Drafting during the Rebuild

This is Max Ernst's Oedipus Rex. He is one of my favorite artist, of all time, and I have been attempting to figure out how to incorporate his art into my hockey blog. I just am not feeling witty or clever today, so there is no connection, I just added it cause it looks cool. We can only hope the Oilers don't act like the subject of this painting: I don't quite know what the hockey equivalent to killing your father, fucking your mom, and then blinding yourself is. But I do not want the Oilers to attempt this at the draft.
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Yesterday, I made a flippant comment, at one of my favorite Oilers' blog, about not wanting the Oilers to draft a goalie early in the draft. My logic: that seems like a way to continue the rebuild for many more years, and this is unacceptable to be ('cause I can't take watching this team to continue to loss). This morning, I slowly have come to the realization that this is not the end of the rebuild but where are the Oilers in the process?
To judge this, I think we need to look at the draft practices of both the Oilers and the teams that have had successful rebuilds in the last few years. I have looked at the drafting practices of the Penguins, the Blackhawks, and the Capitals during there rebuild in relation to player position to help judge this.
Methodology: * means 'Player of Quality', or a player that has played a significant role in the teams fortunes over the last couple years. This is not a mathematical cut off, like LT's 200 game marker, and it does not distinguish between the Crosby's, Talbot's, and Whitney's of the world (each of these players helped the team achieve their success or are a quality player on another team). Also, I included the concept of a Centre in the numbers because of the arguments between Hall/Seguin often come down to this.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2002-2006

2002- 1st (D*), 2nd (D), 3rd (C), 4th (D), 5th (LW, C, G), 6th (G), 7th (F), 8th (C*, D), 9 (G)

2003- 1st (G*), 2nd (C), 3rd (RW, LW*), 4th (D), 5th (LW), 6th (D), 7th (G, C), 8th (C), 9th (LW)

2004- 1st (F*), 2nd (F, D), 3rd (RW, C), 4th (C), 5th (D), 6th (RW), 7th (D, C), 8th (G), 9th (C)

2005- 1st (C*), 2nd (F), 3rd (D*), 4th (D), 5th (RW), 6th (D), 7th (C)

2006- 1st (C*), 2nd (D), 3rd (D), 5th (G), 7th (D)

'Players of Quality': Staal, Crosby, Letang, Malkin, Fleury, Carcillo, Whitney, Talbot

Notes: They managed to pick a player of quality in each of their 1st rounds, and between 2002-2004 they had at least one pick in each round and then continued to stock pile other picks. Other then their 1st round picks they added another three ‘Players of Quality’ outside the marquee round. Out of their 45 picks during the rebuild: 32% were Defensemen, 53% were Forwards, 28% were Centremen, and 15% were goaltenders. In total 17% of all picks became ‘Players of Quality’ and they averaged 9 picks per draft during their rebuild.

ChicagoBlackhawks 2002-2007

2002- 1st (D), 2nd (D*), 3rd (LW), 4th (RW), 5th (D), 6th (D), 7th (G), 8th (RW), 9th (RW*)

2003- 1st (D*), 2nd (G, D), 5th (D, C), 6th (C), 7th (G), 8th (D/F*), 9th (D, C)

2004- 1st (D*), 2nd (F*, LW, C, C), 3rd (LW), 4th (D, LW) 5th (RW, C), 6th (LW), 7th (F, RW, C), 8th (C, RW), 9th (RW)

2005- 1st (RW), 2nd (RW, RW), 3rd (F), 4th (D, F, RW), 5th (D), 6th (G, D), 7th (RW, C)

2006- 1st (F*), 2nd (RW, D), 3rd (C), 4th (D, G), 6th (C, C),7th (C)

2007- 1st (C*), 3rd (D), 5th (D), 6th (D, RW, D), 7th (D)

'Players of Quality': Kane, Toews, Bolland, Barker, Seabrook, Byfuglien, Keith, Burish

Notes: Between 2002 and 2004, The BlackHawks accumulated a large number of picks (averaged out more then one each round) and in each year they pick at least two ‘Players of Quality’. In four of their six, 1st round picks they choose ‘Players of Quality’, and added another 4 ‘Players of Quality’ outside the first round. Out of their 64 picks 33% were Defensemen, 61% were Forwards, 20% were Centres, and 6% were goalies. In total roughly 13% of their picks ended up as ‘Players of Quality’, and they averaged roughly 11 picks per year during their rebuild.

