Compare and Contrast: Cameron Abney Edition

Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009 11:15AM

The Oilers had a pretty good weekend, on the whole. I wasn’t thrilled with the Kyle Brodziak trade (Bruce has an excellent take on that deal here), but Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson slid and the Oilers added some nice pieces in Anton Lander, Toni Rajala, and Olivier Roy. There were some funny picks made too – a 20-year old BCHL’er, a high school kid who is at least five years away, but the strangest selection was Cameron Abney of the Everett Silvertips at 82nd overall.

Let’s do a quick comparison between the 6’4” Abney and a few picks made a little later. For the record, here is Abney’s stats line:

48GP – 1G – 3A – 4PTS, -17, 103 PIM

The obvious comparison is Zack Stortini, but Stortini put up 29 points in his draft year and had some other things going for him (including off-ice intelligence). Anyways, here are a few guys the Oilers could have drafted:

Cody Eakin, 85th Overall

The 5’11 forward put up decent point totals (24G, 24A in just 54 games) in Swift Current, and according to scouting reports is a very decent two-way player. He was the player of the game at the CHL Top Prospects Game, and his coach had this to say about him:

"Cody is a tremendous skater and a lot of the things he does come from his skating ability. He's also ultra-competitive, and where he has a lot of success is getting in on the forecheck and chasing and racing for loose pucks. He also uses his speed a lot with the puck on the entries into the offensive zone. His speed also helps him in the defensive zone by catching guys from behind and creating turnovers in situations where guys who don't skate as well wouldn't be able to do. He beats a lot of guys to the outside and that's because of his skating ability."

He’s a defensive forward with offensive ability, good skating, and a high compete level.

Alex Hutchings, 93rd Overall

Alex Hutchings is a player I was talking about before the draft. Not only did he produce a substantial portion of his team’s offense (34G, 34A in 63 games for a mediocre team in Barrie), but his character always earns high marks. Here’s a quote from the player – the sort of thing you love to hear:

The thing I would hate to be called is a soft forward,” said Hutchings. “That’s something I despise being called. I like to get into the exciting stuff. I like being known as a guy who plays both ends of the ice, go into the corner and take the hit. I’m always willing to battle in the corners. I’ll do some things other guys wouldn’t do, like take a hit from a 6-4 defenseman and try to get the puck again.”

David Savard, 94th Overall

Savard took a big step forward this season. The 6’1 defenseman went from 12 points and a -21 rating to 44 points and a +29 rating with Moncton of the QMJHL. He’s a good skater and a right-handed shot who projects as a two-way guy in the NHL.

Jean-Francois Berube, 95th Overall

J-F Berube didn’t play a lot this year, but has drawn comparisons from some to Blue Jackets’ goaltender Steve Mason. Redline Report’s Kyle Woodlief called him the best draft-eligible goaltender, and most scouts said that the only thing keeping Berube from being ranked higher was limited appearances (he only played 15 games) which meant that a lot of scouts never saw him play.

Linden Vey, 96th Overall

The smallish forward (5’11”, 176lbs) scored more than a point per game with Medicine Hat and drew positive reviews for the way he got those points. A succinct report is this summary from Hockey’s Future:

The Wakaw, Saskatchewan native is of average size and weight, but delivers above average results in most facets of the game. He's a leader and a grit player who inspires with a solid work ethic.

The Final Analysis

If everything goes right for Cameron Abney (a player not even ranked by Central Scouting), he may some day round out into an NHL pugilist similar to Steve MacIntyre – a part time player who handles policeman duties and not much else. Given that MacIntyre (and others like him) are available via the waiver wire or for a low draft pick every single year, I wonder about drafting a guy like this with a third round pick – especially with higher caliber guys still available.

This is almost certainly the Oilers’ worst selection, and I wasn’t against their work on the whole, but before I get to praising some picks I thought I’d get the negative stuff out of the way.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
Avatar
#1 Rice
June 29 2009, 11:31AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I love the slow motion head snap. Thats a quality draft pick

Avatar
#2 mattmarcin
June 29 2009, 11:34AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Stupid pick.

