2003 Draft Revisited: THE Draft Year

About a week ago I posted an article on the 2014 Entry Draft. What if the Flyers draft was run by a Potato instead of Ron Hextall? It was an experiment in drafting based almost solely on PPG (points per game). In that analysis I weighted PPG against the players in each league that had the highest PPG such as Drouin in the QMJHL. The premise was simple; draft the next 17 year-old kid from the CHL with the highest Adjusted PPG score.

Turns out if the Flyers drafted the next best prospect available on straight Adjusted PPG they would have drafted quite a few small players this year. This I suspect is a general trend considering there are a ton of smaller skill players that never get drafted out of junior leagues because the guys just behind them are 6'3" and 200lbs. Recently teams have been bucking that trend, but not entirely.

Since there are no real results to speak of from those prospects drafted in June (and it will likely take a lot more time to gauge) I decided to travel back in time. We all know the 2003 Entry Draft is when the Flyers made 2 really great picks for the organization in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. There was a ton of top-end talent in this draft, and almost every team got a useful player in a stacked 1st Round. The Rangers (Hugh Jessiman) and Blues (Shawn Belle) did not. Every other team got a player who dressed for at least 192 NHL games.

That brings us to the Potato. How would the Flyers have done if they simply drafted based on an Adjusted PPG score in 2003?

Well, during that 2002-03 season a diminutive (5'9") 18-year-old kid named Corey Locke was absolutely mashing the OHL with the Ottawa 67's. Locke had 151 points in just 66 games for 2.29 PPG. He even got drafted (by the Canadiens) in the 4th Round as a player in his second year of eligibility. This presents a pretty big problem for the rest of the OHL prospects as Locke and linemate Matt Foy (132 points) are throwing the curve.

If I weighted Eric Staal ('03 1st Overall) against Locke he would have been ranked 9th in Adjusted PPG and that's drastically undervaluing all the OHL talent. Instead I've chosen to weight prospects this time against the average of the top-10 scorers in each league. It's a work in progress trying to find a method that actually works. GM Bobby Potato had the cards stacked against him here as (GM at the time) Bobby Clarke and his scouts actually made some pretty great picks in 2003.

Round Pick Player Position Team Adjusted Rank
1 11 Jeff Carter F Sault Ste. Marie (O) 18th Among F
1 24 Mike Richards F Kitchener (O) 7th Among F
3 69 Colin Fraser F Red Deer (W) 34th Among F
3 81 Stefan Ruzicka F Voodoo League N/A
3 85 Alexandre Picard D Halifax (Q) 8th Among D
3 87 Ryan Potulny F Voodoo League N/A
3 95 Rick Kozak F Brandon (W) 85th Among F
4 108 Kevin Romy F Voodoo League N/A
5 140 David Tremblay G Hull (Q) N/A
6 191 Rejean Beauchemin G Prince Albert (W) N/A
6 193 Ville Hostikka G Voodoo League N/A

It's unlikely GM Potato takes Carter or Richards as there are a number of 17-year-olds near the top of GM Potato's list that I've never even heard of *gulp*

What a lot of people don't realize about that draft is that the Flyers also had 9 other picks; 5 of which were in Round 3. Those are the really important picks. The meat of the draft if you will. Turn some of those picks into NHL regulars and you'll net yourself some depth.

Clarke and company managed to get Colin Fraser, Alex Picard and Ryan Potulny with 3 of those picks and they were all somewhat useful depth players. That in itself is a tremendous accomplishment, 5 out of 11 picks made a mild to great NHL impact. Of the other 6, Slovak Stefan Ruzicka dressed for 55 games, but never got over the AHL hump. Rick Kozak, Kevin Romy, David Tremblay, Rejean Beauchemin and Ville Hostikka never made it. Tough, but if the Flyers always drafted at 45% we would never have to sign a free agent again.

Obviously Clarke was desperately reaching and trying to steal a goaltender in the late rounds. They even gambled on Finnish prospect Ville Hostikka! No success after the 3rd Round so I'm clinging to the hope that GM Bobby Potato can pull out some late-round gems and make a fool out of Clarke!

Round Pick Player Position Team Adjusted Rank Actual Pick
1 11 Steve Bernier F Moncton (Q) 1st Among F 16th to Sharks
1 24 Nigel Dawes F Kootenay (W) 3rd Among F 149th to Rangers
3 69 Tyler Redenbach F Swift Current (W) 6th Among F 77th to Coyotes
3 81 Louis-Phillipe Martin F Baie-Comeau (Q) 9th Among F 266th to Sabres
3 85 Bruno Gervais D Acadie-Bathurst (Q) 1st Among D 182nd to Islanders
3 87 Yannick Riendeau F Drummondville (Q) 21st Among F Undrafted
3 95 Benoit Mondou F Baie-Comeau (Q) 23rd Among F 247th to Bruins
4 108 Rob Hisey F Erie (O) 25th Among F Undrafted
5 140 Mario Scalzo D Victoriaville (Q) 2nd Among D Undrafted
6 191 David Leroux D Shawinigan (Q) 3rd Among D Undrafted
6 193 Dustin Byfuglien D Prince George (W) 5th Among D 245th to Blackhawks

First of all at the conclusion of this draft GM Bobby Potato basically thinks he made out like a bandit. He's picked 4 of his top-5 defensemen!

Bernier wasn't a particularly horrible pick here. He actually went 16th and looked like a very promising young player when he came into the league. He did have 101pts as a 17-year-old so GM Potato is jumping for joy. Dawes was much the same with 92pts; he came in as a legitimate talent and has actually ended up starring in the KHL. But if you scored these 2 against Carter and Richards it's a HUGE loss. Win Clarke.

You can also give Clarke a landslide win in the Fraser/Ruzicka vs. Redenbach/Martin competition. Fraser and Ruzicka at least dressed in the NHL. Win Clarke.

Gervais and Picard are basically a wash, but Bruno played 418 games to Alex's 253. Win Potato

Riendeau, Mondou and Hisey are all busts for Bobby Potato, but real life Bobby Clarke gets a successful AHLer in Potulny. Win Clarke.

GM Bobby Potato doesn't believe in drafting goalies because they are frustrating demon creatures. Therefore he takes the next 3 best players on his Adjusted PPG chart. They all happen to be defensemen. Scalzo had a very good AHL career, but was only 5'10" and never got a shot. Even more disastrously, 5'8" David Leroux is cut from the Cataractes after being drafted by GM Potato, plays 2 years of Quebec Junior A hockey, and vanishes. Then in the depths of Round 6 he pulls out (at that time) 275lbs defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. He's basically obese, but turns out to be a steal once he sheds 20-30lbs of fat. Win Potato.

Overall you've got to commend the Flyer's staff for this draft. They did a tremendous job, which is almost never the case. I'm sure GM Potato will pull out a few wins in the upcoming drafts!

This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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