2007 ENTRY DRAFT: THE BIG MISS

Robin Brownlee
May 24 2014 08:29PM

MissingTheTarget

Hindsight is a wonderful luxury. You're never wrong. You avoid boneheaded decisions that bring nothing but regret. You look and sound really smart. It's always been a handy tool for hockey fans and sportswriters alike.

If nothing else, sportswriters and hockey fans enjoy pontificating about what could have been while pointing out, with varying degrees of disdain and chagrin, how poorly the team they cover or cheer for has blown it by way of trade, free agent signings or the NHL Entry Draft. Easy pickings.

That said, and offering a mea culpa I'm as guilty of it as the next guy, it's impossible not to scratch a big red circle around the 2007 NHL Entry Draft as one of the major reasons – there are many – the Edmonton Oilers have been the dregs, or close to it, of the NHL since the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

The Oilers had three first-round picks in that draft, owning the 6th, 15th and 21st selections. GM Kevin Lowe and his scouting staff came out of it with London Knights forward Sam Gagner, defenseman Alex Plante of the Calgary Hitmen and forward Riley Nash of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Three chances to get it right. Mercy.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

SamGagner

I was doing a live radio show at a local watering hole the day of that draft with Bob Stauffer, back before he left TEAM 1260 and went to work for the Oilers as their radio analyst. While Stauffer and I agreed Gagner seemed a reasonable pick, we were otherwise befuddled and we – Stauffer especially – said so loud and clear on the air.

For all our misgivings – among them, we thought that not taking a flyer on Russian Alexei Cherepanov (who would tragically die of heart failure at the age of 19 during a KHL game in October 2008) was a mistake – we had no idea at the time how badly the Oilers drafted that June. Enter hindsight.

The Oilers used the sixth pick to take Gagner, coming off a season in which he'd scored 35-83-118 with London. Despite solid totals of 101-194-295 in 481 games with the Oiler since then, he's been a lightning rod for criticism and a polarizing figure with the fan base as the team has floundered. His fit now, as a second-line centre behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is questionable at best. The pick gets worse when you look at who was on the board in the same range as Gagner.

  • Logan Couture. The San Jose Sharks selected Couture, a centre, from the Ottawa 67s with the ninth overall pick. Couture has scored 112-108-220 in 297 games since draft day and is seen as an emerging core player with the Sharks.

  • Ryan McDonagh. The Montreal Canadiens selected McDonagh 12th overall. Swiped from the Habs by Glen Sather, the big blueliner is coming off a 43-point season with the Rangers and has nine points through 17 playoff games this post-season.

  • Lars Eller. The St. Louis Blues took Eller with the 13th pick. Traded to Montreal before the 2010-11 season, the six-foot-two, 215-pound Danish forward isn't a prolific point-producer, with 45-58-103 in 286 games, but he's a big body with some skill and grit. Has 11 points in 14 games for the Habs this post-season.

  • Kevin Shattenkirk. A puck-moving defenseman out of Boston University taken 14th by Colorado, Shattenkirk has had seasons of 43 and 45 points since being acquired by the Blues. How would he look in Edmonton's top-four?

TWO MORE SWINGS

AlexPlante

The Oilers thought they were getting a big, tough defenseman with the 15th pick when they took Plante, but he never lived up to that billing after his days in Cowtown. Slowed by injuries, the plodding Plante played just 10 games for the Oilers. He's with Dornbirn EC in the Austrian League.

With Cherepanov off the board at 17th to the Rangers, the Oilers took Nash from Salmon Arm of the BCJHL with the 21st pick. The former Cornell centre never played a game with the Oilers. Nash landed in Carolina, where he has 14-20-34 in 110 games with the Hurricanes.

The misses:

  • Max Pacioretty. The Canadiens took Pacioretty 22nd overall from the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. The six-foot-two, 220-pounder is a two-time 30-goal scorer, including 39 this season. A combination of size, skill and the ability to skate the Oilers are lacking, Pacioretty has scored 107-106-213 in 319 NHL games.

  • David Perron. Oilers could have got the gritty Perron off the hop at the draft. Instead, he landed in Edmonton last summer, but it cost the Oilers former first-rounder Magnus Paajarvii in a deal with St. Louis. Perron had a career-high 28 goals for the Oilers this season.

  • P.K. Subban. Montreal snagged Subban from the Belleville Bulls with the 43rd pick, meaning a lot of teams passed on him, so the Oilers are hardly alone in blowing it by opting for Plante and Nash. Tough. Talented. Norris Trophy winner. Enough said.

