HISTORY FAVOURS FORWARDS

Jason Gregor
April 15 2011 05:03PM

Last year the hot topic was Taylor or Tyler, and in the end it didn't become much of a debate amongst the Oiler brass, and after one NHL season it seems clear the Oilers made the right selection calling Hall instead of Seguin. Seguin will still likely turn out to be a very good player, I just don't see him being as dynamic as Hall. This year the debate isn't as much about individual players, but more about their position. Do you take a centre/forward like, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier or Jonathon Huberdeau or do you opt for a defenceman like Adam Larsson.

From where I sit, it seems clear they should take a forward.

If Larsson was a clear cut favourite, and he isn't, then you could make the argument that selecting him is the right decision, but history shows the Oilers would be much better off selecting a forward, and likely a centre, because of the current void of an elite one in the organization.

I've been pumping the likes of Nugent-Hopkins or Landeskog for months over Larsson based solely on their position. History shows that elite D-men get traded more often than elite centres, and even wingers, although we've seen more great wingers moved in the past twenty years than centres, so why not draft a forward and then trade for a D-men when his team inevitably gets impatient with his progress.

To help illustrate the point, here is part of an email I received from Tom when I brought up the subject earlier this week.
 

YEAR             PICK             NAME              When traded/signed      New Team

1991
3
Scott Niedermeyer
13th season
 Anaheim
 
4
Scott Lachance
7th season
Montreal
 
5
Aaron Ward
2nd season
Detroit
1992
1
Roman Hamrlik
6th season
Edmonton
 
3
Mike Rathje
10th season
 Philly
 
5
Darius Kasparaitis
4th season
Pittsburgh
1993
2
Chris Pronger
2nd season
St Louis
1994
1
Ed Jovanovski
5th season
Vancouver
 
2
Oleg Tverdovsky
3rd season
Winnipeg
1995
1
Bryan Berard
1st season
NYI
 
2
Wade Redden
1st season
Ottawa
 
3
Aki Berg
6th season
Toronto
1996
1
Chris Phillips
 N/A
 
 
2
Andrei Zyuzin
3rd season
Tampa
 
5
Ric Jackman
2nd season
Boston
1997
5
Eric Brewer
3rd season
Edmonton
1998
3
Brad Stuart
7th season
Boston
 
4
Bryan Allen
6th season
Florida
 
5
Vitali Vishnevski
6th season
Atlanta
2000
4
Rotislav Klesla
10th season
 Phoenix
2002
3
Jay Bouwmeester
7th season
Calgary
 
4
Joni Pitkannen
3rd season
Edmonton
 
5
Ryan Whitney
5th season
Anaheim
2004
3
Cam Barker
5th season
Minnesota
2005
3
Jack Johnson
1st season
Los Angeles
2006
1
Eric Johnson
4th season
Colorado
2007
4
Thomas Hickey
 yet to play
 
 
5
Karl Alzner
 2nd season
 
2008
2
Drew Doughty
 3rd season
 
 
3
Zach Bogosian
 3rd season
 
 
4
Alex Pietrangelo
 1st season
 
 
5
Luke Schenn
 3rd season
 
2009
2
Victor Hedman
 2nd season
 
2010
3
Eric Gudbransen
 yet to play
 

In the last 20 years, the only true elite D-man chosen in the top five who spent  significant time with the team that drafted him was Scott Niedermayer. Mike Rathje, Chris Phillips and Rotislav Klesla have spent at least ten years with the team that drafted them, but none of them are elite.   

In fairness, in the past four years we've seen the likes of Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, Schenn and Alzner emerge as solid to spectacular d-men, but Bogosian's name has already surfaced in trade rumours and only Doughty has had a true elite level season thus far.

If you look at the top 30-scoring D-men this from this season, only Pietrangelo (20th), Johnson (23rd) and Doughty (24th) were top-five draft picks.

Here are leading defenders from 2010-2011: 

Visnovsky... 4th rounder, 118th overall
Lidstrom..... 3rd rounder, 53rd overall
Yandle........  4th rounder, 105th overall
Byfuglien....  8th rounder, 245th overall
Wisniewski  5th rounder, 156th overall
Enstrom....   8th rounder, 239th overall
Ehrhoff......    4th rounder, 106th overall
Boyle.........    Not drafted
Letang......    3rd rounder, 62nd overall
S. Weber...   2nd rounder, 49th overall
Seabrook...  1st rounder, 14th overall
Rafalski.....    Not drafted
Kaberle.....    8th rounder, 204th overall
Burns........    1st rounder, 20th overall
Goligoski..    2nd rounder, 61st overall
Liles..........    5th rounder, 159th overall
Karlsson...   1st rounder, 15th overall
Keith..........    2nd rounder, 54th overall
Chara........    3rd rounder, 56th overall
Pietrangelo 1st rounder, 4th overall
Shattenkirk. 1st rounder, 14th overall
Giordano..... Not drafted
Johnson..... 1st rounder, 3rd overall
Doughty...... 1st rounder, 2nd overall
Corvo.......... 4th rounder, 83rd overall
Fowler........  1st rounder, 12th overall
Wideman...  8th rounder, 241st overall
Carle..........  2nd rounder, 47th overall
Suter..........  1st rounder, 7th overall
Subban.....  2nd rounder, 43rd overall

