Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Drafts Goalies Well (2000-2004)

Who drafts and develops goalies well? I've developed a point system in order to rank teams not just by which teams have drafted a good goalie, but taking into account what it took them to get there. It's important to have a good goaltender, no doubt, but if a team spends its first round pick every year to get there, then it's missing out on good players in a lot of other areas. This needs to be taken into consideration. Molding a first rounder into a marginal starter isn't worth as much as doing the same with a 7th round pick. As such, here is my "points" system, awarded to each goaltender as he develops:

The goalie plays an AHL game - 2
The goalie plays 40+ AHL or NHL games in a single season - 2
The goalie plays an NHL game - 1
For the team that drafted him - 1
The goalie plays in 50 NHL games over his career - 1
For the team that drafted him - 1
The goalie plays 40+ NHL games in a single season - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3
The goalie plays 40+ NHL games in at least five different seasons - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3
The goalie is nominated for the Vezina trophy - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3

Now, different things are expected of different players. It's one of the reasons a lot of fans like Kyle Brodziak but poo-poo Pouliot. More is expected of first rounders. It's not really fair to the player, but I think it is important to look at when determining the effectiveness of drafting and development. Each player, then, is expected to achieve a certain number of points, as listed above:

1st to 10th overall - 22 (starting goalie on your team for at least five seasons)
Rest of 1st round - 15 (starting goalie on your team for at least one season)
2nd round - 6 (should at least play in one NHL game for your team)
3rd round - 5 (should at least play in one NHL game for somebody)
4th round - 4 (should manage to be an AHL starter)
5th round - 3 (should have a 50/50 chance at being an AHL starter)
6th round - 2 (should play in at least one AHL game)
7th round + - 1 (should have a 50/50 chance at playing an AHL game)

I've taken a look at the drafts from 2000 to 2004. The first column is the team with any significant goalies (50 NHL games) included in brackets. The rest of the columns represent their net points (actual - expected), actual points, expected points, number of goalies drafted, number drafted in round one, in rounds two to four and in rounds five and over:

A few points:

1. Drafting goalies in the first round is often disappointing. This may well change over time as players play more games, earn Vezina nominations and more 40-game seasons. I expect teams like Long Island, Columbus and Pittsburgh to move up as DiPietro, Leclaire and Fleury play more games. We'll see if the teams spending early picks improve when looking at the 1995 to 1999 period.

2. Teams that draft good goalies often don't hang on to them for a long period of time. None of Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Ottawa still have their highest ranking goalie. Tampa Bay lost Norrena before he'd played an NHL game. Anaheim lost Bryzgalov on waivers for nothing. Los Angeles said, "Away Huet!" in exchange for a worse goalie in Garon. Philadelphia got rid of Cechmanek because of his lack of playoff performance. Ottawa's goalie may or may not have been addicted to heroin (he also may or may not be getting paid in Russia).

3. New York is stupid lucky they drafted Lundqvist. When a seventh-rounder gets a Vezina nomination and you still aren't able to meet your expected total, well, that's just terrible.

4. Any list that has the Flames and Canucks bringing up the rear must have some validity. Unfortunately, those teams also show that you don't need to draft well to find good goaltending. In fact, sometimes having a need in an area where demand is at a premium isn't really all that bad while supply is abundant isn't really all that bad.

5. The Oilers may have improved drafting over this period, but they're still in the bottom third when it comes to drafting and developing goalies. In fairness, this is all because of Dubnyk underperforming his expected total and given he's an 04' pick, that has plenty of time to change.

My preliminary conclusion is that drafting goalies in the first round is stupid. We'll see if that continues to be the trend looking back to the late 90s drafts. Feel free to offer criticisms, suggestions and observations in the comments.

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