Monday, February 25, 2008

Al Strachan proves that high draft picks are awarded to the bottom teams

I'm almost at a loss for words after reading this article by Al Strachan on I read it twice just to make sure it didn't say what I thought it didn't say.

Strachan tries to make the argument that NHL teams don't have to build through the draft to be a contender. That's absolutely right, but his "proof" is tautological (look it up).


Instead of arguing about the merits of specific draft picks, let's try to look at it as analytically as possible.

Let's assume that if you have a first overall draft pick, you get 30 points. A second overall is worth 29. Third overall is worth 28 and so on.

Here's a thought -- why not just look at the inverse of last year's standings? You know, the points upon which the order of the draft picks are determined. Nah.

That way, if we add up all the numbers, we should be able to figure out which teams were the most advantageously placed when making their draft selections.

Furthermore, let's go back eight drafts. There are two reasons for that. First, that's how long the current 30-team format has been in existence. Secondly, an eight-year span should be plenty to make an evaluation. The popular wisdom is that it takes five years to build a contender from scratch.

It is? I've never heard that. The popular wisdom I've heard is that it takes five years to see if a draft pick turns out. At any given time, your past five top draft picks will likely be 23, 22, 21, 20 and 19 years old. If you're truly starting from scratch, you think you're going to be a contender with those pieces? I don't think so.

Then he has a chart where, Ta-da, Columbus is at the top and Detroit is at the bottom.

This sentence below the chart is my favorite:
If these first-round draft picks are so valuable, why aren't these teams, which are consistently drafting higher and more frequently in the first round, showing better results?

How about because you have the cause and the effect all jumbled up together and lack any time lag in your analysis?

The point I kept hoping he'd make to have this make sense at all is that some teams waste any gain they might have gotten from finishing low in the standings by trading their first-round picks for no gain. Toronto is known for this. But he didn't. So it didn't.

A better way to go about demonstrating the point he wanted to make would be to examine the successful teams and show that many of the players were signed as free agents, drafted, or traded for in the prime of their careers.

Wait, this sentence might be my favorite actually:

The theory that an accumulation of high draft picks guarantees the development of a powerhouse is simply unsupportable. The numbers don't lie.

They don't lie, but they don't say anything in this case either.

1 comment:

Esposito's Flow said...

I'm not surprised Strachan is against building sensibly through the draft. He and Larry Brooks were the most vocal anti-cap sycophants during the lockout. He wants teams to spend, spend, spend - drafting and prospect development be damned.

What a tool.