June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Morgan Rielly puts on a team jersey after being selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2013 NHL Entry Draft: Examining Dave Nonis’ Draft History


We’re now less than a week away from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in Newark, New Jersey, and hockey fans everywhere are getting excited. Draft Day is a day full of promise and hope; a chance for all 30 teams, no matter where they’re picking or how many picks they have in their arsenal, to add some fresh, young talent. There’s even more reason to get excited this year, as many experts, pundits and talking heads have dubbed this year’s draft one of the best we’ve seen in a while, maybe even just as good as the legendary 2003 Draft.

As I’ve been looking at different options the Leafs might have at that 21st spot, I’ve come to the realization that there are a lot of them. Whether Nonis will be looking for a player with offensive upside or someone who can lock down opposing players defensively, he should have no shortage of options to choose from. So the question becomes: Who is Nonis likely to target?

The Leafs need a lot of help in their prospect ranks at forward, but they also have a pretty dreary group of defensemen at the NHL level. With Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy, Matt Finn and Jesse Blacker all defensemen who will have shots with the big club within the next few seasons, the more pressing need might be to address the Leafs’ forward ranks. Nonis already addressed the team’s goaltending by bringing in Jonathan Bernier via trade yesterday (even though it wasn’t a need to be addressed in the first place), so I couldn’t imagine him taking a goaltender with a high pick. With all that being said, none of us have access to Nonis and Co.’s draft board, so this is all speculation.

What we do have, however, is Nonis’ draft history as a general manager. Nonis served as GM of the Vancouver Canucks from May 2004 until April 2008, meaning he was at the helm for four consecutive drafts. Over the course of those four drafts, Nonis made 24 picks. Out of those 24 picks, only six have played at least 98 NHL games in their careers thus far (Cory Schneider is at 98 but is a goalie who has spent most of his career backing up Roberto Luongo). Besides Mike Brown and Jannik Hansen (who were taken with the Canucks’ fifth- and ninth-round picks in 2004, respectively), the rest of that 98+ group were taken in the first three rounds. Seeing as the vast majority of late-round picks are taken on fliers that never pan out, let’s focus on the players taken in one of the first three rounds (stats and info via HockeyDB):

Player

Year

Round

Pick (Overall)

NHL GP

Career Points/SV%

Cory Schneider

2004

1

26

98

.927*

Alexander Edler

2004

3

91

431

206

Luc Bourdon

2005

1

10

36

2

Mason Raymond

2005

2

51

374

178

Michael Grabner

2006

1

14

219

116

Daniel Rahimi

2006

3

82

0

0

Patrick White

2007

1

25

0

0

Tayler Ellington

2007

2

33

0

0

*Schneider’s save percentage was taken from Hockey-Reference

The results are mixed. Schneider, Edler, Raymond and Grabner have all developed into NHL regulars, but the others…not so much. Bourdon was a highly-rated prospect who died in a motorcycle accident in 2008, so we won’t discount Nonis for that pick. But that 0-for-3 run in his last two years is pretty glaring.

In conclusion, it’s hard to get too excited about Nonis’ drafting ability either way. Every draft is different, and every team has different needs. If we looked at any other general manager in the league, I’m sure we could find plenty of busts in their draft history. That’s why drafting is often referred to affectionately as a “crapshoot”. On the bright side, Nonis has guessed right more often than wrong with his early-round picks, so the odds are he’ll at least get a capable player with the 21st pick in a deep draft.

Time will tell if that turns out to be the case.

Tags: 2013 NHL Entry Draft Dave Nonis Featured Popular Toronto Maple Leafs