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Dear Future: I Am Ready

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Learning from the past to predict the Ducks distant future, following today's trade deadline

2016 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At the beginning of the month, @KyleKiekenapp presented a piece regarding Bob Murrays draft history. This piece will attempt to add to that, with reference to the current state of Ducks 2018 draft prospects, following the completion of the 2017-2018 trading season.

Currently, the Ducks are in a fight for yet another consecutive playoff berth. A fight that very well could go down to the last game of the season given how tight the standings are currently - or perhaps not, given the masterclass in getting older the Ducks gave at the trade deadline. Nonetheless, I think most Ducks fans recognise that, sooner or later, the Ducks will require some sort of a rebuild.

Certainly, there is hope that the prospects currently in the system, such as Troy Terry (should he choose to sign with the Ducks), Jacob Larsson, and Max Jones can buoy the Ducks somewhat. However, with big pieces of the Ducks getting older (i.e. Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler), and much of the remaining Western Conference teams getting younger, the Duck may simply have no say in the matter.

This leads us to the draft. The Ducks absolutely should attempt to wring the last of Ryan Getzlaf’s superior talents from him, thus this is not a piece advocating the great tankening of 2018 - it’s too late to sell now even if it were. Anyone the Ducks draft this season won't matter a lick to their on-ice performances in the next 2-4 years; conveniently ready to make their mark around the time that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will be off the Ducks books. At least so far as their current contracts go.

Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, and Patrick Eaves will also likely be moved on in that time frame. Of the current forward corp, only Ryan Kesler with his 6.875 million dollar contract (and No-Movement Clause), and Rickard Rakell, will still likely be on the books. Their contracts will both be completed in the 2022-2023 season. Thus, the next 2-4 seasons will naturally be a time to rejuvenate the list.

The Value of Draft Picks

The relative value of NHL draft picks.

The visual representation above regarding the value of NHL draft picks, suggests that there is little change in the worth of a draft pick between the end of the 1st round and the end of the 2nd round. Similarly, there is little difference in value between the start of the 3rd round to the mid 4th round, and little-to-no difference after that. For those curious about the methodology of the above chart, it can be found here.

Valuing draft picks in such a manner allows us to somewhat predict the value of the draft picks the Ducks currently hold to begin to assess Bob Murray's record against these values, and predict what the Ducks future may hold. The chart below gives an overall picture of the Ducks drafting of skaters (goaltenders not included) over the past decade, at least so far as draftee’s contributing. A full draft history from 2008-2017 can be found in the appendices, with notes on the draftee’s careers with and without the Ducks, and some notes on what return might have been accrued should they have been moved in trade.

How the Ducks have Faired in the Draft

All Ducks draftee’s between 2008-2014, and the number who played in the NHL, and who played 100+ games in the NHL.

As seen, Murray’s Ducks have had an excellent strike rate in the 1st and 2nd rounds, with a strike rate of 100% picking lower than 20th (5 of 5 skaters have played 100+ games), and an 80% strike rate picking 21st-30th (4 of 5 skaters currently having played over 100 games and Shea Theodore closing in as we speak). In the 2nd round, 9-of-11 players have graduated to the NHL, and 3 (Justin Schultz, Devante Smith-Pelly, and William Karlsson) have played over 100+ games. John Gibson has also played 100+ games, although is not included in these numbers due to exclusion criterion (net-minder, not a skater). Given the above value of draftee’s picked in the late 1st to completion of the 2nd round, we can suggest that the Ducks are likely to pick a long-term contributor in these draft slots.

Notably, however, the Ducks have only had 5 skaters of the 31 drafted outside of the first two rounds, to reach 100+ games during Bob Murrays tenure. These include Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, Brandon McMillian, Ondrej Kase (hitting the mark versus Arizona the other night), and Chris Wagner (moved at the deadline for veteran moxy and leadergrit). Net-minder and former seventh round (2010 - Carolina Hurricanes), and 3rd round pick, (2012 - Anaheim Ducks) pick Frederick Andersen is also over the 100-games mark.

However, despite the apparent misfires in the mid-to-late rounds, it bears mentioning that the draft record over Murray's tenure appears to be comparative to the mean. The two charts below show the numbers of Ducks draftee’s who have made it to the NHL, and who have played 100+ games in the NHL, compared to the league averages. Keep in mind this also includes players like Tim Heed, who never played for the Ducks, yet have signed on with other teams and played NHL hockey. Additionally, the Ducks have not had a top 5 pick in this time frame and thus are not rated in this area.

An overall picture of the drafting process does appear rosy. For the most part, the Ducks first round selections appear to play more often than not; an area of drafting that is sometimes underrated. Missing out on first-round picks can sink a franchise over the long term.

