Just Take the Best Player: 2008 – 2011

If you have the first overall pick in the draft, it should be easy to choose the best player available, right? Same for the top five or so. In this mini-series, I look at how teams did in the first five picks of the draft and whether they took the best player available. This is the third post on the topic, as I have posts that include 2000 to 2003 and 2004 to 2007.


In the first post, I explained that the best player available has only been drafted first overall in nine of the seventeen draft years I analyzed. Roughly half. If teams struggle to take the best player available with the first overall pick, it becomes a little more understandable if a team misses on a later pick. In this year’s draft, teams nailed the top two picks. The only previous year when that happened was 2004. Tampa Bay had the first overall pick and selected Steven Stamkos. The Kings had the number two pick and landed Drew Doughty. A pretty good start for this draft. With the third pick, the Thrashers took Zach Bogosian, but the third best player available was Erik Karlsson, who was taken 15th overall by Ottawa. The Blues had the fourth pick and got the fourth best player available, selecting Alex Pietrangelo. The Maple Leafs had the fifth pick and took Luke Schenn while the Capitals got the fifth best player available taking John Carlson with the 27th pick in the draft.

1Steven StamkosLightning1Steven StamkosLightning
2Drew DoughtyKings2Drew DoughtyKings
3Zach BogosianThrashers15Erik KarlssonSenators
4Alex PietrangeloBlues4Alex PietrangeloBlues
5Luke SchennMaple Leafs27John CarlsonCapitals


This makes back to back years that teams nailed the top two picks, taking the best player available. Even the subsequent picks weren’t too far off the mark, compared to other years. The Islanders had the top pick and took John Tavares and the Lightning had the second pick, selecting Victor Hedman. Both were the best player available for their draft spot. At three, the Avalanche took Matt Duchene but the third best player available was Oliver Ekman-Larsson, selected by the Coyotes at 6. Fourth was the Thrashers taking Evander Kane but the fourth best player available was the biggest jump into the top five, the Senators selecting Robin Lehner with the 46th pick. The fifth pick went to the Kings who took Brayden Schenn while Duchene has been the fifth best available.

1John TavaresIslanders1John TavaresIslanders
2Victor HedmanLightning2Victor HedmanLightning
3Matt DucheneAvalanche6Oliver Ekman-LarssonCoyotes
4Evander KaneThrashers46Robin LehnerSenators
5Brayden SchennKings5Matt DucheneAvalanche


This draft had a little bit of both, teams hitting on their picks and a wild miss. This was the year of Taylor/Tyler as Edmonton took Taylor Hall with the top pick, but should have instead took Tyler Seguin, as he has been the best player available. The Bruins did snag Seguin with the second overall pick but the second best player available was taken 187th overall by the Hurricanes, Frederik Andersen. The Panthers had the third pick and took Erik Gudbranson while Taylor Hall has been the third best available. At four, the Blue Jackets took Ryan Johansen but the fourth best available was Vladimir Tarasenko, selected 16th by the Blues. The fifth pick went to the Islanders who took Nino Niderreiter but the fifth best player available was Jeff Skinner, taken 7th by the Hurricanes.

1Taylor HallOilers2Tyler SeguinBruins
2Tyler SeguinBruins187Frederik AndersenHurricanes
3Erik GudbransonPanthers1Taylor HallOilers
4Ryan JohansenBlue Jackets16Vladimir TarasenkoBlues
5Nino NiederreiterIslanders7Jeff SkinnerHurricanes


This draft saw one of the biggest jumps into the top spot for the best player available. The Oilers had the first overall pick and took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins while the Lightning got the best player at 58, Nikita Kucherov. The Avalanche used the second pick on Gabriel Landeskog but the Bruins got the second best player available in Dougie Hamilton with the 9th pick. The Panthers took Jonathan Huberdeau at three and the Ducks got the third best available with the 39th pick, John Gibson. At four, the Devils took Adam Larsson while the fourth best player available was Landeskog. One thing to note is the margin of difference in the top picks for this draft is very small and point shares updates every game. Any of these players can easily move up or down a couple slots. At five, the Islanders took Ryan Strome but the fifth best player available was Mark Scheifele, selected 7th overall by Winnipeg.

1Ryan Nugent-HopkinsOilers58Nikita KucherovLightning
2Gabriel LandeskogAvalanche9Dougie HamiltonBruins
3Jonathan HuberdeauPanthers39John GibsonDucks
4Adam LarssonDevils2Gabriel LandeskogAvalanche
5Ryan StromeIslanders7Mark ScheifeleJets

And the 2012 to 2016 draft updates are soon to come!