The 2017 QMJHL draft lottery will be taking place on Thursday afternoon with a brand new draft format. For the first time, the five teams at the bottom of the standings will get an opportunity to win the 1st overall pick. While all participating teams obviously want to win, what kind of an impact does winning the draft lottery ultimately make? According to my analysis of relative draft pick value, the difference between the top 5 picks is significant.
The value of draft picks has been studied by numerous people at the NHL level, such as Eric Tusky’s work and Stephen Burtch’s work. However, it has never been studied at the QMJHL level. Building from the NHL analyses, I created my own relative draft picks values using regular season data from a 10-year period (2002 to 2011). To calculate a relative value for draft picks, I combined the expected probabilities of a draft pick playing 50, 100, or 150 games with the expected production of that pick. Given that point per game is the most reliable measure of production, I filtered out defencemen and goalies from this analysis. I also limited my draft pick values to the first 5 rounds (90 picks), given that my data is based on former league rules where first-time eligible players could only be drafted in those 5 rounds.
The results of this analysis revealed a large gap in the value of the first 5 picks. Assuming that the 1st overall pick is worth 100%, the 2nd pick is worth 80%, the 3rd pick is worth 70%, the 4th pick is worth 64%, and the 5th pick is worth 60%. It is interesting to note the difference in relative pick value in the 1st round compared to the subsequent rounds. The difference in value between the 1st pick and 18th pick is a massive 60%, while the difference between the 37th pick and the 90th pick is only 7%.
The 2017 draft lottery odds are the following:
- 18th – Moncton: 43%
- 17th – Sherbrooke: 28%
- 16th – Rimouski: 14%
- 15th – Halifax: 10%
- 14th – Val-d’Or: 5%
For Moncton in particular, losing the draft lottery would be a major detriment to their rebuilding efforts, by getting a player that projects to only make 80% or 70% of the performance impact that the 1st overall pick would. At the other end of the spectrum, Val-d’Or winning the lottery would nearly double the value of their pick, in addition to the team heading to the 2nd round of the playoffs! Regardless, it will be a potentially franchise-altering moment for whichever team wins the lottery on Thursday.