Where are elite D drafted?

A question posed by Ryan over at Lowetide … where are elite D drafted?  Is it really as low as everyone thinks?

First – we have to answer: what is an elite D?  Not that easy a question, actually.

Here’s a couple of lists using three years of lookback.

 [All data sourced from Vollman and war-on-ice]


GP > 40, EV TOI > 18, EV Corsi > 49, EV CorsiRel > 0.

Alex.Pietrangelo
Brent.Seabrook
Brian.Campbell
Christian.Ehrhoff
Dion.Phaneuf
Drew.Doughty
Duncan.Keith
Dustin.Byfuglien
Erik.Karlsson
Francois.Beauchemin
Jonas.Brodin
Justin.Faulk
Justin.Schultz
Keith.Yandle
Marc-Edouard.Vlasic
Marco.Scandella
Mike.Green
Oscar.Klefbom
P.K..Subban
Ryan.McDonagh
Ryan.Suter
Shea.Weber
T.J..Brodie
Tobias.Enstrom
Travis.Hamonic
Zdeno.Chara


Weird part: if you add a QoC filter (CCorsi>50), guess who drops out?

Brian.Campbell
Dustin.Byfuglien
Erik.Karlsson
Keith.Yandle
Mike.Green
Ryan.McDonagh
Tobias.Enstrom
Zdeno.Chara

Some of those are obvious (Campbell, Yandle). Some are shocking (Chara).


Another definition – simplify to GP > 40, ALL TOI > 23.  I like this list, so this is where I’ve added the draft position overall (blank means undrafted):

Alex.Goligoski 61
Alex.Pietrangelo 4
Alexander.Edler 91
Andrei.Markov 162
Andrej.Sekera 71
Andrew.Greene
Brent.Burns 20
Brent.Seabrook 14
Brian.Campbell 156
Cam.Fowler 12
Christian.Ehrhoff 106
Dan.Boyle
Dan.Hamhuis 12
Daniel.Girardi
Dennis.Seidenberg 172
Dion.Phaneuf 9
Drew.Doughty 2
Duncan.Keith 54
Dustin.Byfuglien 245
Eric.Brewer 5
Erik.Johnson 1
Erik.Karlsson 15
Fedor.Tyutin 40
Francois.Beauchemin 75
Jack.Johnson 3
Jason.Garrison
Jay.Bouwmeester 3
John.Carlson 27
Jonas.Brodin 10
Justin.Faulk 37
Justin.Schultz 43
Keith.Yandle 105
Kevin.Bieksa 151
Kris.Letang 62
Mark.Giordano
Mark.Streit 262
Mike.Green 29
Nicklas.Lidstrom 53
Niklas.Kronwall 29
Oliver.Ekman-Larsson 6
P.K..Subban 43
Paul.Martin 62
Roman.Josi 38
Ryan.McDonagh 12
Ryan.Suter 7
Shea.Weber 49
T.J..Brodie 114
Tobias.Enstrom 239
Travis.Hamonic 53
Trevor.Daley 43
Victor.Hedman 2
Zdeno.Chara 56

That looks like a decent list.  Here’s a breakdown (undrafted treated as #210):

Total 52
Top 3 5 9.6%
Top 10 10 19.2%
Top 30 20 38.5%
Undrafted 5 9.6%
Average Pos: 75
Median Pos: 46

There’s your answer, Ryan!  Where are elite D drafted?  Not often very high…

P.S. Whenever I do any work with draft data, it always comes back to the reality that you run into a classic filtering problem of signal vs noise.

Set the filter too loose, and you get noise in your results.

Set it too tight, and you filter out signal (which in this case would be dropping near-top D off the list).

And it’s almost impossible to find the right balance, because the signal and noise are so mixed.

My end response is to set the filter loose, and let my brain do the filtering.

The main conclusion I read off this list: you can get good D anywhere. But you can also get good D high in the draft (e.g. Hedman, Pietrangelo, Doughty, E Johnson, Bouwmeester).

What this chart doesn’t show, though, is comparative risk. It’s not just a matter of picking a D, remember that you are also forgoing another player, likely a F when you do that.

That’s where the risk aspect comes in – the data (I’ve crunched numbers previously) do show that drafting F high has a higher success rate.

So on the topic of Hanifin – not a mistake to draft him given where he’s rated and the roster issues of the Oilers, but must recognize there is some risk there.  Drafting Hanifin comes down to confidence in scouting I guess. I sure do like the Pietrangelo and OEL comparisons.

Lastly, Ryan asked a really good question to ask: is scouting of D getting better? The data is pretty thin, but if I have time, maybe I’ll see if I can put a time lens over top of it that might indicate if results are improving over time.

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2 thoughts on “Where are elite D drafted?

    1. Ha ha, well, let’s be careful about what the lists say. They aren’t showing that Jultz *is* an elite D. They’re showing that Jultz *was used like* an elite D. And he was. That’s the thing about generating lists using objective criteria – no matter how you tweak it, there will always be players who are included who shouldn’t be, and players who are excluded who shouldn’t be. No one would argue that Jultz is actually good. But you can’t argue that the Oilers used him as if he was. And the Oilers finished in 28th. Probably not a coincidence.

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