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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Of Picks & Pockets: The Trade Chips of NHL Draft Picks

  With the highly-anticipated 2015 NHL Entry Draft rapidly approaching, I thought I’d do some number crunching on the actual trade value of a specific draft pick. When someone (including myself) ponders hypothetical trade proposals, it can be hard to truly appreciate the trading power of a 1st, 3rd or 5th round draft pick. So I thought I’d shed some light on the historical value attached to the range of draft picks available to be traded this month.

   First, let's take a look at the current order of draft picks:



   For this exercise, we are only examining trades where Team A traded two draft picks to Team B for a single draft pick in return. Any transaction involving future considerations, promises, contract rights or minor leaguers was disqualified from our study.

   So...


Trades of this formula since 2005, where Flop ranges from 7th to 81st overall




    The “flop” is the best draft pick in the deal, listed below on the left. The “turn” is the 2nd highest draft pick, usually fairly close to the flop. The “river” is the third ‘throw-in’ pick, designed to be just the addition needed to the “turn” to acquire the “flop” in a bundled trade. Remember, since the 1st overall pick is obviously the most valued selection, the graph is formatted so less (or lower) is better (or more valuable).

   Here is the itemized list of trades, specifically when a lone draft pick was traded for two lower draft picks. No players, contracts or other assets were included in trade… just the draft picks. Only trades since the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The [  ] indicates at the time of trade, the draft pick was for the following draft, and its precise number was not known at the time. The [[  ]] indicates the draft pick was for the draft two years away, and so forth.

#07 traded for #09 & #40 ———— (6/20/08)
#12 traded for #17 & #28 ———— (6/20/08)
#12 traded for #16 & #41 ———— (7/30/05)
#12 traded for #13 & [#74] ———- (6/20/08)

   From these results, upgrading a mid-1st round pick, even only a few selections upward, proves very pricy. These trades suggest a trading a mid-1st round pick for an early-1st round pick requires packaging a 2nd round pick as well. To nobody’s surprise, this further demonstrates the monstrosity of a package that could be asked by and/or sent to Arizona, should Don Maloney be serious about trading down the franchise’s 3rd overall pick. Do you think Arizona would accept or reject an offer from Toronto packaging their 4th & 24th overall picks? 

#14 traded for #21 & #42 ———— (6/22/12)
#15 traded for #19 & #59 ———— (6/25/10)
#15 traded for #18 & [#70] ———- (6/20/08)
#16 traded for #19 & #42 ———— (6/22/07)
#16 traded for #20 & #53 ———— (6/24/06)
#18 traded for #24 & #70 ———— (6/22/07)
#20 traded for #23 & #84 ———— (6/26/09)

   Relevant to the rumors of Edmonton open to trading its #16 overall pick in the upcoming 2015 draft. Once again, upgrading a mid-to-late 1st rounder requires an additional 2nd or 3rd round pick. 

#20 traded for #29 & [#41] ———- (7/30/05)
#21 traded for #30 & #36 ———— (6/22/07)
#21 traded for #26 & #37 ———— (6/26/09)
#21 traded for #23 & #54 ———— (6/20/08)
#22 traded for #30 & #39 ———— (6/24/11)
#23 traded for #24 & [#73] ———- (6/20/08)
#24 traded for #35 & #48 ———— (6/24/11)
#24 traded for #44 & #48 ———— (6.23/01)
#25 traded for #30 & #77 ———— (6/24/06)
#27 traded for #47 & #52 ———— (7/30/15)
#28 traded for #35 & #39 ———— (6/20/08)
#28 traded for #41 & [#57] ———- (6/22/08)
#29 traded for #32 & #75 ———— (6/26/09)
#30 traded for #35 & #58 ———— (6/25/10)

   Here the table slides towards something like 2x 2nd rounders for a late-1st rounder. Or, upgrading a late-1st rounder a few selections for an additional 3rd rounder.

#35 traded for #38 & #69 ———— (6/23/07)
#38 traded for #46 & #76 ———— (6/21/08)
#41 traded for [#58] & 84 ———— (6/23/07)
#45 traded for #56 & #66 ———— (7/30/05
#46 traded for #49 & [#105] ——— (6/21/08)

   These trades suggest upgrading a 2nd rounder require conceding an additional 3rd rounder. Or, a late-2nd rounder & late 3rd-rounder for a mid-2nd rounder.

