Regina Sends its Best. Again!

This is Brandon Davidson. He was the 6th WHL player chosen in the past three years by the Oilers, and the second from the Regina Pats. Although not gifted with the resume of Jordan Eberle, this young man is showing he was certainly worth a pick long before he was taken (the 6th round). Where did he come from? How good is he? 

When projecting junior hockey players, there are some simple rules. They should dominate their 18-year old seasons (if they’re legit NHL calibre prospects) because most of them will be entering their 3rd year in the league. What makes Davidson’s story so impressive is that this season (10-11) is his second in the WHL and that he is 19.

Previous to that, he had a couple of cups of coffee with the Olds Grizzlys (AJHL) and played at lower levels (despite being eligible to play higher) for various reasons. This fellow isn’t quite a modern Claire Alexander (I don’t know if he’s ever delivered milk) but his story is an interesting one.

His draft day story wasn’t sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Scouting reports were not all positive:

  • Mike Remmerde, Redline Report: I usually like late bloomers who come out of nowhere, but this guy’s skating bothers me too much. Has big trouble with pivots. But he’s got really good hockey sense and is a very good puck mover. Probably goes way higher than I like, but if somehow he lasted until the 5th round, I might be interested.
  • International Scouting Services: Davidson was listed by the Pats after last seasons Mac’s Midget Tournament. He has not missed a beat and has added some offensive flair to the Pat d-core. He moves the puck very well and is a key contributor to the PP. He has great mobility and vision with the puck. He has made an easy and smooth transition from Midget AAA to the WHL. Not often is there an 18 yr old rookie who has the impact that Davidson has had this season.

So we’re dealing with a puck moving defender with decent size (6.02, 194), an ability to play defense and some nice arrows. He did have a knee problem last Christmas, but other than that injuries don’t show up on the radar. Here are Brandon Davidson’s boxcars with plus minus for his WHL career:

  • Age 18: 59gp, 1-33-34, 37pims +15 (-11)
  • Age 19: 28gp, 4-21-25, 28pims -5 (-12)

The Pats are 58-93 at evens (GF-GA) this season, meaning the average defender (if they run three pairings) would be about -12. So that -5 may look evil but he’s well above average. Last season he was on another level, posting +15 on a team in which the average Pat defender would have been about -11. That’s a crazy number. 

Davidson comes from Taber, Alberta. He currently ranks 5th among WHL defensemen in points. Oilers pick Martin Marincin is first in the league. Expecting a 6th round pick to make the NHL and have a career is not reasonable.

However, 6th rounders do in fact negotiate the rapids and make it from time to time (Kyle Brodziak was a 7th rounder, Matt Lombardi too) and Davidson has played well enough to show up on the radar screen. The numbers say he’s going to have a pro career, and that’s more than anyone thought possible a couple of years ago. If he continues to post these impressive numbers, he’ll get his shot.

This is one of the feel good stories of the entire 2010 draft, and another Stu MacGregor bullet appears to have found its way.

  • Minister D-

    I was at the Regina-Swift Current game tonight and keeping my eye on Davidson. [“Saw him good” alert]: Mr. Davidson does indeed move the puck very well and uses his size to his advantage on the back end. Redline is, as usual, on the money in terms of some skating issues: a few mistakes trying to hold the line tonight saw Davidson unable to recover. That said, he anchored the PP well and was a factor in a rare W for the Pats. I did like his size and his hockey sense. In short: I think he might be a sleeper. Random Observation: Pats forward and recent TBay cut Carter Ashton was completely invisible. I was expecting to see more from that guy.

  • Lowetide

    There are inexpensive players, though. Dan Sexton makes $750,000 for Anaheim and he’s a guy who might have a career. There are good players coming out of the NCAA every year, and it always seems as though ANA, NJD and a few other teams get the best ones.

    And price isn’t always the issue, those teams have other things that make them attractive. But I’d at least like to see the Oilers explore that avenue. They used to.

  • Lowetide

    Marc; Yeah, agreed. It’s hard to be critical of the Oilers at this point in time because the drafting has improved (or at least is on track to do so).

    However, I wouldn’t mind the team signing a few undrafted 20 year olds/college grads each summer. Rem Murray came to the Oilers that way, Conklin and Marc-Andre Bergeron too.

    • Marc

      Undrafted free agents aren’t as much of a bargain as much of a bargain as they once were. Bozak’s cap hit is $3.75M and Brunnstrom’s was $2.25M. I think too many teams have realised that they are some pretty good players left on the shelf.

      Of course one of the benefits of investing more money in scouting would be identifying under the radar free agents that can be signed to a value contract…

  • Marc

    LT

    I agree. It’s one of the ways a wealthy owner can use his wealth to his advantage in a salary capped league.

