When we examined George McPhee’s draft history months ago, we found he favored first-round centers over any other position. In 17 prior entry drafts, McPhee drafted eight top-round centers. His first draft with the Golden Knights was no different, he drafted two first round centers. While we wait for Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki to develop let’s look into McPhee’s first-round center success rate.

In Washington, McPhee made 20 first-round picks in 17 drafts. Add his latest first-round picks, and McPhee has now personally drafted 23 first round prospects in 18 drafts. (No first round picks in 1998, 2001, 2011)

Center – 10
Right Wing – 3
Left Wing – 2
Defenseman – 7
Goaltender – 1

McPhee’s first entry draft as Golden Knights GM shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Drafting Glass and Suzuki were conventional selections for the Vegas GM. Drafting Erik Brannstrom in the first-round was also right on par for McPhee. In Washington, three of his six defensive prospects Nick Boynton, Karl Alzner and John Carlson, became solid NHL players. Vegas fans should feel optimistic McPhee’s success rate got better, as he became more experienced. As a reminder, here’s GM McPhee’s full first round draft history.

YearRoundPick (Overall)PlayerPosition
199719thNick BoyntonD
199917thKris BeechC
2000126thBrian SutherbyC
2002112thSteve EmingerD
2002113thAlex SeminRW
2002117thBoyd GordonC
2003118thEric FehrRW
200411stAlexander OvechkinLW
2005114thSasha PokulokD
2005127thJoe FinleyD
200514thNicklas BackstromC
2005123rdSemyon VarlamovG
200715thKarl AlznerD
2008121stAnton GustafssonC
2008127thJohn CarlsonD
2009124thMarcus JohanssonC
2010126thEvgeny KuznetsovC
2012111thFilip ForsbergC
2012116thTom WilsonRW
2013123rdAndre BurakovskyLW
201716thCody GlassC
2017113thNick SuzukiC
2017115thErik BrannstromD

At the center position, McPhee was widely successful drafting prospects that reached the NHL. Out of the eight centers previously drafted; three were All-Stars, six played over 250 NHL games, and four have played 450 NHL games. Largely, McPhee selected prospects that have a very good chance of making an impact in the NHL. The majority were depth players but Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Johansson are on pace for successful careers. McPhee should also get credit for drafting Filip Forsberg in 2012. I won’t defend the trade, but he deserves a nod for drafting the best offensive player in the draft at #11 overall.

Defensively, McPhee drafted seven first round defensemen including Brannstrom. Out of the six selected in Washington; one (Boynton) was voted to an All-Star game, and three others played over 480 NHL games. The other two were unsuccessful and played a combined 21 NHL games. Again, the evidence proves McPhee drafts defenders who have lengthy NHL careers.

All in all, Vegas fans should be encouraged by the three first-round Golden Knight prospects. But let’s give them time and space. With only four All-Star appearances out of 20 players, it’s safe to say McPhee’s success isn’t be based on awards but organizational depth. In other words, let’s hold off on Glass’s Hall of Fame projections. However, McPhee’s overall success is above average compared to his peers. Remember the high rate of success the few time his team drafted in the top five. If he continues the trend in Las Vegas

However, McPhee’s overall success is above average compared to his peers. Remember the high rate of success the few times his team drafted in the top five. If he continues the trend in Las Vegas, look out. Five years from now, the Golden Knights will be a Cup contending, President’s cup winning club, and not a team that gets bounced annually in the second round… did I say that out loud?