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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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 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.”
“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.