Brian Burke's Draft History: Roughly Average


"Can I take my tie off yet?"


Burke's draft history has been a recent topic of discussion, so I thought I'd take a bit to look at his performance relative to the league. Burke doesn't have a reputation as being a phenomenal drafter (his most talked about draft-time decisions have been the series of trades leading up to the Sedin picks), but using Daoust's excellent spreadsheet, we can figure out what the "average" draft tends to yield, as well as how Burke's picks have done.

Between 1994 and 2005, there were 3,224 players selected. Of those players, 1,485 (46.1%) played at least one NHL game. 450 (14%) of them played at least 300 games, and 313 (9.7%) played at least 400 games. That's about 37.5 300-game players per draft, or 26 400-game players per draft, and the idea that you've got a 16 to 20% chance to get a 300-game player is a little optimistic.

Burke has been the General Manager for 14 NHL drafts. 1992 and 1993 as head of the Hartford Whalers, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 with the Vancouver Canucks, and 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 with the Anaheim Ducks, and 2009, 2010 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. We'll be concerned with the 9 between 1992 and 2005, as anyone in 2006 and later hasn't had the chance to get up to 300 games played yet.

Over those 9 drafts, Burke has had 89 picks. Of those 89 picks, 32 have played at least 1 NHL game (36%). 12 have played at least 300 NHL games (13.5%), and 10 have played at least 400 NHL games (11.2%). This leaves him at "below average," "slightly below average," and "above average." Roughly average.

But the issue has been raised that the top 5 picks are typically a "sure thing." The skillful dodge of Stefan reminds us that in this league there's no such thing as a "sure thing," but we'll cut out the top 5 picks over every draft. This leaves us with 3,164 players drafted overall, 1,425 (45%) of which played at least one NHL game, 404 (12.8%) of which played at least 300 NHL games, and 270 (8.5%) of which played at least 400 games.

Burke has drafted players with 5 top 5 picks - Pronger, D. Sedin, H. Sedin, Bobby Ryan, and Bryan Allen. When we take them out of the mix, Burke has had 84 picks. 27 (32.1%) of which went on to play at least one NHL game, 8 (9.5%) of which played at least 300 games, and 6 (7.1%) of which played at least 400 games.

In "tl;dr" graph form:


NHL Sum*



Burke %




>= 1 GP





>= 300 GP





>= 400 GP





Picks w/o top 5



>= 1 GP





>= 300 GP





>= 400 GP





*NHL sum includes 12 drafts between 1994 and 2005, Burke's Performance uses 8 drafts: 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

We've run into a sample size issue, but currently, Brian Burke's draft history without top five picks is slightly sub par. His non-top 10 >400 GP should swing back into a reasonable figure as Bieksa hits his 400th game next season, but we're not playing "if only" here (Ryan is a season from 300 GP as well). His overall draft record though? It's roughly average.

His late rounders aren't the Tomas Kaberles or the Pavel Datsyuks of the world - he picked up Jarkko Ruutu at 68 overall, Marek Malik at 72, Nolan Pratt at 115, and Ken Belanger's 248 GP at 153 - but they're pretty much what one would expect out of an NHL GM drafting. Most importantly, I don't see anything here that suggests to me that he's systematically bad at drafting - at worst, he's a bit unlucky. So maybe that'll bounce back this Friday.

A big glove tap to Kevin McGran. This originally started when I was being a little belligerent over his recent piece here at the Star. Instead of using some "journalists'" preferred method of "mock and block" for bloggers, McGran and I had a discussion surrounding the piece. Despite a few "mom's basement"-level jokes a couple weeks back, I just wanted to thank him for the mature response and attitude. 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

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