FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH II: STU MACGREGOR

In my books, Stu MacGregor had a pretty sharp hockey mind long before he became GM of the Kamloops Blazers in 1995 or joined the scouting staff of the Edmonton Oilers in 2000. A lot of people feel the same way now, especially since he became Edmonton’s chief scout in 2007.

It’s no surprise, then, I’ve taken every chance I get to pick that brain of his. Doing so has pretty much been a rite of spring for me in preparation for the NHL Entry Draft for years, even before MacGregor took over as chief scout from Kevin Prendergast.

Want a no-frills, tell-it-like-it-is assessment of a player? MacGregor, who oversees an amateur scouting staff that numbers nine, is your man. Want to see how MacGregor’s scouting list compares to that of Central Scouting Services or ISS? Not so much, as often as I’ve tried. Still, given the depth of prospects the Oilers have begun stockpiling on his watch, a chat with MacGregor is time well-spent.

With the Oilers holding the first overall pick for the second consecutive year, I tracked down MacGregor, as I suggested I would a couple weeks ago, to get his take heading into scouting meetings two weeks from now and the Entry Draft in Minnesota June 24-25. This is simply a heads-up on what’s to come, based on that conversation.

A tease, if you will.

SURVEY SAYS . . .

So, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson? What’s the top-end for Gabriel Landeskog? What about the late-season surge by Jonathan Huberdeau and the final rankings for Sean Couturier?

How much debate will there be about the No. 1 pick when the scouting staff meets in Phoenix May 15? Will it be an either-or, two-man discussion as it was with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin last spring or are more kids in the mix to be the first name called?

First off, MacGregor didn’t answer the Nugent-Hopkins or Larsson question because I didn’t ask it — at least not framed that way. I know, "Brownlee, you idiot, how could you NOT ask him?"

Well, because backing a chief scout, any chief scout, into a corner seven weeks before the Oilers call a name at the podium isn’t a way to get your phone calls returned year after year. And, of course, you seldom get a straight answer any way. "Yes, we are taking Taylor Hall no matter what happens between now and draft day . . ." Or was it Seguin?

WHAT’S TO COME?

What MacGregor and I did talk about was Nugent-Hopkins, at length, as well as Larsson, Couturier, Huberdeau and Landeskog. I’ll give you his take on each of them, as well as an extra item on Nugent-Hopkins as it refers to concerns in some corners about his size and questions about his offensive numbers on the power play versus at even strength etc.

We talked about the process of the scouting meetings when each and every scout on staff gets together to compare notes and lists on the way to compiling a final list, where the saw-him-good and the numbers come together in the form of a pecking, or picking, order.

As an aside, we talked a bit about 2009 second-rounder Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen, who turned some heads in a late-season stint with the Oilers. I’ll spin something off from that, as well.

All told, it’ll be MacGregor, MacGregor and more MacGregor from me over the next week or 10 days, broken into a series of six or seven items, starting tomorrow. I can’t think of a better source of information with the draft approaching.

As always, stay tuned.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • O.C.

    Finally a stable government.

    Nice – by the way, without giving up too much, does Stu have direct input on trading up? Or on the value received on trading down?

    Does that get discussed as a last second “what do you think Stu?” gut call? Or do the scenarios all get discussed weeks in advance?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Lots of great blogs on here, but it’s ones like this (and the rest that will be following in the MBS series) that make this the go to place for Oiler news/opinions.

  • Hey Robin, do you think Stu is a future gm? Does he have the motivation to become one? I don’t think he’d answer out of respect for Tambo but i wonder if its in his future.

    Ya a majority govt…can’t wait for that keystone pipeline to be built and 500,000 barrels of bitumen get shipped south everyday. Gonna be such a job creator in Edmonton! Go Harper! (fail)

    • Yes. Yes, it is.

      I’m assuming you’ll want to read what’s coming and that you’ll be offering more comments that add such value to discussions here.

      Or, if you think it’s a waste of time talking to the Oilers chief scout seven weeks before the draft, I’ll forget about passing along MaGregor’s thoughts. You tell me what I should do and I’ll play it that way.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Why make Stu the GM is he is great at being the chief Scout?
    I am not a hundred percent sold on Tambi yet..but..one thing he has NOT done yet is screw this teams future up, but only time will tell if he can add to and maintain this team when or if this team becomes a serious contender…early work by Trading for OSullivan and signing Khabby point to no..but who wouldve seen the performances of those players coming? Or what about the Erik Cole trade? We all thought it was great at the time..and so did Tambi..we were both wrong..
    Hopefully next time Tambellini decides to bring in Veterans he does his homework correctly..or, maybe a wiser choice would be..just ask Stu the bastard…Magnificient Bastard that is.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Dammit Brownlee, you’ve been watching reality T.V haven’t you? ……. And we’ll find out the results……. AFTER THE BREAK!!!! The suspense is killing a guy.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    You better have the first blog on this interview up by tommorow nine thirty in the AM..if not I will be very disappointed as that is when I have a break at work and I spend my breaks reading Oilersnation..

