Risk Aversion

One of the key elements in the recent success of the Edmonton Oilers at the draft table: reducing risk.


Back in the olden days, the Edmonton Oilers treated the first round like a crapshoot. Jesse Niinimaki was taken in the middle of round one despite being ranked #50 on the European list (making him a probable 4th rder). After the draft, we were told that the organization had heard New Jersey planned to take him so they were forced into the selection. A cynic might suggest that a team like NJD (run by honest Lou) might make up stuff and leak the rumor in hopes that someone bought it.

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The problem with this kind of thing is that if your reach pick (that’s what I call them, reach picks) falls down the stairs or hurts his arm or finds women, God, liquor or ganja then you’re s.o.l. I believe Kevin Prendergast lost his job because of Niinimaki, the Pouliot/Jacques 2003 draft and the Alex Plante 2007 selection. All of them had their careers impacted by injury. Doesn’t matter. It’s on the scouting team and their leader (KP) is no longer employed as a scouting director.


The Oilers made some changes during the latter portion of last decade, and one of those changes involved elevating Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor to the position of scouting director. MacGregor has been in the position for the last three drafts and this weekend will be number four.

MBS is risk averse. His selections of Taylor Hall, Magnum PS and Jordan Eberle were all in the range of expectation, and he’s rarely gone outside the norm during the first 75 picks (Abney, Hesketh being examples). His 2010 second round is already being compared to KP’s 2002 (Stoll, Greene and JDD) after the club plucked Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin and Curtis Hamilton in the second round a year ago.

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A list like Bob McKenzie’s is a very valuable tool for the organization that can get past it’s own ego and recognize that these are in fact the consensus best player’s available. In fact, if a player is rated highly and your scouts are telling you to stay away, wouldn’t you like a very good reason for it? Wouldn’t you hope that scout had a really good reason? 

You could take Bob McKenzie’s top 60 to the draft, follow it exactly and come out on top of some teams on draft weekend. Scouting can help, but it can also hinder. What if you "saw him good" on the way day he was "beyond his best?" Should one of your scouts get stubborn on a fellow (say, Kenta Nilsson on Alexei Mikhnov) then you end up with a Traktor boy instead of an NHL player.


Here is Bob McKenzie’s top 60 list. I’d guess that Oilers picks 1, 19, 31 and maybe 61 could be on that list, and there are probably a couple more Edmonton selections on the NHL combine invite list.

