Ranking the Best and Worst NHL Teams’ Draft Picks from 2007 to Present: From Top to Bottom, Who Got it Right and Who Didn’t?

Top NHL teams gain a significant advantage over their competition by excelling at the draft. Building a championship-level team by paying every player market value or higher is simply not feasible, as it would deplete the salary-cap room. Instead, contenders need to secure bargain contracts, and hitting on prospects with strong value on entry-level contracts and future RFA years is the way to go.

Our comprehensive analysis of draft data from 2007-2018 sheds light on how each NHL team has performed at the amateur scouting level. We’re using a model to determine each team’s “expected wins added” based on their historical worth of the selections. The draft provides a cost-efficient opportunity to mine core players with zero acquisition costs beyond the pick itself.

In Part 1 of our analysis (which focuses on teams ranked No. 17-31), we see that some teams have struggled to make an impact at the draft. For example, the Buffalo Sabres have missed the playoffs for 12 consecutive years, largely due to poor draft performances. Despite having a significant number of high-round picks, the Sabres have failed to capitalize on their draft capital.

Conversely, the Florida Panthers have faced similar challenges with their draft history, reflected in their lack of playoff appearances over the past 12 seasons. While they have made notable selections, including Lawson Crouse and Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers have largely struggled to secure top-caliber prospects.

Similarly, the Arizona Coyotes have struggled with drafting success, particularly relative to their draft slot. Their inability to consistently pick valuable prospects has contributed to their underperformance in the league.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flyers have faced their own challenges, with notable misses in previous drafts, including Nolan Patrick at No. 2 in 2017, while the Landeskog and Filip Forsberg were selected after him.

Overall, the draft has a significant impact on a team’s long-term success, and the performance of NHL teams in this area can offer valuable insights into their potential for long-term competitiveness.


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