February 26 2011 08:28AM
Stu MacGregor (to our left of MPS) and the Oilers amateur scouting department have had a splendid three seasons at the draft table. 83% of their draft picks are tracking well.
- R Jordan Eberle NHL. (2010 36gp, 9-14-23 -4 .639ppg) (2011 12gp, 5-5-10 +3 .833ppg). Improved in the new year, and the only real negative all season was the injury. He has returned and delivered. A draft home run at 22nd overall.
- D Johan Motin AHL (2010 20gp, 1-3-4 -8 .200ppg) (2011 5gp, 0-0-0 +1 .000ppg). Motin has had some injury issues this season, and he's also well down the depth chart based on boxscore observation. Scott Reynolds ran some numbers (here) that show some of those minus numbers early were probably well earned. Motin was taken in the 4th round (103 overall) and has played in an NHL game. I don't think we can call this a hit or miss at this point, but if he doesn't play another NHL game it would be tough to argue the Oilers should regret this pick.
- L Philippe Cornet AHL (2010 24gp, 0-4-4 03 .167) (2011 18gp, 4-4-8 +6 .444). He looked like a write off early on this season, but Cornet got with some skilled players and seems to have found a role on the team. Now the key will be posting enough offense to survive the summer flush and then get in there on a top 6 job for OKC in the fall. 133rd overall, he got a pro contract and he's going to have a good shot at 100 AHL games. Not a hit, but a plus arrow.
- L Teemu Hartikainen AHL (2010 35gp, 10-8-18 -9 .514) (2011 23gp, 5-12-17 +6 .739). Hartikainen is a very strong arrow and a big positive for the scouting department. He was taken in the 6th round--that's when the cleaning staff arrives and NHL general managers are well into the scotch in the hotel lounge. Hartikainen is among the AHL's top 20-year old rookies this season and is also one of the Oilers better prospects. Trending as a terrific draft value.
- D Jordan Bendfeld AHL (2010 9gp, 0-0-0 +2 .000) (2011 7gp, 0-0-0 -3 .000). Big man has divided his time between OKC and Stockton (ECHL) this season. AHL level would appear to be his outer marker and he's going to have to work hard to have a career at that level. Still, he's a 7th rd pick (193rd overall) and history tells us this is the career we should have expected for a player taken in that slot.
Five picks. One splendid rookie with a huge future, one impressive prospect building a resume in the AHL with an NHL shot in his future if the performance has sustain and he can avoid injury. Two AHL level talents learning the trade and grinding their skills into NHL calibre role players and an AHL depth defender. Eberle and Hartikainen would certainly go earlier in a re-draft of 2008's list. I don't think there's a bad pick here.
- L Magnus Pääjärvi NHL (2010 35gp, 4-10-14 +1 .400) (2011 24gp, 6-4-10 -3 .417). Slight upward tick for the Swede and he's finding his way as a teenager in the best league on the planet. Plays the game beyond his years, he needs to answer the one remaining question (how much offense?) but he's a player no matter. 10th overall, he's a wonderful young talent who looks like he'll cover that bet.
- C Anton Lander SEL (2010 30gp, 7-7-14 +1 .467) (2011 15gp, 2-7-9 -10 .600). Improved offensively during the second half but his plus minus has gone straight to hell courtesy a rough week (this one). Lander moved up the depth chart for Timra and it does appear to have increased the offense going both ways. I'll be interested to see if the Oilers bring him over for some games at the end of his SEL season. OKC could use the help and it might give the organization an idea about how far along he is--it looks like another SEL season could be a possibility. Either way, on track for a 40th overall selection.
- D Troy Hesketh USHL (2010 22gp, 0-0-0 -12 .000) (2011 DNP). This would have to be considered a questionable draft selection. We should never say never when it comes to someone so young, but Hesketh appears to be at a crossroads in his hockey career and 2011 is not starting well. Selected 71st overall when there were plenty of famous picks on the board. Poor pick at this point.
- R Cameron Abney WHL (2010 26gp, 3-1-4 -3 .115) (2011 24gp, 3-9-12 -3 .500) Big improvement after a very poor start to the season. I'll never be convinced this was a wise selection--these guys are available in later rounds--but Abney is showing a pulse as a player. If he's as good a fighter as we're told, and the Oilers plan on dressing one in future seasons, then let's hope he develops and becomes a useful player in that role. Still a poor pick at this point.
- D Kyle Bigos NCAA (2010 16gp, 0-4-4 +2 .250) (9gp, 0-1-1 -1 .111) He's a huge guy with toughness and a willing enforcer. His 112pims in US college hockey borders on impossible. I don't know if he has enough skill or footspeed to have an NHL future, but based on being 6.05 230 my guess is he signs a pro contract. Not a strong pick, but at 99th overall it doesn't sting like the previous selections. Jury remains out.
- R Toni Rajala SML (2010 22gp, 6-6-12 E .545) (2011 16gp, 3-7-10 -1 .625). Like Lander, Rajala is playing in a good pro league in Europe. The SEL is better than Finland's elite league (source: Gabriel Desjardins) but we shouldn't discount a pretty solid year. Taken in the 4th round--101 overall--this is a solid draft pick tracking well.
- G Olivier Roy QMJHL (2010 21gp, 2.95 .905) (2011 18gp, 2.76 .913) Impressive improvement and based on these results I'd say Roy is a lock to earn a pro contract. After a long period of dreadful goalie drafting, the Oilers appear to be on a nice little roll during the 00's. Impressive pick based on pedigree (133rd overall).