Most NHL teams have drafts they'd rather forget, so the Oilers are hardly alone in missing the boat when it comes to assessing and projecting how teenagers might pan out. There are more misses than hits, especially beyond the first round.

That said, getting three cracks in the first 30 picks in 2007 and coming away with Gagner, Plante and Nash can't be overlooked as a significant factor in shaping the team we see now and the ongoing ineptitude Oiler fans have endured since the Cup run of 2006.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Sorensenator
May 25 2014, 10:14PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

I'm pretty sure the contenders won't be kicking down the door with huge mega multi year offers for a guy playing 3rd line minutes in the semifinals.

I'm pretty sure the Oilers will be.

Yakupov for Spezza would be highway robbery for the Sens, unless the Oilers sign an extension before the deal occurs. Than I imagine the oilers would have to throw in a prospect like Klefbom.

All I'm saying is if we can't sign Vanek to a deal with 28+ mil in cap space, what's the point of having 32+ mil in cap space by trading Gagner for draft picks.

He's a first line player, Therrian does what he wishes with star players, even Subban. I don't know that Oilers are interested at all in Player that doesn't bring it every game or contributes physically.

I doubt the Senators would take a chance at Yakupov and give up their first line centre, it would be an extremely risky move on their part.

I agree they need to fill 28 million in cap space, but it wont be draft picks.

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#102 nuge2nail
May 25 2014, 11:19PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

He's a first line player, Therrian does what he wishes with star players, even Subban. I don't know that Oilers are interested at all in Player that doesn't bring it every game or contributes physically.

I doubt the Senators would take a chance at Yakupov and give up their first line centre, it would be an extremely risky move on their part.

I agree they need to fill 28 million in cap space, but it wont be draft picks.

Oiler Domination To Follow

I'm not saying the sens will trade Spezza for Yakupov.

Im saying signing Vanek would create a trading asset in Yakupov.

Yakupov has value - he's a 1st overall pick who excelled under Krueger and struggled as a sophmore under Eakins.

He lead all rookies in scoring last year. He will probably be an annual 30 goal scorer.

We can use him in a package to fill a roster hole- that is if we sign Vanek.

If we can't sign Vanek who's struggled in the playoffs- than we should not trade Gagner because of his cap hit.

If no one will sign here what's the point of having 32+ million in cap space?

Why unload a 40-50 point young center- with good character for a 2nd round pick?

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#103 big slick
May 26 2014, 08:08AM
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admiralmark wrote:

I think your line of thinking is logical and makes sense in terms of maximizing his return. I do however feel its imperative that they bring in a better 2nd line Center. One with more defensive chops to help with moving Yakupov forward(and to help move the team forward). It seems to me that the only way they are going to be able to do this is an overpay on a free agent or eating another teams bad contract to make it happen. So i could also forsee a scenario where it actually would be worth it to get his $4.5 Mill off the books.

Keeping him as the teams 2nd line center is going to not only hinder the team in its ability to progress i feel it will be a detriment to Yakupovs development.

The only thing maybe is moving him to wing on the 3rd line temporarily mmmmmaybe would make sense. I just don't feel his value is gonna rise that much from a 2nd and a 4th. The only way that can happen is if he was surrounded by players that make up for his weaknesses... And Oilers just don't have that ability currently.

Some good points there. I agree that Gagner and Yak together is not a good idea unless one or both of them really improves defensively. I am not optimistic about that. I would rather trade Gagner for the best third liner we can get rather than picks and then go to the free agent pool for a 2nd line center so the draft pick is not forced to jump into the second line with Yak (or other likely weak defensive winger). If Gagner can only fetch a 4th liner or draft picks unfortunately I still think the Oilers should keep him. Where to play him is a different question. Maybe 3rd line center with better defensive wingers and a free agent center for 2nd line. There is no doubt the Oilers need better centers.

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#104 Zarny
May 26 2014, 09:28AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

Get rid of Gagners cap would take us from 28+ million to 32+ million in cap space this offseason.

Who exactly would we spend that cap on?

I suggested Vanek who played 10 minutes on the 3rd line last game, and got bombed.

No point clearing cap space for jelly beans when cap space isn't a concern.

Why on earth would the Oilers sign Vanek?

The Oilers need a 2C and 1-2D and you want to blow a wad of cash on a RH shooting LW to go along with Hall, Perron, Eberle and Yakupov? That's just dumb.