Avatar
#3 Marc
June 29 2009, 11:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I think this is a case of trusting your scouts. Didn't you link to the story of how the Oilers lost out on Kaberle?

When you read Guy's account of this pick, McGregor says "Bob Brown really believes in him and thinks he's got some potential".

Given the Oilers past experience with a system where the Head Scout overrules the area scouts on players they've seen and he hasn't, I actually found the Hesketh and Abney picks reassuring.

Avatar
#4 PaperDesigner
June 29 2009, 11:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Play the kids! Put him on a line with Hemsky!

Avatar
#5 Mike76
June 29 2009, 11:55AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I doubt any other team would have even drafted this knuckle head, so why not get Minnesota to throw in their last pick in the Brodziak deal and take him then.

This was for sure a wasted pick in the 3rd round.

Avatar
#6 jeff
June 29 2009, 12:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Not sure why you listed those guys, none of them are what Abney is. Edmonton obviously wanted a tough guy and they took one.

Avatar
#7 Ogden Brother
June 29 2009, 12:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Outside of MPS I'd give the draft a D

Avatar
#8 Ogden Brother
June 29 2009, 12:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

jeff wrote:

Not sure why you listed those guys, none of them are what Abney is. Edmonton obviously wanted a tough guy and they took one.

I think the point was you can get tough(er) guys (Big Mac) for free... meaning it was basically a wasted pick.

Avatar
#9 Cam
June 29 2009, 12:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

At first glance (and second), I agree, but maybe the Oilers scout knows something we don't, and the coach seemed to be high on him too, so you never know.

If it doesn't pan out at least he can protect our young guns in the AHL.

Avatar
#10 DonDon
June 29 2009, 12:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Obviously, this draft was all about the future. Can't argue with this sound approach; however, other than Brodziak, did the Oilers make any effort to unload other "passengers" that are superfluous and burning up cap room? The club now requires two centres and players described by Tambellini as big, gritty and hard to play against. He is still in cap purgatory and free agency starts Wednesday. Maybe Jim Matheson is right! And as other posters have stated, Oiler fans annual disappointment has again begun in June.

Avatar
#11 Cam
June 29 2009, 12:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ogden Brother wrote:

Outside of MPS I’d give the draft a D

You're pertty harsh.

I think they got a good goaltender prospect, a character swede who wins faceoffs and has chemistry with MPS at number 2, some flash with Rajala at 101 (he was rated much higher).

And they picked up some grit and sound defensive play along the way. I was actually pretty happy with the way they drafted... except for Cameron Abney (and I don't know about this Hesketh dude).

In five years we can pass jusgement but for now I like the balance.

Avatar
#12 Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009, 01:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ogden Brother wrote:

I think the point was you can get tough(er) guys (Big Mac) for free… meaning it was basically a wasted pick.

Yep. That was the point; good role players are available every year, so it doesn't make much sense to me to draft them and then go through growing pains while they find their way when you can pick those guys up for free later on. There are exceptions of course ( quality guys like John Madden) but for the most part I'm a big fan of going high-risk/reward late in the draft.

Avatar
#13 Mr DeBakey
June 29 2009, 01:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

In addition to Eakin, Hutchings et al, Ryan Button, "There is a lot of talk that Button might be one of the most underrated players in the first few rounds of the draft this year. The mobile defender was one of the few standouts on Prince Albert's backend and added another dimension to the Raiders' power play. His skating enables him to jump into the play and get back in time if needed. He has yet to play a playoff game in his WHL career."

Avatar
#14 Soup
June 29 2009, 01:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

A note about Bigos. He attended Notre Dame in Sask. He was one of my son's friends and a really good kid. He is a real late bloomer - one that looks like is taking some time for his coordination to catch up with his monster size. I've watched him play for the last 5 years and he has advanced at every level. He was a big part of the Hounds team that won the Macs in Calgary a couple of years back, and absolutely dominated the RBC Cup (I think that is what they still call it) with Vernon this year. The goal he scored in the final was fantastic - worth watching if you can dig up a link.

