Over the next few days I'm going to be writing a series of articles on which teams draft (and develop) goaltenders. The first part will evaluate how teams did from 2003-2005, the second part will look at 2000-2002, the third part 1997-1999 and the fourth part will combine all of these results and look at the period from 1997-2005. The criteria that I'll be using is a point system based on where in the draft a goaltender is taken. Thus, more is expected of a goaltender taken in the first round than a goaltender taken in the seventh round. The reason for this is that while it's important to have good goaltending - and with the cap era, cheap goaltending - it's also important to be efficient. If getting a solid starter costs three first-round picks (the guy that worked out and two busts), well, that's probably way too much to pay. Anyroad, here are the criteria I'll be using to evaluate each set of goaltenders:
I think these expectations are pretty reasonable given the draft number and what you might expect to get from another position player in the draft at that point. The criteria is designed to account for both longevity but also gives a boost to those goalies who have excellent performance. Because we're grading teams here instead of players, players are assigned more points if they're contributing to their draft team than if they make it big with someone else. After the jump we'll take a look at the results from 2003-2005.
So up first we'll bring out the chart comparing how teams did and then I'll offer some comments on the limitations of the analysis and draw out some things that I think are interesting:
It bears pointing out that the "NHL Goalies" column uses the loosest definition possible for an NHL goalie. If the guys played a minute in the NHL, he's on the list (unless I've missed someone). The criteria also tends to punish goalies taken early since we're only five to seven years out from their draft year. Edmonton's number is low right now but could climb substantially if Devan Dubnyk ends up being a goalie of significance. This is also why I stopped at the 2005 draft rather than moving forward.
The San Jose Sharks haven't been all that successful with their strategy but it sure is interesting. Over a period of three years they drafted seven goaltenders and none in the first two rounds. That might be a wee bit overkill. Other teams to use a similar "lots-late" strategy include the Kings, Lightning, Predators and Flyers. Another strategy I found interesting was that of not drafting goalies. No one drafted zero but the Red Wings, Avalanche, Islanders and Coyotes all decided to only draft one goaltender over a three-year period. Considering the availability of NHL level goalies on the free agent market, this is pretty low-risk strategy.
Next up is a breakdown of how many goalies were taken in each round of the draft over these three years and how they performed as a group:
So as you might expect, teams take fewer goalies in the first round than they do in the later rounds of the draft. This is pretty conventional wisdom at this point. Drafting goalies early is a bad bet and NHL teams aren't that dumb. These "average point" figures should also go up with time (since you can only gain points as years pass). The goalies taken in the first round will end up creating more of a gap as we move forward but I'll tell you right now that it won't be large enough to justify the risk. Which means that these two things are true: (1) goalies taken in the first round are generally better than goalies taken late in the draft and (2) drafting goalies in the first round is stupid.