  • Nice intro Robin. I’m looking forward to this new series.

    BTW. Word on the Tweet is that you’re drivin’ a sweet Corvette. I have a feeling you wouldn’t be driving something like that stock. Care to share the mod list (susp., exhaust, wheels, tires, engine, etc.)?

    • Wanye exaggerates.

      It’s the 436-HP 2008 Z-51 with the Z06 actuated exhaust/bigger brakes/F-1 run-flats/paddle shift etc.

      Hope to have the guys at Horsepower Solutions bump it up a bit this spring so I can take on Gregor’s crazy KIA in a grudge race at Castrol.

      I must say, though, I caught a distinct hint of bowel movement from Wanye on a relatively tame (to me) romp out towards Winterburn Rd. As Wanye dropped his lunch down his left pant leg, he blurted something like, “So, you’ve taken some driving courses and stuff, eh?”

      • Psh. Just because I got in the car and asked `Uh does this have a lot of horsepower and what not?`and you answered `this is one of the fastest production cars on the planet you idiot`does not mean I don`t know my cars.

        Your car is red.

        *drools*

        Also: Miniseries!

      • Niiiice! Kinda figured you’d be dippin’ into the parts bin. Those cars have so much potential the only limits are your wallet and fear. I’ll have to keep my eye open around town for it.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Robin, I’m very much looking forward to this! All along I’ve been hoping someone would ask the right person the right questions.

    So if you have a good relationship with Stu and you’ve kept your ear to the ground, and it reads like you do/have on both accounts, this series shouldn’t disappoint.

    Great job… at least so far.

  • Robin,

    All things being equal between RNH & Larsson could the tie go to Nugent-Hopkins because of the depth on defense in next year’s draft?

    If Larsson’ NHL comparable is Ohlund is that the best Edmonton can do drafting the D-man 1st overall? (not that Ohlund’s a hack no pun)

    The Oilers can draft Defense 19,31 this year, and 1-5 & 31-35 next year.. With Petry & Marincin there’s no need to rush taking Larsson #1 now.

    • Caveat Emptor

      Because both are big centres? I am certainly old enough to remember Bonsignore and I don’t see the comparison at all. They aren’t the same player, in any sense except size and position.

      Bonsignore had zero heart and was butter, with such concerns being present the day he was drafted (I somehow recall O’Neil, who was picked immediately after at #5, deriding Bonsignore with a comment such as he was “chicken”). There were huge question marks about Bonsignore’s ability to be an NHL player the day he was drafted – he was really a boom or bust player.

      Additionally, Bonsignore was never, ever, considered a 2 way centre.

    • No. Wayne gave me $1.99 for a production budget so I can’t afford the baritone guy.

      And this “series” is simply a way of breaking up the conversation I had with MacGregor into digestable chunks instead of writing one, 5,000-word piece. Plus, I get paid way more this way.

      There is much more ground to be covered between now and draft day and these items are a lead-in to that. First item is up now.

  • Election over, finally.

    Looking forward to these upcoming pieces Mr. Brownlee.

    Also, if the long gun registry had never been introduced the money saved could have paid for APPROX. 3 new $400 million arenas. Good riddance Liberals.

  • Looking forward to it Robin. The stuff you can pry from Stu’s brain the better.

    About 10 years ago I took a 2 day racing course with CASCARs down in Calgary.

    Most amazing fun ever.

    If you’re not on the gas, you’re on the brake.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This is much like working in radio. Much time is spent conversing about what you will be talking about followed by a round of summarizing what you did talk about. Not alot of actual content is needed for that middle portion. After reading this effort….maybe your own radio gig isn’t that much of a reach afterall Robin.

    • positivebrontefan

      It’s a long summer here in Oiler land. If Brownlee unloads the goods all at once you guys are gonna be bitchin’ for articles in the dog days of summer.

      On another note have you taken the Vette out to the track and had a go at the quarter yet? Road and Track had it listed at 12.8 in the quarter but our elevation up here wreaks havoc on quarter mile times. Nice car.

  • I love that your breaking it up. Gives more to think about over the next while. And naturally lately the articles are thinning out so the more the better. Just my two bits but RNH and SC. Just do what ever you have to to get both. Even if it means saying buy to hemsky, gagner and some low drafts. Center postion needs to be sorted out. Two centers, one with lots of skill and one with lots of size. Could be the difference maker for the team as I dont see Gags, brule, Fraser or cogs being acceptable pieces to the puzzle. However in a year or two if you Have RNH, SC, Horcoff, VV, Lander all in the mix of center. I think thats looking pretty damn good with some depth.