Another Top 8 Pick?

Lowetide
May 25 2011 07:45AM

According to a Jim Matheson article yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers have completed their scouting meetings with no clear number one. How could this be true? 

I don't think the recent performance of Jonathan Huberdeau will impact the Oilers final list. Huberdeau's team is loaded, so their appearance in the final four is no surprise and his impressive offensive totals have been compiled when the other elite talent from this draft are no longer playing. It is perhaps unwise to punish those players for running out of blacktop.

One of the quotes in the Matty article attempts to shed some light on the issue but really just muddies the waters. Matheson suggests that GM Steve Tambellini feels if two players are deemed equal by his scouts, he may make the call based on team need. Here's the muddy: the Oilers team needs perfectly align with the top of the draft:

  • #1 Center: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier, Ryan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau
  • Gritty skill winger: Gabriel Landeskog
  • Complete defender: Adam Larsson

I think the Oilers might consider trading down to #3 or #4 overall if the return is right. That return might include picks and players with enough appeal to get the Oildrop from #19 overall (the LAK pick) back into the top 10. If the Oilers walk away from the draft's first round with Sean Couturier and Dougie Hamilton, is that worth more than RNH and Mark McNeill? 

It might be.

MAGIC 8 BALL

It is generally agreed that the top end of this draft is exactly 8 deep. We discussed it here. I'm not certain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the number one player on the Oilers list, but I think he's the odds-on favorite to end up there. I'd bet even more money that the Oilers scouts discussed a second pick in the top 8: if these eight kids are as good as advertised, collecting a future #1 C and a future top pairing defender would be a major heist.

HOW DO YOU GET THERE FROM HERE?

Columbus would seem to be a likely candidate. They select 8th and are looking to improve enough to make a playoff appearance. Atlanta and Ottawa are also in the range.

I don't know for certain that Steve Tambellini will attempt to move up from 19th to 8th (or better), but it makes a helluva lot of sense.

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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 Team 1260.
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#101 PRG moose
May 25 2011, 11:25PM
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I've noticed a lot of us are hoping for some more grit on the team especially the bottom six forwards. Names like Konopka Hartnell Upshall and Glencross as well as Weber. Personally I would like to see Clutterbuck and Burns in Oil silks. We could definitely use the leading hitter year after year. Some combination of Hemsky Gilbert and Vandervelde (minnesota boys the last two) for the above two and a draft or prospect. Just throwing out some names would be hard to see Hemmer go. Also make attempts at Bieksa and Wisnewski at free agent time.

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#102 speeds
May 25 2011, 11:25PM
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@speeds

Have to correct my last sentence in reply #99, I started writing it, went back to change some of the rest, and never came back to it.

I wrote:

"It is your job to know which one is the best bet going forward at the time of the draft."

That sentence might be taken to mean that there is a definitive "best" prospect, but what I meant was it's your job identify the future potential of each of the players available, and try to rank them in the order reflecting their value. If that means you have a clear cut #1, that's what it means, and if it means you grade 3 players as equally good options at any given draft position (in this case, at #1), then that's what it means.

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#103 PRG moose
May 25 2011, 11:38PM
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I don't believe that the scouts never made a recommendation for who to take first overall. Just that it wasn't unanimous amongst them. Maybe half want RNH some want Larsson and some want Couturier. Majority rules and RNH is our man. Would be nice to get two of the top centers and sign your dmen. Less risk that way I believe.

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#104 Archaeologuy
May 25 2011, 11:40PM
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@speeds

I didnt realize how many people are completely fine with the idea of Stu MacGregor spending a year evaluating this crop of players and coming back to the team with nothing. Which is exactly what coming up with no recommendation would be.

I didnt think it was unreasonable to expect the head amateur scout of an organization to actually chose who he thinks is the best prospect out there. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the scouting staff will hold hands and sing Koombaya at the draft and let the prospects themselves chose who will be drafted #1. That would be swell.

I cant get over how low everybody's expectations are for Stu MB. Unbelievable.

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#105 longbottom/P.Biglow
May 25 2011, 11:55PM
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@Archaeologuy

I'm looking at what you wrote and it really confuses me. Expectations are not low for Magregor, where you get this idea from is beyond me. Tambellinni not giving anything away to fans sports writers....etc isn't anything new. He tells everyone that they have three or four poeple tied at the top. as one person mentioned that right now there very well be a tie amoungst the scouts for players . the draft is what 2 weeks away. Do you really think they want everyteam in the NHL knowing who they want. They may very well be trying to work out deals for the draft, like wanting Couturier rather than RNH or maybe Larsson. Why should everyone know right now. Heck the season isn't even over yet.

