Canadian: a 5th choice, curiously enough, gives a better player than a 4th choice

It’s starting to suck to be invited to the celebration of losers that is the NHL lottery. This obligatory passage of the Gorton-Hughes plan still gave two consecutive fifth overall picks. But actually, a fifth choice, historically, what does that mean?

Obviously, nothing is ever guaranteed with the draft. Hope can turn into despair. But I went back to 1990 to analyze what kind of careers the fifth overall picks garnered.

And it’s quite exciting.

On average, a fifth pick plays 839 games in the NHL.

Only one has played less than 100 games. It’s defender Olli Juolevi, drafted in 2016.

Thirty out of 34 were not flops. In addition to Juolevi, it can be argued that teams missed these fifth picks: Michael Dal Colle, Richard Jackman and Stanislav Chistov.

Nearly a third have become impact players in the NHL: Jaromir Jagr, Thomas Vanek, Blake Wheeler, Carey Price, Phil Kessel, Brayden Schenn, Morgan Rielly, Noah Hanifin and Elias Pettersson.

And we find several players who, without being the leaders in their club, have or have had exceptional careers, such as Daymond Langkow, Darius Kasparaitis, Eric Brewer and Elias Lindholm.

Two more seasons

And if you were sad because the CH had not moved up a rank (even if it was mathematically impossible with this lottery), you will notice that we don’t really care.

Since 1990, fifth picks have done much better than fourth picks.

The average career of a fourth pick is 651 games. It’s crazy, it’s more than two seasons less.

On average, a forward drafted as the fourth overall pick makes 391 career points. A fifth choice is 682 points.

There are the same number of flops among the fourth picks: Pavel Brendl, Griffin Reinhart, Alexander Volchkov and Jason Bonsignore.

And there are even fewer elite players, six: Paul Kariya, Roberto Luongo, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Pietrangelo, Cale Makar and Mitch Marner.

Archive photo, REUTERS

Many more flops at 6e choice

CH supporters can also console themselves by telling themselves that chance had done things well by not pushing the team back one place. The quality of the players selected sixth decreases by a good tick compared to those chosen fifth. The sixth call-ups have an average career of 600 matches.

And home runs are rarer at this rank. But there are some. In 1991, Peter Forsberg was the Flyers’ sixth overall pick. In 1994, the Oilers hit the mark with Ryan Smith, as Radek Bonk, Jeff O’Neill and Jason Bonsignore came out before him.

Cory Stillman is also a home run hit with a career 727 runs. The Nordiques would undoubtedly have preferred him to Todd Warriner, whom they selected two ranks higher. Mika Zibanejad is also a great sixth pick, I would say. Matthew Tkachuk and Scott Hartnell as well.

But flops like sixth choices, brace yourself, there are starting to be some in the fight.

The Islanders’ sixth overall pick in 1990, Scott Scissons, played two games in the NHL. Imagine, Martin Brodeur and Keith Tkachuk were available.

Big forward Steve Kelly, a sixth overall pick by the Red Wings, has scored nine goals in 149 NHL games. That’s all. We salute Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan who were still waiting to be called up.

And we also salute Terry Ryan, whom the Canadian selected two rows further on.

Flames sixth pick Daniel Tkaczuk played 19 games. Goaltender Brian Finley played four. Rico Fata was never the player we hoped for. Jake Virtanen returned to Europe after 317 matches. It didn’t work for Gilbert Brulé either, despite a 169-point season in junior hockey.

We also find Boyd Devereaux, Viktor Kozlov, Nikita Filatov and Scott Hartnell, among others.

There, scouts are rarely wrong

But if you were dreaming of a top-three pick, I hear you: Scouts are far more rarely wrong with these selections.

The one who has played the fewest games of anyone drafted since 1990 is the Lightning’s third pick in 2001, Alexandr Svitov, with 179. From 1990 to 2007, of the 51 players drafted in the top 3, 46 played more than 500 games. career matches. There are 27 who have taken part in more than 1000 matches.

As a third choice, apart from Svitov and Cam Barker, they all had good or exceptional careers.

In second choice, apart from Andrei Zyuzin, it’s the same.

And as a first selection, apart from Rick Dipietro, these are all players who have played more than 600 games in the NHL.


Photo Ottawa Sun, TONY CALDWELL

These numbers are not the final word and do not guarantee that the Canadian will hit a home run in the next draft. But my humble observation is that it made absolutely no difference that he climbed to fourth place. The odds of drafting an elite player fourth or fifth overall are the same, historically.

They are even better with a fifth choice.

In short, if each draft can be perceived as singular, the statistical trends show that they are not that much when we analyze the average career of each of the selection ranks.

On average, what does that look like, an attacker drafted in…

1017 matches

958 points

They have these stats: Henrik Zetterberg, Paul Kariya, Brad Richards


Canadian: a 5th choice, curiously enough, gives a better player than a 4th choice

Photo MARTIN CHEVALIER

1024 matches

838 points

They have these statistics: Stéphane Richer, Alex Tanguay, Jonathan Toews


Canadian: a 5th choice, curiously enough, gives a better player than a 4th choice

Photo AFP

922 matches

619 points

They have these stats: Patrick Sharp, Mike Cammalleri, Igor Larionov


Canadian: a 5th choice, curiously enough, gives a better player than a 4th choice

Photo AFP

651 matches

391 points

They have these stats: Maxim Tandiogenov, Valeri Bure, Steven Reinprecht

839 matches

682 points

They have these stats: Michael Nylander, Daniel Brière, Robert Lang


Canadian: a 5th choice, curiously enough, gives a better player than a 4th choice

Photo REUTERS, GARY WIEPERT

600 matches

451 points

They have these stats: Sami Kapanen, Kristian Huselius, Mikael Renberg

From 1990 to 2007 (recent years excluded, because too many players did not finish their career). The players cited as examples are not 1ers2are3are4are5are or 6are choices, but rather players who have had careers similar to the average of one of these choices.

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