Entry Draft possibilities

Oilers' Scout Stu MacGregor

The NHL entry draft is three weeks away and for the second time in two years the Oilers have a top ten pick. There have been whispers that the Oilers would like to move up at least a few spots, but since they’ve never moved up into the top 20 that remains a long shot.

In 2007 the Oilers moved up to 21 to take Riley Nash, but that’s as close as they’ve come to moving up in the top 20. Currently the Oilers own the 10th, 40th, 71st, 101st and 131st in the first five rounds. (The Rangers get the 47th pick as “compensation” for the untimely death of Cherapanov, which means there are 31 picks in the second round.)

If the Oilers do want to move up they will need to offer up players as well as their 10th pick.

Stu MacGregor, the Oilers’ head scout, is the man in charge of this draft.

“We work as a group, but in the end, I will have the final say after sorting through all the information from all the scouts. It comes down to what I finally decide after they’ve given all their input. I’m the guy who gets tarred and feathered if it doesn’t work out.”

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the GM has the final say on draft picks, and that isn’t the case. Sure the GM has input, but Tambellini will not trump MacGregor on draft day. MacGregor said he will have seen every player they take in the first three rounds anywhere from five to 15 times live, while also watching plenty of video. With the later round picks, specifically European players, he will rely more on the opinion of Kent Nilsson and other Euro-based scouts.

I had MacGregor on my show yesterday and I knew he wouldn’t tell me which player he was leaning towards, but he did offer some insight into five players that should be around when the Oilers stroll to the podium with the 10th pick.

Nasim Kadri

“Has to be a player that needs to get stronger and improve the power part of his game. He has a very high skill level and he will be a point producer. He has to improve his shot, because at this point in time he doesn’t have a powerful shot and in order to score in the NHL you have to really be able to shoot the puck.”

Zach Kassian

“He has to provide more consistency to his game. He has the physical attributes and probably will be a solid 3rd line player with opportunities to develop into a second line player. He is very strong, physical and tough, but he has to add that ‘Every Night I’m coming to play’ attitude to his game.”

Jordan Schroeder

“There is not a lot Jordan needs to improve on; unfortunately he is only 5’8”. You have to determine if he has enough high end skill to overcome his lack of size.”

Scott Glennie

“Scott just has to mature as a young man. He is a high-end talent with tremendous upside. He can score goals; he can do a lot of positive things that will be an impact in the NHL.”

Ryan Ellis

“He provides exceptional hockey sense, and he is a powerplay player. You have to determine in your own mind if Ryan can provide more than that. Will he be able to play five-on-five, will he be able to defend and as the game is getting bigger and the players getting stronger, will he be able to play in those situations? It is very difficult to play in the NHL and be a one-trick pony and just be a powerplay player. You have to be able to balance that out and determine if he can be more than a specialty player.”

MacGregor was also very high on Jared Cowan and suggested he’ll be a top-five pick for sure, and if he hadn’t been hurt he might have been considered along the same lines as the top three Tavares, Hedman and Duchene.

I’ve said all year that Ellis is too big a risk for the Oilers to take at this time. They need this pick to pan out and be a contributor. They can’t afford another Steve Kelly, Boyd Devereaux or Jason Bonsignore type of pick. They need a guy who becomes a top-six forward or a top-four D-man.

I don’t see them taking Kassian if they have him projected as a solid 3rd liner with potential to become a top six. I know they really like Kadri and Glennie, but MacGregor feels that after the top three, there is a group of five or six, which caps out at the #9 pick. If he believes that strongly in the top-nine, don’t be surprised to see the Oilers try to move up one to three spots.

Evander Kane is someone they would love to get, but they might have to move into the top five to get him. The Thrashers and Kings are both high on him and I doubt he’ll slip out of the top five.

Like MacGregor said he’ll be tarred and feathered if this pick doesn’t pan out, and looking at the past 20 years of players who went 10th overall the odds are about 50 per cent that the Oilers will land a solid NHLer. Getting a great pick at #10 seems a bit unlikely based on the history of the draft. The best #10 pick ever would be Teemu Selanne in 1988. No one comes even close to the Finnish Flash.

Here are the players chosen 10th overall in the past 20 years.

