with Chicago and Ottawa). Their average skater has 68 points and 155 games played which rank 8th and 6th respectively. While they didn’t surpass expectations the way their first round picks did, their drafting was much of the same story – above average drafting with no superstar players. Their best picks in the round were Matthew Stajan and Nikolay Kulemin.

While they only missed expectations by 1 percent in the third round, the underlying numbers show that this is where the Leafs have done their worst drafting. The average third round draftee has 10 points and 42 games played which rank 20th and 18th respectively. Their best pick from the round, Jay Harrison, accounts for roughly 60 percent of their games played and 70 percent of their points.

In the fourth round or later the Leafs have been quite successful, finding a number of depth forwards and defensemen who have played long minutes and had lengthy careers in the NHL. Their average draftee in these rounds has 18 points and 52 games played which rank 9th and 7th league wide. While it’s starting to sound repetitive the Leafs drafting in the depth rounds are eerily similar to the first and second – consistent drafting with no star players. The highest scoring Leafs draftee in the fourth round or later is Kyle Wellwood.

The below table shows how the Leafs have fared against the league average:

Category League Avg. Toronto Difference
Draftees 105 100 -5
100+ GP 22 23 +1
100+ GP (%) 23% 23% +0%
Total GP 8679 9049 +370
Skater PTS 3427 3423 -4
Skater PPG 0.41 0.40 -0.01
AVG PTS 37 38 +1
AVG GP 83 90 +7

Despite drafting five less players than most teams the Leafs managed to match the league average in every category. While they’ve selected a number of players who have gone on to play long NHL careers (high total GP) they haven’t drafted any superstar players (lower average PTS and PPG).

One rumor you often hear about the Leafs is that they trade away their players who later flourish with other teams. Looking at the list of Leafs picks I noticed that, of their 16 draftees with 250+ GP, only 1 plays for the Leafs (Kadri).  Not a single players drafted by the Leafs prior to 2006 still plays with the club (50 draftees, 12 with 100+ GP). Since 2006 though, 5 of their 8 draftees with 100+ games played are still with the team (Schenn, Hayes, and Gunnarsson were traded).

As a reminder, all of the players who were drafted and later traded were included in this analysis because the team drafted them with the belief that they had NHL potential. How these players were managed or developed after the draft isn’t considered in this study.

As a whole the Leafs drafting doesn’t stand out as one of the best in the league, however, they also haven’t drafted poorly in any round. They rank just above the league average in every area (except the third round) and as a result should finish above the middle of the pack but outside of the top 10 in my final rankings.

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