Only nine were 1st round picks, and only four of them were top-ten picks. It seems clear that you don't need to draft a D-man in the top-five to improve your chances of getting an elite level defender.

Compare that to the top 30-scoring forwards this season.

Fourteen of them were top-five picks. The Sedins, Stamkos, Ovechkin, Staal, Toews, Marleau, Vanek, Kane, Ryan, Thornton, Tavares, Duchene and Nash.

One was a top-ten pick; Selanne 10th overall.

Nine of them were first rounders beyond the top-ten. Kopitar (11th), Carter (11th),Tanguay (12th), Iginla (12th), Getzlaf (19th), Giroux (22nd), Kesler (23rd), Briere (24th) and Perry (29th).

Two were 2nd rounders, Eriksson (33rd) and Ribeiro (45th), two were 3rd rounders, B. Richards (64th) and Sharp (95th), while Zetterberg was a 7th rounder and St. Louis was never drafted.

STAY AWAY FROM D-MAN WITH FIRST PICK

Larsson might turn out to be the best player in this draft, but the likelihood of him doing it while being an Oiler is minimal. If the Oilers want to continue rebuilding properly they will take a forward, preferably a centre named Nugent-Hopkins, and then try to move up in the draft by dangling a healthy body and the King's pick. If they want to take a D-man, take him with that pick, just don't use the first overall pick on a defenceman. 

Almost half, 46.7%, of the top scorers in the NHL were taken in the first five picks, while only 10% of the top-scoring D-men came from being a top-five pick.

The Oilers clearly have a void at centre and on the blueline, and they can't fill both with one pick, so make the smart pick and take a centre.

FOLLOW THE BABY OILERS

Starting tomorrow at 2 p.m. MDT, you can follow the OKC Barons on the TEAM 1260 Edmonton Sports Radio. The TEAM will broadcast the remaining games of their first round series v. Hamilton. Game three to five go Tues, Wed and Friday at 6:05 p.m. on the TEAM 1260.

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 k
April 16 2011, 08:34AM
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rickithebear wrote:

Just like RNH points from goals ration is one of the worst in the last 20 years for 1st rounders. . The guys who have that ratio. Daigle, Bonsignore, Kelly, Stefan, Niinimaki. Worse mostly on PP.

Jason If you don't draft A Dman. I say go one step further. Don't draft a Daigle (RNH) draft a Hall Type (hubredeau)

very much agreed. If you dont want a dman, SC, JH, RS. anyone but RNH

http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/4/15/2092297/2011-NHL-Draft-Prospects-chl-update

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#53 beer goggles
April 16 2011, 11:03AM
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the one thing that bugs me about rnh is that 59 of his 106 points were powerplay. kind of sounds like schremp's numbers.

having said that, i have not seen him play. all i know is from reading articles and other peoples opinions.

can someone make me feel better about this?

personally, i would take gabe.

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#54 Release the Hounds
April 16 2011, 12:01PM
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Does anyone know at what rink(s) the Oilers will be holding their daily practices at after their mandatory 6 weeks vacation? It would be good to see them work on the PP and PK so that come October and opening day, they have a general idea on how to execute special teams play. After all, how do you get to Carnegie, HALL? Practice, practice, practice....

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#55 bigrroberto
April 16 2011, 12:02PM
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RNH is the type of guy where if you give him an inch he takes a mile and makes you pay. People always whine about alot of his points coming on the powerplay but that's because he has so much space and how do you cover a guy like that when you're a man down? 5 on 5 his points aren't as high because he's double teamed all night long. I watched him a bunch this year, being from red deer, and I was really impressed with how he felt with it. Like others have said he makes others around him better. Wether it be 5 on 5 or powerplay what he does is suck the defenders in so tight the. Once they cOmmit he makes a sick pass and someone burries it. He truly does make people around him better because he has that ability.

Now picture him with his "super star" status on a line with other stars like Hall and Eberle. In red deer he was the only one on his line they concentrated on. If he was on a line with Hall one would have to think that would open up more space for him to score more goals, if it didn't then that leaves more space for Hall and Eberle to receive his sick passes all night long.

