How Well Have the Washington Capitals 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 Washington Capitals 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 23 2751 1381
LW 14 1411 1067
RW 11 1293 724
D 34 3494 1077
G 12 633 15
Unspecified 15 0 0
Total 109 9582 4264
  • 28 of 109 players drafted since 2000 have played 50+ games in the NHL (26%)
  • 26 of 109 players drafted since 2000 have played 100+ games in the NHL (24%)
  • Draftees (incl. goalies) since 2000 have played a total of 9582 games
  • Skaters (excl. goalies) drafted since 2000 have played a total of 8949 games and accumulated 4249 points (0.47 PPG)
  • Draftees since 2000 have an average of 44 points and 88 games played
  • Best draft year: 2004 – Alexander Ovechkin (1st), Jeff Schultz (27th), Mike Green (29th), Sami Lepisto (66th)
  • Worst draft year: 2005 – Sasha Pokulok (14th), Joe Finley (27th). Best played drafted was sixth round pick Tim Kennedy (39 PTS, 162 GP).

Best Picks Since 2000

  • Forward: Alex Ovechkin
  • Defenseman: Mike Green/John Carlson
  • Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov
  • Most Games by a Draftee: Alex Ovechkin (760)
  • Most Points by a Draftee: Alex Ovechkin (895)

FIRST ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 7 2210 1119
LW 1 760 895
RW 3 1238 717
D 7 2317 808
G 1 267 6
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 19 6792 3545
  • 16 of 19 players drafted in the 1st round have played 100+ games in the NHL (84%)
  • First round picks have played a total of 6792 games and accumulated 3539 points (0.54 PPG)
  • First round picks have an average of 197 points and 357 games played
  • Notable picks: Alex Ovechkin (1st, 2004), Nicklas Backstrom (4th, 2006), Alexander Semin (13th, 2002), Mike Green (29th, 2004), John Carlson (27th, 2008), Marcus Johansson (24th, 2009), Eric Fehr (18th, 2003), Boyd Gordon (17th, 2002), Steve Eminger (12th, 2002), Brian Sutherby (26th, 2000), Karl Alzner (5th, 2007), Jeff Schultz (27th, 2004), Filip Forsberg (11th, 2012), Evgeny Kuznetsov (26th, 2010) Tom Wilson (16th, 2012), Semyon Varlamov (23rd, 2006)
  • Included Evgeny Kuznetsov (97 GP) as exceptions to the 100+ GP success threshold

SECOND ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 1 0 0
LW 2 473 131
RW 2 0 0
D 7 294 73
G 2 168 2
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 14 935 206
  • 4 of 14 players drafted in the 2nd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (29%)
  • Second round picks have played a total of 935 games and accumulated 204 points (0.27 PPG)
  • Second round picks have an average of 17 points and 67 games played
  • Notable picks: Matt Pettinger (43rd, 2000), Nathan Paetsch (58th, 2001), Dmitri Orlov (55th, 2009), Michal Neuvirth (34th, 2006)

THIRD ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 5 237 107
LW 2 6 2
RW 0 0 0
D 3 176 35
G 0 0 0
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 10 419 144
  • 2 of 10 players drafted in the 3rd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (20%)
  • Third round picks have played a total of 419 games and accumulated 144 points (0.34 PPG)
  • Third round picks have an average of 14 points and 42 games played
  • Notable picks: Cody Eakin (85th, 2009), Sami Lepisto (66th, 2004)

FOURTH TO NINTH ROUND PICKS

Position Drafted GP PTS
C 10 304 155
LW 9 172 39
RW 6 55 7
D 17 707 161
G 9 198 7
Unspecified 15 0 0
Total 66 1436 369
  • 4 of 66 players drafted between the 4th and 9th rounds have played 100+ games in the NHL (6%)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have played 1436 games and accumulated 362 points (0.29 PPG)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have an average of 6 points and 22 games played
  • Notable picks: Braden Holtby (93rd, 2008), Mathieu Perreault (177th, 2006), Tim Kennedy (181st, 2005), Johnny Oduya (221st, 2001)

FUN FACT

  • In 2006 the Capitals drafted Brent Seabrook’s younger brother, Keith, in the second round (52nd overall).
  • Washington also drafted Victor Hedman’s older brother, Oscar, in the 5th round of the 2004 draft.

