What Have the New York Islanders’ Traded Draft Picks Amounted To?
March 7, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Colin Wilson (33) celebrates with Nashville Predators right wing James Neal (18) his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. Neal provided an assist on the goal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Since Garth Snow took the reigns on the organization in 2006, the New York Islanders have traded 19 draft picks.

At the expansion draft on Wednesday night, Islanders general manager Garth Snow confirmed what most people already knew: that his team is shipping its 2017 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick and Mikhail Grabovski to Vegas for the protection of its most valuable players.

The initial reaction to the trade was one of jubilation, even as the reporter, Newsday’s Arthur Staple, changed his article three times to get it correct.

Fans reasoned that the move — which is essentially $5 million in cap space for a first-round pick — would allow the team to get better in the short-run. This is sound logic. But it’s also important to look at the other part of the equation. In order to get, one must give. And that’s what Snow did on Wednesday night.

In the NHL, draft picks have immense value. It’s why Golden Knights GM George McPhee made a half-dozen trades. Even in a notably weak draft like the one upcoming, there’s plenty of talent to be had. So what exactly are the Isles giving up?

Garth Snow is no stranger to dealing picks. According to our analysis, he traded 19 of them between 2007 and 2013, including four first rounders and five second rounders. The league average is 14.

The following isn’t a precise statistical analysis, because of a data shortage:

  1. We analyzed a small sample size. The Isles only made 19 trades over this time period, which is statistically insignificant.
  2. We made an inadequate comparison. Trying to compare Snow’s track record of trading draft picks and the rest of the league’s success with drafting players, we utilized Post to Post Hockey’s data from 2000 to 2012.

However, this research was never intended to provide precise numbers, but rather, to paint a big picture. We’re trying to answer a simple question: What exactly are the Islanders losing when they trade the fifteenth overall pick (and later, a second rounder)?

The Data

The following is a list of players selected by one of the league’s other 29 (30, now) teams using an Islanders pick between 2007 and 2013:

Pick, Draft Player Team Drafted Stats
15, 2007 Alex Plante Edmonton Oilers 10 GP, 2 PTS
46, 2007 Theo Ruth Washington Capitals N/A
136, 2007 Ondrej Roman Dallas Stars N/A
5, 2008 Luke Schenn Toronto Maple Leafs 644 GP, 136 PTS
7, 2008 Colin Wilson Nashville Predators 502 GP, 237 PTS
68, 2008 Shawn Lalonde Chicago Blackhawks 1 GP, 0 PTS
186, 2008 Jason Demers San Jose Sharks 504 GP, 171 PTS
16, 2009 Nick Leddy Minnesota Wild 498 GP, 216 PTS
37, 2009 Mat Clark Anaheim Ducks 9 GP, 1 PTS
56, 2009 Kevin Lynch Columbus Blue Jackets N/A
91, 2009 Mike Lee Phoenix Coyotes N/A
35, 2010 Ludvig Rensfeldt Chicago Blackhawks N/A
95, 2010 Stephen Silas Colorado Avalanche N/A
155, 2010 Kendall McFaull Atlanta Thrashers N/A
160, 2010 Tanner Lane Atlanta Thrashers N/A
65, 2011 Joseph Cramarossa Anaheim Ducks 59 GP, 10 PTS
155, 2011 Andrew Fritsch Phoenix Coyotes N/A
95, 2012 Josh Anderson Columbus Blue Jackets 96 GP, 34 PTS
45, 2013 Nick Sorensen Anaheim Ducks 5 GP, 1 PTS
  • 6 of 19 players drafted since 2007 have played 50+ games in the NHL (32%)
  • 4 of 19 players drafted since 2007 have played 100+ games in the NHL (21%)
  • Draftees (including goalies) since 2007 have played a total of 2328 games
  • Draftees since 2007 have an average of 43 points and 123 games played
  • Best draft year: 2008 — Luke Schenn (5th), Colin Wilson (7th), Jason Demers (186th)
  • Worst draft year: 2010 — Ludvig Rensfeldt (35th), Stephen Silas (95th), Kendall McFaull (155th), Tanner Lane (160th)

By Round

Round Number of Players GP PTS Expected Success Rate NYI Success Rate Other teams’ Success Rate
First 4 1644 589 73-79% 86% 75%
Second 5 14 2 26-32% 23% 0%
Third 2 60 10 21-26% 7% 50%
Fourth+ 8 610 207 10-15% 10% 25%
  • Despite the second round producing the highest number of draft picks, not one player played in at least 50 games in the NHL
  • 3 of the 4 players drafted in the 1st round since 2007 have played in 50+ games (75%)

This is just the raw data. It isn’t a conclusion, and it isn’t statistically sound. While one can make plenty of observations and continue to analyze the data, one thing is abundantly clear: draft picks do have value, especially first rounders.

We’ll discuss these findings in depth at a later time.

Post to Post Hockey’s data was critical for this analysis. Kudos to their researchers for going above and beyond in their research.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.