Hate to break it to you but $28-32 million in cap space is not going to yield some kind of bonanza in UFA.

First, the Oilers have to resign Schultz & Petry this year and Yakupov, Marincin, Arcobello, Lander, Fasth and maybe Joensuu next year. So some of that money is already accounted for.

Second, it's not a particularly great crop of UFA's this year. The only player the Oilers should consider breaking the bank for is Paul Stastny.

Third, free agency is not a good way to build. Rookies salaries are capped and the top players don't take max contracts; so that leaves GM's with a mountain of cap space to overspend on mid-tier vets.

There are a few options the Oilers should consider but they are hardly alone. Half the league has over $20 million in cap space including Det, Dal, Ana, CBJ, Fld, Mtl, StL, Col, Tor and Min.

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#105 RexHolez
May 26 2014, 09:55AM
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I think signing JSchultz can easily back fire on MacT. I'm not confident he's gonna turn into the dman I think this organization is hoping for and counting on

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#106 Ed in Edmonton
May 26 2014, 10:06AM
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RexHolez wrote:

I think signing JSchultz can easily back fire on MacT. I'm not confident he's gonna turn into the dman I think this organization is hoping for and counting on

Contracts for both Schultz and Petry will be a big test for MAcT this summer. He certainly failed his first test last year with Gagner.

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#107 Sorensenator
May 26 2014, 10:28AM
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RexHolez wrote:

I think signing JSchultz can easily back fire on MacT. I'm not confident he's gonna turn into the dman I think this organization is hoping for and counting on

It won't back fire if it is a bridge contract - 2 years 6 million is reasonable.

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#108 Sorensenator
May 26 2014, 10:35AM
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Zarny wrote:

Why on earth would the Oilers sign Vanek?

The Oilers need a 2C and 1-2D and you want to blow a wad of cash on a RH shooting LW to go along with Hall, Perron, Eberle and Yakupov? That's just dumb.

Hate to break it to you but $28-32 million in cap space is not going to yield some kind of bonanza in UFA.

First, the Oilers have to resign Schultz & Petry this year and Yakupov, Marincin, Arcobello, Lander, Fasth and maybe Joensuu next year. So some of that money is already accounted for.

Second, it's not a particularly great crop of UFA's this year. The only player the Oilers should consider breaking the bank for is Paul Stastny.

Third, free agency is not a good way to build. Rookies salaries are capped and the top players don't take max contracts; so that leaves GM's with a mountain of cap space to overspend on mid-tier vets.

There are a few options the Oilers should consider but they are hardly alone. Half the league has over $20 million in cap space including Det, Dal, Ana, CBJ, Fld, Mtl, StL, Col, Tor and Min.

I completely agree, the Oilers need a #2 quality centre that can win draws, win battles in the corners, and can play defensively.

Signing Vanek would just put a cherry on top of "we are the idiots of the NHL"

Yes we need to fill cap space Nuge2Nail, but why fill it with the type of player we already have. The Oilers need centremen and defense, so start looking at magical trade speculation to land Weber and Toews instead.

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#109 Muji
May 26 2014, 10:50AM
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So the Habs selected Ryan McDonagh, Max Pacioretty, and PK Subban with their first 3 picks (!!). Two #1 dmen and a top-line powerforward. Amazing.

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#110 Zarny
May 26 2014, 11:29AM
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@RexHolez

I don't see how resigning Schultz back fires on MacT.

As a rookie Schultz had 27 pt in 48 games; 1 pt less than Shea Weber and pro-rates to 46 pt over a full season. This year he dropped back to 33 PT in 74 games. putting him with Cam Fowler, Slava Voynov, Jack Johnson and Christian Erhoff offensively.

He's 23 with only 122 games NHL experience. Question marks about defense are expected at that stage of his development. The problem is playing Schultz above his head before he is ready. That really could be the Oilers' motto for all of the kids in the rebuild.

Fowler signed for 5 yr @ $4M. That's close to what Schultz will get. Other comparables @ $4M are Voynov, Josi, Hedman and Carlson; but keep in mind TB wouldn't have signed Hedman for $4M after this season. That's a steal.

You probably get Schultz a bit cheaper on a 2-3 bridge contract but I'd push for $4M over 6-7 years. Offensively Schultz will live up to that contract and he'll get better defensively. He doesn't have to be a Norris candidate defensively at that price.

