The Draft One Year Later (Part 2)

If the Edmonton Oilers are going to be an impact team in this decade, the 2010 draft will serve as a foundation. Unlike previous seasons where the club lacked a 2nd and 3rd rd pick (2008) or went off the board in search of needs (2009), the 2010 draft combined three vital items: a strong scouting staff, an enormous opportunity and a quad-venti order of luck.  

In 1993, the Edmonton Oilers drafted Jason Arnott and Miro Satan; the following season brought in Ryan Smyth and the fourth leg of the table (Wobbly Bonsignore) that should have sustained this organization for a decade. Slats cashed Arnott because he had to and Satan because Ron Low wouldn’t play him, and the scouting staff whiffed in a big way on Bonsignore. Oiler fans watched Ryan Smyth spill his guts in vain for a large number of years, but the ingredients for a frustrating 10 seasons were contained in those two drafts. Opportunity missed.

It is a fact that professional organizations often draft and then discard talent because it develops slowly or doesn’t fit easily into the puzzle. Somewhere in this group of 2010 draft talents there is a slow developing player, or a misfit that makes it impossible for the organization to grind him into a familiar chess piece. One of the key elements of success then will come from using the raw materials in the best possible way and maximizing all available talent.

In the post previous to this one, I talked about the 1985 entry draft and how those players looked one season later. Times have changed and the amount of information available to fans is much larger, so we can go more in depth with the 2010 group. The first rung on the ladder of hockey success for these kids is a pro contract, so some of these kids have already done something the 1985 group couldn’t do: play well enough to get a pro contract. Of the 11 players drafted by Edmonton in 1985, only six (Scott Metcalfe, Todd Carnelley, Mike Ware, Tomas Kapusta, Kelly Buchberger and Mario Barbe) made the AHL or higher.  


  1. L Taylor Hall (65gp, 22-20-42 NHL): Signed his pro contract and made the big club. Began the season slowly, but started imposing his will on games and became the top draw for opposition matchups by mid-season. Led the Oilers in CorsiRel and in goals before losing his season to injury. Ridiculous talent.
  2. C-R Tyler Pitlick (56gp, 27-35-62 WHL): Pitlick’s offense ranked him 3rd among WHL rookies and his EV stats (56gp, 22-19-41) suggest he might be a player. His 22 EV goals rank him 2nd among Tigers during the regular season. A little shy on the offense for his age, we have to factor in that he was a WHL rookie. Big kid, "farm boy" strong according to Redline and has a pro contract in his back pocket. Interesting to see if he emerges as a center, he did suffer an injury during the season.
  3. D Martin Marincin (67gp, 14-42-56 WHL): Finished 8th in scoring among WHL defenders and led rookie blue in points. Marincin flagged as the season wore on (splits: 1st-33gp, 10-25-35 +6; 2nd-34gp, 4-17-21 -18) but like Pitlick we need to allow for this being his first WHL season. The most negative thing I’ve read is from Redline ("lacks an aggressive mindset") but he’s on track as a prospect by any stretch of the definition. Signed his Oiler contract about a month ago, may return to junior.
  4. L Curtis Hamilton (62gp, 26-56-82 WHL): The appeal for this player comes from his style and his boxcars. Hamilton is described by Stu MacGregor as "an extremely smart player, a great two way player. Strong, has good size, works hard along the boards. Very strong on the puck, has good vision, very good penalty killer. A guy who plays hard and smart."  Remember when we talked about some players being difficult to fit pieces into the puzzle? Hamilton looks like a plug and play type, someone who can play a 2-way role with PK time and chip in offensively. The Oilers need more than one of this player type, but it’s a start.
  5. C Ryan Martindale (65gp, 34-49-83 OHL): Interesting in that he is the first player on the list without a pro contract. Martindale is certainly expected to turn pro but it didn’t happen during the first wave. He had a solid year on the OHL’s most dominant line despite suffering an ankle injury. Among the group at the top of the draft, he is more of a one-dimensional talent so his numbers are more important to monitor. Certainly on track as a prospect, but I think it’s fair to suggest there’s a line after number 4 on this list.
  6. D Jeremie Blain (40gp, 2-35-37 QMJHL): Blain suffered a foot injury at the start of the year, and when we see "injury" and "defenseman" in the same sentence then it’s something to track. Oiler scout Bill Dandy liked him a lot, and based on photo’s he looks like a modern (RH) Jacques Laperriere at least visually. Impressive offense for his age and his club struggled terribly when he was out. Remains unsigned, not a big deal as he is younger than the above group.
  7. G Tyler Bunz (56gp, 2.47 .919 WHL): Impressive season was followed by a strong playoff and then an injury. Bunz quality season "comes with the experience and the confidence that you get with playing back-to-back 60 game seasons. That’s always going to help me get more comfortable with myself and how I feel in the net" according to the young St. Albert goalie. The article suggests he has spoken to the Oilers and the timeline includes another season in junior.
  8. D Brandon Davidson (72gp, 8-44-52 WHL): Unique story just keeps getting better. A late start in organized hockey hasn’t held him back, and Davidson spent a couple of games in OKC after the Pats season ended. He had a knee problem last season, but this year was a healthy one for the puck mover.
  9. L Drew Czerwonka (68gp, 13-30-43 WHL): Big, tough winger with a lot of try and a surprising amount of offense. Got a lot of playing time with skilled men during the year, suggesting his role in pro hockey may be in a role similar to the one Edmonton keeps trying to fill with JF Jacques. His season isn’t over, as Czerwonka will be suiting up in the Memorial Cup for Kootenay. Had a concussion during the playoffs. He’s an example of a player who has made himself noticed during the season after his draft, somewhat similar to Kelly Buchberger’s story in part one.
  10. R Kristians Pelss (63gp, 14-19-33 WHL): Here’s an example of a player who took a long time to get used to the WHL but then improved markedly in the second half. Splits: 1st-30gp, 4-9-13 +8; 33gp, 10-10-20 +3). He’s still miles from being a strong NHL prospect, but is a late birthday (Sept 1992) and his arrows are heading in a good direction.
  11. F Kellen Jones (38gp, 8-14-22 NCAA): Started slowly but then came on well later in the season with Quinnipiac. Plays alongside twin brother Connor Jones, who would be an astute signing for the Oilers this summer.

