THE TOUCH LIST

Lowetide
May 27 2012 08:28AM

The Edmonton Oilers have devoted enormous resources and placed great importance on amateur procurement since 2010 spring. The rebuild has already delivered the top end of the draft to the NHL. The second and third rounders are on the way, and some of the depth picks are showing signs of life. How important is it to score a home run deep in the draft? What does a 5th round home run look like? Do the Oilers have any on the way?

Martin Gernat was a 5th round pick in 2011, and enjoyed an outstanding season for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He went 60, 9-46-55 and finished 7th in WHL scoring among defenders as an 18 year old. Gernat was the 106th ranked European player by Central Scouting in the 2011 draft, and was the 26th European chosen. Stu MacGregor told us after the draft that the Oilers had Gernat in their top 35. How could that be? I think you have to give NHL scouts a lot of credit for doing their jobs well.

Is this version of the Oilers scouting department better than average? That's a tough question. The club has been drafting high the last couple of seasons, but the Jordan Eberle selection deep in the first round would certainly be a high water mark for the group.

What about those 5th rounders like Gernat? How often do they emerge as quality NHL players? Using the 2003-07 drafts as a guideline, we get the following list of 5th rounders who emerged as solid or better NHLers:

  1. Jamie Benn, 129th overall (DAL) in 2007
  2. Darren Helm, 132nd overall (DET) in 2005
  3. Nathan Gerbe, 142nd overall (BUF) in 2005
  4. Tom Wandell, 146th overall (DAL) in 2005
  5. Mark Fayne, 155th overall (NJD) in 2005
  6. Kris Versteeg, 134th overall (BOS) in 2004
  7. Nikita Nikitin, 136th overall (STL) in 2004
  8. Jake Dowell, 140th overall (CHI) in 2004
  9. Mikhail Grabovski, 150th overall (MON) in 2004
  10. Mike Brown, 159th overall (VAN) in 2004
  11. Lee Stempniak, 148th overall (STL) in 2003
  12. Nigel Dawes, 149th overall (NYR) in 2003
  13. John Mitchell, 158th overall (TOR) in 2003
  14. Brad Richardson, 163rd overall (COL) in 2003

14 NHL players (there are many still working on NHL careers so the number will increase) from 162 draft picks. That's a success rate of about 8.5%. Edmonton's 5th round picks in this era (Kalle Olsson, David Rohlfs, Bryan Young, Fredrik Pettersson, Bryan Pitton, Cody Wild, Milan Kytnar) could be described as "swing and a miss" types. Edmonton did score a deep homer late in the draft once in this window: Kyle Brodziak in the extremely deep 2003 draft, 7th rd 214th overall. We know now that the Brodziak selection was strongly influenced by the great Lorne Davis, who pushed hard to draft him in 2002 (source: Guy Flaming).

Edmonton during this era just wasn't good enough. 8.5% of 5th round picks (or more, some of them are still developing) made it, Oilers got nothing from round 5 in the years we're examining today.

We're much too early in the process to properly assess Stu's crew from 2008+ but the kids chosen (Phil Cornet, Olivier Roy, Tyler Bunz, Martin Gernat) all have some good arrows. If one of them emerges as an NHL player, it would represent a 25% success rate. This era's Kyle Brodziak? It could be Teemu Hartikainen, Kristians Pelss or Frans Tuohimaa. Once again the arrows are going in a nice direction.

THE TOUCH LIST

Back when the draft was 9 rounds, Edmonton employed (and may still employ) a "touch list" of players scouts and organization men had a strong passion for in a specific year. The Lorne Davis item above would certainly fit the description, and of course there's the famous story of Kevin Lowe choosing Tyler Spurgeon back when the boss saw more junior games and had major input into at least one selection per draft.

I believe there's still a tendency for the Oilers to listen to their scouts about a specific player. Stu MacGregor will often tell us a scout has a "passion" for this player or "extreme" passion for that player and I think it's about rewarding scouts for all their hard work and those miles and miles of miles and miles.

