I've written recently about measuring draft success by counting the "career players" that come out of each draft and each round or group of rounds. When I looked at the Oilers' draft picks from 2005-2009, I found that they were about three career players short of league average, and two of those players should have come from the first round. Their lack of success at the draft table from 1999-2005 is thus partly to blame for the poor seasons that the team has suffered through since the Cup Finals appearance.
But what about the years since then? The Oilers have drafted twenty-three players in those four drafts and only one has become an NHL regular. Will they surpass the league average with this group, or will they falter as they did in the 1999-2005 period?
Around sixty percent of all first round picks become career players, and while the Oilers could certainly beat the league average, just getting back to mediocre is a step in the right direction. Baby steps, you know? The Oilers have made five first-round selections since 2006, meaning that, on average, they'd see three career players out of that group.
Sam Gagner has already hit the number, so he's home safe. That leaves two others to hit the average and anything else is gravy. Who are the two players most likely to hit 200 games from this group? Is it likely that the Oilers will be above the league average and see four or even five picks become career players?
The same period saw the Oilers make only two selections in the second round and since the averages indicate that a quarter of second rounders will make it to two hundred games, our sample size is a bit screwy.
The final category lumps all of the remaining rounds together. In the 90's, twelve percent of all players in this category became career players. Thus far in the 1999-2005 period, the average has been just short of nine percent. and the Oilers have clocked in at just over nine percent, though both of those numbers will probably get closer to twelve percent by the end of the decade. The Oilers drafted sixteen players during the 2006-2009 period.
We can expect two career players from this group. Even though there are a number of interesting stories and fan favorites, the simple fact is that the odds are against this group. Even the best team in the league from 1999-2005, the Colorado Avalanche, only had 17% of their third round picks and beyond turn into career players. If the Oilers can match that, they'd still only get three career players out of this grouping. So given that we should expect two players from this group - which two players are the most likely to make an NHL career of this game? If the Oilers beat the averages, who is the third player that's most likely to make it?