How Well Have the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers Drafted Since 2000?

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 Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets 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.


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 20 1027 306
LW 18 2816 1928
RW 15 1020 445
D 37 2091 703
G 13 997 37
Unspecified 6 0 0
Total 109 7951 3419
  • 23 of 109 players drafted since 2000 have played 50+ games in the NHL (21%)
  • 17 of 109 players drafted since 2000 have played 100+ games in the NHL (16%)
  • Draftees (incl. goalies) since 2000 have played a total of 7951 games
  • Skaters (excl. goalies) drafted since 2000 have played a total of 6954 games and accumulated 3382 points (0.49 PPG)
  • Draftees since 2000 have an average of 35 points and 73 games played
  • Best draft year: 2003 – Braydon Coburn (8th), Tobias Enstrom (239th) OR 2002 – Kari Lehtonen (2nd), Jim Slater (30th), Patrick Dwyer (116th)
  • Worst draft year: 2004 – Boris Valabik (10th). Total of 82 games and 7 points between 9 draftees.

Best Picks Since 2000

  • Forward: Ilya Kovalchuk
  • Defenseman: Tobias Enstrom
  • Goaltender: Kari Lehtonen
  • Most Games by a Draftee: Dany Heatley (869)
  • Most Points by a Draftee: Ilya Kovalchuk (816)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 4 934 280
LW 3 2046 1829
RW 2 556 343
D 4 1242 360
G 1 510 24
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 14 5288 2836
  • 11 of 14 players drafted in the 1st round have played 100+ games in the NHL (79%)
  • First round picks have played a total of 5288 games and accumulated 2812 points (0.59 PPG)
  • First round picks have an average of 216 points and 378 games played
  • Notable picks: Ilya Kovalchuk (1st, 2001), Dany Heatley (2nd, 2000), Kari Lehtonen (2nd, 2002), Bryan Little (12th, 2006), Evander Kane (4th, 2009), Braydon Coburn (8th, 2003), Jim Slater (30th, 2002), Zach Bogosian (3rd, 2008), Mark Scheifele (7th, 2011), Alexander Burmistrov (8th, 2010), Jacob Trouba (9th, 2012)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 1 0 0
LW 3 94 23
RW 0 0 0
D 4 1 0
G 1 338 6
Unspecified 1 0 0
Total 10 433 29
  • 1 of 10 players drafted in the 2nd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (10%)
  • Second round picks have played a total of 433 games and accumulated 23 points (0.24 PPG)
  • Second round picks have an average of 3 points and 43 games played
  • Notable picks: Ondrej Pavelec (41st, 2005)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 1 80 23
LW 1 0 0
RW 3 25 9
D 3 2 0
G 1 24 2
Unspecified 0 0 0
Total 9 131 34
  • 0 of 9 players drafted in the 3rd round have played 100+ games in the NHL (0%)
  • Third round picks have played a total of 131 games and accumulated 32 points (0.30 PPG)
  • Third round picks have an average of 4 points and 15 games played
  • Notable picks: Adam Lowry (67th, 2011)


Position Drafted GP PTS
C 14 13 3
LW 11 676 76
RW 10 439 93
D 26 846 343
G 10 125 5
Unspecified 5 0 0
Total 76 2099 520
  • 5 of 76 players drafted between the 4th and 9th rounds have played 100+ games in the NHL (7%)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have played 2099 games and accumulated 515 points (0.26 PPG)
  • Fourth to ninth round picks have an average of 8 points and 28 games played
  • Notable picks: Tobias Enstrom (239th), Patrick Dwyer (116th, 2002), Darcy Hordichuk (180th, 2000), Pasi Nurminen (189th, 2001), Paul Postma (205th, 2007)


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 5 96%
6 – 10 5 74%
11 – 15 1 54%
16 – 20 1 62%
21 – 30 2 58%

Between 2000 and 2012 the Jets had the second most top 10 draft picks in the league, next only to the Blue Jackets. The result of these high picks is the second highest expectations for first round drafting success.

