Drafting Leadership - Self Fulfilling Prophecy or Not? The Tankathon that was the NHL season for many teams last year demonstrated teams now view top draft picks as talent and leadership sources. The question remains is it valid? Are players Captains because of the team's investment in them or because they are both a very good player and a good leader.
Four overall number ones are currently Captains but just as many overall number ones are now former Captains (Nash, Lecavalier, Thornton & Spezza).
Only Crosby of the eight overall first picks who are Captains or were Captains has won the Cup as a Captain. Lecavalier did win the Cup with Dave Andrechuk as Captain. Incidientally, Lecavalier was Tampa's Captain at an early age, gave it up and later became Captain again.
Too predictably, 12 of the current 29 Captains were drafted in the Top 9 picks, and 19 out of the 29 Captains were drafted in the First Round. With players such as McDavid, Ekblad, Hedman, Eichel and Doughty looming it is quite possible that in the near future there will be 5 Number One's and 5 Number Two's as Team Captains.
Given what has happened to Nash, Lecavalier, Thornton and Spezza, General Managers and Owners should not think Stardom equals Optimum Leadership. Guy Lafleur and Bobby Orr were never their team's captain. Gordie Howe became Captain of the Red Wings in his 13th season, remained so for 4 years and then played 9 more years with Alex Delvechio as Captain. More recently Chara played over 200 games for both the Islanders and Senators before he became Captain of the Bruins.
Notably, Peter Chiarelli brought in Chara from Ottawa, time will tell if he reverts to what he did in the past or succumbs to the current GM Speak.
Not Where I Started Free Agency, Salary Restrictions and Changing Management all have factored into the fact that 7 out of the 29 Captains are not with the organization that brought them into the NHL. As shown later Captains are for the majority First Round picks (19 out of 29) but for the the teams that looked elsewhere for their Captain, three of them were selected outside of the top 2 rounds.
Third Rounders Chara and Gionta are joined by 8th round Willie Mitchell. Both the 38 year old Mitchell and 36 year old Gionta are in the second year with their respective teams and are examples of perennial losing teams looking to bring in experience to mentor young stars such as Ekblad, Eichel and Reinhart.
Other Captains not with their original team are McDonagh, Foligno (Muckler), Ladd and Phaneuf.
Not Where I Was Born Recently the ratio of Canadian players went below 50%, and while McDavid could bring the number of Canadian Captains up to 50%, it currently stands that there are more non Canadian Captains than Canadian Captains (14 out of 29). In fact 3 Canadian Teams (Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary) have Canadian Captains and 3 do not (Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver).
Canada (14) - Benn, Crosby, Doan, Getzlaf, Giordano, Giroux, Ladd, Mitchell, Phaneuf, Staal, Stamkos, Tavares, Toews, Weber
United States (8) - Backes, Brown, Foligno, Gionta, Greene, McDonagh, Pacioretty, Pavelski
Sweeden (4) - Karlsson, Landeskog, Sedin, Zetterberg
Finland - Koivu
Russia - Ovechkin
Slovakia - Chara
Summary In other postings we have commented that the NHL is becoming very much a Copy Cat League and this investigation of Captains confirms it.
When we evaluated new GMs last year we were positive on Tim Murray. Once again Murray's appointing a Veteran as Captain gets our vote of approval.
Team Captains - Where They Came From / Hot Stove 2015/11/29
29 Captains - 1 Vacancy Connor McDavid in all likelihood will ultimately be the Captain of the Oilers, joining other first overall picks Ovechkin (04), Crosby (05), Stamkos (08) & Tavares (09) as their team's designated leader.
Like Crosby, Stamkos and Tavares, McDavid is Canadian and a Center. An examination of the current 29 Captains shows that a player's Position, Nationality and even team tenure is not as predictable as generally believed, however, predicting when a Captain is drafted is much easier. ...... It Shouldn't Be.
5 GMs Behind 11 Captains Five General Managers are responsible drafting/signing current Captains. Lou Lamoriello leads with 3 Captains while Bryan Murray, Bob Gainey, Darryl Sutter and Jim Rutherford are responsible for 2 Captains.
Each of the 5 GMs who are responsible for multiple Captains did it very differently. Lamoriello used later picks and Free Agency with Sabre's Gionta (99/3/82), Florida's Mitchell (96/8/199), and UFA Devils' Captain Andy Greene, all showing Lamoriello does not believe a Captain has to be a top draft pick.
Bob Gainey picked current Habs Captain Max Pacioretty and Rangers Ryan McDonagh in the same year and the same round; Pacioretty was picked 12th overall in 2007 and McDonagh was selected ten picks later at 22nd. Identifying and selecting leaders for two different teams in the same draft is just one of the unique talents that Gainey has demonstrated as a GM.
Darryl Sutter is best known as the L.A. Kings coach but in 2003 he selected Dion Phaneuf with the 9th pick & signed Mark Giordano twice as a Free Agent, first out of Junior in 2004 & later out of the KHL.
Bryan Murray drafted Getzlaf (03/1/19) while he was with the Ducks and later drafted Karlsson (08/1/15) with mid first round picks.
Jim Rutherford's used two early picks for future Captains in Eric Staal (03/1/2) and Andrew Ladd (04/1/4). Conventional? Yes. More effective? Not necessarily.
On the other end of the spectrum is Dean Lombardi who has presided over 17 drafts as GM of the Kings and Sharks. Although Lombardi is not responsible for bringing any of the current Captains into the league, he has won 2 Cups with the Kings.
Editor's Note The Hot Stove broke camp a little late this year but once again we hope to provide a perspective and information not found elsewhere.
The World Juniors will soon be upon us and those who forget how we compile scoring we suggest using the following two buttons to look at the past 2 World Juniors.
A Captain's Position What goes around, comes around and in today's NHL the Center is supreme, but oddly enough this is not the case when it comes to position as just over a third of the Captains are Centers.
Center (10) - Backes, Crosby, Getzlaf, Giroux, Koivu, Sedin, Stamkos, Tavares, Toews, Zetterberg
Defense (8) - Chara, Giordano, Greene, Karlsson, McDonagh, Mitchell, Phaneuf, Weber
Left Wing (6) - Benn, Ladd, Landeskog, Ovechkin, Pacioretty, Staal
Right Wing (5) - Brown, Doan, Foligno, Gionta, Pavelski