Oilers have always done well at picking up the 5, 6 or 7 d-man from obscure places. Give this kid a chance. He'll impress you - eventually.

Avatar
#15 David S
June 29 2009, 01:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Wow! That video could have been right out of Slapshot (the movie). Everybody drops their gloves off the whistle. Only thing missing was a close-up of some dude getting ready to surgically remove an opponent's eye with his stick.

As far as the low draft picks? Meh. I get the feeling picks that far down are done just because teams have to make them. I wouldn't be surprised if Katz's kid didn't make the selection at the table, given the minute chance of a pick in the weeds actually amounting to anything. Maybe Katz needed a new kid for his lawn maintenance crew, who knows.

Overall, outside the first couple of rounds (and I'm not sold if its even that), the draft is more of a show than anything else. Most of the picks die on the vine in the lower leagues anyways.

With the Oilers, the immediate concerns far outweigh what might happen 5 years from now. For the most part, some guy toiling away in Swift Current is only interesting to high school girls who follow junior hockey because their boyfriends are playing on a team.

Avatar
#16 Berg
June 29 2009, 01:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

why?! why?! this pick is nonsense. what were they thinking? it shoulda been hutchings! 4 points in the whl? this guy will have 1 point in the nhl

Avatar
#17 RobInALab
June 29 2009, 01:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I heard that they took Abney after the pre-draft interview with Kimbo Slice went poorly.

Avatar
#18 Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009, 01:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Soup:

Thanks for the report on Bigos. I don't know much about him (and I don't like where he is relative to his age) but you're absolutely right about these scouts and defensemen, so they deserve some benefit of the doubt here.

Feel free to chime in anytime with this sort of thing!

Avatar
#19 Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009, 01:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ David S:

I'm not sure that Abney fills an immediate need either; between Lefebvre and that other goon whose name eludes me they're fairly set in the AHL, and they've got Bendfeld (who they picked last year) and another guy down in the ECHL too.

There's plenty of thuggery already in the system, which makes this pick even stranger.

Besides, a 3rd round pick isn't exactly the shallow part of the draft either; plenty of very good players have been found right around that mark - Shawn Horcoff and Mike Comrie being two good Oilers examples off the top of my head.

Avatar
#20 David S
June 29 2009, 02:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

Besides, a 3rd round pick isn’t exactly the shallow part of the draft either; plenty of very good players have been found right around that mark - Shawn Horcoff and Mike Comrie being two good Oilers examples off the top of my head.

Jonathan, while you are probably right, for every Horcoff and Comrie, there's countless guys like Abney. Problem here is that this team is in a world of pain that won't be solved by dubious picks that (probably won't) pan out three or four years from now.

Maybe you have to be an uber-fan to care about this stuff, but right now I'm more concerned about a LW for Hemsky and a decent, hard-nosed center.

Avatar
#21 ScubaSteve
June 29 2009, 02:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I'm not sure if this guy will play in the AHL this year, but if he does, would he be a replacement for Peckham? If they pencil Theo into the big club, they might need to replace some toughness on the back end.

That being said, this probably could've been a 7th rounder. I hope the kid proves me wrong though

Avatar
#22 Wanye Gretz
June 29 2009, 02:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

RobInALab wrote:

I heard that they took Abney after the pre-draft interview with Kimbo Slice went poorly.

He has never shown a willingness to work on his skating. I'm glad they passed on Kimbo.

Avatar
#23 Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009, 02:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ ScubaSteve:

He's a forward.

Avatar
#24 Marc
June 29 2009, 02:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Jonathan Willis:

The part of the story that we're missing is far too intriguing for me to call this a bad pick

Think about how this actually happened for a second. I don't know anything about Bob Brown, but he saw something in this kid. He spoke so convincingly about him that he convinced the Stu McGregor and the rest of the scout team not only to put him on the draft list, but that if they didn't take him in the 3rd round then they likely wouldn't get him later. He must scout the WHL, so he would have seen Eakin and Vey with his own eyes and decided that Abney was more useful to the Oil.