Round Expected Success Rate Actual Success Rate
1 74 – 80% 79%
2 26 – 32% 10%
3 21 – 26% 0%
4+ 10 – 15% 7%

The Jets raw first round success rate of 79 percent ranks 7th highest of all teams in the league. However, when factoring in how the team did relative to their expectations Winnipeg ranks 15th league wide. We know the Jets have drafted an acceptable number of players who met the 100 game threshold but look at how have they’ve performed beyond that.

The average Jets draftee has 216 points and 378 games played which rank 3rd and 2nd in the league. Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk have been huge contributors to Winnipeg’s high point totals, combining for more than 1600 career points. As a group, 7 of the Jets 13 first round skaters have 100+ career points with 5 of them having a career PPG higher than 0.50. The Jets met the high expectations placed upon them in the first round and have put together one of the best groups of draftees in the league.

Outside of the first round Winnipeg’s drafting has been a huge disappointment. In the second round the Jets found Ondrej Pavelec who’s 338 games played account for roughly 80 percent of the groups total. Pavelec’s 6 career points actually make him the second most dangerous scorer of Winnipeg’s second round picks; the remaining picks have a combined 23 points. The Jets success rate of 10 percent ranks 27th in the league while their average points and games played rank 30th and 27th overall.

While the Jets second round drafting wasn’t pretty, their third round is actually worse…much worse. Their success rate for third round drafting is 0 percent and only one draftee having more than 25 career games played. Surprisingly though, even with a 0 percent success rate the Jets didn’t rank last in average points or games played (27th in points, 29th in games played). In the Jets defense they had the second fewest third round picks in the league between 2000 and 2012. Even still though, with 9 third round picks at least one player should have panned out especially considering the Sharks found one successful player with only 7 picks. If it were only poor third round drafting I’d argue that these low numbers were a result of small sample size, however, combined with their second round results it’s difficult to call this anything other than poor drafting.

One promising player who could change the Jets third round fates is Adam Lowry who played his first NHL season last year. Lowry skated in 80 games for Winnipeg but was a little too far outside of the 100 GP threshold to be included as an exception. Hopefully Lowry will play some games next season and end the Jets third round drafting curse.

With 76 picks between the 4th and 9th rounds the Jets had the third most depth picks of all teams. Their success rate of 7 percent is just below the expected rate and tied for 24th in the league. Looking at player performance their average draftee has 8 points and 28 games played which both rank 23rd in the league. While the Jets still fell below the league averages they’ve actually drafted NHL caliber players more consistently in the late rounds than the second and third rounds combined. In rounds two and three the Jets drafted one successful player with 19 picks (5 percent success rate) compared to 5 players with 76 picks (7 percent success rate) in the depth rounds.

The below table shows how the Jets have performed compared to the league average:

Category League Avg. Atlanta/Winnipeg Difference
Draftees 105 109 +4
100+ GP 22 17 -5
100+ GP (%) 21% 16% -5%
Total GP 8679 7951 -728
Skater PTS 3427 3382 -45
Skater PPG 0.41 0.49 +0.08
AVG PTS 37 35 -2
AVG GP 83 73 -10

Despite having four more picks than the average team the Jets fell short in every category (except PPG). Their overall success rate of 16 percent ranks 29th in the league (tied with Calgary, Arizona, Florida). Winnipeg’s average draftee has 35 points and 73 games played which rank 16th and 24th in the league.

What might stand out to you is the Jets high skater PPG which ranks 2nd best in the league next to Pittsburgh. A high PPG shows that while the Jets haven’t been consistent in finding successful draftees, those who have made it has been big point producers in the league. Of the 14 skaters with 100+ career games played, 6 have a PPG of 0.50 or higher and two have a PPG higher than 0.90. Unfortunately for the Jets, 5 of these 6 draftees were drafted in the first round which reminds us of how reliant the Jets have been on their first round picks.

Over the last 15 years the Jets have had a ton of top 10 picks and almost always pick a quality player with them. After ranking top five in both points and scoring for first round draftees the Jets found themselves in the bottom 10 for second, third, and depth round drafting. Their first round draftees will keep Winnipeg out of the bottom five but they should rank in the bottom 10 in my final drafting analysis.


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