After the first round, the drafting evens out a lot. For the most part, the Ducks do seem to get their draftee’s into NHL systems, with most rounds being near enough to the mean. This is also true with the Ducks having comparable numbers of draft selections getting to the 100 NHL games mark. Although this is less than the league average in the second and third rounds, it is not a statistically significant reduced number.... at this stage. However, NHL games played over the total era of drafts still leaves many questions to be answered, including but not limited to, 1) How did the Ducks fair compared to their peers in each individual draft; and 2) How have the Ducks faired drafting goals and points versus their peers.

The tables below present the Ducks draftees (skaters only) for each draft from 2008-2014, with the 2015 drafts onwards deemed too recent to get useful information from at this stage. The following tables attempt to compare the Ducks draftees to players drafted around them, both by round, as well as those drafted nearest too them.

Similarly, these tables attempts to shine some light on whether the Ducks picked the best player of that archetype (i.e. forward or defenseman) available to them near their draft position. This method purely looks at the means, and disregards outliers - for example, Josh Manson looks like a monster in his draft year, yet there are similar players each draft. When the raw numbers are divided up against the number of picks in each round (i.e. divided by 30 - typically 30 picks per round), the means will appear quite underwhelming. In this manner, ranges should have been included and I apologise that I did not include these at this time. Closest 5 is equal to the 5 nearest draftee’s on both sides. Closest 5 by Archetype is equal to the nearest 5 on either side of the Ducks draftees player type. Asterisk’s note that multiple players were selected in the round.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2008 Entry Draft

The 2008 draft is not typically considered a Bob Murray draft, however, it certainly fits the profile of his drafts, and is by no means a poor one. Jake Gardiner was a solid pick in the first round, and Justin Schultz has turned his career around in Pittsburgh. Although despite that he has at least been a contributor on the teams he’s played on. Brandon McMillian in the third round has been one of the few success stories outside of the first two rounds in this 7-year draft analysis.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2009 Entry Draft

Both Peter Holland and Kyle Palmieri have found success in the NHL and are still contributors on NHL teams, although to different degrees. Palmieri a top line, 30 goals scoring forward, and Holland as a bottom 6 player. Matt Clark (and Igor Bobkov - goalie not in the analysis here) were both disappointing. Sami Vatanen, taken in the 4th round, salvaged the remainder of the draft for the Ducks.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2010 Entry Draft.

Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Chris Wagner all have performed from this draft class, making it a very successful draft for the Ducks.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2011 Entry Draft

Rickard Rakell (and John Gibson) are the obvious standouts in this draft. However, William Karlsson has turned it on this current season, going from being an afterthought to becoming a 30-goal scorer with the new expansion team. Joseph Cramarossa rounds out the other relevant names. All in all this could easily be the best draft under Bob Murrays stewardship, and the best since the fateful evening Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were taken.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2012 Entry Draft

Hampus Lindholm is the only skater of this draft to make a difference to an NHL team. Frederik Andersen was selected in the third round, however, in his re-entry to the draft, and is easily considered a success story.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2013 Entry Draft.

Shea Theodore is the only notable player from this draft. Given he was selected in the expansion draft by the Las Vegas Golden Knights, for little return, this draft can almost be considered a failure by the Ducks. Certainly in terms of contribution to the team directly, and a disappointing result for the scouts, given their successes in other draft years.

Comparison of Ducks draftee’s (skaters only) to various means. 2014 Entry Draft.

Finally, the draft that brought us Nick Ritchie, Brandon Montour and Ondrej Kase. Thus far, Montour and Kase have exceeded their contemporaries from other teams, and perhaps, more surprisingly, Ritchie is performing in line with other players selected near him.

From these comparisons, we can see that the Ducks typically do their best work in the first two rounds of the draft. Much of this work to date has been better than their peers, both by round, and those who have picked around the same place. However, this is less true of draft picks after this. Only 33% of their 3rd and 4th round picks, 1 of 7 5th round picks, 25% of their 6th round picks (notable as its Manson), and 40% of his 7th round picks (1 of the 2 “success” stories being Kase - the other playing in minimal games), have performed to the league average. The players that have succeeded in these rounds have been wonderful contributors, however it would be remiss of me not to mention that in every draft except for 2014 most other teams have similarly found successful player with a similar strike rate.

What to Expect?

Ironically, termed lottery tickets, Murray’s Ducks have seemingly hit home runs when they have hit. However, this is infrequent in comparison to the misses. Assuming that draft picks themselves hold more value than players, it could be asked whether the chance of getting a Manson every few years is worth what one might be able to get if the picks were traded. Nonetheless, it isn't a return that can be counted upon, but a wonderful happenstance if it does. Taken together, we can assume that for planning’s sake, any player of the future is likely to come in the first two rounds and that anything after that is likely to be a non-factor.