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#106 PDiddy
May 26 2011, 12:07AM
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No one will ever be able to convince me, regardless of the team's need, that the first overall pick should be used on a D-man. A 1st overall selection should have the potential for 40 goals or 90 points in their prime. As history has shown us, elite d-men are much easier to find (than elite C) in later rounds or FA. WASH, CHI and PIT always used their first picks on elite scorers - hasn't turned out too bad for them.

I say take the consensus #1 (RNH) and build the back end through trades, later picks and FA. Edmonton will never attract an elite C FA - it just ain't going to happen. Draft for elite offense talents and put the pieces around them.

And for all the TAMB haters - you can't say we are worse off than when Lowe was in charge. Our drafting is significantly better in the last two years than the previous 6-7 combined.

Finally, I hope the Oilers don't make the playoffs next year. We don't need a quick fix here. We need to build a team that will be competitive for 10+ years.

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#107 striker777
May 26 2011, 12:38AM
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I totally agree with Tambelini's strategy not to give away his draft strategy. I expect that from a good GM. Having said that, I hope he trades down and takes Couturier.

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#108 Wes Mantooth
May 26 2011, 02:27AM
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A hockey team that has been last place for 2 years running, and will be in a battle to finish dead last again in the upcoming year, whose drafting/scouting has been abysmal for the last 10 + years (with exception to the new scouting staff) who’s organizational depth just started to become better, and with the exception of one magical year has done nothing since Messier left the team 20 years ago, in my own opinion does not give or trade away the 1st overall pick! Should never happen!

I also agree that no 1st pick should be used on defenseman. Especially a defenseman that is ranked to be a top 2nd paring defenseman who has never played in North America! It’s asinine. I also think if the team does not know who should be taken 1st overall at this point then the organization is in trouble, whether that player is BPA or the NEED of the team, they know who that player is already.

I also believe that moving up in the top five in the draft will take a S**T load more then L.A 19th pick and a legit roster player, and that player wont be Smid or Cogliano, sorry but other GM’s don’t want our average players, they may start listening at Hemsky, Gagner, a 2nd rounder plus a prospect and cap space. However the conversation most likely would include the names Eberle and MPS if you’re the opposing GM. That is way too much to give up for a prospect.

However, I am an optimist and all for the team moving up to grab two top two picks if ST can swindle another GM. RNH and Landenskog would be great additions to the team and add that finesse and grit.

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#109 Archaeologuy
May 26 2011, 06:45AM
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@longbottom/P.Biglow

I already said in comment 2 pretty much exactly what you just suggested, I'm just reacting to other comments now.

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#110 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 08:53AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I didnt realize how many people are completely fine with the idea of Stu MacGregor spending a year evaluating this crop of players and coming back to the team with nothing. Which is exactly what coming up with no recommendation would be.

I didnt think it was unreasonable to expect the head amateur scout of an organization to actually chose who he thinks is the best prospect out there. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the scouting staff will hold hands and sing Koombaya at the draft and let the prospects themselves chose who will be drafted #1. That would be swell.

I cant get over how low everybody's expectations are for Stu MB. Unbelievable.

It has nothing to do with "low expectations" and everything to do with understanding that "X and Y are too close to call" is a potential outcome when evaluating.

They are essentially equivalent isn't the same as I don't know.

I'm sure when pressed he'd give a name rather then just throw up his hands, that doesn't mean he doesn't feel their is an equivalent prospect.

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#111 Archaeologuy
May 26 2011, 09:11AM
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@speeds

The difference between players is not fictional, it is real. 1 of the top 3 elligible players will have a better career than the others. It's Stu's job to figure out which one that will be.

I guess it comes down to what you are willing to accept. Personally, I refuse to accept the premise that prospects can be equal. So to me it's ludicrous to think that MacGregor wouldnt at minimum say to Tambellini "it was close for X reasons but I believe Y player is tops."

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#112 Archaeologuy
May 26 2011, 09:15AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

If the question is "Which one will be a better player in the NHL?" or "Who will be more impactful in the NHL?", then "They are essentially the same" is the same as "I dont know."

