Lost Russians: Edmonton Oilers

Kent Wilson
October 12 2011 10:13AM

 

 

Editors note: Andrey Osadchenko is the senior Russian Correspondent at the Nations Network. He writes regularly in Russian at allhockey.ru, and has a series of web videos called "Joining the Rush" with Steve Dangle. Today Andrey catches up with some of the former Russian-born draft picks of the Oilers organization. The piece underscores why drafting Russian-born players has gone somewhat out of style; simply put, it's a risky proposition.

By: Andrey Osadchenko

The Oilers were always cautious when it came to drafting Russian-born players. Over the entire history of the franchise they picked just 19 Russians, while only one of them left a noticeable mark – Alexei Semenov. Remember him? No? Ah well, nobody is going to hold it against you.

What’s intriguing is that just as their arch-rivals from Calgary, the Oilers didn’t do a very good job in terms of scouting players they drafted from the Motherland. Among those 19 guys there are only 9 who were lucky enough to build some sort of successful careers in pro hockey.

Perhaps, being fully aware of their inability to pick the right Russians, the Oilers have been shying away from this idea for 5 years. Let’s take a look at some Russian players they picked recently (even though it’s a very relative term in this case) and find out what went wrong.

Alexander Bumagin

Age – 24

Position – LW

Height – 6’0

Weight – 181

Drafted – 2006 round 6 #170 overall

Current club – Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL)

This Lada Togliatti alumni was projected to have a wonderful pro career. He played for Team Russia at the U17 and U18 World Championships and got a taste of Russian Super League at the tender age of 17 – back in 2004/2005 he played 7 games for Lada and scored 2 goals. Next season he spent completely with the first team, which he led with 9 goals and 23 points in 40 games. Not bad for an 18-year-old.

Most likely this is exactly what the Oilers thought when they opted for him in the 6th round. Think about it – it’s not a bad deal after all. Unfortunately for them, the Oilers are not as good at finding gems in the late rounds as the Red Wings. It looked like they might have for a brief period though when Bumagin scored 2 goals and 8 points in 6 games at the 2007 World Juniors helping Team Russia to win the silver.

Turned out that was the pinnacle of his career. He finished the season with just 2 goals and 3 assists in 41 games for Lada and continued his career in Atlant. It didn’t work out for him too well and none of the top Russian clubs were interested in signing him, which forced Bumagin to ink a deal with the modest team from Novokuznetsk. Over the past 3 seasons he played 101 games in the KHL, scored 17 goals and 37 points. Do you think the Oilers even remember that Bumagin is still in their system?

Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Mathieu Perreault, Jan Mursak, Derek Dorsett, Erik Condra, Arturs Kulda

Vyacheslav Trukhno

Age – 24

Position – C

Height – 6’2

Weight – 196

Drafted – 2005 round 4 #120 overall

Current club – Medvescak Zagreb (Austria)

Vyacheslav’s father, Leonid, was once a very well-known player in Russia. He played for U18 and U29 Team Soviet Union. He was an okay forward and played for Red Army and Khimik Voskresensk – 2 powerhouses of the Soviet league back in a day. However, when the iron curtain fell, Leonid opted for Denmark and recently finished his career 2 seasons ago.

As a result, his son Vyacheslav’s career began in Denmark and continued in North America. Believe it or not, the only time Trukhno laced up for a Russian team was in 2005 when he was invited to play for Team Russia at the U18 World Championship where he had just one assist in 6 games games.

Apparently, that was sufficient for the Oilers. They probably figured that drafting a guy who scored 25 goals in 59 points in his rookie season in the QMJHL in the 4th round was a right move. In the next 2 seasons he scored 53 goals and 198 points in 120 games for as a PEI Rocket and a Gatineau Olympique. Things sure looked promising.

Nevertheless, Trukhno was unable to bring up his game to a pro level and was sent down to the ECHL after 3 so-so seasons in the AHL with the Falcons. This off-season, he signed a one-year deal with a team in Austrian league. Do the Oilers need him? Only if they need guys to play on the 3rd line in their AHL affiliate.

Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Darren Helm, Cal O’Reilly, Tim Kennedy, Matt D’Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn, Anton Stralman, Patric Hornqvist, Kyle Cumiskey.

Roman Teslyuk

Age – 25

Position – D

Height – 6’1

Weight – 216

Drafted – 2004 round 2 #44 overall

Current club – Beibarys (Kazakhstan)

Born in a northern city of Murmansk, Roman moved to Moscow to play for Red Army’s junior team. In 2003 he was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers and moved to Canada. He turned quite a few heads with his physical game, which was a delight for the scouts to see from a Russian defenseman.

He played 212 regular season games for the Blazers, garnering 28-goals, 73-points and 336 penalty minutes. This was good enough for the Oilers to draft him in the 2nd round. It’s safe to assume their scouts had to know what they were doing since they had every opportunity in the world to watch him play in Kamloops, BC.