The top 4 are signed to pro contracts, although not all are certain to play pro this fall. The 5-8 picks stayed on course, with Bunz showing well deep into the spring with Medicine Hate. Pick #9 Drew Czerwonka is still going as we approach summer, and both Pelss and Jones improved enough in the second half  to be considered solid prospects. 

We can say with authority that fewer than 11 and at least one of these kids will play in the NHL (Hall’s already played in the NHL). We can say that prospects Pitlick (gritty PF), Marincin (complete defender), Hamilton (quality 2-way W), Bunz (starting goalie) and Czerwonka (enforcer with some skill) have a real chance to be useful players in defined roles. 

Kids like Ryan Martindale may have to buy in to the idea that skill alone won’t get them to the NHL. I’d count Blain and Davidson in that group too, prospects whose offense is obvious but need to learn the AHL lessons that grind those skilled kids who are a little shy of elite into useful role players. 

Pelss and Jones are undersized kids facing enormous uphill battles, but they both survived and later flourished. It was a helluva draft and year one shows what we expected: sustain and growth; in at least a couple of cases, there was an offensive explosion (Hamilton and Marincin). 

Stu MacGregor, you magnificent bastard.  

  • Ender

    Stu MacGregor is indeed a magnificent bastard, but I honestly don’t know if he can match his previous draft experiences in Minnesota this year. If last year is the bar . . . well, it’s set pretty high then. Anyone who expects that level of precognition from him every time he’s at bat is probably in for a disapointment.

    • Lowetide

      Yeah, I think Steve Smith mentioned that the cards are stacked against MBS this year. The first overall pick has a chance to be passed by about 5 guys who’ll be taken right behind him and then picks 9-60 are similar according to Redline.

      Oh well. No guts, no glory. 🙂

  • raceguy

    Davidson is one of the players I thought made a pretty good move forward this year.Find it interesting that he got a late start,maybe there is room for more improvement.Looking at the Pats roster and the fact he hasn’t signed yet tells me he is going back to jr. although you never know.My choice to be the biggest surprise of the 2010 draft for the Oilers.

    • Lowetide

      I’d agree that Davidson is a surprise. I saw him a little and he looks much better defensively to my eye than maybe we’d been led to believe.

      I suspect he’ll go back for another year based on some of the things we’re reading.

  • Lowetide

    Quick look at the 1994 draft – not a great year, but they sure nailed the Smyth pick. 1995 however was a very good draft class and they whiffed the Kelly pick to kick off a 6 year stretch of the 1st round “I know more than you do by watching games on a 24 inch black and white tv in Cabo poo poo platter”.

    Inexcusable drafting from 1984-2001 – that’s a long time to be terrible at something kind of important to the success of your team.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I don’t know about that. There hasn’t been a Patrick Stefan/Alexander Daigle draft since… well … Patrick Stefan and Alexander Daigle.

      I think Stefan was a victim of confidence as he missed the empty net in 2009 (one of the best Oiler goals in history)*.

      He was a bit of a bust before that, but looking at the 1999 draft, it was pretty weak to begin with. The Sedins, Havlat, Erat, and Zetterberg at #210(best late pick since Robitaille), were the best in that draft.

      *Doesn’t actually believe his downfall was due to this, but still one of my favorite goals.

    • Lowetide

      We did already for ten yearr, only ours were named: Bonsignore, Kelly, Devereaux, Descoteaux, Riesen, Henrich, Rita, Mikhnov, Niinimaki, Pouliot. And then Shremp, Nash, Plante more recently.