On top if that he is extremely good in the dot and his 2 way game is exceptional. Unlike Gagner RNH uses his speed to compensate for his size effectively.

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#56 forestscooter
April 16 2011, 12:43PM
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Pick RNH for sure. Agree with roberto his even strength is down for only 2 reasons. He is double teamed all night. And he only scores when he needs to. He is not the type of player to run his goal totals up in 4.0 games against weaker teams. Trading away a #1 pick is insanity imagine the backlash in 2012 when RNH wins the world juniors or 2013 when RNH wins the calder with colorado while edmonton fans are still watching hall skate up the ice with horcoff. Franchise player or not... Hall, Ebs, RNH would be a franchise line for a decade.

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#57 Jaime
April 16 2011, 03:09PM
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BPA. That is all.

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#58 Jaime
April 16 2011, 03:23PM
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Doughty, Bogosian, Schenn, Pietrangelo, and Alzner throw a wrench in your argument about defenceman historically not panning out at early picks. Those are all in the last 4 years. May I suggest that defencemen picked in earlier drafts didn't pan out because scouting wasn't at the same level as it has been in recent years?

So let's say Stu and gang conclude that a defenceman is the best player available in the upcoming draft. Do they really pass on him because in years past bad scouting led to more busts at the top of the draft for both forwards and defencemen?

The logic just doesn't make any sense. Because something has happened in the past under very different circumstances does not mean it is likely to happen again.

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#59 Jaime
April 16 2011, 03:28PM
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buttermilk buscuits wrote:

Wonder how Victor Hedman is doing these days..

By the way, I think Petry has a very good chance of being a real big contributor to the Oilers D..that comparison that Lowetide made in one of his articles where he compared Petry to Gilbert I think is a bit off..Gilbert is alright, but I think Petry has the potential to be a more complete package, and seems to play a bit more physical than Gilbert does.. After this years draft (in which Oilers will probably focus ALOT of D after the first round) I see the Oilers having a future D similar to what Pittsburgh has..no Franchise defenceman..just one or two Very Good Defenceman who will probably never win a Norris..and 3-4 very solid NHL Defenceman that can play in any situation..the rest of the spots being given to Plante..Teubert..or one or two grizzled, tough veteran stay at home defenceman..

How about something like..

Whitney-Petry D.Siemens or D. Hamilton or D. Musil and Peckham C.Teubert or A. Plante and K.Lowe 7th D..Possibly that Montgomery kid..or Veteran Dman similar to Jim Vandemeer

Hedman must be playing poorly because you haven't heard of him recently, right?

By my eye, he's becoming a wonderful all-round defender, the kind that we sorely need on the Oilers. All at the age of 20.

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#60 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 16 2011, 04:28PM
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Jaime wrote:

Doughty, Bogosian, Schenn, Pietrangelo, and Alzner throw a wrench in your argument about defenceman historically not panning out at early picks. Those are all in the last 4 years. May I suggest that defencemen picked in earlier drafts didn't pan out because scouting wasn't at the same level as it has been in recent years?

So let's say Stu and gang conclude that a defenceman is the best player available in the upcoming draft. Do they really pass on him because in years past bad scouting led to more busts at the top of the draft for both forwards and defencemen?

The logic just doesn't make any sense. Because something has happened in the past under very different circumstances does not mean it is likely to happen again.

Schenn, Alzner and Bogosian are no where near elite dmen.

Doughty and Pietrangelo have really only had one elite season each (though they both have a good shot at having great careers.)

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#62 Jaime
April 16 2011, 06:14PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Schenn, Alzner and Bogosian are no where near elite dmen.

Doughty and Pietrangelo have really only had one elite season each (though they both have a good shot at having great careers.)

Let's just be clear: I don't think we're going to get an 'elite' player, forward or defenceman, in this draft. The next best thing is getting a player like Schenn, Alzner, or Bogosian.

Doughty and Pietrangelo are very young players that haven't been in the NHL for long, but like you suggested I think they are going to be number 1 defenders for at least the near future on their respective teams.

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#63 Jaime
April 16 2011, 06:31PM
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@Jason Gregor

I don't think Bogosian's name has been tossed around in trade talks because he's a poor defenceman. I think he's been a great player and I think he will be a solid top pairing defenceman. He's what, 20 years old? Playing tough minutes for defensive stalwarts the Atlanta Thrashers? Give me a break.

Might I suggest that Tyler Myers and Cam Fowler should have been taken in the top five in their respective drafts? Seems to me they're playing at a higher level than many of the players that were picked before them right now.

