At Not Your Average Hockey Blog, we’ve always tried to change it up a bit. I love considering the what-ifs in various storylines in the NHL. One of the biggest storylines in the NHL currently, is how the Ottawa Senators chose to convey this year’s first round draft choice to Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche instead of last year’s. The Senators fan base have not forgotten this trade at all. According to the fine folks over at Senspicktracker, the Senators’ pick have a 18.5% chance of being the 1st overall pick, 16.5% chance of being the 2nd overall pick, 14.4% chance of being the 3rd pick, and a 50.6% chance of being the 4th pick. With a weighted average, the Senators likely pick is 2.971 rounded up to the 3rd overall pick. The pick that the Senators could have conveyed last year was the 4th overall pick.
Analysis by TSN has shown that statistically speaking, the 3rd overall pick will be a top six forward, with a basic guarantee that they will play 100 games in the NHL. The 4th overall pick will statistically be a top nine forward with a 84% chance of being playing 100 games in the NHL, and a 24% chance of being a 4th line player or worse. The analysis shows one thing clearly, there is a statistical benefit of picking third vs picking fourth. With that being said, the analysis does not take into account the strength of the draft class. The 2019 draft is expected to be deep, but not very top heavy. The 2018 draft on the other hand, was not very deep, but rather top heavy. The first fourth picks in the 2018 NHL draft are all regulars in the NHL, with the fifth pick Barrett Hayton; being returned to the OHL after being scratched for his first two NHL games. The Ottawa Senators may not have their first pick, but they will have Columbus Blue Jackets’ first round pick; which is expected to be in the teens. Of course a top four pick is much more valuable than a mid-round pick, but what if the trade balance is the 4th overall pick plus the 15th overall pick for the 3rd overall pick and a replacement level player? Suddenly, it isn’t as bad as it looks!
The next step is to consider the value of the players involved. According to hockeyprospect.com, ISS Hockey, Future Considerations, McKeen’s Hockey, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin is the projected third overall pick. The comparison with the Ottawa Senators draft pick Brady Tkachuk will have it’s strengths and weaknesses. It is beneficial that they are both wingers, and play similar games, but they play in different leagues and Podkolzin has a relatively small sample size of 29 games this season. Using NHLe as a way to normalize point values, Podkolzin has an NHLe score of 20.97. (For our readers unaware of NHLe, a quick guide is available here.) Looking at Brady Tkachuk’s Hockey East stats in his draft year, he has an NHLe score of 23.5135. What the statistics show us, is that offensively, Brady Tkachuk had a stronger offensive year in his draft year than Podkolzin has had this year. However, as previously mentioned, there are factors that NHLe has not taken into account into it’s formula, such as the few games that Podkolzkin has played this year, and the instability that Podkolzin has had this year, with him playing in three teams this season alone.
My argument here isn’t that the Ottawa Senators are amazingly run, and they have a competent owner. If you have a few minutes, check out Episode 2 of our Bag of Pucks podcast. I spend forty minutes calling out the Ottawa Senators. However, my argument here is that maybe the option to convey the fourth pick instead of possibly the expected third overall pick is not as big of a deal as it sounds. What do you think? We would love to hear from you! Comment below, or tweet me directly here.