Deadline Analysis


Watching the 2010 NHL Trade Deadline unfold was a lot like watching the Ottawa Senators’ power play these days — predictably orchestrated and without result. I didn’t expect much activity today and for good reason. Between Matt Cullen’s acquisition before the Olympic roster freeze and yesterday’s trade involving Andy Sutton, there simply wasn’t much left for Bryan Murray to do. With a top six forward and a depth defenceman (Ed. note: the new fad that has seemingly replaced the infamous and elusive puck moving defenceman) in tow, Murray got the jump on his competition and came away from the deadline with some warm bodies. By moving deftly and with purpose, Murray avoided the John Muckler mistake of striking out on the big names and drinking enough Wild Turkey to convince himself that overpaying for second rate players was a good idea. Like many other Senators fans on deadline day, I’ve been conditioned to expect the worst.

Whether it’s the acquisition of a Peter Bondra, a stud like Yuha Ylonen or a plan-D like Tyler Arnason, it’s rare that Ottawa ever acquires a commodity at the deadline who kills it during their time with the organization. But something weird happened this season. Unlike in previous years, yesterday didn’t leave me with that prevailing sense of dread that I’ve grown accustomed to.

It may have something to do with the fact that none of Ottawa’s Eastern Conference rivals really improved themselves that much. Does anyone actually believe for a second that Joe Corvo’s fragile psyche and endless giveaways will resolve Washington’s defence and goaltending situations?

Look at him. Is there something about this guy that evokes confidence?

With news that Ray Emery’s career may be in jeopardy, Philadelphia maintained their time-honoured tradition of shitting the bed when it comes time to acquire a serviceable goaltender.

The Sabres brought in Raffi Torres — a unique mashup of bleached hair, Apolo Ohno’s landing strip and Chris Neil (circa 2005). This guy’s a couple star tattooes short of being another Corvo. At least he’ll fit in well with the rest of the Buffalo populace.

Okay, I’ll be honest. New Jersey scares the shit out of me a little bit with their addition of Ilya Kovalchuk. But even he has struggled a bit to develop some chemistry with his linemates. If Kovalchuk’s production continues to wane, questions of whether Jacques El Chupacabra Lemaire is parasitically sucking the offensive life out of Kovy will inevitably arise.

Pittsburgh added Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordon Leopold which isn’t really that dissimilar from what Ottawa did.

My Take on Ottawa’s Moves

The day that Ottawa dealt for Sutton, I said that I would reserve judgment until the conclusion of the deadline so that I could see what moves Ottawa had made. Now that the deadline has passed, I feel like I’m copping out when I say that I can’t really pinpoint my feelings until the conclusion of the NHL playoffs.

Naturally, there will be some sect of the fan base that will be displeased with the fact that Murray gave up two second round picks to get what likely will be two rental players. And not without reason. A few days ago during an interview with the Team 1200,  Bryan Murray spent a good portion of time lauding how well off the team will be in a few years when Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch have developed. Why not follow the Los Angeles Kings’ model of hording draft picks and perpetually building for the future by augmenting this trio with as many young players and prospects as possible?

Maybe because the value of a second round pick isn’t exactly as high as some are lead to believe. According to a recent article on ESPN,

Based off of NHL drafts from 1996 to 2006, his chances of playing at least 82 games in his career are about one-in-four. In comparison, first-round picks make it to that plateau about two-thirds of the time.

The drop in “success” rate from the first to the second round is staggering — about 40 percent. After that, the rate at which players make it to the NHL drops less sharply.

We analyzed the skaters in the 1996 to 2006 drafts. (This gives young players three years to get to the NHL and compile stats.) We looked at players who played at least one NHL game, and those who played a season’s worth of games (82).

Rd. Total Drafted Made to NHL Pct. Played 82 Games Pct.
1 288 257 89.2% 190 66.0%
2 329 194 59.0% 85 25.8%
3 301 132 43.9% 65 21.6%
4 314 132 42.0% 39 12.4%
5 303 79 26.1% 30 9.9%
6 281 69 24.6% 30 10.7%
7 303 70 23.1% 29 9.6%
8 241 62 25.7% 30 12.4%
9 52 59 23.4% 19 7.5%

As the above numbers indicate, second rounders just aren’t a sure thing. So even if Cullen and Sutton turn out to be the second coming of Ylonen or Greg DeVries, a good sample size indicates that there’s a 75-percent chance that the picks would have bombed anyways. Besides, Ottawa will still have the luxury of maintaining team control over expendable assets like Brian Lee and Chris Campoli. While they may not fetch second rounders on their own, they may be able to be packaged to recoup some of the lost draft picks before the 2010 Entry Draft.