This is a young Curtis Hamilton. He is among several Oiler draft picks who are posting solid numbers in the WHL. Hamilton is a more complete player than the Oilers have drafted in the past (he’s more than a "Coke machine"), so his offensive numbers have a wonderful kicker–he can be effective in more than one zone.
The three Canadian junior leagues currently house most of Edmonton’s top drawer amateur talent—just one of the innovations that have taken place during the Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor era. Drafting hockey players instead of Coke machines is another new policy and it’s paying off in a big way.
MBS moved to the top scouting job in the Oilers organization in time for the 2008 Entry Draft, and since then CHL players (and Euro’s heading to the Canadian junior leagues) have had elevated status on the team’s final list. The results have been outstanding so far and we’re reaching a point where some of us are outright giddy over the latest draft (2010).
The Rare Lonsberry
Curtis Hamilton is described as a 2-way winger with enough offense to play on a skill line. His scouting report reminds me of a 1970’s winger from the west–Ross Lonsberry. He combined skill, checking and work ethic and played for a long time in the best league on the planet. Curtis Hamilton has a long way to go before arriving in the NHL, but the tools are there to impact the game in all three zones.
That player type (even at the top end of the draft) runs counter to the previous administration who drafted Coke Machines in the hopes that they’d learn enough to post offense. Scoring goals is partly about effort, but a lot of it is about being touched by God. If a kid can post a strong number in junior, that should translate to a good one in the NHL (should the prospect make it).
18-year old kids have (usually) played at least one full season in the CHL. If that’s the case, then the expectation for the player should be a huge improvement in their boxcar results. After all, they are now in the "older group" of players and if drafted would count among the group of the very best players in the three leagues. The Oilers CHL group is posting some very impressive numbers so far, with Hamilton, Ryan Martindale and (especially) Martin Marincin well ahead of expectations.
- Ryan Martindale (OHL) 21gp, 12-17-29 (1.38ppg)
- Curtis Hamilton (WHL) 20gp, 11-16-27 (1.35ppg)
- Martin Marincin (WHL) 21gp, 8-15-23 (1.10ppg)
- Tyler Pitlick (WHL) 16gp, 5-9-14 (0.875ppg)
- Brandon Davidson (WHL) 21gp, 3-15-18 (0.857ppg)
- Drew Czerwonka (WHL) 18gp, 6-5-11 (0.611ppg)
- Jeremie Blain (QMJHL) 2gp, 0-1-1 (0.500ppg)
- Kristians Pelss (WHL) 20gp, 1-3-4 (0.200ppg)
- Cameron Abney (WHL) 21gp, 3-1-4 (0.190ppg)
A couple of quick notes: Marincin and Davidson are defensemen, so their numbers are truly spectacular. Also, Marincin and Pitlick are new to the WHL so there should be an adjustment period (although Marincin’s numbers are the most impressive in the group). Those numbers really do show how much of the Oilers future is housed in Canadian junior leagues. When we start talking about the 2011 draft, it would be wise to remember that MBS shops local.
I’m just starting to prepare my winter top 20 (it’ll be posted both here and at the Lowetide blog) and can say that the players on the list above are well represented, along with some AHL pro’s and a few European kids. I’ve been following Oilers prospects since the WHA days and honestly don’t recall a time (since 1979-83) when there was so much top end talent. It’s a great time to be an Oiler fan.