It is interesting to see how few of those guys turn out though, then and now.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers "touch list" may still exist and if you see them taking some kid who is ranked well below the slot chosen chances are it's an area scout who has argued well for his man. On the other hand, if MBS wanders up to the microphones and suggests the Oilers had a player ranked in the top 35 and were shocked to get him at #122, we may want to follow that man no matter what Central Scouting tells us. 

Previously in the series:

Up next: the OHL and the Oilers.

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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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#51 Walter Sobchak
May 27 2012, 06:52PM
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@ a lg dubl dubl

No problem, it's a very good deal really IMO.

@ Spinner27

If the Oilers take Yakupov, I agree Hemsky becomes expendable. However I can’t see the Capitals giving up that number eleven pick, especially if the lose a defenseman through UFA IMO the later pick will be in play, but who really knows?

I myself am the internal optimist, maybe Hemsky can be moved for number 11 pick.

I also can’t see Samuelsson being there in the second round when the Oilers pick again, he had a hell of a playoffs from what I seen in person and on TV, and I think his stock went up. He spends a little time working on that foot speed he might be a good one!

If the Jackets can work out a deal with the Leafs for Nash, and the Leafs 5th, then I think you might see a three way deal with the Oilers the Jackets and the Leafs.

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#53 DSF
May 27 2012, 07:21PM
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Lowetide wrote:

In the last 10 drafts, oilers plucked after the first round who have had careers are: Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham (he struggled, get real--the guy will have at least one more chance with another team) and then we get into MBS territory and it is too soon to know.

DSF, you're framing the issue again. :-)

Mibad.

Missed Petry and Greene.

Zack Storini was never an NHL player on an average team and Peckham wouldn't be either.

If we are giving passes to MBS because "it's too soon to know" perhaps we can refrain from calling him magnificent.

I think someone is indeed, "framing the issue".

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#55 DonDon
May 27 2012, 07:56PM
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It has been noted the Oilers' brass and fans have fallen in love with their draft choices and overestimate the value of veterans.

Don't know why the love for Gagner, Hemsky and Horcoff. Understand the love for Smyth. None of the above would make third line forwards on playoff teams.

The SCP provide Oiler fans such myself a realistic look at what a contender has to be. To be equal to the challenge, the rebuild, depending on how long ST is at the helm, will take many more seasons to be legitimate contenders.

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#56 Wax Man Riley
May 27 2012, 08:15PM
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DSF wrote:

Anything after the first round is pretty much a crap shoot since only 25% of second round players ever play in the NHL.

In the last 10 drafts, the Oilers have exactly THREE players from the second round onward who are regulars in the NHL.

Theo Peckham who most would agree would be an AHL player on any good team.

Jarret Stoll who is about to get a Stanley Cup ring with another team.

And Kyle Brodziak who was sent away for a nod and a wink.

In the same time frame, the Avalanche have drafted 15 actual NHL players in the second round and later.

The Oilers draft record has been abysmal for a decade and other than Eberle, there is no justification for thinking it has improved any.

The 2009 draft is looking like an epic fail considering Stu, the Not So Magnificant Bastard left Ellis, Kulikov, Leddy Rundblad, Kreider, Johanssen, O'Reilly, and Clifford on the board while he picked Paajarvi and Lander.

And, if Pitlick, Marincin and Hamilton don't deliver the goods, the 2010 draft won't be much better.

Any chimp can pick first overall.

It is kind of a sad looking 2nd round+

There is also Matt Greene. And Stortini played over 250 NHL games. Other than that, drafting has been a pretty sad state.

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#57 Wax Man Riley
May 27 2012, 08:16PM
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DSF wrote:

Mibad.

Missed Petry and Greene.

Zack Storini was never an NHL player on an average team and Peckham wouldn't be either.

If we are giving passes to MBS because "it's too soon to know" perhaps we can refrain from calling him magnificent.

I think someone is indeed, "framing the issue".

Oops.... typed before I read ;)

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#58 Sliderule
May 27 2012, 08:18PM
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The only thing I saw wrong with Gernat he played it too aggressive in neutral zone and gave up a couple of two and ones and a breakaway.

