Watershed

Lowetide
December 05 2010 08:44AM

Oiler fans know that the 2010 draft looks like a watershed. Taylor Hall is already scoring goals in the best league on the planet, and that second round may live in infamy. Still deeper there are scorers and puck movers and goalies and they all seemingly have a lot of promise. Is this a mirage? When do troubles begin to appear for a draft class?
 

The Oilers hired Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor in time for the long hours required to preprare for the 2008 Entry Draft. The Oilers draft staff delivered Jordan Eberle, Johan Motin, Teemu Hartikainen and Phil Cornet (along with Jordan Bendfeld). A quick glance at that draft class (2.3 years later) suggests that Eberle is going to have a long Oiler career, that Motin and Hartikainen are continuing their development (although there are some concerns for Motin) and that Cornet and Bendfeld have the look of career minor league/European players. There's no sin there, as many players taken 193rd overall never make the AHL let alone the big leagues (Bendfeld has played 15 AHL games so far in his career).

The 2010 draft looks exceptional. However, it's only a few months old. Can we get excited about this draft class or are we doomed to disappointment? Will all of these kids turn out to be productive Oilers? There are a lot of questions.

  1. When do warning signs appear? Sometimes they can be seen before the draft. Marc Pouliot took a big hit from Dion Phaneuf in the top prospects game, 2003 winter. That started a year long injury run for Pouliot and he never did recover. Jason Bonsignore had a lower points-per-game number than his teammate Ethan Moreau the year both were drafted, and his ppg throughout his junior career was well below lottery country. The Oilers drafted Jesse Niinimaki on the strength of two tournaments. TWO TOURNAMENTS! He was the ultimate "saw him good" prospect. There are tells almost from the beginning.
  2. What about the 2010 draft picks? Any of them bailing water? Tyler Pitlick is cruising along at a point-per-game pace in the WHL, and you'd like to see a little better from a high pick. There are special circumstances (he's adjusting to the WHL pace and physical style) but he's only 1-1-2 in his last 5gp. Pitlick's skill level is such that he should be able to post well over 1/1 point-per-game. He's not far off the pace, so it's only a small down arrow. Jeremie Blain has suffered from injury this season, which is the great killer of careers for defensemen. Kristians Pelss isn't posting offense in a way that suggests that will be his future role and Kellen Jones isn't having a huge impact in the NCAA. Still, it's early but there are some things out there.
  3. Has MacGregor made some bad choices? The Cameron Abney pick (#82) came when there were still legit prospects on the board, but the organization made hiring an enforcer one of the priorities so better he's chosen 82nd than 22nd. The bigger worry at this point is likely Troy Hesketh. The tall tree from Minnetonka was in the mix for NCAA duty this fall but was passed over for another recruit. He is playing in the USHL (an outstanding junior league) and in 28 games has no points and is a ghastly -11. The Chicago Steel (Hesketh's team) has three defenders in the black and another one at even, so Hesketh (at age 19, mind) seems to be struggling badly.
  4. What should we expect from an average draft? Years ago, the prevailing wisdom stated that NHL teams should reasonably expect 2 regulars from any draft. We do have studies now available that give us a better clue. They are here:.

1979-95 NHL Draft Results

  1. 2% turned out to be a elite players (about 3 a year)
  2. 4% turned into impact players (about 6 a year)
  3. 15% turned out to be average NHLers (about 24 a year)
  4. 24% played less than 200 games (about 38 a year)
  5. 55% never played a game in the NHL (the rest)

So, what that tells us is that each team should be able to grab one NHL regular or better and then one player who ends up being about what Marc Pouliot was for the Oilers.

If we look at the 2010 draft, Hall is likely to be in one of the first two categories. After that, Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton, Martindale and Davidson are either close to expectations or beyond, and there's still some nice things below (Czerwonka, Bunz). There are negative arrows for a few of the 2010 draftees, but they are being drowned by the enormous number of positive arrows. This really is something to behold.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Chris.
December 05 2010, 03:18PM
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I love how on one hand we acknowlege how difficult it is to find mutiple NHLers in one draft class; but on the other hand we are so cavalier about shedding talent in favor of building throughthe draft... Stu you are a Magnificent Bastard... You carry the hopes of an entire city on your shoulders.

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#2 The new guy
December 05 2010, 08:46AM
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We wish you a very FISTmas season

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#3 Captain Obvious
December 05 2010, 12:41PM
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"Sorry about that. One thing I will say is that the batting average nowadays is probably better for NHL teams. Scouting is more precise."

So long as the number of players in the NHL remains constant and the quality of play remains roughly constant the number of drafted players who have meaningful careers will also remain constant. Thus even if the scouting improves the expected number of successful draft picks will stay the same.

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#4 m_kennedy13
December 05 2010, 09:00AM
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Thanks for the usual Sunday morning beauty LT.

I think last years draft has potential to be an all-time great, and it will surely secure Stu a job for the rest of his life with this organization.

One off topic question as usual, do you think MPS would be effective on the PK? The guy is great defensively at EV.