Seth Ambroz Omaha USHL RW 6-foot-2 211
Olivier Archambault Val d’Or QMJHL LW 5-foot-11 170
Sven Baertschi Portland WHL LW 5-foot-10 181
Nathan Beaulieu Saint John QMJHL D 6-foot-2 174
Myles Bell Regina WHL D 6-foot 214
Tyler Biggs USA U-18 USHL RW 6-foot-2 210
Austen Brassard Belleville OHL RW 6-foot-2 191
Daniel Catenacci Sault Ste. Marie OHL C 5-foot-10 183
Adam Clendening Boston University HE D 5-foot-11` 190
Nick Cousins Sault Ste. Marie OHL C 5-foot-11 166
Sean Couturier Drummondville QMJHL C 6-foot-4 197
Joseph Cramarossa Mississauga St. Michael’s OHL C 6-foot 188
Phillip Danault Victoriaville QMJHL LW 6-foot 170
Joel Edmundson Moose Jaw WHL D 6-foot-5 191
Travis Ewanyk Edmonton WHL LW 6-foot-1 178
Rocco Grimaldi USA U-18 USHL C 5-foot-6 163
Dougie Hamilton Niagara OHL D 6-foot-4 187
Jonathan Huberdeau Saint John QMJHL C 6-foot-1 170
Philippe Hudon Choate-Rosemary HIGH-CT C/RW 6-foot 190
Colin Jacobs Seattle WHL C 6-foot-1 197
Boone Jenner Oshawa OHL C 6-foot-1 204
Nicklas Jensen Oshawa OHL LW/RW 6-foot-2 187
Tomas Jurco Saint John QMJHL RW 6-foot-2 187
Alexander Khokhlachev Windsor OHL C/LW 5-foot-10 188
Patrick Koudys Rensselaer ECAC D 6-foot-2 190
Sean Kuraly Indiana USHL C 6-foot-2 192
Joseph Labate Holy Angels HIGH-MN C 6-foot-4 180
Gabriel Landeskog Kitchener OHL LW 6-foot-1 207
Zac Larraza USA U-18 USHL LW 6-foot-2 192
Maximilien LeSieur Shawinigan QMJHL RW 6-foot-2 203
Lucas Lessio Oshawa OHL LW 6-foot-1 197
Luke Lockhart Seattle WHL RW 5-foot-10 180
Adam Lowry Swift Current WHL LW 6-foot-4 186
Mario Lucia Wayzata HIGH-MN LW 6-foot-2 183
Scott Mayfield Youngstown  USHL D 6-foot-4 197
Mark McNeill Prince Albert WHL C 6-foot-2 201
Jonathan Miller USA U-18 USHL C 6-foot-1 198
Joseph Morrow Portland WHL D 6-foot 197
Connor Murphy USA U-18 USHL D 6-foot-3 185
Ryan Murphy Kitchener OHL D 5-foot-11 166
David Musil Vancouver WHL D 6-foot-3 198
Vladislav Namestnikov London OHL C 6-foot 166
Matthew Nieto Boston University HE LW 5-foot-11 175
Marcel Noebels Seattle WHL LW 6-foot-3 195
Stefan Noesen Plymouth OHL RW 6-foot 195
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Red Deer WHL C 6-foot-1 164
Scott Oke Saint John QMJHL LW 6-foot-3 185
Jamieson Oleksiak Northeastern HE D 6-foot-7 244
Xavier Ouellet Montreal QMJHL D 6-foot 174
Stuart Percy Mississauga St. Michael’s OHL D 6-foot-1 186
Zack Phillips Saint John QMJHL C 6-foot-1 178
Shane Prince Ottawa OHL C 5-foot-10 174
Matt Puempel Peterborough OHL LW 6-foot 196
Alan Quine Peterborough OHL C 5-foot-11 178
Jonathan Racine Shawinigan QMJHL D 6-foot-1 182
Rickard Rakell Plymouth OHL RW 6-foot 191
Ty Rattie Portland WHL RW 5-foot-11 163
Mike Reilly Shattuck-St. Mary’s HIGH-MN D 5-foot-11 150
Tobias Rieder Kitchener OHL C 5-foot-11 173
Brett Ritchie Sarnia OHL RW 6-foot-3 210
Robbie Russo USA U-18 USHL D 6-foot 189
Brandon Saad Saginaw OHL LW 6-foot-1 208
Reece Scarlett Swift Current WHL D 6-foot-1 164
Mark Scheifele Barrie OHL C 6-foot-2 182
Logan Shaw Cape Breton QMJHL RW 6-foot-3 197
Nicholas Shore Denver WCHA C 6-foot 195
Duncan Siemens Saskatoon WHL D 6-foot-3 192
Ryan Sproul Sault Ste. Marie OHL D 6-foot-3 175
Michael St. Croix Edmotnon WHL C 5-foot-11 176
Ryan Strome Niagara OHL C 6-foot 175
Colin Sullivan Avon Old Farms HIGH-CT D 6-foot-1 190
Ryan Tesink Saint John QMJHL C 5-foot-11 157
Vincent Trocheck Saginaw OHL C 5-foot-10 184
Andy Welinski Green Bay  USHL D 6-foot 188
Tyler Wotherspoon Portland WHL D 6-foot-1 203
Zachary Yuen Tri-City WHL D 6-foot 205
Jordan Binnington Owen Sound OHL   6-foot-1 156
Laurent Brossoit Edmonton WHL   6-foot-3 193
Christopher Gibson Chicoutimi QMJHL   6-foot-1 193
John Gibson USA U-18 USHL   6-foot-3 205
Matt Mahalak Plymouth OHL   6-foot-2 183
Matt McNeely USA U-18 USHL   6-foot-2 205
Stephen Michalek Loomis Chaffee  HIGH-CT   6-foot-2 183
Michael Morrison  Kitchener OHL   6-foot 177
Joel Armia Assat FIN RW 6-foot-3 191
Rasmus Bengtsson Rogle SWE-2 D 6-foot-3 189
Jeremy Boyce Rotevall Timra SWE LW 6-foot 169
Jonas Brodin Farjestad SWE D 6-foot-1 169
Max Friberg Skovde SWE-3 LW 5-foot-11 185
Markus Granlund HIFK FIN-JR C 5-foot-10 169
Gregory Hofmann Ambri SWISS C 6-foot 177
Dmitri Jaskin Slavia CZE RW 6-foot-1 196
Karl Johansson Brynas SWE-JR D 5-foot-9 167
Oscar Klefbom Farjestad SWE D 6-foot-4 200
Nikita Kucherov CSKA RUS-JR W 5-foot-10 163
Adam Larsson Skelleftea SWE D 6-foot-3 200
Joachim Nermark Linkoping SWE-JR C 6-foot-1 187
Victor Rask Leskand SWE-2 C 6-foot-2 194
Alexander Ruuttu Jokerit FIN-JR C 6-foot-1 183
Miikka Salomaki Karpat FIN RW 5-foot-11 198
Mika Zibanejad Djurgarden SWE C 6-foot-2 191
Samu Perhonen JYP FIN-JR   6-foot-4 172


