FanPost

How Important is Drafting in Getting Elite Centers?

So Ubiquitous had an interesting quote in this mornings FTB:

Little known fact: By most people’s definition, there are only 12 first line centers in the league. Pittsburgh has two.

This lead me to list out who I thought would meet the "average hockey fan's" criteria to be a number 1 C and in further discussion with Ubiquitous we noticed that many of them never change teams.  I did a bit of an analysis on this pattern so if you're interested read on after the jump.

 

To determine who are #1 Cs I used fairly lofty guidelines.  They have to be one of the following 2:

  1. Point per game threat (have been 0.95 points per game or greater more than once in the last 4 years)
  2. Consistent 65+ point player who has elite defensive talent

I came up with the following list names.  I have included how they first entered the league (round drafted or FA signing) and how many teams they have played for (and if multiple how did they move)

Name

How the Player Entered the League (Draft round/position)

Number of Teams

Times traded (T)/signed as UFA (U)/RFA (R)

First Line C

Joe Thornton

1st/1 1997

2

1 T

Henrik Sedin

1st/3rd 1999

1

N/A

Paul Stastny

2nd/44 2005

1

N/A

Anze Kopitar

1st/11 2005

1

N/A

Ryan Getzlaf

1st/19 2003

1

N/A

Brad Richards

3rd/64 1998

2

1 T

Mikko Koivu

1st/6 2001

1

N/A

Pavel Datsyuk

6th/171 1998

1

N/A

Jonathan Toews

1st/3 2006

1

N/A

Marc Savard *

4th/91 1995

4

2 T, 1 U

Derek Roy

2nd/32 2001

1

N/A

Eric Staal

1st/2 2003

1

N/A

Jason Spezza

1st/2 2001

1

N/A

Mike Richards

1st/24 1003

1

N/A

Sidney Crosby

1st/1 2005

1

N/A

Steven Stamkos

1st/1 2008

1

N/A

Nicklas Backstrom

1st/4 2006

1

N/A

Players capable of playing C who would be considered 1st line C but are playing wing

Henrik Zetterberg

7/210 1999

1

N/A

Evgeni Malkin

1st/2 2004

1

N/A

Patrick Marleau

1st/2 1997

1

N/A

Danny Briere

1st/24 1996

3

1 T, 1 U

Not playing first line C but would be considered as such

Mike Ribeiro

2nd/45 1998

2

1 T

Jeff Carter

1st/11 2003

1

N/A

Ryan Kesler**

1st/23 2003

1

N/A

Vincent Lecavalier

1st/1 1998

1

N/A

Patrice Bergeron

2nd/45 2003

1

N/A

* Savard is obviously injured and his career may be over, but nonetheless he works for looking around the league.

**Kesler hasn't been a consistent 65+ point player but I included him anyway.

***I haven't included either Duchenne or Tavares because they have only been in the league one year

 

Some things I notice:

  1. They really don't move around much.  With 26 players only 5 have played for more than 1 team (less than 20%).
  2. Of those that do move they are more likely to be traded (all 5 of them) than signed as free agents (2 of them).
  3. Blossoming late in your career may explain why some ended up on more than one team (the later team discovers their  value (Savard and Briere)
  4. I know we hear it all the time, but wow the 2003 draft year was incredible. 6 of the 26 are from the 2003 draft year (5 from the first round), thats more than the number of players that have been to more than one team!
  5. Drafting high is important but not necessary.  There are 18 first rounders, 4 second rounders, and one each from the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds.  Included in those first rounders are 4 first overalls, 4 second overalls, 2 3rd overalls (1 of which was H Sedin which may as well of been the 2nd overall), and 1 4th overall.  So 69% are first rounders and 42% are top 5 picks.

This all suggests to me that drafting well (and high as often as possible) is very important in getting elite centers (further analysis would have to be necessary for other positions).

 

Now I will look at how these players are distributed around the league.  So there are 26 players listed but some are on the same teams.  So now I have looked at it by team and listed who their #1 C is if they don't have anyone on the list (#1 C was determined both by points and Average Time On Ice (from tsn.ca):

Team

# of Legitimate 1Cs

Who their 1C is otherwise by minutes played

Who their 1C is by points

WSH

1

N/A

N/A

PHI

3

N/A

N/A

MTR

0

Tomas Plekanec

Tomas Plekanec

TBL

2

N/A

N/A

OTT

1

N/A

N/A

CAR

1

N/A

N/A

BOS

2

N/A

N/A

NYR

0

Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky

PIT

2

N/A

 

ATL

0

Rich Peverly

Rich Peverly

TOR

0

Tyler Bozak

Mikhail Grabovski

FLA

0

Steven Weiss

Marty Reasoner

NYI

0

Josh Bailey

John Tavares*

BUF

1

N/A

N/A

NJD

0

Travis Zajac

Jason Arnott

STL

0

Alex Steen

TJ Oshie

LAK

1

N/A

N/A

VAN

2

N/A

N/A

DET

2

N/A

N/A

ANA

1

N/A

N/A

CHI

1

N/A

N/A

MIN

1

N/A

N/A

CLB

0

Derrick Brassard

RJ Umberger

DAL

2

N/A

N/A

COL

1

N/A

N/A

SJS

2

N/A

N/A

CLG

0

Olli Jokinen

Brendan Morrison

NSH

0

David Legwand

Cal O'Reilly

PHX

0

Martin Hanzal

Eric Belanger

EDM

0

Shawn Horcroff

Shawn Horcroff

* Tied with Doug Weight with 9 points, but Tavares has that in 11 GP while Weight has it in 14 GP

So some thoughts looking at this:

 

  1. There are 13 teams in the NHL without one of these "legitimate #1Cs". (Notes Olli Jokinen would have been a legitimate #1 C in the past; John Tavares could easily become one for the Islanders; and Brandon Dubinsky is playing like one so far this year).
  2. Most of the teams without a #1 C are near the bottom of the league.  Only 4 of the 13 teams are in playoff spots right now, with 2 of them NYR and CLB in 8th seed.  The glaring outlier however is St Louis who currently has the best record (per game) in the NHL.  (Note its early in the season so teams rankings can fluctuate a lot).

 

The data is here for all of you to see too, so please comment below.

Cheers

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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