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Nashville's Success Rate in the NHL Entry Draft

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A look at what the Predators' picks in the NHL Draft actually go on to do.

Tootoo, Erat, Rinne and Klein were all picked after, or way after the first round.
Tootoo, Erat, Rinne and Klein were all picked after, or way after the first round.
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators will occasionally come under fire for never having drafted a dynamic, game-breaking forward in their 17-year history. It may lead one to think they aren't very good at finding and/or selecting talent, but that's not really the case.

Over the years, Nashville has found a good number of players, both in the middle and late rounds, that go on to lead long, mostly productive NHL careers. Sure, they haven't brought in an offensive superstar, but that's an entirely different notion than "they're bad at drafting. In fact, 17 of the 34 players that played a game for the Predators this season were drafted by the club.

In all, they've selected 153 players throughout 17 different entry drafts. Of course, not all of those players have made it to the NHL. Getting to the major leagues is an incredible accomplishment that only a small portion of hockey players will ever get to say they've done. Obviously, the earlier in the draft a player is taken, the higher a chance he has to suit up for a game, and play for several years, at that. But what about all the other rounds?

Below is a simple breakdown of the number of selections Nashville has had through it's drafting history, and how many of them have had longevity, a cup of coffee, or never even set foot on the ice.

Round Total Picks 100+ Games Played 1-99 Games Played No Games Played
1 15 11 3 1
2 23 6 7 10
3 22 3 5 14
4 21 4 1 16
5 18 3 5 10
6 20 1 4 15
7 19 3 1 15
8-9 15 2 2 11

So is this good or bad? Majority of Nashville's picks outside of the first round don't even go on to play a single game. That's not unusual though, as the later the draft goes, the harder it becomes to find a player with longevity.

"Success rates" for NHL draft picks have been compiled a few different times. Last year, Adam Gretz calculated the percentages for each round from 1995-2005. Earlier this year, James Bisson of The Score did the same thing from 2005-2010. Using these pieces as a basis for comparison, it may help put Nashville's numbers into perspective.

Now, this isn't a perfect comparison by any means. For one, the Predators' numbers will suffer from a small sample size when compared to scores of NHL picks in every round. Moreover, I averaged the two tables to try to better encompass the time period of when the Predators first started drafting, making the time period is 1995-2010. Finally, the graph in this post includes all 33 selections made after 2010. For a graph excluding those, click here. The numbers are slightly different, but not by much.

Here are the Predators' draft success rates versus the NHL's, and the difference between them. Appeared means they played in at least one NHL game, but less than 100. Games played span a player's entire career, not just with the Predators:

Round Appeared (NHL) Appeared (Preds) Diff. 100+ GP (NHL) 100+ GP (Preds) Diff.
1 93.4% 93% -0.4 72.9% 73% 0.1
2 64.4% 56.5% -7.9 28.9% 26% -2.9
3 47.8% 50% 2.2 22.5% 13.6% -8.9
4 38.1% 23.8% -14.3 16.7% 19% 2.3
5 30.7% 44.4% 13.7 11.4% 16.6% 5.2
6 30.1% 25% -5.1 12.1% 7% -5.1
7* 19.4% 21% 1.6 7% 15.7% 8.7
7-9** 27.1% 23.5% -3.6 11.6% 14.7% 3.1

Nashville is below average more often than not when it comes to getting their drafted players on the ice for at least a game. The third and sixth round haven't been especially kind, and they are below average in the second at all. (A bit surprising, given the players that have come out of that round, but more on that in a second.) Still, they're above the fold at selecting NHL players with longevity in most of the later rounds.

As we know, the later into the draft it gets, the bigger the crapshoot it becomes that a player will pan out. Obviously there are plenty of circumstances where a player is passed over several, several times, only to go on to have an illustrious career. But for every one of those, there are hundreds who's biggest NHL accomplishment is having their name on the official draft paper.

Looking through all the players drafted after the first round that played at least a 100 NHL, majority of them stuck around the league much longer than that. While there are no Datsyuks or Zetterbergs, many are still playing and producing to this very day, and a few that have been integral to Nashville's history.

Round 2

  • Adam Hall
  • Shea Weber
  • Kevin Klein
  • Nick Spaling
  • Roman Josi
Andrew Hutchinson (54th overall in 1999) also played 140 games over six years with five different teams.

2006's 56th overall pick, Blake Geoffrion, was the first Tennessee native to play for the Predators. (Don't ever forget his hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres.) After being traded to the Canadiens in part of the package to acquire Hal Gill, Geoffrion retired from the game at age 25, due to suffering a depressed skull fracture in 2012. It's very likely he could still be finding a role with a team had that not happened.)

Round 3

  • Denis Arkhipov
  • Alexander Sulzer
  • Cody Franson
Not the most prolific round for Nashville, but it is worth mentioning Taylor Beck and Michael Latta both have a very high chance of breaking 100 games next season, and are probably going to be well past that when they finish their careers. Harvard standout Jimmy Vesey was also taken in the 3rd last year.

Round 4

  • Jordin Tootoo
  • Brandon Segal
  • Mattias Ekholm
  • Craig Smith
Three big-time contributors to the team, two of which are integral parts of it going forward. It's also worth noting that 2014's 4th round selection, Viktor Arvidsson, is the only non-first-round player to have already played a game in the NHL. In fact, only seven players from last year's draft have suited up for a game already. The first four picks, (Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl and Sam Bennett) along with first-rounders David Pastrnak and Kevin Fiala, and finally Arvidsson.

Round 5

  • Matt Hendricks
  • Cal O'Reilly
  • Gabriel Bourque

Round 6

  • Mike Santorelli

Round 7-9

  • Martin Erat
  • Patric Hornqvist
  • Anders Lindback
  • Pekka Rinne
  • Karlis Skrastins
It doesn't seem like a lot of players, but four of the five are (or were) humongous parts of the team. Between them, they'e played well over 2,500 games, not counting Lindback's surprising 111. This type of success is not a good strategic game plan, but pulling these diamonds out of thin air is a type of luck that can't be overstated.

The moral of the story is that success (even if it is game-breaking) can be found outside of the first round. While it's certainly a shame that Nashville won't be coming home with a player with a 93% chance to make an impact on the league, there are other avenues to explore. They won't present themselves for several years, and most of them will fade away into nothing, but if the Preds' scouting keeps up what they've done through their history, there may be a player down the road who finds himself cemented with the team. Even if he was passed over again and again before the Preds call his name.

*Data from Bisson's piece only

**Data from Gretz's piece only