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Another way to look at it might just be this: what gives a team the better odds of getting a player that will end up playing over 100 games? Or 200? 500?

My quick count is this:
Over 100 - Team 1: 14, Team 2: 21
Over 200 - T1: 12, T2: 18
Over 500 - T1: 6, T2: 8

On that basis, I think it's fair to say you have a better shot at getting a player with a decent NHL career having the 30th and 39th picks rather than just the 22nd.

Here is a more general study which indicates that success in drafting is random. That would imply picking 2 is better than picking 1.

Mike - I don't that this is the right way to look at this - if nothing else, team 2 has the players you didn't include - those extra players could be traded away - their is value not captured in you analysis.

I think that the easiest way to sum it up it to tatal the number of games played by the 22nd play with the total of both the 30th and 39th.

Or let me llok at it another way - assume you could pay cash to get draft picks- if the Leafs could just cut a cheque to a poorer team and not give any trades in return. The decline in value with each successive draft pick that essentially the cash value of pick 22 was equal to pick 30 PLUS pick 39 - your methodology only loks at the better of the 2.

For example, assume that it is a simple exponential series, where draft pick 1 is worth \$1.00, and every successive pick declines by the same percentage. In order for pick 22 to be worth the total of picks 30 and 39, the rate of decline is 5.63% - pick 22 is then worth 29.5 cents, while the other two are worth 18.5 cents and 11.0 cents respectively, totalling the same 29.5 cents.

The Leafs are seriously short of talent and I think they made a mistake here - in that I doubt that the factor above is as high as 5.6% and those lower picks are worth more - they would have been better off keeping the 2 lower picks and then using them in the next few months as currency for other trades.

What would be interesting would be to take this approach and see what a realistic factor is. Minutes played is probably the best way to look at it (except perhaps that successful goalies probably skew the results) - you can't use goals and/or assists, as defensemen and goalies obviously do poorly by this measure.

oh - i just ran a few stats...
pick 22 = average of 317 games in the nhl
pick 30 = average of 225 games in the nhl
pick 39 = average of 231 games in the nhl

pick 30 + pick 39 = 439 games

if the idea of the draft is to get as many players who make it as far as the nhl and have some sort of career, then it probably is better to not make this trade. of course, some of these player in the averages never made the nhl at all, or only a few games, so i calculated how many players played at least 82 games, and the answers are 15, 13 and 11 respectively, so ingeenral, out of 25 rounds, the leafs could expect to get 15 players who play 82 games, versus 24 if they had stuck with having 2 picks.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I agree that there's a lot of different ways you can look at this problem.

Emmett: Thanks for doing that calculation - that was on my to-do list!

Very complicated question.

In part it depends on whether the team is in "building" mode - that is, are they looking to recruit a lot of young players, or only one or two?

Is this the result you'd sort of expect? I mean, notwithstanding that the leafs have made some bone-headed moves over the year, the leafs and the ducks have the same data you do. You wouldn't expect to see a trade of picks in which one side of the trade expects (based on past experience) to systematically better than the other (both because (a) the "losing" side probably wouldn't make the trade and (b) a third party would likely see an aribtrage opportunity and improve the offer to the "losing" side).

Would it be hard to get "\$ earned by players" as a measure of both skill and longevity?

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