What have been the best individual draft years for any given NHL team from 1990 to 2005? Does it get any better than Anaheim getting Perry and Getzlaf in 2003? There were four major variables used to rank all the drafts by all NHL teams in this time period: 1) % of players drafted who would play an NHL game, 2) GP per pick (modified of course to account for time), 3) NHL PTS scored within 7 season of the pick, 4) what was the team's highest pick (with more credit going to later picks).
Four teams on this list drafted in the #1 overall position, which is the pick with the greatest probability of producing a superstar player. In the last 20 drafts, the Detroit Red Wings have drafted in the top 20 once. From a probability point of view, that's a terrible disadvantage (their one pick inside the top 20 was Jakub Kindl at #19). Making a good selection gets more difficult the later in the draft that it's made. However, you don't need to have a top ten pick to have a great draft. Examples are provided below, on the list of the 10 best drafts from 1990-2005.
1) Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 2003: (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Drew Miller, Shane O'Brien) Getting Perry and Getzlaf brought Anaheim a Stanley Cup, getting Miller and O'Brien were just gravy. It was really the only good draft of Bryan Murray's tenure as GM of Anaheim, but it was a Cup winning draft none the less. What makes this this draft more impressive than the next 5 on this list is that the Ducks did not have a top 5 pick, waiting until 19th to make their first selection.
2) Pittsburgh Penguins, 2005: (key picks; Sid Crosby, Kris Letang, Joe Vitale) If your team can walk out of a draft with Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, you've hit a home run out of the ballpark. This draft produced a Stanley Cup for a Penguins team that was in need of salvation. GM Craig Patrick hit an easy home run with the first selection, but does deserve credit for Letang later on.
3) Washington Capitals, 2004: (key picks; Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green) It is much easier to have a great draft when you have 3 first round picks, so it's not like you can say that George McPhee defied all odds. 8 of 13 picks have played in the NHL and included players who made a substantial immediate impact.
4) Boston Bruins, 1997: (key picks; Joe Thornton, Sergei Samsonov, Ben Clymer, Antti Laaksonen) It's not often that a team gets 2 picks in the top 10, but when they do, good things tend to happen. Ironically Ben Clymer is the only one in this group with a cup ring, but still, a good draft. Harry Sinden had an advantage based on where he was picking, with Thornton being the unquestioned consensus number one.
5) Quebec Nordiques, 1991: (key picks; Eric Lindros, Rene Corbet, Dave Karpa, Bill Lindsay, Janne Laukkanen) Perhaps Eric Lindros never played for Quebec, and perhaps his ugly departure was a contributing factor to the Nordiques leaving for Colorado; however, since Lindros was traded for Peter Forsberg (who won 2 cups), this has to be considered a win for the franchise. Pierre Page had 14 picks, 8 of them played in the NHL.
6) Philadelphia Flyers, 1990: (key picks; Mike Ricci, Chris Simon, Mikael Renberg, Chris Therien) Bobby Clarke was fired as GM not long after this draft, then re-hired a few years later. This turned out to be a very strong draft year for Philly. Ricci scored 17 playoff PTS on a Stanley Cup champion after being thrown into the Lindros trade. Renberg went to a Cup finals as a key member of the Legion of Doom line.
7) Boston Bruins, 2004: (key picks; David Krejci, Kris Versteeg, Matt Hunwick) For a team that did not make its first pick until 63 overall, Mike O"Connell grabbed some good players, two of them have Stanley Cup rings. 5 of 7 picks have played NHL games.
8) Colorado Avalanche, 1998: (key picks; Alex Tanguay, Martin Skoula, Robyn Regehr, Scott Parker) Well done Pierre Lacroix, a great draft by any standard of measure. Tanguay had 21 playoff PTS on a Stanley Cup champion. Parker and Skoula also won a Cup with Colorado.
9) Ottawa Senators, 1997: (key picks; Marian Hossa, Magnus Arvedson, Karel Rachunek) Pierre Gauthier hit a few European home runs in this draft with players who crossed the pond and made an immediate impact. 5 out of 8 picks played at least 50 NHL games, which is the highest "batting average" on this list.
10) Dallas Stars, 2005: (key picks; Matt Niskanen, James Neal, Tom Wandell) Doug Armstrong (just selected Executive of the year 2012 for St.Louis) did not pick until 28th in 2005, but still snagged two good players and a budding superstar. 6 of their 7 picks have played in the NHL.