One will be better. That is a certainty. They are equal is an invalid response.

If I ask you "What is the Capital of Sweden?" You cant answer "It's too close to call"

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#113 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 09:24AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

If the question is "Which one will be a better player in the NHL?" or "Who will be more impactful in the NHL?", then "They are essentially the same" is the same as "I dont know."

One will be better. That is a certainty. They are equal is an invalid response.

If I ask you "What is the Capital of Sweden?" You cant answer "It's too close to call"

No but if you ask me which city in Sweden will be the most attractive in 10 years I could answer "it's too close to call".

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#114 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 09:36AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The difference between players is not fictional, it is real. 1 of the top 3 elligible players will have a better career than the others. It's Stu's job to figure out which one that will be.

I guess it comes down to what you are willing to accept. Personally, I refuse to accept the premise that prospects can be equal. So to me it's ludicrous to think that MacGregor wouldnt at minimum say to Tambellini "it was close for X reasons but I believe Y player is tops."

Can say with conviction who the better player is between:

Spezza/Kovalchuk

Eric Staal/MAF

Eric Johnson/Jordan Staal

Tavares/Duchene

And maybe even

Stamkos/Doughty

AO/Malkin

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#115 speeds
May 26 2011, 09:42AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The difference between players is not fictional, it is real. 1 of the top 3 elligible players will have a better career than the others. It's Stu's job to figure out which one that will be.

I guess it comes down to what you are willing to accept. Personally, I refuse to accept the premise that prospects can be equal. So to me it's ludicrous to think that MacGregor wouldnt at minimum say to Tambellini "it was close for X reasons but I believe Y player is tops."

If there were 3 equal top prospects, it's very likely one of them will end up better, but that doesn't mean you can tell which one at the time of the draft.

Maybe a team picking 3rd, or 4th, or 5th ranks Strome and Huberdeau as exact equals, and has a chance to pick either. Let's say they pick Strome, maybe they mishandle his development, and he busts, while the team right after then has the same assessment, picks Huberdeau (as he's the guy left) and he succeeds. How sure can you be that failure has anything to do with the decision at the draft, and not things that happened after the draft that the team couldn't possibly have known at the time of the draft? Injury, bad development, etc.

Maybe if they'd have picked Huberdeau, they'd have ruined him too while Strome would have been successful in the other organization?

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#116 Archaeologuy
May 26 2011, 10:15AM
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People. It doesnt matter what happens after the draft, but it is ludicrous to think that Stu wont make a decision before it.

If he picks the wrong guy it's on him, but he still needs to pick someone.

OB1 the answers follow as such: Kovalchuk 170 more points almost all of them goals, Staal at or near a point per game since his sophomore year and Fleury's SV% has bobbled between good and average his whole career, Johnson because Staal has about as much offense in his game as Gagner, Tav vs Duch hasnt been on long enough (that's by far the closest race though), Stamkos has the hardware, Ovechkin by a mile.

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#117 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 10:58AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

People. It doesnt matter what happens after the draft, but it is ludicrous to think that Stu wont make a decision before it.

If he picks the wrong guy it's on him, but he still needs to pick someone.

OB1 the answers follow as such: Kovalchuk 170 more points almost all of them goals, Staal at or near a point per game since his sophomore year and Fleury's SV% has bobbled between good and average his whole career, Johnson because Staal has about as much offense in his game as Gagner, Tav vs Duch hasnt been on long enough (that's by far the closest race though), Stamkos has the hardware, Ovechkin by a mile.

Well it seems everyone else.... including the team seems to be able to accept that their can be prospects that are "too close to call".

So I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

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#118 Brad
May 26 2011, 11:04AM
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Edmonton should draft RNH AND Couturier.

Next year is the year of the defensemen.

Even if RNH is an 80 point guy Edmonton still needs a big, skilled shutdown guy that can win draws and that isn't Gagner or Horcoff.

Save for Hall, Eberle and MPS I would move the entire team to secure Couturier with our 2nd pick.

You get those top 2 centers and they are going to make everyone on the team better - elite centers make their wingers better -and if if the coach has two impact C's then it gives the coach tons of options with his 3rd and 4th lines.

Does Gagner + Hemsky + Smid + 19 + 31 get you Couturier?

Might be an overpayment but Edmonton would be set for the next 10 years down the middle and that's the hardest position to fill.