7 picks. One NHL player, a high 2nd rd pick tracking very well and two end of the draft prospects who have turned out well so far in Rajala and Roy. I'm tempted to suggest if those two had been drafted earlier and Hesketh/Abney were taken later then this draft class would slot well. Having said that, there are two draft errors from this season (Hesketh and Abney) and that's unlikely to change over the years.
- L Taylor Hall NHL (2010 36gp, 12-10-22 -7 .611) (2011 25gp, 9-9-18 +1 .720) The kid has taken a step forward since the end of 2010 and his overall rookie numbers are impressive. Hall's impact on the team is huge, as he's posted impressive scoring chance numbers while facing tough opponents. Oilers had a tough choice at #1 overall and made the right one, and credit should go to the scouting staff.
- R Tyler Pitlick WHL (2010 33gp, 15-21-36 +2 1.16) (2011 21gp, 9-14-23 +3 1.10) Closed the first half strong and started the second half the same way. He's certainly on track as a prospect but you could make a case the other two 2nd rd picks have passed him this season. On track to cover the bet.
- D Martin Marincin WHL (2010 33gp, 10-25-35 +6 1.06) (2011 24gp, 3-14-17 -10 .708) Marincin fell off badly in January (he was -9 for the month) but has recovered some in all areas in February. Still on track as a blue chip prospect and definitely covers his draft number.
- L Curtis Hamilton (2010 31gp, 15-27-42 +27 1.35) (2011 21gp, 6-25-31 +16 1.48) It's a little ridiculous now, what with Schenn joining the line. Hamilton is having a dream season in the WHL and looks like a draft steal despite going in the top 50. Is he this good? We'll see. Either way, a re-draft would place him well ahead of 48th overall.
- C Ryan Martindale OHL (2010 34gp, 20-29-49 +27 1.44) (2011 22gp, 11-17-28 +10 1.27) Playing on one of the feature lines in the CHL, Martindale is posting a strong season. The problem is that his linemates (Toffoli and Prince) appear to be driving the bus. Still, tracking extremely well for a 4rd round (61st overall) pick.
- D Jeremie Blain QMJHL (2010 10gp, 1-7-8 +5 .800) (2011 23gp, 2-21-23 +3 1.00) Somewhat forgotten this season due to an injury in 2010, Blain is quality and already one of the key cogs in Acadie-Bathurst's lineup. Injuries to prospects are always a concern, but that aside he is exceptional value for 81st overall.
- G Tyler Bunz WHL (2010 25gp, 2.47 .916) (2011 23gp, 2.59 .919) Bunz is having a strong season. Second in WHL save percentage, he's been inconsistent at times but a gem overall. Goaltenders develop slowly so we shouldn't expect to see him in the NHL for several years, but he's definitely on track and good value for 121 overall.
- D Brandon Davidson WHL (2010 37gp, 5-24-29 -4 .784) (2011 25gp, 3-14-17 -1 .680) Pats rely on the young defender in all situations and he displays a nice range of skills. Offense has faded but only slightly and he remains worthy of 162nd overall.
- L Drew Czerwonka WHL (2010 35gp, 10-14-24 +6 .686 2011 (23gp, 2-14-16 +7 .696) He's still playing a lot with the skilled guys and the results are there. I will say that the kid Reinhart is a splendid prospect and Czerwonka might be playing Tim Wallach to his Tim Raines. Either way, he was selected 166th overall and looks better than Abney. Covers the bet.
- L Kristians Pelss WHL (2010 30gp, 4-9-13 +8 .433) (2011 25gp, 9-3-12 +1 .480) Young man is 6-0-6 in his last four games and appears to be finding the range. Drafted 181 overall, it's important to remember very few kids drafted that late end up playing in the NHL as regulars. He's doing fine based on draft pedigree.
- L Kellen Jones NCAA (2010 20gp, 3-7-10 -5 .500) (2011 12gp, 3-6-9 +1 .750) Improved play in the new year for the undersized skill winger. Players taken at the end of the draft--especially in a season when the parent club selects 11 men--may not get a pro contract. If he does, that alone would make him a draft win.
11 players, one a strong contender for the Calder. 8 more who are posting impressive numbers and the final two are holding their own. This draft has several years to develop, but as it stands now this looks like the motherlode. Seriously.
- Clear wins (3) Hall, MPS and Eberle
- Tracking strong (5) Hartikainen, Lander, Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton
- Covering the draft bet (11) Motin, Cornet, Rajala, Roy, Martindale, Blain, Bunz, Davidson, Czerwonka, Pelss, Jones
- Losing ground but no harm based on draft pedigree (2) Bendfeld, Bigos
- Tracking badly (2) Hesketh, Abney
History tells us that some of these kids are going to move from category 2 to category 3, 4 and 5. It's also normal for the 2010 draft to have more "tracking strong" players than the previous drafts. However, I submit it is unusual for the 2010 group to be performing so well all down the line. Normally in the year following a draft, there's a scorer who doesn't score, or a top prospect with big injury worries. Not so in the 2010 case.
The 2008 draft has 2/5 (40%) of the group looking like they are going to have at least a shot at an NHL career (Eberle, Hartikainen). 2009 has Pääjärvi and Lander (2/7 or 28.5%) with two long shots (Rajala, Roy), but the Hesketh-Abney picks (and where they were selected makes that draft the weak link. Stu MacGregor mentioned "extreme passion" from his area scouts in both cases and hopefully they give out those area picks later in the draft from now on.
2010? Too early to say. There's a strong possibility one or more will go from covering the bet to losing ground in the next 12 months, but those players have not shown themselves yet. Credit to the Oilers scouting department and to the young men they drafted. Helluva list.
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