NHL Entry Draft by the Numbers Part 2: Expected Games Played

Yesterday I posted some data on the likelihood a player drafted in the NHL Entry Draft would eventually play in the NHL. Today I look at the average success by round. Measuring success is subjective especially when you consider the various roles and positions many players play on a team. To minimize the subjectivity, I chose to use “Games Played” (in the NHL) as a way to put everyone on even ground. (To simplify matters, goalies and goalie data are not included in any of my analysis.)

Since we are constantly dealing with rolling sets of data, I’ve created a line chart that breaks down the average number of games played for a player drafted by round by pro season number. I try to keep this stuff simple but if I am not explaining it well, please let me know.

The way to read this chart is that, on average, 1st rounders reach their peak in “Games Played” with 43.6 in their 6th year in the NHL. Keep in mind there are plenty of 1st rounders that might be out of the league or never played a game by year 6.

If you look over the entire career by draft round you get something like this:

The 6th round stands out as bucking the trend so maybe that it where you get find some sleepers in the draft. Here are some of some 6th rounders you might have heard of before: Matt Cooke, Chris Neil, Brian Campbell and a guy named Pavel Datsyuk. All of which have over 800 regular season games played as a 6th rounder. Cross referencing the 5th round, only¬†Jaroslav Spacek has over 800 regular season games. Now Cooke, Neil, Campbell and Datsyuk will certainly have more games by the end of the year but there will also be players not included in my data set that won’t sniff the ice to pull the average down the other way.

Isolating just 1st round picks you start to see the top 5 picks substantially exceeding the other overall pick groups I created.

I called our Scott Gomez below to highlight a challenge with our data, particularly the +27 picks. With the expansion of the 90s, our late round picks are limited when it comes to 15+ years out.

Expect another post tonight digging into some other variables.

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