Ever since reading the Ryan Hartman draft profile (KUTGW by the way), I've been thinking about the Devils moving away from the number 9 pick. Obviously it would depend on the Devils' board and if they had a player they wanted to take at #9 or not, plus having a partner that does have someone they want to take at #9. But, without any names, could we possibly see the Devils move down, and if so, how bad would we freak out about it collectively as a fanbase, for better or for worse?
First, a look at the numbers. Copper and Blue, via NHLNumbers.com, had the breakdown about the success rate of various draft picks based on where they are picked (from 1997-2005), which came up last year as an argument about keeping the pick that became Stefan Matteau. The band from 8-13, where the Devils currently pick, has a success rate of about 34%, or a 1 in 3 chance a GM takes a top player (defined as someone with 200GP and a 0.50 Pts/Gm average for forwards). From 14-25 sees the rate drop off to 28%, while from 26-30 is 27%.
We know that the Devils are keeping the 2013 pick and getting rid of their 2014 pick. It makes sense. Hopefully the Devils will be earn a draft pick lower than 9th next year anyway. But would a 34% chance of a top player this year and a 0% chance (barring trades) next year be better than two 28% chances this year? It seems like for the 6% difference, the Devils could make a trade.
The most obvious trading partner when it comes to picks is, for me, the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets, by virtue of sending many of their players to Our Hated Rivals and the Kings, have three first round picks in the 2013 draft: 14th, the Rangers' pick*, and the Kings' pick^. If they had someone they wanted to take at the number 9 spot, a potential swap of picks could see them get the 9th pick and keep the Rangers pick, while giving Lou the 14th pick and the Kings pick. The Rangers' pick has as much likelihood for success as the 14th, per the Copper and Blue numbers, and Columbus improves on the percentage from the Kings' pick to the 9th by 6-7%. Meanwhile, the Devils would decrease by 6% to move to 14th but gain a whopping 27-28% on the chance of success of next year's forfeited pick.
*The Rangers' pick will be 18th if Detroit makes the Western Conference Final, and 19th if Chicago makes the Western Conference final.
^The Kings' pick will be 20th if they do not make the Western Conference Final, and 27th or below if they do make the Western Conference final.
Very few other teams have multiple draft picks in the 1st round. Calgary has 2, at 21/22 (from St. Louis) and 27 or below (from Pittsburgh). Even if the numbers "worked" in the Devils favor, I'm not sure they make that trade or should. Dallas also has 2, if I'm correct, because the Bruins made the ECF and give up a pick as a result of the Jagr deal, which would give the Stars the 10th and 27th or below (from Boston). While I'm sure Lou would happily move down 1 spot for an extra pick, I can't see Dallas making that trade. Montreal has two early second round picks, 34th and 36th, but with a first round pick no higher than 24th that does not make them great trading partners with the Devils (at least not for the no. 9 pick.) So there's also a problem of finding the right trade partners.
Of course, the other side of the coin is that this is a Devils team not far removed from a Prince of Wales trophy, and they are a team that is certainly in "win-now" mode and the Devils are more likely to find a contributor to next year's roster that can take them back to the heights at number 9 than at a lower pick. Stockpiling picks seems more like a rebuilding idea than a win-now idea, and this might not be the best move considering that.
In this coming draft, the Devils start with the 9th, 39th, 100th, and 160th picks and next year, only a 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th round pick. But they could also be just one player away from being the 2011-12 Devils or better. So "You be the Lou" - would you want to see the Devils turn their 1 first round pick into 2 this year, or a lower first rounder but more low round picks? Would you rather them trade the 9 slot for a player? Or is a shot at an NHL-ready contributor at number 9 more important? Feel free to vote and comment below.