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Star Power: Evaluating post-lockout drafts to determine which produced the most talent

The 2005 and 2015 selection processes produced generational talents Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, but neither draft had the most overall talent. So, which draft has resulted in the most impact NHLers in the post-lockout era?

Each year, it seems like there’s a new generational talent headed into the NHL draft. We’ve seen the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares headline drafts in the last numbers of years. Arguably the two biggest stars in the game though, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, headlined drafts a decade apart, in 2005 and 2015, respectively.

But which draft produced the most overall talent? Below, all drafts from the Crosby draft class to the McDavid draft class have been ranked based on the ability of the NHLers produced.

EVALUATION METHOD
Point shares have been used to evaluate players on an individual basis. These calculate how much an individual player contributed to their team’s points, both offensively and defensively (a full breakdown can be found at hockeyreference.com).

To get a value for each player, we took their total career point shares, divided them by their total career games played and multiplied it by 100 to create a point share value. We used the top 25 players in point shares from each draft to accumulate point share totals for that class. This was done in an effort to balance each draft given those in more recents years have inevitably produced fewer NHL players than earlier ones.

Goalie point shares were also adjusted. While an excellent goalie such as Carey Price will range around a 19 point share, even a backup goalie such as Alex Stalock can have a point share value around 13.27. For reference, that’s about the same as Nikita Kucherov's point share. This can skew the rankings, so goaltenders had their point share values dropped from the teens to single digits. For instance, Price’s 19.74 becomes to 9.74 and Stalock’s 13.27 becomes 3.27.

Only players with at least 100 NHL games played were considered for each draft, with exceptions made to allow for a larger player pool in more recent drafts. The minimum is 50 games for 2015, 70 games for 2014 and 90 games for 2013. With that, here are the rankings.

11. 2014 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 156.14
Average Individual Point Share Value = 6.25

The 2014 Draft, with its one-two of Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart, is one of the thinner drafts of the past decade. It produced stars such as David Pastrnak, Brayden Point and Leon Draisaitl, but there isn’t much else. Only 10 players have a point share value of six or more and players ranked 18th to 25th are all below a five-point value. The bulk of the draft picks are roughly 22 years old, so they could have a larger impact on the NHL in the next few seasons. Viktor Arvidsson, William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers and others from this draft are likely to be more impactful with time. Regardless, this wasn’t a particularly strong class.

10. 2013 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 162.65
Average Individual Point Share Value = 6.51

This draft saw teams get the majority of the top picks right. Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Seth Jones went in the top four, but there aren’t many groundbreaking talents after that. Only six players had at least an eight-point share value –Jake Guentzel, Sean Monahan and Ryan Pulock were the other three. There is still other talent throughout the draft in the likes of Max Domi, Shea Theodore and Rasmus Ristolainen but after its top players, the rest of the draft falls off talent-wise. Of the top 25 players, 12 of them are below a 6.00 point share and though this draft did produce some quality players, if you were picking outside the top-10, there weren’t a ton of stars left.

9. 2006 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 174.19
Average Individual Point Share Value = 6.97

Five players taken in 2006 have had excellent careers:Brad Marchand, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, Claude Giroux and Phil Kessel. The rest of the draft was weak. Apart from the listed forwards, Erik Johnson, who went first overall, is the only other player above a seven point share. Kyle Okposo, Bryan Little, Milan Lucic, Jordan Staal, Nick Foligno and others all had impacts with their respective teams, but none have had careers that will be remembered for years to come. The goaltenders in the draft, including Semyon Varlamov, Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer as its top-three, are fringe starters. The draft was saved by its top forwards, but isn’t anything more than average.

8. 2011 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 180.42
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.22

This draft would have gained a lot more respect if the top players had been drafted as the top picks. To elaborate, the first round probably should have included Johnny Gaudreau and the NHL’s leader in pointsthis past season and Hart Trophy favourite, Nikita Kucherov. That being said, the first round of the draft wasn’t all bad– it included Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Scheifele, Gabriel Landeskog, Dougie Hamilton, Rickard Rakell and of course, first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.On the goaltending side of things, the 2011 draft only produced one goalie but it’s one that will be a star for many years to come: John Gibson. It was quite a deep draft too, with 16 skaters all above a 6.00-point share value, including Sean Couturier, Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Saad and William Karlsson, making for a decent class.