  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans


    Ryan Murphy – I keep getting the feeling a good comparable might be Machael Del Zotto? Is that too far off? Undersized but highly skilled offensive D-man.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Chris Kunitz

      Higher PPG without Crosby then with him this year.

      And that’s with Crosby playing at one of the highest PPG paces in decades.

      If that doesn’t prove how irrelavant your linemate/center is, I don’t know what does.

      • I dont think it proves that the linemate is irrelevant, but it definitely pokes holes in the “He makes guys better” statement.

        I still think linemates can make a difference, I’m just not so sure as to the how and why of it all. Point producers get their points no matter what, so maybe the linemate makes an impact in other areas.

        I’m just not ready to say linemates dont matter though.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          This is the way I look at it:

          For the vast majority of players in the NHL, you’ll put up roughly the same amount of points with almost any top 6 forward.

          IE Kunitz is roughly a 45 – 55 point guy whether his best linemate is Crosby, Kopitar, Krejci or Gagner.

          It’s when your best linemate is Fraser or Stortini that your production is probably in trouble.

        • 99thOilerfan

          I have to say there is something to a linemate.
          A Karma, a Zen.. OK.. It’s the “Force”!

          Think of the line mates over the years…
          Gretz & Kurri, Hull & Oates, Hall & RNH, etc…

          You know what I say’n, right ?

    • Kunitz has done nothing extra with Crosby, in fact his best years were clearly with the Ducks (hopefully just due to missed games for the Penguins’ sake)

      Just look at the Penguins scoring. Crosby hasnt dragged anyone up. He’s getting the points then it’s a huge drop off (except when Malkin is playing).

      This year he had 66 in 41GP and the next closest was Letang at 50 in 82GP.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I don’t know what’s worse, people knocking Larsson with mysterious scout assessments, or comparing RNH with Gretzky, Crosby and Thornton, the kind of impact center that he is most certainly not.

    You want to buy into the hype, fine. I’m not.

    • Clyde Frog

      Yet Larsson hype is cool?

      For me it boils down to; the contending teams build their defensive core via trade or free-agency.

      Why? Because 90% or more do not start hitting their performance stride until 5-7 years into their careers. Which incidentally also coincides with the end of their contracts..

