So ... as a follow-up to the idiotic supposition that we're destined to pick 9th, what are the chances in a deep draft that we're actually gonna find a real star - a Werenski, a Zegras, a Hamilton - in that range? (I know others have done similar, but I'm tailoring this specifically to our perspective.)
Historically, how many impact players are found after pick #7, which is where we are most likely selecting in 2023? I'm going to be somewhat subjective defining an 'impact' player - but we're looking for hundreds of games played with hundreds of points scored, with upwards of three-quarters of a point per game for forwards and half-point per game for defensemen. We're also considering only first and second round picks - your odds later in the draft are Powerball-level low, but crazy things do happen. I'll review fourteen drafts - 2000 to 2013 - to get a range but allow enough time since draft year to account for player development curves.
The 2000 draft after pick #7 only really saw two impact players selected: Justin Williams #28 by the Flyers (although his best years came in other uniforms arguably) and Nick Kronwall at #29. That's only 3% of the top two rounds after pick 7 going on to be stars. Arguably Ron Hainsey at #13, but he's well below our point production threshold. This was a weak draft overall with 9 first rounders not playing even a full NHL season, and an additional 23 of the second rounders not seeing 82 games (49% of the first 65 picks not playing that many).
In 2001 Ales Hemsky was selected 13th overall, Derek Roy was picked 32nd (which was the second round then, remember), and then at 49 the Kings scored on Mike Camallieri and with the 55th selection the Sabres hit a homerun getting Jason Pominville. It was a better draft than the previous with 6 first rounders and 21 second rounders not hitting 82 games (43%), but not much in the way of real impact players (7% outside the top 7).
2002 brought Alexander Semin to the Caps with the 13th pick, and Duncan Keith to the Hawks at 55 (3% stars). Eight first rounders and 22 seconds never made our one-season lower limit (48% of the first 62 selections). Pretty blah draft all around.
Flyers cleaned up in 2003, regardless of how you felt it ended - Jeff Carter at 11 and Mike Richards at 24 both meet our criteria. This was a truly momentous draft: Dion Phaneuf was taken 9th; Dustin Brown 13th; Brent Seabrook 14th; Zach Parise 17th; Ryan Getzlaf 19th; Brent Burns 20th; Corey Perry 28th; Loui Eriksson 33rd; Patrice Bergeron 45th; Shea Weber 49th; David Backes 62nd. That yield is over 21% of the top two rounds becoming for-real impact players even excluding the top 7 picks; that's insane. Only two first rounders (Hugh Jessiman of the Rags at 12th and Shawn Belle of the Blues at 30) missed playing for decent NHL careers, but a more-usual 22 second rounders didn't really make their mark (35% of the first 68 picks).
Returning to earth in 2004, the NHL saw Nashville pick up Alex Radulov at 15, NJ find Travis Zajac at 20th, and the Caps make good with the 29th selection on Mike Green - but the real steal was again the Bruins getting a second cornerstone later in the draft with David Krejci at 63rd overall. (That's 7% making our cut for impact players.) Eight first rounders and 24 seconds failed to play 82 NHL games (49%).
Leading off 2005 is obviously LA's 15th overall selection of Anze Kopitar. Martin Hanzal (17), TJ Oshie (24), Matt Niskanen (28), James Neal (33), Marc-Eduoard Vlasic (35), and certainly Paul Stasny (44) qualify as impact picks after the top 7 (a decent 12%). A high 10 first round picks and 18 seconds didn't have NHL careers over 82 games (46%).
In 2006 Bryan Little kinda makes a mark at 12th overall but the big score in the first was the Flyers with Claude Giroux at 22nd. Nick Foligno fell to the Sens at 28th; Edmonton found Jeff Petry at 45th; Boston AGAIN makes out with Milan Lucic at 50 (7% yield). Again 10 first rounders bombed, plus 20 second rounders (48% failure rate).
