A Snapshot Look at Draftees Playing for their Teams

Pro players
min - read
Gary Mok
Pro players
min - read
If you only have a few minutes to spare, here's what you should know:
33.95% of rostered players on NHL teams (as of March 21, 2023) were drafted by the team they were playing for.
52.3% of those "homegrown players" were drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
The Philadelphia Flyers had the most "homegrown players" with 14 and the Florida Panthers had the least with 3 (recent expansion teams Seattle and Vegas were omitted from the study).

The Dream

A hockey player sits in the stands of a packed arena. Their dream about to become reality.

They take a deep breath as a hockey executive stands behind a podium and leans toward a microphone.

Everyone in the arena — and much of the hockey world — waits to hear the name that escapes their mouth, to learn who this executive has chosen to take with their team’s draft pick.

The name is called and now the eyes turn to the player, who saunters down from their seat to join the hockey executive and other members of the team on the stage.

The player is given a jersey, the team’s jersey, to toss over their head and across their torso for a golden photo opportunity. A rite of passage. A dream confirmed.

Sadly, the reality is that for most draftees, this moment ends up being the only time they’re seen in public sporting the logo of the team that drafted them.

Many of them make the NHL playing for other squads; many more will not play in the league at all.

So if you were to tune into a late season NHL game this past March, just how many players would you have seen playing for the team that drafted them?

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
ELMONT, NEW YORK - JANUARY 14: Juraj Slafkovsky #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on January 14, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images )

The Reality

Nic Hague is an anomaly within an anomaly.

The Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup and the first ones to lift it after team captain Mark Stone were the players acquired via the expansion draft.

A little while later, Hague lifted the Cup as Vegas’s lone player dressed in the playoffs who was drafted by the team in the entry draft.

The Golden Knights, by virtue of their recent expansion status, stand out for not having many of their own entry drafted players on their roster. But just how much of an anomaly was it?

Here’s a survey of the rosters of all 30 NHL teams towards the end of the season — Vegas and Seattle were omitted from this study due to their comparably lack of entry draft history — and how many of the players on them were drafted by the very team they were playing for:

Figure 1: Number of Homegrown Players on Each NHL Roster

*Homegrown Player is defined in this project as a player rostered by the team that drafted them.

*Roster sizes determined by a combination of active pro roster players and those on injured reserve. These are players that are theoretically allowed to be cleared to play that evening.

LTIR players were omitted (which meant Homegrown Players like Andrei Svechnikov and Gabriel Landeskog, among others, were not included).

*Roster and draftee status information courtesy of CapFriendly. Data compiled on March 21, 2023.

If you were to tune into an NHL game on March 21, 2023, homegrown players playing for their drafted teams accounted for approximately one third (33.95%) of NHL rosters.

This snapshot look at homegrown players is only one way of considering how many players end up dressing for the teams that draft them. There is a more expansive study that could follow by incorporating many decades of draft classes and their respective NHL careers that followed.

For this snapshot look, it’s clear that even if the player is NHL-calibre, it’s more likely they’ll end up on another roster at some point in their careers. That helps put into further perspective the impressiveness of players like Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron — homegrown players who are still active but will likely only ever play for one franchise.

Conversely, it’s also good news for certain draftees who get taken by teams they are less than enthused about joining. They don’t always have to engineer a Lindros-esque exit to depart their undesirable locations.

They could also simply wait for the odds to work in their favour.

June 28th, 2023: Picture of the first round of the NHL Draft in Nashville

Additional Notes

Here are some other notable factoids that came out of the data compiled for this project:
  • Of the 256 players considered homegrown, a whopping 134 were drafted by their teams in the first round (52.3%).
  • The Philadelphia Flyers led the league with 14 Homegrown Players and were the only team where both goaltenders on the roster, Carter Hart and Felix Sandström, were original draftees.
  • The Stanley Cup finalist Florida Panthers had the least Homegrown Players in the league (once again, not including Vegas or Seattle) with 3, but all 3 were former first-round picks — Alexander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and Anton Lundell. The Panthers were joined by the Colorado Avalanche and the Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams whose rostered Homegrown Players were all drafted in the first round.
  • The New York Islanders had a near-perfect homegrown blueline, with 6 of 7 rostered defenders acquired through the entry draft. The lone exception was Alexander Romanov, who was acquired along with a fourth-round pick from Montreal last July for the Islanders’ 2022 first-round pick.

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