How valuable is an NHL draft pick?
Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline frenzy is officially in full swing - and that means a whole lot of draft picks trading hands as teams give away pieces of their future for an opportunity to be more competitive this season.

But determining the value of a draft pick can be difficult without having the necessary context. Everyone knows a first-round draft choice is the most valuable piece of currency around - but what about a second-round pick? Or a fifth-rounder? How often do those picks bear fruit?

Here's a look at the number of picks from each round that have reached the NHL, beginning in 2005 (the year the league reduced the number of draft rounds from nine to the current seven) and ending in 2010 (since many players taken more recently may still be working their way to the NHL).

First Round

Number of total picks: 180

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 163 (90.6 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 120 (66.7 percent)

Notable names: Sidney Crosby (2005), Jonathan Toews (2006), Steven Stamkos (2008), Tyler Seguin (2010)

Great first-round picks are the foundation of any good team - and it shows in the percentage of first-rounders that wind up enjoying productive NHL careers. This list could have run 100 names deep.  

Second Round

Number of total picks: 187

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 118 (63.1 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 50 (26.7 percent)

Notable names: Paul Stastny (2005), Milan Lucic (2006), P.K. Subban (2007), Derek Stepan (2008)

A second-round pick will, more often than not, yield an NHL player - but how successful that player becomes varies wildly. Yet, as evidenced by the names above, superstars are still unearthed after the first round ends.

Third Round

Number of total picks: 180

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 81 (45 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 31 (17.2 percent)

Notable names: Kris Letang (2005), Brad Marchand (2006), Adam Henrique (2008), Tyson Barrie (2009)

Nearly half of third-rounders over this span reached the NHL, but not many are on the path to a lengthy career in the league. A third-round pick still has value, but the drop from the first two rounds is a big one.

Fourth Round

Number of total picks: 184

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 74 (40.2 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 27 (14.7 percent)

Notable names: Keith Yandle (2005), James Reimer (2006), Gustav Nyquist (2008), Craig Smith (2009)

The difference between a third- and a fourth-round pick over this draft span is surprisingly narrow. In fact, if we remove the dreadful fourth round of the 2006 draft, the percentages are nearly identical.

Fifth Round

Number of total picks: 187

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 59 (31.6 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 16 (8.6 percent)

Notable names:  Jamie Benn (2007), Brendan Gallagher (2010)

Welcome to the beginning of Lottery Pick Theater. From this point on, it's almost a complete crapshoot, with only a few teams every five or six years striking gold. Most of these picks don't get more than a cup of coffee.

Sixth Round

Number of total picks: 182

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 55 (30.2 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 18 (9.9 percent)

Notable names: Mathieu Perreault (2006), Carl Hagelin (2007), Nick Bonino (2008)

Welp. Few impact players have been mined from the sixth round over the past 10 years, though it's interesting to note the near-identical success rate of sixth-rounders compared to their fifth-round counterparts.

Seventh Round 

Number of total picks: 186

Number of picks to play at least one NHL game: 36 (19.4 percent)

Number of picks to play at least 100 NHL games: 13 (7 percent)

Notable names: Patric Hornqvist (2005), Derek Dorsett (2006), Carl Gunnarsson (2007), Jason Demers (2008)

These are the ultimate throw-ins, with less than a 1-in-5 chance of producing a player who will take part in an NHL game. Of course, sometimes teams get lucky - like Nashville did with Hornqvist, who was the very last pick in 2005.

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How valuable is an NHL draft pick?
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