Teslyuk played his first game as a pro for the Reading Royals of the ECHL in 2005-06. He ended up with 4-goals, 6 points and 32 penalty minutes in 24 games and… moved back to Russia after that. He played for a few minor league teams in his home country for 3 years before moving to Kazakhstan last season. His team even won the championship but what difference does it make to the Oilers? Exactly – none. He’s a lost cause.

Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Blake Comeau, David Booth, Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Goligoski, David Krejci, Sami Lepisto, Brandon Prust, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Edler, Johan Franzen, Tyler Kennedy, Ryan Callahan, Kris Versteeg, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Pekka Rinne, Mark Streit.

Mikhail Zhukov

Age – 26

Position – C

Height – 6’3

Weight – 212

Drafted – 2003 round 3 #72 overall

Current club – Spartak Moscow (KHL)

One hell of an odd pick. Mikhail’s father, Sergei, played for a long time at the blue line for SKA St. Petersburg in the USSR before moving to Sweden after the fall of the iron curtain. This is where Mikhail learned to play hockey. Through Mora and Arboga, Zhukov made his way to the well-known Swedish club HV-71.

You would think that this is why the Oilers drafted him rather high. Don’t be mistaken – Zhukov made his debut for HV-71 after he was drafted. How many 3rd-rounders do you know that were picked directly from Allsvenskan – Sweden's second-tier pro league? Did the Oilers know something no one else did? It doesn’t look like it now.

Zhukov never came to North America but is having a modestly successful career in Russia. He won the RSL championship in 2005 and Gagarin Cup in 2009.

Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Daniel Carcillo, Clarke MacArthur, Zack Stortini, Jan Hejda, Paul Bissonnette, Kyle Quincey, Lee Stempniak, Brad Richardson, Marc Methot, Drew Miller, Joe Pavelski, Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Moulson, Tanner Glasss, Jaroslav Halak, Nick Tarnasky, Brian Elliott.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 Hemmertime
October 12 2011, 10:15AM
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I really wouldn't mind getting a Russian this draft... but I hope we arent in position to do so

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#2 Souby
October 12 2011, 10:40AM
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The first 2 that you mentioned were not great, but were also not that bad considering. The Oil could have done better for sure, but how much do we really expect from players drafted in rounds 4 and 6?

The last 2 (Teslyuk & Zhukov) fall into the OUCH category, considering the list of good players we could have had instead.

Let's not forget that this is the team that passed on Shane Doan to take Steve Kelly in 1995. I was there when it happened, and I still wonder if the thousands of fans chanting "DOAN" might have known something the Oiler scouts didn't?......Sorry, still bitter.

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#3 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 12 2011, 02:34PM
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You mean instead of Alexander Bumagin we could have drafted Arturs Kulda? What were they thinking?

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#4 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 12 2011, 10:30AM
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I think we shy away from Russians because the last time we had a couple of decent ones playing on this team they ended up drinking/smoking/getting fat.

I'd also say that outside of Roman Teslyuk is it really a big lose that we could've drafted some guy in the 5th round that could've become a borderline player.

And we drafted Stortini and Brodziak later in that last draft, so ya shouldn't we get some sort of credit for taking them later?

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#5 BRHL Commish
October 12 2011, 10:31AM
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Is it sad that I still wear my Alexei Semenov Oilers 3rd jersey? I will believe forever that MacT ruined his developmental curve. Big guy, who had a hell of a shot, played physical and had offensive tools. After a few years of being browbeat and benched/scratched by MacT he was scared to handle the puck and ruined. FMA(gain)F

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#6 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 12 2011, 10:36AM
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BRHL Commish wrote:

Is it sad that I still wear my Alexei Semenov Oilers 3rd jersey? I will believe forever that MacT ruined his developmental curve. Big guy, who had a hell of a shot, played physical and had offensive tools. After a few years of being browbeat and benched/scratched by MacT he was scared to handle the puck and ruined. FMA(gain)F

Semenov ruined himself. He could barely skate.

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#7 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 12 2011, 10:42AM
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Kinda shocked that the biggest Russian bust isn't on that list. Mikonov. Although I guess that was in 2000.

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#8 Matt Henderson
October 12 2011, 10:45AM
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That Teslyuk pick could give somebody nightmares. Sweet jeebus.

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#9 striker777
October 12 2011, 10:45AM
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I remember Semenov shooting at 105 mi/hr in skills competition, which was almost as high as Chara and better than Souray that year. Tambo has been very busy changing how Oilers approach player development. Maybe improving organizational approach toward drafting/developing Russian kids will be next on the list. It's a little more challenging, but very rewarding.