Point is, I'm not a fan of picking a player by position (not BPA) and hoping we catch a Tyler Myers or Cam Fowler with our second and third picks. I won't be crossing my fingers that it happens.

There are no 'elite' scorers in the Taylor Hall mold to be had in this draft, imo. So I'd be wary of suggesting that we might end up with one simply because we have a number 1 overall pick. If you actually look at the players who are projected to go early in the draft, none of them are projected to score at an 'elite' level in the NHL. You have to look at the players available in this draft, not just look at historical odds to make a decision on the 1st overall pick.

Just because most elite forwards have been chosen in the first 5 picks, does not mean we are MORE LIKELY to draft one in the first 5 picks. Two completely different things.

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#64 Team Centreman
April 16 2011, 07:44PM
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Bang On Jason. 100% agree with you. Thanks for getting that message out to Oilers management. You can't ignore history. The Oilers traded for Pitkanen, they can trade for another good d-man, or move up in the draft and grab a very good one like you said. My only suggestion, try to grab a larger defenceman if possible. Small Visnovsky's are great, but they can get their head crushed pretty good too. btw, you have an outstanding radio voice. It's very Steve Kouleas/James Duthie type quality, and that's some good company. That dude who called you out on your voice targeted probably your best attribute. Must have been a troll.

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#65 Doug Sorensen
April 16 2011, 11:09PM
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Jaime wrote:

I don't think Bogosian's name has been tossed around in trade talks because he's a poor defenceman. I think he's been a great player and I think he will be a solid top pairing defenceman. He's what, 20 years old? Playing tough minutes for defensive stalwarts the Atlanta Thrashers? Give me a break.

Might I suggest that Tyler Myers and Cam Fowler should have been taken in the top five in their respective drafts? Seems to me they're playing at a higher level than many of the players that were picked before them right now.

Point is, I'm not a fan of picking a player by position (not BPA) and hoping we catch a Tyler Myers or Cam Fowler with our second and third picks. I won't be crossing my fingers that it happens.

There are no 'elite' scorers in the Taylor Hall mold to be had in this draft, imo. So I'd be wary of suggesting that we might end up with one simply because we have a number 1 overall pick. If you actually look at the players who are projected to go early in the draft, none of them are projected to score at an 'elite' level in the NHL. You have to look at the players available in this draft, not just look at historical odds to make a decision on the 1st overall pick.

Just because most elite forwards have been chosen in the first 5 picks, does not mean we are MORE LIKELY to draft one in the first 5 picks. Two completely different things.

It's called a trend. The players projected to go in the top five have put up similar numbers to players like Taylor Hall and Steven Stamkos in their respective junior years. One of them happens to be Ryan Nugent Hopkins.

How can you honestly say RHN is not projected to be an elite level talent in the NHL? Where on earth did you get that assumption?

I know you really really want Adam Larsson, but the Oilers are not going to pick him. Tambo even hinted the player they will draft will most likely not make the team, considering Larsson is a candidate for being "most NHL ready".

"Take the best available player at the draft"

Larsson is good, yes, however he has not proven to be an elite 2-way D-man. Don't believe me, look it up. He is a force at eating up minutes on a much larger ice surface but has not been able to contribute offensively on a consistent basis, if at all.

I would take Dougie Hamilton over Adam Larsson any day of the week but at 5th to 12th overall, which the Oilers could trade up to with their existing picks. Imagine, get Ryan Nugent Hopkins at 1st and Dougie Hamilton at let's say 8th or 9th, that would be minty.

If the Oilers get Larsson at 1st, I will SH@# a brick in pain.

Yes the Oilers desperately need another top 2 pairing defenseman, however the answer is not at first overall, but later in the round or perhaps next year that will see alot of depth in defense.

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#66 JohnQPublic
April 17 2011, 01:35PM
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Excellent points made in this analysis. You sold me. Forward it is.

However, I'm not sure RNH is the guy afer a 2 point showing in the playoffs against The Hat.

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#67 ubermiguel
April 17 2011, 07:16PM
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I crunched some numbers, it looks like the top 30 defensemen were drafted on average in Round 3 (80th overall). I didn't expect this, but there is a weak NEGATIVE correlation between draft position and defenseman scoring. RNH here we come!

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#68 oilbaron
April 18 2011, 09:12AM
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@Release the Hounds

in late september or early october your best bet to see some of them play is at perry perns pro development camp. i went last year and hemmer gave me a signed stick. paajarvi, gagner, bouwmeester etc were all there too.

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#69 james_dean
April 18 2011, 11:51AM
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sign brad richards for 8 mil @ 6 years

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