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#111 Trav77
May 26 2014, 12:52PM
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Ed in Edmonton wrote:

Contracts for both Schultz and Petry will be a big test for MAcT this summer. He certainly failed his first test last year with Gagner.

I hardly think he blew the gagner signing. The guy had a brutal injury to recover from. He definitely has his warts but he's a 45-60 pt guy in my opinion. I know he hasn't broke the 50 Pt plateau yet but I think he's capable

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#112 rickithebear
May 26 2014, 01:20PM
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Sean john: 1998 to 2007 drafts under fraser and pendergast are not great.

2008: to now are well above average with SMB!

what assets that were achieved in that 1998 to 2007 period was largely traded by Klowe and tambi.

I am content with MacT giving SMB a clear agenda.

2013: Nurse elite CHL Dman MO Roy one of the fastest skaters

Yakimov and Slepyshev two of the Khl's best junior players.

Platzer underutilized skilled forward.

Houck Betker Chase Skating; skill; size.

You do not rate a team or org by work done by individuals not with or on the team.

1-18-2 versus the best of the west with Dubnyk and Labarbera.

you would not blame Scrivens and Fasth for that.

Though there are some real fools on here who have tried!

Terrible drafting from Fraser and Pendegast.

Is not SMB fault.

please do not be fools!

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#113 rickithebear
May 26 2014, 01:24PM
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Muji: in 2007 draft SMB was not head scout!

Know your time lines!

I suspect you think scrivens and fasth are responsible for the full season record!

Embarrassing!

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#114 RexHolez
May 26 2014, 01:40PM
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@Zarny

I think the diffrence between Schultz and the guys you compare him with is they all play defence while Schultz is cheating for offense and can't handle anything in his own end. I'm just not a fan

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#115 Zarny
May 26 2014, 02:20PM
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@RexHolez

Fowler, Voynov, Josi, Hedman etc weren't great in their own end either after 122 NHL games. Not to mention some were paired with significantly better partners than Schultz has had.

IMO, that is the problem. Schultz' problems in his own end are a direct result of the Oilers' approach to throwing kids in the deep end without a life jacket.

If he had been playing 2nd or 3rd pair like every other D prospect not named Drew Doughty for his first 122 games the assessment would likely be very different.

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#116 RexHolez
May 26 2014, 03:59PM
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@Zarny

You could be right, time will tell. I'm just not gonna hold my breath

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#117 nuge2nail
May 26 2014, 06:54PM
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Zarny wrote:

Why on earth would the Oilers sign Vanek?

The Oilers need a 2C and 1-2D and you want to blow a wad of cash on a RH shooting LW to go along with Hall, Perron, Eberle and Yakupov? That's just dumb.

Hate to break it to you but $28-32 million in cap space is not going to yield some kind of bonanza in UFA.

First, the Oilers have to resign Schultz & Petry this year and Yakupov, Marincin, Arcobello, Lander, Fasth and maybe Joensuu next year. So some of that money is already accounted for.

Second, it's not a particularly great crop of UFA's this year. The only player the Oilers should consider breaking the bank for is Paul Stastny.

Third, free agency is not a good way to build. Rookies salaries are capped and the top players don't take max contracts; so that leaves GM's with a mountain of cap space to overspend on mid-tier vets.

There are a few options the Oilers should consider but they are hardly alone. Half the league has over $20 million in cap space including Det, Dal, Ana, CBJ, Fld, Mtl, StL, Col, Tor and Min.

Oiler Domination To Follow

You sign Vanek and than trade Yakupov.

Adding a 30 goal winger means you can trade a 20 goal winger.

Its not rocket science.

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#118 Oiler Al
May 26 2014, 07:08PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

You sign Vanek and than trade Yakupov.

Adding a 30 goal winger means you can trade a 20 goal winger.

Its not rocket science.

Vanek, your kidding. Did you see this floater in the playoffs? The guy is a joke, and I dont care what he did in the regular season,he show zero support for his team in the play offs. This guy is worse than Penner.

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#119 Fesses
May 26 2014, 08:13PM
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@Oiler Al

What's a playoffs?

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#120 Oiler Al
May 26 2014, 09:12PM
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Fesses wrote:

What's a playoffs?

Why do you ask a h.?

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#121 Great "Blogging"
May 29 2014, 10:47AM
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Wow. Thats an amazing article. I hope you didn't spend too long looking at the Wikipedia article for 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

*YAWN*

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