In front of net he picked up his man and played fairly strong.

He finished minus three with at least one empty netter.Reinhart finished minus five.

When Gernat had the puck he showed real good vision and passing skill.He needs to pack on 20 lbs of muscle and the Oil might have something

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#59 DSF
May 27 2012, 08:48PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Last year's 4th line could have used Stortini. MBS is magnificent based on what we can track, but you can't compare Teemu Hartikainen to Kyle Brodziak.

There hasn't been enough lapsed time. But the arrows look magnificent.

Last year's OILERS 4th line could have used Stortini.

That wouldn't be true of any other NHL team save perhaps the Jackets.

He was a dreadful hockey player.

MBS isn't magnificent by any real measure other than drafting Eberle but that has to be tempered by whiffing on Paajarvi and Lander.

The arrows are all pointing sideways while teams like Nashville and Colorado are finding real NHL players.

Just look at all the real NHL players that have already passed them despite not being presented with the opportunity that Paajarvi and Lander received.

I'll show them again since you don't seem to comprehend.

Drafted after Paajarvi:

Ellis Kulikov Leddy Rundblad Kreider Johanssen O'Reilly Clifford

These are all NHL players with a resume and there may be more on the way.

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#61 Wanyes bastard child
May 27 2012, 09:33PM
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Lowetide wrote:

DSF: My goodness, it's a little early to call Paajarvi and Lander failures. Now back to those brilliant 2nd round "under the radar" selections you were talking about....

And how many other teams passed on those "under the radar" selections as well?

Easy to pass judgement after the draft, not so easy at the draft table methinks.

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#62 Bucknuck
May 27 2012, 10:59PM
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@DSF

I'm sure you're just trolling as usual, but on the off chance that you actually believe what you are saying, I would like to point out that in almost every draft there is a player taken in the second round (or later) that is far better than most of the folks taken in the first round.

That means that all 30 teams passed on excellent players. A good example is Jarrett Stoll in 2002, only three players in the first round outscored him in his NHL career. Patrice Bergeron and Shea Weber in 2003, David Krejci in 2004, Paul Stastny in 2005, Milan Lucic in 2006, and P.K subban in 2007.

Every year there is one, and I am sure all 29 teams have someone pointing out how inferior their team was because they weren't the one that year. With us, that happens to be you. Get over it. No team gets it right with every pick, for instance in 2005 Colorado picked Ryan Stoa BEFORE Stastny. I bet they are pretty happy with that draft year nonetheless.

If you get it right with one player every year then you are doing well.

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#63 Oiler Al
May 27 2012, 11:28PM
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Lets look for a home run from the 2 nd or 3rd round, before we look at the 5th. Oilers management seem to not be able to develop players like many other teams, unless they are first or lotto picks.Dont know how the Barons got to where they did? Watched couple of the games vs Marlies, and certainly no super stars, even at the AHL level on that team.

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#64 ponderingoil
May 27 2012, 11:47PM
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Lots of trade ideas but one I haven't seen yet is the Oilers trade with Columbus for the second overall and retain first overall. Oilers have lots of D depth considering they will not offer Blaine and Davidson contracts. Sorely lacking in forward depth especially at center. Would a Gagner, Omark and next years first round pick pry Second from Columbus? Maybe it takes more but I think a draft that takes Yakupov and Galyenchuk would certainly be a win!

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#65 Dman09
May 28 2012, 08:47AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Lets look for a home run from the 2 nd or 3rd round, before we look at the 5th. Oilers management seem to not be able to develop players like many other teams, unless they are first or lotto picks.Dont know how the Barons got to where they did? Watched couple of the games vs Marlies, and certainly no super stars, even at the AHL level on that team.

They got there with hard work and not much else. I think its really impressive that Nelson was able to do so much with so little.

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#66 Ryan2
May 28 2012, 09:48AM
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Wow, why all the hate for Paajarvi here? After his strong showing late last year and this pre-season everyone was singing his praises. Only a fool would trade away a 6' 3", 200+ lb winger that is a fast skater and defensively sound after only 2 seasons. The good teams spend time on developing players like that, and get rewarded for showing some patience. MPS is likely not a 1st line winger, but if he develops into a good to very good 2nd line winger or great 3rd line winger then the team wins.