Currently, the Ducks hold positions in every round bar the 7th round and additionally hold the New Jersey Devil’s 3rd round pick as part of the Sami Vatanen trade completed earlier this season. So far as the positioning in each round, many predictive models have the Ducks finishing the season between the 10th and 13th position (overall). Here, sportsclubstats.com gives the Ducks a ~26% chance of finishing 13th overall.

However, the Ducks are in a state of flux. On one hand, players are getting healthier from the season start, and that may help the Ducks push a little deeper into the playoff picture. On the other hand, they acquired former Senator and recent Canadian Olympic player Chris Kelly, as well as senior citizen Jason Chimera, to presumably play ice hockey for them and not just recount folksy tales of the pre-industrial revolution days.

Overall, the Ducks have drafted more forwards than defensemen in every round bar the 6th in the past decade (see chart below). Given that a majority of skaters are forwards, this makes some sense. However, Murray does seem to draft more defensemen than forwards, comparative to what may be considered normal.

Draftee’s, by position in each round, selected by the Ducks between 2008-2017.

However, the Ducks have ramped up drafting forwards over the past 3 drafts, with 5 of 6 players drafted in the first two rounds (and 9 of 11 players drafted in the first 3 rounds), being forwards. This suggests that the Ducks have not been happy with the forwards in the prospect pool over this time period, despite Troy Terry, Sam Steel, and Max Jones being hot topic amongst sections of the fan base. Objectively, it appears that the Ducks are slowly gearing up for life beyond Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler, which given Kesler and Perry’s play may be arriving sooner than previous expectations may have predicted. The forward heavy selection process may also be due to a combination of selecting many defensemen in previous drafts, injuries to players (i.e. Nicolas Kerdiles), and some misfires (i.e. Julius Nattinen). Naturally, some of the players drafted as forwards have been traded out of the team in recent years (trades of draft picks can be found in the appendices).

After stocking up on forwards in recent drafts, and moving Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen in the past 12 months, it seems likely that the Ducks will attempt to balance out the draft and go heavy on defensemen in the early rounds. With this in mind, it seems plausible that the Ducks should find a defenceman capable of playing in hundreds of games with the selections they currently hold. Whether that and the prospects already in the system are enough to carry the load when the current group of forward stars exit is another matter entirely.

As a last curiosity, it seemed a point of interest to see where the Ducks typically find their players, and whether they garner more success from one league than another. The charts below show the league that both forwards and defencemen have been drafted from, between 2008-2014, and the subsequent “success” of those draftees.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Ducks draftees have come from the OHL and from Swedish leagues, with the USHL being the other hot spot. A point of contention may be the lack of Finnish players drafted by the Ducks over this period of time, with only two players in total being selected from Finland. One of which was our former 2nd best defenseman, Sami Vatanen.

Forwards drafted by league and the number of games played by them in the NHL
Defensemen drafted by league and the number of games played by them in the NHL

Predictions

As the narrator of the great sage, equal of heaven, once said: “the future is unknowable, since to know the future is to change it.” Nonetheless, I’ll give you my predictions for the 2018 entry level draft, based on the Ducks predicted selection today.

Coming into the 2018 Entry Level Draft, and given all of the above information, I predict that the Ducks have an eye on Bode Wilde out of the USHL in the 1st round. Although he has committed to Harvard next season, this is unlikely to deter the Ducks given they have a clutch of younger defencemen already on the roster and have time to wait for him. You can find his draft profile here.

With their 2nd round pick - and things being more open - I’ll go out on a limb and take a guess that they look at left shooting pivot, Nathan Dunkley of the OHL. His slower skating (today - he once had good acceleration) shouldn't worry Murray overly much, despite his efforts in attempting to acquire faster skaters in recent years and picking up “faster” skaters at the trade deadline - the Ducks are entering the fabled speed-cycle once again, it would seem. More likely Dunkley’s cerebral play with and without the puck, and high level of front of the net play, will prove intriguing enough to warrant a selection. His draft profile can be found here.


NOTES:

*All player statistics were collected 1 week prior to the trade deadline, and thus may be slightly altered in the time period between then and publication.

** I apologise for the green in the charts, it's the closest I could get to Jade, which as we all know is part of the Ducks true colour scheme.

*** All charts and statistics can be found at NHL.com, naturalstattrick.com, hockey-reference.com, and corsica.com, unless otherwise stated.

APPENDIX A

The following tables present a list of the players selected by the Ducks in the 2008-20167 entry level draft’s. A snapshot of their overall career, and their time with the Ducks is presented. In the case of trade, the returning assets have been noted.

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2008 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2009 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2010 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2011 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2012 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2013 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2014 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2015 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2016 entry level draft

Players selected by the Ducks in the 2017 entry level draft

Poll

Do you think that the Ducks draft record is

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Better than you expected
    (34 votes)
  • 51%
    What you expected
    (43 votes)
  • 8%
    Not as good as you expected
    (7 votes)
84 votes total Vote Now