      Its just too much of a gamble, when you have perfectly productive centres on the board that also address team needs.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Nashville Predators are a good example of a team that chose to build from the blueline out. In 15 yrs they’ve done very little despite having arguably the best 1-2 in the league. Pittsburgh (Crosby and Malkin), Chicago (Toews and Kane), Washington (Ovy and Backstrom) and Detroit (Yzerman,Datsyuk,Zetterberg) have had much greater success to date. If you’re into that infinity rebuild thing then by all means, start with your blueliners. Larsson isn’t even considered a generational defenceman, he’s not even top 5 worthy, Hamilton is already better i feel.

  • Tron

    Enough of this larsson nonsense. Analysts always talk about anahiems big top line being one of the best in the NHL. In three years, edmontons top line will be in that conversation. Rnh is our man. Let’s drop next year too. Might as well score yakupov. Fail 4 nail!

  • Ender

    freeze wrote:

    David Staples just posted an update on ReKhabby:

    That’s very interesting. Why on Earth would Khabi go looking for trouble on this? You would think he would be rigidly following everything that the courts had outlined for him to do; if he played his cards right, it was rumoured that he might have been able to shorten his 30-day sentence to a mere 10 days and then simply had some period of probation tacked on. Now, by (allegedly) breaching the terms outlined in Arizona last summer, he may be in jeopardy of not only serving the entire 30 days but possibly having additional time tacked on as well.

    I don’t know what exactly he did or didn’t do, but whatever it was it sounds like exactly the kind of drama he should have been trying to avoid.

    @ Tron

    While I love the catchy slogan, I’m afraid I cannot endorse the Fail 4 Nail movement. If we want additional talent at this point, we should maybe try something we haven’t done in a decade or so; win something, and then buy some decent free agents who want to come play with winners. Hall and RNH were necessary acquisitions; it’s now time to move to Stage 2: the winning years.

      • Souby

        I was wondering how long that would take. If it ends up that Khabby receives further punishment as a result of his neglect to follow the courts’ decision, that may give the Oil the opportunity to cut ties with him all together.

        I think the league would have to suspend him before the Oil could request the contract be scrapped, but I may be wrong.

    • I read an interesting comment on twitter (mc79hockey I think) wondering if the courses were supposed to be on hold until the appeal is heard. It could be that the court made an error. Weird stuff tho!

  • Ender

    MEANINGLESS! MEANINGLESS! You must not be from around here stranger. It’s all we have.

    Nyuk, nyuk. Well I’m from around there, but McGuire isn’t. And there is no stranger than McGuire.

  • Cheesenaka

    Here is an update by Dave Staples:

    Peter Kosednar of the ScottsdaleArizonaNews tells The Cult: “The Scottsdale City Court told me that it has to do with the Alcohol Screening Classes. No arrest warrant has been issued. No new court date set – yet.”

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Peter Kosednar of the ScottsdaleArizonaNews tells The Cult:

    Peter Kosednar isn’t of the ScottsdaleArizonaNews, he is the ScottsdaleArizonaNews. It’s the name of his blog. Not that that fact changes the news, but in interests of complete disclosure, I thought it should be mentioned. (And I’m sure Staples must have provided that info elsewhere).

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Peter Kosednar of the ScottsdaleArizonaNews tells The Cult:

    Peter Kosednar isn’t of the ScottsdaleArizonaNews, he is the ScottsdaleArizonaNews. It’s the name of his blog. Not that that fact changes the news, but in interests of complete disclosure, I thought it should be mentioned. (And I’m sure Staples must have provided that info elsewhere).

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Taylor Hall will be a stud and get his points regardless of who his linemate is but wouldn’t it be nice to have the right guy in the middle to get the most out of him. Fact is that teams who have success in this league are deep and talented down the middle, something that the Oilers are not right now. You can find good dmen. #1 centers, not so much.