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#10 VK63
October 12 2011, 10:52AM
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My fave russian drafted by alberta teams was Sergie Priakin.... not many Russian grinders make it over here. (for obvious reasons)

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#11 Dodd
October 12 2011, 11:03AM
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Ugh that 2004 draft pick is a clinic on missed opportunities. We could have thrown a dart at the list and come up better.

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#12 Souby
October 12 2011, 11:14AM
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Dodd wrote:

Ugh that 2004 draft pick is a clinic on missed opportunities. We could have thrown a dart at the list and come up better.

I think that they actually used a dartboard to come up with that pick....either that or Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

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#13 book¡e
October 12 2011, 11:17AM
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Isn't Horcov Russian?

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#14 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2011, 11:28AM
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there is very little that is more depressing than reviewing old draft misses.

you could field a pretty good team right there simply with who we passed up!

any idea if we are any better at picking russians (via draft or otherwise)? looks like Tulupov might be a bust too

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#15 TonyDanzaPervo
October 12 2011, 11:32AM
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"Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Daniel Carcillo, Clarke MacArthur, Zack Stortini, Jan Hejda, Paul Bissonnette, Kyle Quincey, Lee Stempniak, Brad Richardson, Marc Methot, Drew Miller, Joe Pavelski, Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Moulson, Tanner Glasss, Jaroslav Halak, Nick Tarnasky, Brian Elliott."

Weren't Stortini & Brodziak drafted by the Oilers?

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#16 RexLibris
October 12 2011, 11:43AM
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Good read again, Kent and Andrey.

The Oilers have largely dodged that Russian bullet more than many other teams, but if you really want to do an article on lost overseas experiments for the Oilers you'd have to focus on Finland, and no, I'm not just talking about Heikki Riihijarvi and Juha Riihijarvi. I was thinking more Jani Rita, Toni Salmalainen, Jesse Niinimaki, Kristian Antila and Mikko Luoma. There was nearly a lost generation of draft picks by Prendergast in Finland, not to mention the Czech Republic.

Again, the shoulda, coulda, woulda with draft records is always embarassing, but putting down Patric Hornqvist? He was the very last player taken in his draft year. Every team in the league passed on him seven times. Except Nashville, who only passed on him six times.

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#17 The Beaker
October 12 2011, 11:45AM
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"Blake Comeau, David Booth, Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Goligoski, David Krejci, Sami Lepisto, Brandon Prust, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Edler, Johan Franzen, Tyler Kennedy, Ryan Callahan, Kris Versteeg, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Pekka Rinne, Mark Streit."

*cries*

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#18 Aendayana
October 12 2011, 03:03PM
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Max Powers - Team HME Evans wrote:

You mean instead of Alexander Bumagin we could have drafted Arturs Kulda? What were they thinking?

haha +1

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#19 Clarence Oveur
October 12 2011, 04:05PM
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Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Next subject, please...

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#20 jeanshorts
October 12 2011, 04:09PM
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TonyDanzaPervo wrote:

"Who the Oilers could have drafted instead of him?

Daniel Carcillo, Clarke MacArthur, Zack Stortini, Jan Hejda, Paul Bissonnette, Kyle Quincey, Lee Stempniak, Brad Richardson, Marc Methot, Drew Miller, Joe Pavelski, Kyle Brodziak, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Moulson, Tanner Glasss, Jaroslav Halak, Nick Tarnasky, Brian Elliott."

Weren't Stortini & Brodziak drafted by the Oilers?

I had to Google that myself to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. Verdict is still out on that point, but yes the Oilers did draft both of them.

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#21 ubermiguel
October 12 2011, 04:59PM
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What does this say about the state of our Russian scouting? It sucks. Luckily MBS makes up for it in Canada and Sweden.

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#22 russ99
October 12 2011, 06:21PM
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Clarence Oveur wrote:

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Next subject, please...

No kidding.

After the first half-dozen players the draft is a total crapshoot.

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#23 Greg Stink | ESPN
October 12 2011, 07:39PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I think we shy away from Russians because the last time we had a couple of decent ones playing on this team they ended up drinking/smoking/getting fat.

I'd also say that outside of Roman Teslyuk is it really a big lose that we could've drafted some guy in the 5th round that could've become a borderline player.

And we drafted Stortini and Brodziak later in that last draft, so ya shouldn't we get some sort of credit for taking them later?

Yes I am sure the Oilers organization judges all Russians based on that. What an ignorant comment.

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#24 Jamie B.
October 12 2011, 11:41PM
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BRHL Commish wrote:

Is it sad that I still wear my Alexei Semenov Oilers 3rd jersey? I will believe forever that MacT ruined his developmental curve. Big guy, who had a hell of a shot, played physical and had offensive tools. After a few years of being browbeat and benched/scratched by MacT he was scared to handle the puck and ruined. FMA(gain)F

The lockout ruined him. Increased speed + decreased clutching and grabbing = highly ineffective Semenov.

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