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Bob Murray’s Final Draft Grade
By Thomas Harrington
Now that I’ve reviewed all of Bob Murray’s drafts as GM of the Ducks from 2009-2015, and given an overview on Anaheim’s drafts from 2016-2019, it’s time to give Murray his final grade on his ability to draft players for the Ducks.
In order to do this, I’m going to do a quick rundown of the players that he hit on by round, as well as the players he missed by round, before arriving at his final grade. For the players he missed on, I will only include players in place of the picks that Murray completely missed on. So even if he missed a better player, but Murray still drafted a good NHL player, especially in later rounds, then I’ll count it as a win for him. Also, this grade will only reflect his work from 2009-2015; the other drafts are too recent to properly evaluate and grade.
First Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the first round, Murray has drafted the following players: Peter Holland, Kyle Palmieri, Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Shea Theodore, Nick Ritchie, and Jacob Larsson. That’s nine players, and five of them have become top-four defensemen or top-six forwards. Holland and Etem were far and away his biggest misses, but both had excellent junior and minor league careers. Ritchie was a miss for being the 10th overall pick but would have been a decent selection later in the first round. And Larsson is still developing. Hopefully, he’ll join Palmieri, Fowler, Rakell, Lindholm, and Theodore among Murray’s first-round hits.
Here are some of the players that Murray could have picked who are better than those he ultimately drafted: Chris Kreider in place of Holland in 2009, Brock Nelson or Justin Faulk in place of Etem in 2010, Dylan Larkin in place of Ritchie in 2014, and Sebastian Aho in place of Larsson in 2015. If Murray had made any of those picks, the Ducks would be better, possibly significantly, than they are today. Still, Larsson could turn into a useful player, and Ritchie was used to bring in Danton Heinen.
The best thing that can be said of all of Murray’s first-round selections is that all of them did make it to the NHL; there are no complete busts in this group. The worst thing is that Murray was never able to draft a true game-breaker, though some were certainly available, even in the years where they made good selections.
Second Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the second round, Murray has drafted the following players: Mat Clark, Devante Smith-Pelly, John Gibson, William Karlsson, Nicolas Kerdiles, Nick Sorensen, Marcus Pettersson, Brandon Montour, and Julius Nattinen. That’s nine players, and four of them have become solid NHL players, four of them were complete misses, and Smith-Pelly was a useful depth player who played a lot in the bottom six over multiple seasons for several teams. For the misses, Clark and Kerdiles gave several good years in the AHL to the Ducks, while Sorensen gave one good year to the AHL. Nattinen was the only one of the second-round selections that didn’t help Anaheim in the AHL or NHL.
Here are some of the players that Murray could have drafted instead: Jakob Silfverberg or Tomas Tatar in place of Clark in 2009, Tyler Toffoli or Jason Zucker in place of Smith-Pelly in 2010, Chris Tierney in place of Kerdiles in 2012, Tyler Bertuzzi or Artturi Lehkonen in place of Sorensen in 2013, and Anthony Cirelli in place of Nattinen in 2015. Also, even though Karlsson and Gibson have turned into NHL stars, Nikita Kucherov was picked later than both of them in 2011. In some ways, I feel like the second round might be Murray’s weakest. You expect more misses in the second than the first round, but Murray and the Ducks have missed on some serious talent in the second round of the draft.
Third Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the third round, Murray has chosen Igor Bobkov, Joseph Cramarossa, Andy Welinski, Frederik Andersen, Keaton Thompson, Brent Gates, Jr., and Deven Sideroff. That’s seven players drafted and only one true NHL player. The later in the draft, the more you can expect teams to start missing on more players, but only one in seven in the third round is concerning to me. Still, at this point in the draft, it’s not just about finding NHL talent, but also AHL depth for an organization, and the Ducks did alright in that regard, as five of these players were contributors in the AHL for a long time.
So if that’s taken into account, then Gates is the only one that didn’t help Anaheim for a long period of time. However, Gates has only played in one professional season, split between the AHL and ECHL, so he could end up turning into a useful player for the Gulls, making this group all either useful NHL or AHL players.
Other players that Murray could have taken instead include Cody Eakin or Nicolas Deslauriers in place of Bobkov in 2009, Johnny Gaudreau in place of Cramarossa or Welinski in 2011, Oliver Bjorkstrand in place of Thompson in 2013, and Denis Malgin in place of Sideroff or Gates in 2015. Other than Gaudreau, there aren’t any real stars here, but there are useful players like Eakin who can make a difference and have carved out solid NHL careers.
