Building through NHL draft a recipe for success but road is long and arduous

In five seasons, the Colorado Avalanche went from worst to first and won the Stanley Cup. The rebuild didn't begin five years ago, despite clever signings, trades, and extensions to top selection picks.

In nine seasons between 2008 and 2017, the Avalanche made the playoffs twice.

Since 2009, they've picked Matt Duchene third overall, Gabriel Landeskog second, Nathan MacKinnon first, Mikko Rantanen 10th, and Cale Makar fourth (2017).

Together, this core won a Stanley Cup. Even Duchene, who was traded, netted them Sam Girard and Bowen Byram.

This isn't to downplay the Avalanche's comeback. It shows how long rebuilds take. Drafting a superstar can improve your team, but not as much as in basketball or football.

Let's start with the 21 first-overall picks between 1995 and 2015 because they've had ample time to discuss.

Six teams drafted first overall more than once throughout that time; it's not as simple as building around one player. In 20 years, 13 teams drafted first overall.

If the Panthers hadn't traded their first-round pick, it may have been less (more than once, I might add). First-overall picks miss the playoffs an average of 2.5 seasons.

Some teams that were able to escape purgatory shortly after were so awful for so long that by the time they selected first overall, they already had a foundation coming along through the draught, such as the Blackhawks, Senators, and Avalanche in the mid-1990s.

Eight of the 21 first-overall picks have won the Stanley Cup. First overall and a 40% probability of winning the Cup? Who wouldn't?

The benefit of drafting high cannot be understated. It will take time to build from there, but having a possible 10-year superstar boosts your chances of success. Hockey Answered found:

NHL players average 4.5 years. The top 25% of players averaged 12 years, while the worst 75% averaged two.

From 2004 to 2014, 49.1% of drafted players played at least one NHL game, and players taken in an NHL entry draught are typically three to four years away from their first game.

Cup winners and challengers usually have three powerful lines, a top-four defence, and a quality goalie. 14 notables. A top pick helps with one. Beyond that, a draught class will bear fruit in three to four years

Even if you hit a home run at the draught, it will take five-plus years to see it through — three years for extra players to make the league and a few more for them to mature (and even then, they'll likely require more time).

When we witness a Colorado vs. Tampa Bay Stanley Cup Final, it's notable that both teams drafted first overall, or close to it, nine and 14 years ago, respectively — and Tampa's run started earlier than this year.

All of this means that with the draught ahead of us, we're looking at a three-to-five year process to lay the foundation, followed by however many years it takes to evolve.