NHL Draft Pick Probabilities By Position

Jokke Nevalainen



After the first article about NHL Draft Pick Probabilities (link) was released, there were some asking for something similar but with different player positions being separated to see if there are any differences there. That raised my interest, so I decided to use the same data I had already available to see what type of differences there are between drafting forwards, defensemen and goalies.


As a reminder (or if you haven’t read the first part), I took draft results from a span of 10 years between 2000 and 2009. I took the first 210 selections from each draft (30 teams and seven rounds) to have comparable results from each year. All data taken from www.hockey-reference.com.


Please notice that I’m not a mathematician or even an analyst. There are a lot of people who are way more qualified to do this type of an analysis. But I love charts and I love playing around with numbers on Excel, so that’s what I did here. My goal wasn’t to create some ground-breaking analytical breakthrough but instead provide results that are easy to understand and maybe even remember.


Without further ado, let’s go through the results.


Players drafted per position


The first thing I wanted to look at was the amount of draft selections used on the three positions. Essentially, what percentage of the 2,100 draft choices in question were used on forwards, defensemen and goalies.



When I saw the results, I started wondering if there’s any sort of logic behind it. And then it hit me; it’s basically the composition of a standard 22-man NHL team roster. Here’s a similar chart showing a roster of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.




So over a long period of time, NHL teams are basically allocating draft capital to match their team roster. Which makes sense when you think about it but it’s sort of interesting to see how closely they mimic each other. Or maybe this was obvious to everyone else but me.


Now that we know what portion of draft picks are used on which position, I wanted to see if that changes at different parts of the draft. I split the draft into eight ranges, and I used similar ones that were used at the end of the first article – but this time, I used the actual numbers when we had 30 teams in the league:

  • Top five (1-5)
  • Other lottery picks (6-14)
  • First round for playoff teams (15-30)
  • Second round (31-60)
  • Third round (61-90)
  • Fourth round (91-120)
  • Fifth and sixth round (121-180)
  • Seventh round (181-210)


Fifth and sixth rounds are combined because there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable difference between those two rounds, as seen in the first article as well. Here are the full results.