    That said, in a given year there will only be somewhere between 6-10 picks (depending on trading activity), and it doesn’t really matter how you get it right, as long as you get it right. Roughly half the prospects each year come from the CHL or Canadian Jr A so if you nail that then you probably don’t need much from the rest of the world.

    Having lots of good scouts in every place prospects can be found obviously increases the chance the you’ll get a good one with each pick though, so its in the Oilers interest to have as many good scouts as they can get their hands on.

  • Marc

    LT

    You questioned on your site the other day whether the Oilers were giving up on drafting NCAA players. Mr Davidson makes me think that’s not quite the case.

    In an ideal world you would have great scouts everywhere, uncovering gems wherever they might be found. In reality though, teams have to decide how best to allocate scouting resources (and picks) and trying to be great everywhere can result in not being particularly good anywhere.

    I suspect that Stu has not so much given up on the NCAA as shifted the focus of Oilers drafting somewhat in the hopes of being outstanding in one area – the CHL and in particular the WHL. Perhaps we are seeing the fruits of that shift in focus in this year’s draft, with three players from the CHL – two from the WHL (Hamilton, Martindale and Davidson) who are significantly outperforming their draft position.

    A consequence of focusing resources on one area is that there are fewer resources for other areas, which could explain why fewer NCAA players are being drafted by the Oilers.

    • Lowetide

      Marc: I don’t think there’s a good reason for the Oilers to lack scouts. The Montreal Expos couldn’t afford to keep their players so the ownership ADDED scouts to address it.

      If Stu needs scouts, they should get him scouts.

  • SumOil

    last game the Pats were beaten 9-6 and davidson was +2. If you check the slpits LT, he was a -9 in october and now being -5 actually shows improvement. The guy found good coaching late in his developmental career and his making the most out of it. Picking someone like Davidson is much better than picking someone like Abney and kudos to the scouting team to show confidence in his abilities to improve.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Seems to me Tambellini and Lowe are doing more harm than good, both drawing significant salaries and not alot to show for their efforts. If we have MacGregor, why do we need the deadwood in upper management. Tambellini flushes 9 million hard earned dollars of Katz’s money down the pooper with little/no return, Lowe gives Horcoff a contract so out of whack we’ll never be able give Hemsky market value. What good are these two bringing to the table. Retired players are so overated as managers.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      Dude get over it with Kevin Lowe, the guy has admitted he made some mistakes, plus Horcoff is more than earning his salary this year. Just ask Hall and Eberle. As for Tambellini, he inherited the team as is. We are in a rebuild, so get over the past as this team is alot more exciting to watch than previous years!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Spike, do you think if the Oilers could have rid themselves of that contract.. they would’ve done it by now? We’re stuck with him because he’s a negative asset. Taylor Hall and Jordon Eberle are fine players believe it or not without Horcoff. Tambellini did call the shots on such deals as the O’Sullivan and Kotalik deals, brought in an aging expensive goaltender who appears to be on his last legs, as well as burying a significant asset in the minors for whom we’ll get no return on when he returns to the NHL later this season.

        Any success we’ve had in the last couple years lands squarely at the feet of Stu MacGregor from my point of view.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Perhaps you could help me out then, is there something/anything that i said that is fictional in nature in that paragraph? Take a poke at it and help me be more aware of the error of my train of thought on last seasons 30th place hockey club….if you have any of that IQ left you claimed to have lost, i can understand if there’s non left for a reply.

  • O.C.

    While I’m a massive MBS fan, I think it’s worth noting he hasn’t proved anywhere near worthy of being set up as GM. Sure, all these prospects LOOK fantastic, but note the key word-Prospects. Let’s also remember another Oilers chief scout–namely one Barry Fraser–was widely held up as a paragon of wisdom and virtue during the ’80’s (See “The Game of our Lives,” by Peter Gzouski), and we all know how well the Oilers did draft-wise in the ’90’s under the same Mr. Fraser.

    In short, no way in the world is MBS “single-handedly leading us out of the rebuild.” He’s definitely a part, but let’s not forget the rebuild is a long way from being over, and the players actually have to play in order for anything to be accomplished.

  • O.C.

    Marincin, Chorney, Peckham, Belle, Davidson, Whitney, Petry, Vandevelde…

    …looks like a pattern.

    …looks like depth

    …looks like a few people need to look over their shoulder

    …looks like Oil have trade bait at 2011 Entry Draft

    …looks rosy. (did I just use the word rosy in a sentence?)

  • Oilers4ever

    Fist! Ha ha ha.. just had to.. never happens.. : )

    Anyways… glad to see we have more D coming that can hopefully help…

    Does anyone know anything about what went across the ole TSN ticker last night watching some highlights about the Oilers not having their new building likely in time before the lease expires.. WTF was that all about? Where’s Rishaug.. maybe he knows something about it…