It takes years to properly evaluate a specific draft year. However, we can count the arrows (good and bad) for each player in a specific draft and the 2010 Oilers entry draft is tracking extremely well. We’ve discussed Taylor Hall, Martin Marincin and Curtis Hamilton in past weeks, and in the last 7 days Ryan Martindale has joined the party.
The last entry draft for the Oilers that we can safely close the books on is 2002. Jarrett Stoll and Matt Greene are solid NHL players and Jeff Deslauriers is still trying to establish himself. The other 12 players selected by Kevin Prendergast and the scouting department include a couple of interesting items (including Jesse Niinimaki–he’s posting some good numbers in Finland and I wouldn’t rule out an NHL team giving him a shot) but we can probably make the call on the 2002 draft. However, from 2003 through 2010 there are too many variables, too many pages unwritten for any kind of conclusion to be drawn at this point in time.
We can say that the 2010 entry draft is tracking like a lion.
- 1st overall: Taylor Hall. 9gp, 2-3-5 in the toughest league in the world, and sky’s the limit. Watching a first overall pick play his first NHL season is a unique experience–it’s equal parts worry and anticipation–and I think this fellow is going to do some amazing things in the next few seasons.
- 31st overall: Tyler Pitlick. 9gp, 3-7-10 in the WHL with Medicine Hat. Pitlick received a suspension this week (3 games) for a kneeing infraction against Nathan Deck of Prine Albert. Deck will reportedly miss 4-6 weeks because of the injury (torn MCL).
- 46th overall: Martin Marincin. If you watched Oil Change in the last 10 days, then you know that the organization seriously considered taking this player at 31st overall. The Magnificent Bastard said "we need defensemen" and it looks like the scouting department hit an early home run here. 16gp, 7-11-18 with Prince George puts him in a tie for 21st overall in league scoring. He went 3gp, 1-2-3 -1 this past week.
- 48th overall: Curtis Hamilton. 14gp, 6-10-16 with Saskatoon Blades. Hamilton’s offense has dried up in the last 10 days (he was 7gp, 3-7-10 in the season’s first two weeks) but he’s in the top 10 plus minus and the big item for this player is health. Hamilton has played in all of the Blades games.
- 61st overall: Ryan Martindale. The Ottawa 67 center had a strong week (4gp, 3-4-7 +4) and now ranks 11th in OHL scoring (16gp, 8-12-20). He’s 2-5-7 on the PP.
- 91st overall: Jeremie Blain. 2gp, 0-1-1 for Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL). Titian GM Sylvain Couturier: "Blain is a key player for us and he’s only played two games so far." Injury is a major prospect killer, and this young man is losing key development time.
- 121st overall: G Tyler Bunz. 7gp, 2.99 .897SP for Medicine Hat. His SP ranks him 19th in the WHL, although his GAA puts him higher (13th). The other goalie (the incredibly named Deven Dubyk) has a .923SP so Bunz numbers don’t stand out all things considered.
- 162nd overall: D Brandon Davidson. 15gp, 1-8-9 with Regina (WHL). 3gp, 0-1-1 +2 this past week, as his team seems to be settling down a little after a monstrous start. Hard to evaluate at this early juncture, but he’s putting up points and is certainly one of the team’s top defenders.
- 166th overall: L Drew Czerwanka. 15gp, 5-4-9 for Kootenay (WHL). 4gp, 1-2-3 -2 this week, he’s now surpassed his goal scoring total from one year ago (4 in 54go). An interesting prospect, hard to get a complete read on him when browsing his scoring lines in the WHL.
- 181st overall: C Kristians Pelss. 14gp, 1-1-2 with the Oil Kings (WHL). A quiet week (zip in 3gp) and he hasn’t hit the scoresheet since October 9th. It’s important to remember that players drafted at this point (181st overall) are extreme longshots to play in the NHL. The Oilers scouting department saw something in him, and there’s almost always an adjustment period for these kids (Pelss was in Belarus a year ago). His 2nd half could be much better.
- 202nd overall: L Kellen Jones. 6gp, 3-3-6 with Quinnipiac (NCAA). 20-year old leads his team in scoring and is having an immediate impact. There’s a quick story on Jones and his brother here.
Although we’re just 4 months beyond the draft, there’s already some strong tells among the group. Taylor Hall looks capable of playing at the NHL level, Marincin is dominant in the WHL, Hamilton, Pitlick and Martindale are also doing good things in the CHL. Blain’s injury and Bunz average play are the first bumps on the draft list, but Davidson and Czerwonka make the later rounds interesting. Pelss and Jones are "draft and follow" types that we’ll be watching with interest years down the road.
That 2002 entry draft gave the Oilers two solid NHL players (Stoll, Greene) and a perennial goaltender prospect in JDD. The 2010 draft needs about 8 years to give us the same kind of focus, but we can say with some confidence that the kids drafted in the top 70 are tracking well out of the box.