The Later Rounds: Being Reasonable About Garth Snow's Bottom of the Barrel Picks

Finally, we come to the bottom of the barrel: Rounds 3-7. How did Garth do here? Most fans who follow the team close have a good hunch about the answer here but what does the data show?

A couple of methodological points first. I initially did not know how I would handle the later rounds: does it make sense to review each round separately or should I chunk some or all of them together? Well, the data sort of dictated the answer:

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5
Allstars: 3 1.92%
1 0.63%
1 0.61%
Key Players: 4 2.56%
7 4.38%
3 1.84%
NHLers: 12 7.69%
15 9.38%
10 6.13%
Busts: 137 87.82%
137 85.63%
149 91.41%

Round 6

Round 7
Allstars: 0 0.00%
0 0.00%
Key Players: 3 1.97%
4 2.47%
NHLers: 11 7.24%
12 7.41%
Busts: 138 90.79%
146 90.12%

No appreciable difference in the success rates of draft picks among the later rounds. A pick has an approximately 10% chance of becoming an NHLer whether he's picked 80th or 180th. Interestingly, there does seem to be a somewhat significant difference in the rate at which 3rd and 4th rounders achieve All-star or Key Player status as compared to rounds 5-7. One might speculate that this is the effect of elite talents that sometimes slip past the top rounds due to a variety of considerations but won't slip past the 3rd or 4th rounds (e.g., Kabanov). But it's just as likely that this is a statistical blip. In either case, the data convinced me to deal with all 5 rounds together.

Another point to keep in mind: in the more recent draft years, judging between Bust and NHLer became somewhat more challenging because some draftees who haven't played a lot of NHL hockey yet are still developing and therefore fall into neither category. Rather than create an additional category, I tried to assess a player's trajectory -- Is he a mere annual call up to plug holes caused by injuries? Is his NHL playing time increasing from year to year? This is a tough call to make without closely observing the players.

On to the picks:


Mark Katic, Jason Gregoire, Maxim Gratchev, Blake Kessel, Simon LaCroix


David Toews, Jyri Niemi, Kirill Petrov, Matt Donovan, David Ullstrom, Kevin Poulin, Matt Martin, Jared Spurgeon, Justin DeBenedetto


Anders Nilsson, Casey Cizikis, Anton Klementyev, Anders Lee


Kirill Kabanov, Jason Clark, Tony DeHart, Cody Rosen


Andrey Pedan, Robbie Russo, John Persson, Brandon Kichton, Mitchell Theoret

27 players in all. Based on the percentages above, 3 NHLers, including one Key Player, is what we should expect. And while it's still too early to tell, this crop of players seems poised to shatter these averages.

The NHLers: To date, two players are unquestionable everyday NHLers: Matt Martin and Jared Spurgeon. Spurgeon is a top 4 defenseman for Minnesota.

The Almost NHLers: Three more players, Casey Cizikis, David Ullstrom and Kevin Poulin, ably filled everyday roles in the Isles lineup during the last two years and while none of them are necessarily a lock for next season, especially after Snow signs Parise and Semin, the risk they won't become NHL regulars seems fairly low. I would put Nilsson and Donovan in that category, with a slightly higher risk profile. Altogether, that's 5 additional players who seem fairly likely to become NHLers (or perhaps more).

The Natural Born Kirill (Kabanov, that is): The continued development of Kirill Kabanov has been closely chronicled here and I think as a "high risk" third rounder, his development to date has more than met expectations. Let's leave it at that for now.

The Others: The rest of the group includes the 2011 draft class, who are still learning their ABCs, players with NHL potential but are flight risks (Petrov, Lee) and a bunch of others who either left the system or seem unlikely to get the call.

In total, the group includes 2 players who are NHLers and 5 or appear likely to become NHLers. If 3 of the 5 develop into NHL players, that's an 18.5% success rate, without even considering Kabanov or the 5 players picked in the later rounds of the 2011. Garth's success in the later rounds is hard to deny.

Update: Link to the spreadsheet.

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