  • 1989: Bobby Holik to Hartford and he played over 1000 games. Solid player.
  • 1990: Drake Berehowsky to Toronto and he played 549 games. Decent career.
  • 1991: Martin Lapointe to Detroit and he played 991 games. 4th most points in top ten.
  • 1992: Andrei Nazarov to San Jose and his 517 GP 7th most in first round, weak draft.
  • 1993: Jocelyn Thibault to Quebec became a serviceable goalie who played 596 games.
  • 1994: Nolan Baumgartner to Washington and was a bust with only 131 games.
  • 1995: Radek Dvorak to Florida. He has most GP and 5th most points of first rounders.
  • 1996: Lance Ward to New Jersey and became a journeyman for 209 games.
  • 1997: Brad Ference to Vancouver and played 250 games. Journeyman.
  • 1998: Nick Antropov to Toronto and is a top ten player in his draft year of 1st rounders.
  • 1999: Branislav Mezei to NYI. Played 240 games, in a weak draft and he’s out of NHL.
  • 2000: Mikhail Yakubov to Chicago. First of two straight dud picks with Vorobiev going 
 11th to the the Hawks.
  • 2001: Dan Blackburn to the Rangers. Rare nerve injury to his shoulder cut career short.
  • 2002: Eric Nystrom to Flames, it took six years to become regular. Suspect pick to date.
  • 2003: Andrei Kostitsyn to Habs and he is starting to play well but weakest in top ten.
  • 2004: Boris Valadik to Thrashers and cracked lineup this year. Jury is still out on him.
  • 2005: Luc Bourdon to Canucks, looked like a very good pick until motorbike accident.
  • 2006: Michael Frolik to Panthers, had 21 goals in first NHL season last year. Good pick.
  • 2007: Keaton Ellerby to Panthers and he might crack lineup this year. Too early to tell.
  • 2008: Cody Hogson to Canucks. Love this pick he looks like a great prospect.
  • Cam

    Homie wrote:

    Really?? Read the book “Future Greats and Heartbreaks” and find out what other scouts, and Bonsignore’s teammates, thought of him. I remember an interview where Jeff O’Neill called him “chicken” before the draft. AND his numbers were not that great for his size and ability. It was a terrible, terrible pick that shows the ineptitude of the Oilers scouting staff at the time.

    The Oilers wanted SIZE in a huge way at the time, much ilke they do now. Bonsignore is the poster child of why you go BPA instead of trying to fill in needs.

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    The list of smaller skilled players that couldn’t make it in the NHL is very long. The fact is the NHL is slowly going back to bigger players, the difference between this trend and the one in the early 90s is that now all the big players can skate.

    I agree, but then there were plenty of big skilled players who couldn't make the NHL too. I think the NHL still tends to overemphasize size – every draft has at least one mammoth first round pick whop never turned out. The Jessiman's, Bonsignore's, Valabik's and Svitov's of the world seem just as likely to fail as the Parise's and Ellis's.

  • Jon

    Jason – If they strongly believe in the top 9, couldn't that also be an indication that they won't move up? One team's top 9 usually differs from another team's by one or two players. I would think the chances of everybody in the Oilers top 9 being picked in the actual top 9 would actually be fairly low. It's probably a good chance that someone in their top 9 is available at 10, so why trade up?

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Bonsignore was not considered a safe pick just because of his size. His character and heart were always questioned and that is what happened when he didn’t have the stones to man up in the NHL.

    Future Greats and Heartbreaks, pg.94:

    Glen Sather, Edmonton's general manager, put the pressure on his scouting staff to come up with a player – not a star, but a safe bet. The Oilers had two high picks, No. 4 and No. 6, in the 1994 draft. "I told our scouts Sunday night that the two picks we get have to be able to play, Sather said. "Maybe not this year, but some time. You can't make any mistakes."

  • @ Homie:

    Great book, isn't it? Scary stories about Bonsignore for sure. Bonsignore was one of those guys that scouts who saw him liked a lot, even though the numbers weren't that good, because of his size and puck-talent. Of course they were right; he had all the talent in the world but he wasn't producing in the OHL so it was a mistake of projection to think he would in the NHL. And of course moving away from the numbers the hatred his teammates had for him should have been a glaring red flag anyway.

  • sittingatmydesk

    @ Curious:
    dont pay attention to austin ayala, hes trying to stir $hit up with his non sense….
    seriously austin, know your stuff before you start talking ,and be serious on this site, why dont you go to the HF boards instead…

  • Jonathan Willis wrote:

    When the Oilers drafted Jason Bonsignore, it was because he was considered one of the safest picks in the draft. Big, strong, the kind of guy who would play no matter what because of his size and and physical ability.

    Bonsignore was not considered a safe pick just because of his size. His character and heart were always questioned and that is what happened when he didn't have the stones to man up in the NHL.

    <Jonathan Willis wrote:

    I’m an unabashed fan of Ellis; while he is undoubtedly a tremendous powerplay point-producer, he also led the Spitfires in +/- (+52) so he’s also a big point producer at even-strength.
    Personally (and again, it’s just my personal opinion) I don’t view the first 17-year old to lead the OHL in assists in the history of the league as terribl risky pick, despite his small stature.