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#5 OilFan
December 05 2010, 09:02AM
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Any one have a link to the Hall interview on After Hours last night ?

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#6 oilers2k10
December 05 2010, 09:07AM
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Considering all the prospects the Oilers have and the talent they have in their AHL squad I would like to see the Oilers push for a playoff spot, too many lottery picks can get too expensive down the road anyways..especially if it's one after another, if the Oilers keep drafting like this there's no need for more lottery picks..Detroit's been a top five team for the last 14 years now, how many top picks did they get? We've got our elite prospects on the team or in the system now, and with that Magnificent Bastard as our Head Of Scout I dont think there's any reason why we cant start looking at the Detroit model and go after that..screw the loser mentality..look at Chicago..all those high picks are costing them a fortune(and a few bad contracts, but still)..or Pittsburgh..good team..but not as well balanced as Detroit.

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#8 m_kennedy13
December 05 2010, 09:22AM
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@LT

MPS and Gagner seem to be working very well in the aspect of coming back and creating turnovers. It seems they have great chemistry and recognize when they need to cover for the other guy.

I feel that MPS has the ability to develop into a taller, faster Hossa, and one of his strengths is his PK ability.

A future of Hall Eberle followed by MPS Gagner still makes me giddy.

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#9 SumOil
December 05 2010, 09:25AM
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m_kennedy13 wrote:

@LT

MPS and Gagner seem to be working very well in the aspect of coming back and creating turnovers. It seems they have great chemistry and recognize when they need to cover for the other guy.

I feel that MPS has the ability to develop into a taller, faster Hossa, and one of his strengths is his PK ability.

A future of Hall Eberle followed by MPS Gagner still makes me giddy.

I think MPS will be more of Lui Eriksson type of a player. He is extremely underrated and tremendously talented.

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#10 m_kennedy13
December 05 2010, 09:26AM
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@OilFan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPwoI7VXvWk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ATMifyW9c

The kid is a great interview already at 19.

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#11 m_kennedy13
December 05 2010, 09:31AM
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@SumOil

Hey Lui Eriksson is a great player, I wouldn't be upset if that's what MPS turned into. I do however think he will have a greater peak then Eriksson will.

MPS is playing great hockey and is kind of being overlooked as Hall and Eberle shine so brightly. MPS hasn't had the same opportunity as those two either.

My man crush for MPS is a little out of control, I'll admit it.

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#12 OilFan
December 05 2010, 09:34AM
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m_kennedy13 wrote:

@OilFan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPwoI7VXvWk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ATMifyW9c

The kid is a great interview already at 19.

Thanks for the link

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#13 Caveat Emptor
December 05 2010, 10:15AM
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@ SumOil

I would be thrilled if Paajarvi developed into an Eriksson. However, other than the fact that both are Swedish and left wingers, I don't see them as similar players at all. Paarjarvi is a player who likes to attack on the rush and drive the net (at least when he is playing with confidence). Eriksson is a player who finds the seams, tips pucks, and plays the cycle well. Maybe Paarjarvi will develop along these lines, but at this point these players play very different styles. Also, Eriksson has a wicked snap shot, which I haven't seen from Paarjarvi yet.

The good thing about Paarjarvi is he has the tools to be an elite shutdown player who can chip in 15 goals a year if he never puts the offensive toolkit together at the NHL level. It's too early to know what level of offense he will reach, but it's good to know he has all indications of being a long-time NHLer even if he doesn't hit his outside marker.

My main concern for him is the passive game he plays. I hope he gains some physical confidence and finishes his checks. If you watch his game, he uses his stick to check, not his body. Hopefully with time he will start to use his frame to defend and lean on players.

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#14 madjam
December 05 2010, 10:21AM
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How's T. Rajala fairing this season ? Any progress with him ?

It's early into season , but we seem to be competitive now with lower eschilon teams at least . Hall becoming that difference maker we have sadly lacked .

Oilers trade for Seguin and Gudblanson, and trade first round picks for this upcoming draft. How does that sound ? Incumbent bodies that might be expendable considering our winning streak - Souray , Hemsky , Fraser , Reddox , other Ahler's , but not Plante or OMark .

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#16 SumOil
December 05 2010, 10:46AM
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@m_kennedy

Loui Eriksson is a 70+ point player and this season ranks in tied for 5th in the league for ESP. I dont think it is reasonable to expect MPS to be better than that. As fans we are allowed to hope for better, but if MPS can get Eriksson like production, he would more than cover his bet as a 10th overall pick.

@ Caveat Emptor

I dont think that playing the cycle is an individual skill, but something that is influenced by coaching and line-mates. Early on in his career, it is more likely that MPS' production comes more of the rush because he spends more time in defensive zone than offensive one. As he gets better and his line-mates get better, he will learn how to stay in the offensive zone and cycling the puck is one of the ways of doing so. Furthermore, Eriksson is a 2-way winger who is very responsible in his zone and MPS can turn into that. Also from what i saw, I dont think Eriksson's play is much different from MPS'. Next time I will watch Eriksson more intently.

