Whether it means making great selections and developing those players into NHL stars or trading picks/prospects for NHL-ready players, the Draft is the most important tool for a GM to consistently improve his team.
Through three seasons, the Golden Knights have made 28 selections in the Entry Draft. Four have played in NHL games but just two have appeared for the Golden Knights. That being said, Vegas used the selections of the two that didn’t, Erik Brannstrom and Nick Suzuki, to acquire Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.
So, it’s a bit too early to judge how well they’ve drafted as a team, but there’s no questioning they’ve already been able to utilize the Entry Draft to improve to what ended up being the best roster ever constructed from an Expansion Draft. The future of the franchise will continue to hinge on the successes and failures in the Entry Draft.
During the NHL Pause, NHL.com has been conducting “NHL Redrafts” in which they go back over a previous year’s Entry Draft and reselect them using what we know now. They’ve completed eight years, from 2005 to 2012, which consists of a majority of the players playing in the league right now.
When those eight drafts occurred, George McPhee was the GM of the Washington Capitals. He had 10 1st round picks yet managed to select 13 players that wound up being 1st rounders in NHL.com’s Redrafts. Here’s the full rundown of how McPhee did…
(Click each year for a link to that Redraft)
1st Round Pick (14) – Sasha Pokulok (Not Drafted in Redraft)
1st Round Pick (4) – Nicklas Backstrom (#3 in Redraft) UP 1
1st Round Pick (23) – Semyon Varlamov (#8 in Redraft) UP 15
2nd Round Pick (34) – Michal Neuvirth (#27 in Redraft) UP 7
1st Round Pick (5) – Karl Alzner (#28 in Redraft) DOWN 23
1st Round Pick (21) – Anton Gustafsson (Undrafted in Redraft)
1st Round Pick (27) – John Carlson (#6 in Redraft) UP 21
4th Round Pick (93) – Brayden Holtby (#5 in Redraft) UP 88
1st Round Pick (24) – Marcus Johansson (#22 in Redraft) UP 2
2nd Round Pick (55) – Dmitry Orlov (#24 in Redraft) UP 31
3rd Round Pick (85) – Cody Eakin (#19 in Redraft) UP 66
1st Round Pick (26) – Evgeny Kuznetsov (#7 in Redraft) UP 19
4th Round Pick (112) Phillipp Grubauer (#23 in Redraft) UP 89
No Pick in first 3 rounds
1st Round Pick (11) – Filip Forsberg (#2 in Redraft) UP 9
1st Round Pick (16) – Tom Wilson (#15 in Redraft) UP 1
Aside from 2005, when McPhee selected Sasha Pokulok while passing on Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick, Paul Stastny, Kris Letang, and James Neal, McPhee was incredibly successful in the eight drafts at hand.
His most impressive year was 2009 when he used picks in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounds to select eventual NHL stalwarts that would all be redrafted in the 1st. He found major success in selecting goalies seeing three different goaltenders re-drafted in the 1st round while none were selected before the 2nd.
Of McPhee’s 10 1st round picks, seven were selected higher in the Redraft than where the Capitals originally selected them. Also, McPhee converted five non-1st round picks into re-drafted 1st rounders.
All in all, McPhee fared very well in these eight redrafts missing badly on just two 1st round picks while hitting home runs on plenty of others.
Notable Selections From NHL.com’s Redraft
2005 – Paul Stastny Redrafted 6th (originally selected 44th)
2005 – James Neal Redrafted 8th (originally selected 33rd)
2005 – Ryan Reaves Redrafted 26th (originally selected 156th)
2007 – Max Pacioretty Redrafted 6th (originally selected 22nd)
2007 – David Perron Redrafted 8th (originally selected 26th)
2007 – Alec Martinez Redrafted 15th (originally selected 95th)
2009 – Tomas Tatar Redrafted 12th (originally selected 60th)
2009 – Reilly Smith Redrafted 15th (originally selected 69th)
2009 – Cody Eakin Redrafted 19th (originally selected 85th)
2009 – Robin Lehner Redrafted27th (originally selected 46th)
2010 – Mark Stone Redrafted 3rd (originally selected 178th)
2011 – William Karlsson Redrafted 14th (originally selected 53rd)
2012 – Nikita Gusev Redrafted 16th (originally selected 202nd)