This article was sparked by a fan of a different team. This fan noted that Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was a “media darling” and that he couldn’t understand how people were so enamored of him. He also made the claim that Ondrej Palat was Yzerman’s “only pick they made in the last 3 rounds of the draft that made the NHL.”
So, let’s take a look. How has Yzerman done in the 5th, 6th, and 7th round of the draft? Long story short: Yzerman has done very, very well.
Because there are occasionally compensatory picks, I made the cut-off as after the 120th pick in the draft. The data set includes all picks drafted from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft through the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as provided by EliteProspects.com. All data is as of the morning of Monday, March 12th, 2018.
Since we’re looking at how players have done in the NHL, the player doesn’t necessarily have to have played all of their games with their drafting team. Their games played, goals, assists, and points are attributed to the team that drafted them even if they were traded or ended up with another team later through waivers or free agency.
To be clear, Yzerman is actually the best
Steve Yzerman and Al Murray have been the best in the NHL in finding NHL talent after the 120th pick in the draft. With 614 games played, 217 assists, and 314 points, Lightning draft picks lead the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks are the next best team with 602 games played. They lead in goals with 112 and are second in assists and points with 123 and 235 respectively.
Of all picks in the data set, there have been 5,595 games played and 1,627 points scored. The Lightning’s draft picks make up 11% of those games played. 11 teams (not counting the Vegas Golden Knights for obvious reasons) have gotten less than 100 games played from their draft picks. Only four have gotten more than 100 points.
A couple of notable data points are the Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, and New York Rangers getting a total of nine games and two points. The Oilers and Coyotes have been rebuilding their franchises for most of this time frame, but have not been able to hit late in the draft. The Rangers have traded away their first round picks for much of this time period and didn’t make up for it with their later round picks.
The San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks have gotten a couple of steady bottom of the line-up contributors with both having a forward and defenseman with over 100 games played in the NHL. Also notable is the Winnipeg Jets picking up Connor Hellebuyck with the 130th overall pick in 2012, getting 138 games from the goaltender.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, the bulk of their performance comes from Andrew Shaw. They have two other players that have made it to the NHL in Tyler Motte with 69 games played and Vinnie Hinostroza with 94 games played.
The Lightning, on the other hand, have gotten contributions from six different players, with Ondrej Palat being the most significant of the group. Also included are Jake Dotchin, Joel Vermin, Kristers Gudlevskis, Matthew Peca, and Nikita Nesterov.
Adding More Rounds
If we add in the third round of the draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning draft picks are still the best leading in games played, goals, assists, and points. When we add every pick, the Lightning draft picks are third in games played behind the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, third in goals, second in assists, and second in points. Not too shabby.
Sometimes people don’t let facts get in the way of their narrative.
But that’s ok. The rest of the hockey world knows that Steve Yzerman is one of the best in the business, and has one of the best scouting directors at his side in Al Murray. We as fans are lucky to have both in the organization and they continue to prove their abilities, and their worth, year after year.