The reason MPS is playing a passive game is because he is young and inexperienced. Since we are being treated to some excellent hockey from Hall and Eberle, we automatically expect MPS to be equally adept too. Give him time and he shall show improvement.

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#17 SumOil
December 05 2010, 10:46AM
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@m_kennedy

Loui Eriksson is a 70+ point player and this season ranks in tied for 5th in the league for ESP. I dont think it is reasonable to expect MPS to be better than that. As fans we are allowed to hope for better, but if MPS can get Eriksson like production, he would more than cover his bet as a 10th overall pick.

@ Caveat Emptor

I dont think that playing the cycle is an individual skill, but something that is influenced by coaching and line-mates. Early on in his career, it is more likely that MPS' production comes more of the rush because he spends more time in defensive zone than offensive one. As he gets better and his line-mates get better, he will learn how to stay in the offensive zone and cycling the puck is one of the ways of doing so. Furthermore, Eriksson is a 2-way winger who is very responsible in his zone and MPS can turn into that. Also from what i saw, I dont think Eriksson's play is much different from MPS'. Next time I will watch Eriksson more intently.

The reason MPS is playing a passive game is because he is young and inexperienced. Since we are being treated to some excellent hockey from Hall and Eberle, we automatically expect MPS to be equally adept too. Give him time and he shall show improvement.

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#18 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 05 2010, 10:46AM
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I know things look really promising with SMBM, but I think you are really getting peoples expectations out of whack with his work.

And unfortunatly unresonable expectations around here usually lead to a non-stop parade to run a guy out of town.

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#19 Maggie the Monkey
December 05 2010, 10:47AM
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@Lowetide

1. 2% turned out to be a elite players (about 3 a year) 2. 4% turned into impact players (about 6 a year) 3. 15% turned out to be average NHLers (about 24 a year) 4. 24% played less than 200 games (about 38 a year) 5. 55% never played a game in the NHL (the rest)

So, what that tells us is that each team should be able to grab two NHL regulars or better and then one player who ends up being about what Marc Pouliot was for the Oilers."

- I can't figure out your reasoning here. My basic math adds 3 + 6 + 24 to equal 33 full-time NHLers, or just over one per year. How does this equate to each team being able to draft two NHL regulars (or better) per year?

(I'm not trying to be a jerk I just can't grasp the logic. I did just finish an all-nighter trying to get some work done, mind you, and could barely brew my morning coffee...)

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#21 VK63
December 05 2010, 10:55AM
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MPs adjustment will be slightly more difficult here due to being the only swede on the roster. Hall and Eberle are practically joined at the hip and have each other as reference points for all things on and off the ice.

I dont think it hurts Magnus but it is part of the struggle he faces that the others do not. In spite of that... hes a bonafide stud and developing nicely.

I notice that Krueger has been measuring a bit more attention and love MPS way and thats great to see. Krueger is a beauty.

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#22 SumOil
December 05 2010, 10:57AM
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@VK63

"Krueger is a beauty."

He is also the guy apparently responsible for the PK.

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#24 Maggie the Monkey
December 05 2010, 11:02AM
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@Lowetide

Well, at least I'm not batty. I read and re-read that paragraph about 7 times before posting my query.

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#25 SumOil
December 05 2010, 11:05AM
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Lowetide wrote:

...which is "non-beauty." :-)

undoubtedly

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#27 John Chambers
December 05 2010, 12:02PM
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@Maggie the Monkey

Success at the draft is comparble to success in the faceoff circle - if you're batting above .500 you're getting ahead rather than just treading water.

Teams who draft well not only fill their lineups with better quality players, but perhaps most importantly have fewer lineup deficiencies. Moreover, teams that draft well have a better negotiating position to get better value out of players re-negotiating contracts, or have trade bait to fill needed roles or deal for unique talent.

The Oilers have for years run a deficit vis a vis the rest of the league with regard to the quality of players we've drafted. A few great trades (for Weight and Joseph), covered that gap temporarily.

Detroit has been able to self-sufficiently cover their needs, even offering a surplus of good players they've developed. (Ville Leino, Michael Samuelsson). New Jersey has also been a defenseman factory.

We've been sub-par on the draft "dot", and, before being able to truly measure, we feel confident about our new approach. It will be interesting to see how the Oilers trend over the next decade when their 2007-1015 picks mature, and whether we bat above .500.

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#29 Dan the Man
December 05 2010, 08:26PM
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With the way Stu drafts players the Oilers should be acquiring as many picks as possible.

I know this is obviously easier said than done but I really wished that Oilers had signed a veteran player over the summer that they could have flipped for a draft pick at the trade deadline.

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#30 Jason
December 06 2010, 08:27AM
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I suspect the number of draft picks making it to the NHL level will increase over the years with the introduction of the salary cap. More teams are using young, untested talent to fill in roster spots. In the past, these spots would almost certainly have been held for aging veterans with a 'little bit left in the tank'. This isn't the case in today's game.

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