    The list of smaller skilled players that couldn't make it in the NHL is very long. The fact is the NHL is slowly going back to bigger players, the difference between this trend and the one in the early 90s is that now all the big players can skate.

    Ellis is a risk, and while someone will take him in the first round, the Oilers can't afford another blown pick, especially in the first round. There is no guarantee that Glennie, Kassian, Brown or Kadri will pan out, but the odds are more favourable for them. Ellis probably has the best junior skill set out of the aforementioned players but that doesn't mean it will translate to the NHL.

  • Homie

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    When the Oilers drafted Jason Bonsignore, it was because he was considered one of the safest picks in the draft. Big, strong, the kind of guy who would play no matter what because of his size and and physical ability.

    Really?? Read the book "Future Greats and Heartbreaks" and find out what other scouts, and Bonsignore's teammates, thought of him. I remember an interview where Jeff O'Neill called him "chicken" before the draft. AND his numbers were not that great for his size and ability. It was a terrible, terrible pick that shows the ineptitude of the Oilers scouting staff at the time.

  • Archaeologuy

    If Jordan Schroeder is LISTED at 5'8" his actual size is probably 5'6". Yikes.

    Its time for a huge splash on trade day. Lets go Tambo! And by splash, i dont mean the usual belly flop that the Oilers make with so many of their 1st rounders.

  • Cam

    Curious wrote:

    Cant give up Hemsky for a second overall pick – regardless of how good you think the pick will turn out. He is a known commodity, signed to a cap friendly deal. Thats makes no sense at all.

    I agree. Though I would consider almost anyone else on the team for one of the top five.

  • Curious

    Cant give up Hemsky for a second overall pick – regardless of how good you think the pick will turn out. He is a known commodity, signed to a cap friendly deal. Thats makes no sense at all.

  • I’ve said all year that Ellis is too big a risk for the Oilers to take at this time. They need this pick to pan out and be a contributor. They can’t afford another Steve Kelly, Boyd Devereaux or Jason Bonsignore type of pick. They need a guy who becomes a top-six forward or a top-four D-man.

    When the Oilers drafted Jason Bonsignore, it was because he was considered one of the safest picks in the draft. Big, strong, the kind of guy who would play no matter what because of his size and and physical ability.

    Taking the safe pick often doesn't turn out the way the team that takes him would hope; I wouldn't want to pass on a guy because he seems like a high-risk player.

    I'm an unabashed fan of Ellis; while he is undoubtedly a tremendous powerplay point-producer, he also led the Spitfires in +/- (+52) so he's also a big point producer at even-strength.

    Personally (and again, it's just my personal opinion) I don't view the first 17-year old to lead the OHL in assists in the history of the league as terribl risky pick, despite his small stature.

  • Ogden Brother

    Austin Ayala wrote:

    Realistically, if i were the Oilers, I would trade Hemsky and the 10th for 2nd overall and draft Kane, MPS, or Duchesne.
    Hedman is the consensus #1 pick in my eyes and I was not impressed with Tavares this year in London. Completely overhyped.

    So if you want one of those three, why wouldn't you trade far less + 10th for the 3rd/4th or 5th overall?

  • Austin Ayala

    I'm crossing my fingers that the Oilers draft Hackett or Roy ion the 2nd round. Reasons:

    1. Their names sound cool and they have pedigree cia name
    2. It's time the Oilers drafted good players.

  • Austin Ayala

    Realistically, if i were the Oilers, I would trade Hemsky and the 10th for 2nd overall and draft Kane, MPS, or Duchesne.

    Hedman is the consensus #1 pick in my eyes and I was not impressed with Tavares this year in London. Completely overhyped.

  • Cam

    You just never know. This looks like a good draft year. remember we got Hemsky 13th overall, and Cogs & Stollie later than that, so you never can tell what you can get.

    And before anyone gets all greased up over the late round picks and mentions how awesome the Wings were to pick Zetterberg – that was like winning the lottery for them and I don't think it was some clarivoyant amazing insight on behalf of the Detroit Scouting staff but mad blind luck that such a late pick worked out.

  • Curious

    It sounded from the interview yesterday that Stu was leaning towards Glennie if they could not move up. Unless it was one of those smokescreens. I thought Kassian was the name everyone wanted but Stu sure didnt seem to impressed with the 3rd line comment.

    Is Glennie one of those players that benefits from his linemates? He always seems to be on the same line as Schenn. I would hate for him to turn into a Pouliet type player that once the pieces are gone around him, he is half the player you thought he was.

  • TonyT

    @ Gregor:

    Great quotes as usual, I would have thought the Oilers (as did Brownlee is his post) would be high on Kassian based on their need to get bigger but if they only project him as a 3rd liner I doubt they'll pick him up. I could see them picking up Glennie (if available) to score goals.