#47 traded for #59 & [#78] ———- (6/25/11)
#47 traded for #49 & #109 ———- (6/26/11)
#47 traded for #89 & #102 ———- (7/30/15)
#56 traded for #62 & #92 ———— (6/27/09)
#59 traded for #69 & #99 ———— (6/26/11)
#59 traded for [#39] & #119 ——— (7/30/05)
#60 traded for #70 & #100 ———- (6/25/11)
[#63] traded for #107 & #137 ——- (6/27/09)

   The going rate for upgrading continues to scale down, as upgrading a 2nd-or-3rd rounder costs an additional 4th rounder. An early-3rd round begins to go for a late-3rd round & 4th rounder.

#66 traded for #79 & #109 ———- (6/24/09)
#68 traded for #72 & #102 ———- (6/21/08)
#71 traded for #77 & #109 ———- (6/26/11)
#71 traded for #98 & #126 ———- (6/24/06)
#73 traded for [#108] & #162 ——- (7/30/05)
#74 traded for #84 & #107 ———- (6/27/09)
#74 traded for #81 & #101 ———- (6/21/08)
#74 traded for #87 & #96 ———— (7/30/05) 
#75 traded for #80 & #200 ———- (6/24/06) 
#76 traded for #99 & #111 ———- (6/24/06)
#77 traded for #96 & #107 ———- (6/25/11) 
#81 traded for [#66] & #169 ——— (6/25/11) 
#88 traded for #115 & #119 ——— (6/24/06) 
Trades of this formula since 2005, where Flop ranges from 29th to 200th overall

   The late-3rd rounders tend to go for 2x 4th rounders. Upgrading a 3rd rounder goes for a cheap rate of only an additional 4th or 5th rounder. As we can see by the graph above, by this point the Turn & River become extremely interchangeable, and more variable in ascertaining a Flop.

#92 traded for [#117] & [[#148]] —  (6/21/08) 
#95 traded for [#93] & #154 ——— (6/23/07) 
#97 traded for #107 & #137 ——— (6/21/08)
#98 traded for #108 & #173 ——— (6/24/06)
#104 traded for #114 & #144 ——- (6/24/06)
#109 traded for [#111] & [#191] — (6/23/12)
#110 traded for #141 & #171 ——- (6/24/06)
#111 traded for [#110] & #211 —— (6/21/08)
#112 traded for #116 & #146 ——- (6/26/10)
#116 traded for #139 & #147 ——- (6/23/07)
#118 traded for #132 & #193 ——- (6/25/11)

   The going rate for 4th-rounders go for a pair of 5th rounders, or a 5th & 6th. When upgrading, the later the 4th rounder pursued, the more the upgrade cost floats towards being a 7th rounder.

[#126] traded for #155 & #160 —— (6/26/11)
#141 traded for #193 & [#202] —— (7/30/05)
[#150] traded for #176 & (#212) —- (6/27/09)
#158 traded for #169 & #199 ——- (6/26/10)
#161 traded for #188 & #196 ——- (6/24/06)

   5th rounders begin to go for a couple of packaged 6th & 7th rounders, or even just a pair of 7th rounders. Upgrading a 5th rounder becomes practically free, as a 7th rounder is the lowest form of draft pick utility in trading.

[#166] traded for #190 & (#211) —- (6/27/09)
[#177] traded for #210 & (#211) —- (6/26/09)
[#178] traded for #188 & (#212) —- (6/27/09)
[#182] traded for #194 & (#212) —- (6/23/12)
#183 traded for [#191] & (#212) —- (6/23/12)
#200 traded for [#208] & (#211) —- (6/26/10)


   The (#211) & (#212) draft picks above actually represent zero draft picks actually involved in trade, as they represent the pick AFTER the last pick in the draft. There is no “upgrading” in the 6th or 7th rounds per say, but teams will acquire 6th or 7th rounders for the current year’s draft, in exchange for similar picks the following year, where it’s an unknown gamble as to whether they will end up higher or lower than this year’s pick. 

   All in all, before guesstimating what draft pick could possibly warrant returning another in a trade, we offer this neatly archived listing of salary cap era draft pick trades. 

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