Fourth Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the fourth round, Murray has selected Sami Vatanen, Kevin Roy, and Andrew O’Brien. For whatever reason, Murray seems to like trading away fourth-round picks. That’s also true for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, as the Ducks traded their fourth-round pick to Montreal for Deslauriers. Of the three players chosen, they picked one top-four defenseman and two AHL players.
Better players Anaheim could have drafted include Andreas Athanasiou or Jaccob Slavin in place of Roy or O’Brien in 2012. Slavin has become an All-Star in Carolina and missing on him really hurts. However, getting a top-four defenseman and two AHL players is pretty good for three fourth-round picks.
Fifth Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the fifth round, Murray has drafted Radoslav Illo, Chris Wagner, Tim Heed, Max Friberg, Brian Cooper, Grant Besse, Matthew Berkovitz, and Troy Terry. So Murray has drafted eight players in the fifth round and found one NHL regular who plays in a bottom-six role, a seventh defenseman, and a young winger who might score 20 goals someday. The Ducks also got a couple of players for the AHL. Only Besse and Illo haven’t done anything for Anaheim, and Berkovitz has yet to turn pro. All things considered, I’d say that’s a pretty good job done by Murray so late in the draft.
Other players that Anaheim could have chosen include Marcus Kruger in place of Illo in 2009, John Klingberg in place of Wagner and Brendan Gallagher in place of Heed in 2010, Nikita Nesterov in place of Friberg in 2011, Alexander Kerfoot in place of Cooper in 2012, Johnny Brodzinski in place of Besse in 2013, and Oskar Lindblom in place of Berkovitz in 2014. The biggest misses here are Klingberg and Gallagher. Despite missing on those two players, Anaheim still was able to find NHL talent with their two picks.
Six Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the sixth round, Murray has picked Scott Valentine, Andreas Dahlstrom, Kevin Lind, Josh Manson, Miro Aaltonen, Steven Ruggiero, and Garrett Metcalf. That’s a pretty hit or miss group. Manson has become a top-four defenseman, while the rest haven’t done much in the NHL or AHL. Finding Manson definitely elevates this group from nothing to something pretty nicely.
Players that Anaheim should have picked instead include Mark Stone instead of Lind or Dahlstrom in 2010, Andreas Johnson instead of Aaltonen in 2013, and Markus Nutivaara in place of Ruggiero or Metcalf in 2015. The only real big miss by Anaheim in the sixth round during these seven drafts was Stone. The others did make it to the NHL but haven’t become impact players.
Seventh Round Picks: 2009-2015
In the seventh round, Murray has chosen Brett Perlini, Kenton Helgesen, Jaycob Megna, and Ondrej Kase. So in four picks, Murray has found a top-six winger, an AHL defenseman, and two players who didn’t work out. For the final round of the draft, that’s a pretty good job by Murray and Anaheim’s scouting staff.
Not a lot of NHL talent comes out of the seventh round, but there’s usually at least a couple players from every draft to see some NHL action. Better players Anaheim could have chosen include Zach Trotman instead of Perlini in 2010 and Christian Djoos or Nikita Gusev instead of Helgesen in 2012.
In every single round, Murray found at least one impact NHL player over this seven-year stretch. However, there were at least a few players every year that Anaheim missed out on. Still, that’s something that happens to every team, and I find it more impressive how often the Ducks are able to find NHL talent in all rounds of the draft. One thing that going through all of these drafts has made clear to me is how much luck is truly involved. Most teams have far more misses than hits, and Murray’s ability to find an NHL player in every round and every year is a good track record. Even more important, with the exception of 2013, he found a solid NHL player outside of the first round.
Final Overall Grade
Overall, I’d give Murray a B on his drafting during these seven years. Like I thought when I started writing these reviews, he has struggled to bring a true superstar to Anaheim in the draft but has excelled at finding players who can play and succeed in the NHL. Whether the pick is sixth overall or at the end of the draft, Murray and Anaheim’s scouting staff have shown that they may not always choose the best player possible, but they will likely pick a player who will play in Anaheim someday. And if they don’t make it that far, then they will likely add valuable depth in San Diego to the organization.
In seven years, Anaheim picked a total of 47 players, and only 13 did not make an impact in the NHL or AHL. Of those 14, eight of them were chosen in the sixth or seventh rounds, meaning that of the 36 players that Murray has picked in the first five rounds of the draft, 31 of them have become useful players in the NHL or AHL.
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May 15th, 2020