There must be more to this story, so I'm inclined to withhold judgment for the time being

Avatar
#25 linnaeus
June 29 2009, 04:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I already told some of this story on Lowetide where I was mainly talking about what went wrong with Jeff Petry's season (in a nutshell the Spartan's were simply one of the worst college teams I have ever seen and he was expected to carry them on his shoulders).

I have actually seen this Abney kid play. I thought he was an utter waste of space. What was of interest was that I was there with one of the most respected scouts in the game, a legend in the business. He turns to me and says something about how the kid makes him think of the Bruins legend Terry O'Reilly. I truly thought that perhaps my friend had finally seen one too many bad junior games and snapped. Then the Oilers go and take Abney.

I'm guessing I was missing some fundamental quality that says to a scout "this kid has a huge up side". O'Reilly, I did some homework, had fifteen points his first year of junior but played a lot more. Abney only started getting on the ice regularly late in the season. With O'Reilly the Bruins had scouts watching him from about game thirty on in his rookie season. So maybe if you have the eye you can see that sort of heart and desire long before the talent catches up.

If you look at the Oilers recent drafting its like they think the NHL is going to revert to the bad old days of the 70s and 80s. For every skill player on your roster (and we do have a few) you are going to need a mean coke machine. Think about it, Vandevelde, Hartikainen, Kytnar, in a way they are all sort of in the O'Reilly mode. Then there are Plante, Peckham, and now Bigos. It is like we are planting a forest not building a hockey team.

Avatar
#26 B-rad
June 29 2009, 04:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Anyone of us would have known to pick MPS, but....I mean some of these other guys, Abney especially in the third round..... when is enough enough. I think we way just have enough to get rid of Prendergast and Stu????

just a though.

Avatar
#27 Ducey
June 29 2009, 04:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

George Laraque was a second rounder with 22 pts in his draft year. Clutterback was a third rounder with around 18 pts in his draft year.

Neither of those guys was floating on any waiver wires.

If the guy can skate and hit and fight he might develop into something useful. He seems to be able to fight as an 18 year old against older players. He apparently can skate. As well, he seems to have been making a difference for his team by year end.

Like it or not, these kind of guys have a place in the league. Is he going to be a point producer? No. But he likely has a better chance of making the NHL than many of the guys drafted in the 3rd round around him.

Avatar
#28 ScubaSteve
June 29 2009, 05:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ ScubaSteve: He’s a forward.

Well then I can't find what the silver lining is in this cloud, goon forwards are everywhere, unless this dude has something that's not evident in his stats, scouting reports, or overall play, this was a bad pick. Maybe he's related to someone in Oilers brass.

Avatar
#29 Jonathan Willis
June 29 2009, 06:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Ducey wrote:

George Laraque was a second rounder with 22 pts in his draft year. Clutterback was a third rounder with around 18 pts in his draft year. Neither of those guys was floating on any waiver wires.

... and Cameron Abney had four points. So, using the rough math, let's see:

Clutterbuck had 450% the offense of Abney, and Laraque had 550%.

But that's using your numbers. Laraque actually had 41 points in his draft year and Cal Clutterbuck scored 68 points in 66 games. In other words, Laraque had better than 1000% of Abney's offense, while Clutterbuck had 1700% of Abney's offense.

Avatar
#30 tommyjr26
June 30 2009, 11:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The one thing I heard on reports is that lil' Abner can actually skate. The one thing that limits the effectiveness of the enforcer today is the skating ability that tends to go with the cement hands. We all saw how effective Ben Eager was in the playoffs, If this guys upside is Ben Eager and his lowside is Eric Godard or MacIntyre, that isn't so bad...

Avatar
#31 Yakman
June 30 2009, 12:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I would rather they do their head scratcher pick in the third round (Abner) than the first (Niinimaki)... so i guess this is an improvement... Oilers always want to go off the board... let's be glad they did it in the third...

Comments are closed for this article.