7. 2007 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 183.51
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.34

Several stars were selected in the 2007 draft, including Patrick Kane, P.K. Subban, Jamie Benn, Ryan McDonagh, Jakub Voracek andEvgenii Dadonov. It was one of few drafts with seven players over a nine point share value, and the draft also included the likes of James van Riemsdyk, Logan Couture, Kyle Turris, Max Pacioretty and Jake Muzzin. Where this draft was weaker compared to others was in goal. The only netminder selected who has played at least 100 games is Scott Darling. He hasa .908 career save percentage and spent the majority of this season back in the AHL. The depth of the skaters in the draft also fell off after the top-20.

6. 2015 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 184.95
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.40

There’s no doubt the 2015 Draft produced some of the best talent in the last few seasons, including stars such as Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Sebastian Aho and Thomas Chabot. The top-nine players from the draft are all at least an eight-point share value. Incredibly, the top players, as well as all others, likely haven’t reached their peak yet due to this being the most recent draft in the rankings. Realistically, the products of the 2015 draft will have had a much more significant impact in the NHL if this research is done again in five years' time. When all is said and done, this draft will be ranked significantly higher.

5. 2010 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 187.76
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.51

The ‘Taylor vs Tyler’ saga was eventually about far more than the top two picks. This draft will be remembered for the forwards it produced, including a pair of St. Louis Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, as well as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jeff Skinner, Ryan Johansen and Kevin Hayes. Let’s not forget about sleeper picks John Klingberg and Mark Stone, either. The top-nine players in the draft all have a point share value of eight or more. However, much like the 2007 draft, the depth trails off. Goaltending in this draft was nothing special, though Philipp Grubauer and Petr Mrazek have taken over starting jobs.

4. 2012 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 190.83
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.63

Many peg the 2012 draft as one of the weakest in recent memory based solely on the headliners. Looking past a top-two duo of Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray, though, the 2012 draft rivals the 2005 draft for the best goaltending class on the list. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen (who was entering the draft for a second time), four bonafide NHL starters, were drafted in 2012. It wasn’t a draft to write home about outside of the crease, though, but it still included Tomas Hertl, Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen, Shayne Gostisbehere and Morgan Rielly. While there aren't many household names, the draft was one of the deepest in terms of talent. All21 skaters included had at least a 5.5 point share value. Though the draft will probably always be remembered as the Yakupov draft, the depth and star-studded goaltending products made this a surprisingly solid class.

3. 2005 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 191.43
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.66

Sidney Crosby gives this draft endless star power, but its other claim to fame is the goaltending crop. Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Ben Bishop and Jonathan Quick all came out of this draft, with Bishop and Quick selected outside the top-70. Price, Rask and Quick have all gone on to become franchise goaltenders, while Bishop is arguably the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy this season. This draft was otherwise good, but not great. It included stars such as Anze Kopitar and Kris Letang, as well as long-time NHLers like T.J. Oshie, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Keith Yandle, but few big names after that. So, while Crosby is the star of the class, 2005’s goalie output continues to have a huge impact in the league.

2. 2009 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value = 193.09
Average Individual Point Share Value = 7.72

Similar to the 2015 draft, the 2009 draft seemingly produced a notable talent for every organization. Up front, John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane and Nazem Kadri were selected. On the blueline, the draft produced Victor Hedman, Ryan Ellis, Oliver Ekman-Larsson,Tyson Barrie, Mattias Ekholm and Nick Leddy. And where one year ago this would have appeared to be a weak draft, this season saw two goaltenders selected in 2015 elevate their play. Robin Lehner rebounded with the New York Islanders and earned a William M. Jennings Trophy and Vezina nomination, while Darcy Kuemper nearly led the Arizona Coyotes to the playoffs and posted a .925 save percentage in 55 games this season. The draft saw all 23 skaters included ranked above a 5.75 point share value, making it one of the deepest drafts on the list. The 2009 draft provided an excellent follow-up to an excellent draft the year prior.

1. 2008 DRAFT
Total Point Share Value: 207.29
Average Individual Point Share Value: 8.29

This draft was headlined by Steven Stamkos, but should really be known for producing the best crop of blueliners in recent memory. The class included Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Roman Josi, Alex Pietrangelo and John Carlson, all of whom are star defensemen. Incredibly, five players have a point share value of 11 or greater, and in terms of depth, it has 20 skaters above a six point share, doubling the 2014 Draft in that regard. Some of that depth includes Jordan Eberle, Jake Gardiner, Gustav Nyquist, T.J. Brodie, Cam Atkinson and Josh Bailey. Add in Vezina winner Braden Holtby, who was drafted 93rd overall, and it’s a star-studded lineup.

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