2007 is a notable draft, as Logan Couture (9th), Ryan McDonaugh (12th), Kevin Shattenkirk (14th), Max Paccioretty (22nd), David Perron (26th), PK Subban (43rd) and last pick of the second round Wayne Simmonds (61st) were taken (bringing a 13% impact player rate outside the top 7 picks). But 9 firsts and 24 seconds washed out before 82 NHL games (54%).
The big winners in 2008 were Ottawa (Erik Karlsson at 15th), Edmonton (Jordan Eberle at 22nd), Washington (John Carlson at 27th), and Nashville (Roman Josi with the 38th pick) making this another 14% impact player return rate on picks 8 to 61. Another 9 first round picks and 18 second rounders were under our playing threshold for complete busts (44%).
Do we dare start off 2009 with Ryan Ellis at 11th overall? Also picked were Nick Leddy (16th), Ryan O'Reilly (33rd), and ... well that's kinda it (several almost-stars were taken, like Orlov and Palmieri, but we're left with only a 7% rate for real impact guys). Only 4 first rounders and 15 seconds didn't have reasonable NHL careers (31%), so while the peak of quality may have been lacking there were lots of solid selections made.
Mikael Granlund (9th) leads off 2010, followed by Cam Fowler (12th), Vlad Tarasenko (16th), Evgeni Kuznetsov (26th), Brock Nelson (30th), and Tyler Toffoli (47th) - 11% impact guys. Our own Kevin Hayes doesn't make the star mark after being picked 24th by Chicago - but he's pretty darn close with 380 points in 611 games. At the other end of the spectrum only 4 first round picks and 14 seconds busted (30%) making for a real workmans draft.
Flyers fans will insist upon inclusion of the 2011 8th overall pick Sean Couturier. Also making the grade are 9th overall Doug Hamilton, 15th JT Miller, seemingly 19th Oskar Klefbom, and most assuredly 58th overall Nikita Kucherov - with 'almost' votes going to Karlsson, Saad, Jenner, Rakell, Namesnikov, Danault, and Brodin. But yield is still 9% real impact players after pick 7. Six first round selections and eleven second rounders went to waste (28%) while players like Trochek, Gaudreau, Shaw, and Palat fell past the second round.
2012 big winner was Filip Forsberg, picked 11th by the Caps; also becoming draft gold were Tomas Hertl (17th), Teuvo Teravainen (18th), Olli Maata (22nd) and Tanner Pearson (30th) - no one of note came out of the second round (closest being Chris Tierney). We're not including goalies but landing Andrei Vasilevskiy at 19th needs to be mentioned without altering our 9% impact skater rate. The conservative draft strategy continued, with only four firsts not surviving 82 games, but 20 second rounders were regretted by their clubs (39%).
Our last draft to consider is 2013, when superstar Rasmus Ristolainen was picked 8th Bo Horvat went 9th, Max Domi 12th, Josh Morrisey 13th, Andrey Burakovsky 23rd, Shea Theodore 26th, and Tyler Bertuzzi finally at 58th; this is a decent 11% rate of getting real excess value. Five first round and 17 second round picks haven't left any NHL mark of note (36%), but I suppose there's still a chance they continue to develop ... naah, just messing with Figgy.
SO what do we find? At the low end of drafts you might only nab 3% impact players with any pick lower than #7 overall, and around half of all picks in the first two rounds never pan out even as NHL-level players. At the upper end of the range - and this is expected to be a good draft, perhaps not 2003 good but pretty nice - you may be finding close to one in ten picks outside the top several developing into real impact skaters, while more conservative draft strategies in recent years (or better scouting, or ???) appear to have reduced the bust rate under 40%. So with our pick projected as 9th overall but NO SECOND ROUNDER AS YET our odds of getting an impact player seem slim. Conversely, in pretty much most draft years (aside from 2000 and 2006, all those listed) an impact player was selected in the range of picks from 8 to 15 - so the player will be out there, and we just have to get them. Easier said than done, eh? Someone with more time can see if there's a weighted advantage to the 8th-to-15th pick, and how much lower your odds are with a second rounder ... I'm depressed already.