Based on what I have heard from people that know him (and Omark and Lander), MPS had low confidence this year since he did not know where he fit in from the start. That is coaching, nothing more and nothing less. Look at how Renney used him - top 6, bottom 6, top 6, then bottom 6 and press box the rest of the way. When a young player's confidence is shaken it takes a while to get it back, which it seems he finally did in the latter part of the season with OKC.

This is why Renney needed to go - he screwed up the development of the complementary young players. Any idiot could have coached Hall, RNH or Eberle - they are top end talent. However, a good coach will get more out of his complementary players and Renney could not do that. It was interesting that MPS played better and more aggresively during the 5 game stint with Kruger behind the bench (as did the whole team).........

FWIW, I hope the Oilers do not waste a roster spot on Smyth this year again. This will just delay the development of one of the young players another year. The team is still a ways away from being a playoff contender due to the horrible blue line, so the best thing to do is assess the forward assets they have in hand so they are ready to roll when the proper blue line is in place.

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#67 DSF
May 28 2012, 09:52AM
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Lowetide wrote:

DSF: My goodness, it's a little early to call Paajarvi and Lander failures. Now back to those brilliant 2nd round "under the radar" selections you were talking about....

Don't believe anyone called them failures but, if you're looking for "arrows", the "arrows" indicate that Paajarvi and Lander were not very good picks in the spots they were taken.

As for your insinuation that finding an NHL player in the second round is a slam dunk and should be disregarded, let's look at the 2007 draft since we can likely agree that 5 years later we have a pretty good idea how it's turning out.

Currently, only 5 players from the 2007 second round have played more than 100 NHL games: P.K. Subban, Dana Tyrell, T,J. Galiardi, Nick Spaling and Wayne Simmonds.

Of that group, Tyrell and Galiardi are fringe NHL players so only three are NHL regulars.

If you go back another year to the 2006 draft, only 5 players selected in the second round have played more than 200 games.

It would seem finding actual NHL players in the second round likely has a huge impact on the success of a team.

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#68 DSF
May 28 2012, 10:42AM
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Ryan2 wrote:

Wow, why all the hate for Paajarvi here? After his strong showing late last year and this pre-season everyone was singing his praises. Only a fool would trade away a 6' 3", 200+ lb winger that is a fast skater and defensively sound after only 2 seasons. The good teams spend time on developing players like that, and get rewarded for showing some patience. MPS is likely not a 1st line winger, but if he develops into a good to very good 2nd line winger or great 3rd line winger then the team wins.

Based on what I have heard from people that know him (and Omark and Lander), MPS had low confidence this year since he did not know where he fit in from the start. That is coaching, nothing more and nothing less. Look at how Renney used him - top 6, bottom 6, top 6, then bottom 6 and press box the rest of the way. When a young player's confidence is shaken it takes a while to get it back, which it seems he finally did in the latter part of the season with OKC.

This is why Renney needed to go - he screwed up the development of the complementary young players. Any idiot could have coached Hall, RNH or Eberle - they are top end talent. However, a good coach will get more out of his complementary players and Renney could not do that. It was interesting that MPS played better and more aggresively during the 5 game stint with Kruger behind the bench (as did the whole team).........

FWIW, I hope the Oilers do not waste a roster spot on Smyth this year again. This will just delay the development of one of the young players another year. The team is still a ways away from being a playoff contender due to the horrible blue line, so the best thing to do is assess the forward assets they have in hand so they are ready to roll when the proper blue line is in place.

Almost all young players, unless they are elite, have to deal with being moved up and down the lineup and earning their ice time.

To suggest Paajarvi's struggles were all due to "coaching" is ludicrous. If his confidence is that shaky, he's likely not a professional hockey player.

You might want to look at his shooting percentage if you want a real clue as to why he was demoted.

In the AHL playoffs, Paajarvi's shooting percentage was 4.3.

That's below average....for a defenseman.

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