Plus if Edmonton has two impact C's + Hall and Eberle its going to be dramatically easier to bring in UFA's.

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#119 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 11:10AM
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Brad wrote:

Edmonton should draft RNH AND Couturier.

Next year is the year of the defensemen.

Even if RNH is an 80 point guy Edmonton still needs a big, skilled shutdown guy that can win draws and that isn't Gagner or Horcoff.

Save for Hall, Eberle and MPS I would move the entire team to secure Couturier with our 2nd pick.

You get those top 2 centers and they are going to make everyone on the team better - elite centers make their wingers better -and if if the coach has two impact C's then it gives the coach tons of options with his 3rd and 4th lines.

Does Gagner + Hemsky + Smid + 19 + 31 get you Couturier?

Might be an overpayment but Edmonton would be set for the next 10 years down the middle and that's the hardest position to fill.

Plus if Edmonton has two impact C's + Hall and Eberle its going to be dramatically easier to bring in UFA's.

You should check out the success rate of pulling "impact players" with picks in the 4-10 range.

You should also check out how many elite centers are actually making their wingers better.

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#120 Brad
May 26 2011, 11:17AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

You should check out the success rate of pulling "impact players" with picks in the 4-10 range.

You should also check out how many elite centers are actually making their wingers better.

Lol.

Draft Couturier at #2 and all the sudden the % looks pretty damn good.

And if you don't think impact centers make everyone around them better then I have nothing really to say to you.

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#121 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 11:40AM
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Brad wrote:

Lol.

Draft Couturier at #2 and all the sudden the % looks pretty damn good.

And if you don't think impact centers make everyone around them better then I have nothing really to say to you.

So we are going to go way off board to draft him at #2?

Want to hear something interesting Brad? Chris Kunitz PPG numbers actually went up when Crosby went down.

I can provide piles of proof that impact centers have little to no impact on others stats, What proof can you provide to the contrary?

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#122 brad
May 26 2011, 12:21PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So we are going to go way off board to draft him at #2?

Want to hear something interesting Brad? Chris Kunitz PPG numbers actually went up when Crosby went down.

I can provide piles of proof that impact centers have little to no impact on others stats, What proof can you provide to the contrary?

All you've proven is that don't know much about hockey.

Centers are tacticians. They control the entire game.

Without good ones it has a negative effect on the entire team.

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#123 Brad
May 26 2011, 12:26PM
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According to OB1's "logic", Taylor Hall's performance would be identical if he was playing with Colin Fraser or Sidney Crosby.

hahahhaha

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#124 Archaeologuy
May 26 2011, 12:33PM
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Brad wrote:

According to OB1's "logic", Taylor Hall's performance would be identical if he was playing with Colin Fraser or Sidney Crosby.

hahahhaha

The problem is that Sidney Crosby's wingers generally perform the same with or without him in the lineup. So, it's actually hard to suggest that Hall will do better with Crosby because playing with Crosby hasnt boosted the numbers for players like Kunitz.

I tried arguing with it once, but it just doesnt seem to make a big difference on the wingers.

That said I still think that depth at C is the key to winning.

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#125 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 12:37PM
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brad wrote:

All you've proven is that don't know much about hockey.

Centers are tacticians. They control the entire game.

Without good ones it has a negative effect on the entire team.

Go ahead Brad, click on NHL.com and see what the wingers playing with the best player in the world have done.... it isn't that impressive.

Crosby was putting up one of the highest PPG's in years before he got hurt.... if there was ever going to be a time that some boosted someone elses numbers this would have been that year and Crosby would have been the guy.

Guess what? His primary winger put up better numbers without him.

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#126 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 26 2011, 12:39PM
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Brad wrote:

According to OB1's "logic", Taylor Hall's performance would be identical if he was playing with Colin Fraser or Sidney Crosby.

hahahhaha

Within reason Brad. Going from playing with the best player in the league to one of the worst would probably have an impact on a guys numbers.

However I think a Hall could play with Crosby or Getzlaf or Stastny or Wiess or even Horcoff or Gagner and still put up roughly the same numbers.

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#127 Darcy
May 26 2011, 04:40PM
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I am coming very late to this conversation and I have been too lazy to read everybody's well thought analysis. If it has not been suggested, why doesn't some writer buy a couple scouts a beer and ask off the record how much to trade for two picks in the top 8. Then we can all make an informed decision on who we are trading.

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