2010 NHL Entry Draft

Taylor Hall was the Edmonton Oilers No. 1 draft pick in the National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft held last week at Staples Center in downtown L.A.  The Oilers had a dismal 2009-2010 season, finishing last in the League.  Selection order in the draft is based on a combination of weighted lottery, regular season standing, and playoff results.  Teams draft in the same order all seven rounds unless they trade draft picks or players.  The lottery is weighted so that the team with the worst record has the best chance to obtain a higher draft pick.  Only the five lowest-ranking teams from the regular season are eligible to receive first pick in the draft, so winning the weighted lottery may be a sign that a weak team:

  • is finally reversing a string of bad luck; or
  • threw games to become a bottom-five team once they realized they weren’t going to make the playoffs; or 
  • traded their more experienced players late in the season to teams still in the hunt for the Cup, dampening team performance sufficiently to finish in the bottom-five (such trades are generally done to shore up the team’s income statement or create some room under the team’s salary cap).  

The Chicago Blackhawks, winners of the Stanley Cup this year, were set to pick last (No. 30) in Round 1 but they traded some players for the Atlanta Thrashers No. 24 pick and gave their No. 30 pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for picks No. 35 and 58 in Round 2.  All this wheeling and dealing took place on the arena floor, which was a sea of suits and laptops.

During Round 1, each team had 15 minutes to make their selection.  As spectators, we cycled between excitement and boredom for three hours:  a minute of commotion as a team announced their pick and the drafted player made his way to the stage for a photo op before being thrust into a media circus, followed by a few minutes of anticipation while the scouts, lawyers, and agents for the next team bent over their laptops before making their pick or trade.  I felt bad for Cam Fowler, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks Round 1 draft pick, as many L.A. Kings fans were committed to boo-ing Anaheim every chance they got.  I felt happy for Jaden Schwartz, who was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Blues on his 18th birthday. 

To pass the time, Scott kept track of the top Canadian draft picks and their birthdays to replicate Malcolm Gladwell’s observations in “Outliers“.  I thought about the strange incentives created by a system which rewards under-performing teams with first dibs on fresh meat. 

I also noticed some interesting fashion statements:

  • Team owner’s kids in full-sized No. 10 (as in 2010) hockey jerseys delivered food to their parents who sat at team tables on the arena floor.  
  • Girlfriends, sisters, and mothers of drafted players rocked cocktail dresses, heels, and up-do’s as they cheered in the stands.
  • Team owners who had their photos taken on stage with their draft picks generally wore dark suits, but most contingents had one rogue in a beige suit who obviously didn’t get the memo. 
  • The stands were filled with tanned businessmen in sharply-tailored suits and drunken meatheads in jerseys and face-paint.
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  1. So did Scott note the same finding as Gladwell did? All early bdays?

    Like

  2. Hi Tilak,

    I couldn’t find Scott’s scrap paper stats, but here’s a post that suggests Gladwell’s analysis held for Round 1:

    http://freezethepuck.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/outliers-of-the-nhl-draft/

    Cheers,

    Helsa

    Like

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