Washington Captials 2002- 2006

2002- 1st (D, LW*, RW*), 2nd (G), 3rd (D, C), 4th (LW, C), 5th (G), 6th (F), 7th (F), 8th (F), 9th (F)

2003- 1st (RW*), 3rd (RW), 4th (LW), 5th (C), 8th (C), 9th (RW)

2004- 1st (LW*, D, D*), 2nd (C, F), 3rd (D, D), 5th (D, F), 6th (F), 7th (RW), 8th (G), 9th (C)

2005- 1st (D, D), 4th (D, D), 5th (G), 6th (LW), 7th (D)

2006- 1st (C*, G*), 2nd (G, RW, D), 4th (LW, F), 5th (LW), 6th (C, C)

Total 49(13 D, 30 F, 9C, 6G)

'Players of Quality': Backstrom, Varlamov, Ovechkin, Green, Fehr, Semin, Gordon

Notes: In four of their five rebuilding years, the Caps added a ‘Player of Quality’ in the first round of the draft (and amazingly they added multiple ones in three of the five): but they did not draft one ‘Player of Quality’ outside the first round in their entire rebuild. During this period they had a total of 49 picks: 27% were Defensemen, 61% were forwards, 18% were Centres, and 12% where goaltenders. In total about 14% of these picks were ‘Players of Quality’ and they averaged close to 10 picks per year of the rebuild.

Edmonton Oilers 2007 - Present

2007- 1st (F*, D, C), 4th (F), 5th (C), 6th (F)

2008- 1st (C), 4th (D), 5th (LW), 6th (C), 7th (D)

2009- 1st (LW), 2nd (C), 3rd (D, RW), 4th (D, RW), 5th (G)

2010- 1st (?), 2nd (?, ?), 3rd (?), 4th (?), 5th (?), 6th (?, ?, ?), 7th (?)

Notes: It is quite difficult to assess if most, or if any, of the Oilers’ picks will become ‘Players of Quality’. The only one we know of is Sam Gagner, and there is a bunch of potential in there (Eberle and MPS need to become this type of player for the Oilers). Of their 18 players draft so far; 28% have been defensemen, 67% have been forwards, 28% have been a pure centre, and 6% have been a goalie. Interestingly the Oilers have only averaged 6 picks per year during this part of the rebuild.

Percentage of the Number of Players taken by Position

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  1. In the beginning of each of the three examples of a team in a successful rebuild, have stock piled picks in their first couple of years, and they drafted a lot of players with these. The Oilers did not do this: the lack of 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2007 and 2008 is a shocking difference between the Oilers and the other three teams drafting strategies. It is near the end of the draft that teams stop going with the shotgun approach and focus their sniper rifle on specific players: I guess once you got a full stable of prospects it is easier to trade up at the draft. The Oilers have seem to do this in reverse order, to fill out the key race horses first (but they might not have done this) and then add a bunch of fillies and colts and hoping one is a surprise thoroughbred.
  2. Goalies. Both Pittsburgh and Washington drafted their goalies of the future in the frist round (Fleury and Varlamov), while Chicago did not draft a goalie of quality during the rebuild. Reflecting this is that Chicago used about 50% less draft picks on goalies then the other two teams. Edmonton is tracking closely to the Chicago model, so don't expect us to draft the goalie that will be our future starter this year either (unless we get him in the late round of one of these drafts).
  3. While people tend to point to Duncan Keith as an example of a not first round pick that is instrumental to the rebuild process, most 'players of quality' were drafted in the first round. Of the 23 'players of quality' identified, 16 of them were drafted in the first round and only 7 in the later rounds. Chicago had an even split of 4 in the first round and 4 in the later rounds; Pittsburgh had 5 in the first round and 3 in the other rounds; while Washington pick all 7 of their 'players of quality' in the first round and none in the later rounds. While the Oilers are going to need to pick up a couple 'players of quality' in the later rounds, it puts even more pressure on the need for our first round picks to develop (especially Plante or Nash).

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