      So from 94 till 2003 only Smyth and Hemsky have been legit players. I think we have had enough bad luck 12 first rounders and 2 turned out.

      When I look at this it just makes me sigh:(

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Hey LT, where do you find the breakdowns for NHL equivalencies per age?

    I have a feeling Pitlicks 1.1PPG pace at 18 doesn’t bode well for offense at the NHL level.

  • Solid draft for Stu, setup nicely by the deals of Grebeshkov and Nash. That 1st and 2nd round should be wearing a lot of Oiler blue in the coming years. Davidson and Bunz are nice hidden gems on the backend of the draft. The rest still has the jury out on them.

    Excellant draft Stu and welcome back Winnipeg.

    Meh, no deal yet, Winnipegers must have felt they have died a thousand deaths by now.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Having first crack 3 or 4 yrs in a row like the Oilers are going through right now is bound to have a disappointment or two. If two of the four lottery picks they select turn into elite players we should still be fine, only one kid can be the Oilers 1st line center. The rest will surely settle in somewhere in the lineup.

    I’d feel better if we could have our eggs in two baskets instead of one. Steve needs to move a roster player or two along with that 19th to have a shot at Couturier,Strome or Huberdeau.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    at hf, we got the 10th best ranking for prospects. Because graduating players weren’t included, our qualifying players were primarily our 2nd and 3rd rounders from last year.

    Pretty impressive

  • Little Buttcheeks

    The last few drafts have only started to pay dividends for the team. I know that not every pick will pan out but the Oil is long overdue to have at least one or two late rounders (5th to 7th rounds) turn into NHLers after having so many 1st round busts for years and years. I think the key is to look for either hard working, smart players in those rounds who can be developed and trained, or else higher risk/higher reward European/college players who are less likely to turn pro in North America. At least I can say that for the first time in years, I have confidence in the Oil’s junior league scouts– I just wish Tambi would look at supplementing his roster with some modest priced, short term veteran role players who can teach the kids how to play defence at the NHL level.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I certainly hope the 2010 draft is as good as they currently project.

    Hall was superb.

    Pitlick was old for a Dub rookie so quit with that stat. He may have actually underperfomed expectations.
    Hamilton definitely overperformed expectations but his problem was injuries not, I believe, skills.

    Marcinin had a great first half but greatly tailed off.

    If we get 3 guys out of this draft that play 150 games, it will be a great success! Right now everyone seems to be projecting 4 or 5 guys playing 400 NHL games and if that happened it might be one of the greatest pro sport drafts of all time

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like most fans we keep waiting for Oilers to procur some reasonable NHL caliber players to set up a decent core around which the youngsters can progress at a reasonable rate and competitiveness . Once again that appears to be just wishfull thinking on our part . Thats the most frustating point of this so called rebuild ! Building from within shows nothing positive so far , and is very unlikely to meet the goals all had hoped for.

    How long before this years draft before we even see any hit our own market , not just NHL ?

  • bleedingoil

    Why are we not in final four like Tampa is with similiar makeup to ours ? We have Hemsky , Horcoff and had Penner to offset Lecavalier , St.Louie and Malone ; and 3 stellar youths , as compared to Tampas two (Hedman , Stamkos ). We have supposedly better goaltending than Roloson ? Maybe it’s our coaching that makes us so far apart ? Just seems like we should have been a lot more competitive when comparing us to Tampa template than we were all season . Just how far away then are we going into next season ?

      • Mantastic

        Soft hands and John – look at makeup of Tampa and how close we resemble them in many ways .Just an example : we draft Larsson and take Lecavalier off their hands for a song . Seems to me we would become a contender pretty fast . I use that example , which should be easily do able this off season to show just how close we might/ could be to a very respectable club in a very short time ! Maybe we are not as far away as most think for a major push for next season . Thorton might be another that could catapult us up near top or even a Weber , etc.. Would you not relish that scenario , than an almost guaranteed deadlast finish again the next season or two ?

    • John Chambers

      Some lucky lady who the general public would rate as a 3 ends up being your wife and you think she’s a 9. You are sporting rose-coloured specs if anyone ever has.

  • bleedingoil

    next year i would love to be looking back at the magnificent draft where we managed the slickest trade in recent memory and had the opportunity to draft both RNH and Huberdeau. I have watched him play for 2 years now and would love to see him go #1, but being on the east coast on such a stacked team,many scouts think his numbers are inflated from his teammates. I just hope if we dont get him that he stays east coast, cause he will be a sick competitor (like corey perry,logan couture, chris stewart) and i dont want to see him in the west,

  • Little Buttcheeks

    One year later, nobody had one of those disaster seasons. It’s unheard of for a draft class to look this good and I’m sure that we will know more about these kids in a year or so when some of these guys get tested as pros. If we have even half as good of a draft this year then we will be in good shape.