Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Which draft round makes the second best all-time roster?

What’s the best round in NHL draft history?

It’s the first round. Sorry if you were hoping I’d build some suspense, but this one was a little bit obvious. I’m not even really sure you could come up with a cute contrarian take here. The first round leaves the competition in the dust. Mario Lemieux, Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Martin Brodeur, Ray Bourque, Jaromir Jagr… yeah, I’ll take those guys. Real tough call, great topic for an article, genius.

OK, so what’s the second best round in NHL history?

That gets a little trickier. Your instinct might be that the second best round must be, well, the second round. But is it? Here’s the thing about the NHL draft: Once you get past the obvious picks in the first round, a whole lot of uncertainty kicks in.

So today, as we get ready to watch the league draft rounds two through seven in a day-long blitz of picks, let’s build some all-time rosters from all the players who didn’t get the glory of being a first-round pick. We’re going to make eight teams: One for each round from two through seven, another for the eighth round and later (which doesn’t exist anymore, but used to), and one for undrafted players.

But first, a few ground rules:

• We’ll build 20-man rosters with four centers, eight wings, six defensemen and two goalies. Wingers can switch sides because I’m weeks away from some time off and I just don’t have the mental energy to deal with the whole “there are no good LWs” thing today.

• Active players are allowed, with the usual caveat that they only get credit for what they’ve done so far in their career.

• When we get to the undrafted team, we’ll only include players who arrived after the draft became the primary way to acquire young players in 1969 since otherwise it would just be packed with guys like Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard who weren’t drafted because there wasn’t one.

We’ve got eight rosters to build, so let’s dive in. And we’ll start with the team that enters as the prohibitive favorite. But can they live up to the hype?

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