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 3 96%
6 – 10 0 74%
11 – 15 4 54%
16 – 20 3 62%
21 – 30 9 58%

Between 2000 and 2013 the Washington Capitals had the most first round pick in the league (19). The majority of their picks have been in the latter half of the first round and as a result their expected success rate is fairly low at 61 to 67 percent.

Round Expected Success Rate Actual Success Rate
1 61 – 67% 84%
2 26 – 32% 29%
3 21 – 26% 20%
4+ 10 – 15% 6%

With 16 of their 19 first round draftees playing at least NHL games the Capitals have the highest number of successful first round picks in the league (next closest team only has 12). In addition, their success rate of 84 percent is the third highest in the league. Their average draftee has 197 points and 357 games played which both rank 5th best league wide. While Alex Ovechkin definitely inflates the groups success, he isn’t the sole reason for their great numbers. 8 of the Capitals 19 first round picks have a career PPG of 0.45 or higher with 4 players having 300 career points or more. This drafting success is all the more impressive when you consider that the majority of their picks have been late in the first round with only three being in the top 10.

After a strong start the Caps second round drafting couldn’t produce the same level of success. Their success rate of 29 percent falls within the expected range, however, their average draftee has only 17 points and 63 games played which rank 26th and 22nd league wide. An average success rate paired with very low points/games played rankings indicate that there are a number of draftees who met the 100 GP threshold but have not played or contributed much more than that. The four successful picks in the second round are Matt Pettinger (422 GP, 123 PTS), Nathan Paetsch (167 GP, 42 PTS), Dmitri Orlov (119 GP, 31 PTS), and Michal Neuvirth (168 GP). Pettinger accounts for a large chunk of the groups games played with none of the other players exceeding the 200 GP mark. In addition, none of the Capitals second round draftees have a career PPG higher than 0.30 (approx. 25 points per 82 games season).

Unlike the second round, the Capitals success rate in the third round accurately reflects their drafting performance. Their success rate of 20 percent falls just outside of the expected range while their average points and games played both ranked 14th in the league. Cody Eakin and Sami Lepisto are the only two successful draftees in the group with no other third round pick playing more than 4 games in the NHL.

The depth rounds are where the Capitals have struggled the most. With only 4 of 66 draftees playing 100 games or more their success rate of 6 percent ranks 5th lowest in the league. The average late round draftee has 6 points and 22 games played which rank 26th and 29th league wide. While the Caps don’t have a long list of successful picks, those that have made it have done very well for themselves. Braden Holtby looks to have solidified the Capitals goaltending for years to come while Mathieu Perreault has been a solid middle six contributor for the last 4+ seasons. Johnny Oduya is by far the Capitals best late round pick. After going 221st overall in 2001 Oduya played 5 years in the minors before skating in his first NHL game; since 2006 he’s played more than 650 games and won two Stanley Cups.

The below table compares the Capitals overall performance with the league average in all major categories:

Category League Avg. Washington Difference
Draftees 105 109 +4
100+ GP 22 26 +4
100+ GP (%) 21% 24% +3%
Total GP 8679 9582 +903
Skater PTS 3427 4249 +822
Skater PPG 0.41 0.47 +0.06
AVG PTS 37 44 +7
AVG GP 83 88 +5

Excellent first round drafting has the Capitals ahead of the league average in every stat category. As a whole their average points and games played rank 6th and 13th league wide. Their draftees average points per game ranks among the best in the league at 4th highest while their overall success rate of 24 percent is tied for 8th.

After having some of the best first round drafting in the league the Capitals cooled down significantly with a lackluster group of second round alumni. Their third round drafting fell just below expectations but stacked up comparably to the majority of other teams. In the depth rounds the Capitals posted one of the lowest success rates in the league and their overall numbers suffered accordingly.

As a whole Washington’s first round drafting really masks what is fairly underwhelming drafting in all other rounds. After having 16 of 19 first round picks play 100+ games only 10 of their 90 draftees in the second round or later made it to the 100 game mark. While it may come as a surprise to some, Washington’s overall numbers still make them a contender for a top 10 spot in my final rankings.

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