Sail On, Tall Tree from Minnetonka

It took three years, but we finally have Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor’s first official bust at the draft table.

History tells us no matter how smart the scouting department, no matter how much due diligence everyone puts in, draft busts happen to everyone. Stu MacGregor has been head scout since the 2008 entry draft, meaning that 32 players have been selected on his watch.

A 2004 study of the 1979-1995 drafts showed that over half (55%) of the players NHL teams select never make the NHL even for one game. That would mean 17.6 of the Oilers selections 2008-11 won’t make it. Here, let me break down the entire study for you:

  • 2% turned out to be a elite players (Hall, RNH would make it 6% for MBS)
  • 4% turned into impact players (Eberle, MP would make it 6% for this group)
  • 15% turned out to be average NHLers (Lander, Hartikainen, Hamilton, Bunz would make it 12.5%)
  • 24% played less than 200 games (Motin, Roy, Marincin, Hamilton, Pitlick, Klefbom and Musil seem like solid bets. If they all play 1 NHL game, that would represent 22% of the 32 draft picks)
  • 55% never played a game in the NHL (the rest)

Now, we know that Hall and RNH aren’t elite players and that Eberle and Paajarvi aren’t impact players. We also know that the Oilers under MBS have been drafting very high (two #1 overall picks is as high as a kite), so let’s not give so much credit this early that we can’t take it back. None of the things on this list have happened, none of these players is welded to their position above (save for poor Johan Motin; his 1 NHL game may well be all that he gets).

Joe Hesketh needn’t worry: Troy Hesketh is very unlikely to be more famous. News this week from Jim Matheson in the Edmonton Journal puts it all to bed:

  • Matty: The Oilers dropped 2009 third-round draft pick defenceman Troy Hesketh (Chicago Steel and Sioux City, United States Hockey League juniors) from their list and he was back in the draft this June, with no takers. He was attending the University of Wisconsin, but now he’s not.

Those we read Coming Down the Pipe! regularly have known about Wisconsin for awhile, but the bit about the Oilers dropping him is a surprise. There had been rumors that Hesketh would head to the Edmonton Oil Kings this fall, but that would appear to be a distant bell at this point and although you should never count out a person this young at any endeavor, it would appear this young man has not taken advantage of a massive opportunity. Whatever the reasons, and I don’t know what they are, the Oilers certainly didn’t think it would end this soon or in such a fashion.

Comments from Stu MacGregor after the draft:

  • "Pretty excited about Hesketh. He’s going to play high school again next year. He already has a verbal scholarship to Wisconsin. He’s a player that has some long term potential. He’s a guy that Mike Peluso had extreme passion for, the way he’s a solid defender and smart in his defending skills, his angles in taking away ice on the puck carrier. We think he has a real upside and he will get some significant training in Wisconsin. They’ve done a great job with defencemen."
  • "He was a player that after the draft was done, other guys were coming up to us and saying ‘you guys snuck one here!’ New Jersey runs their own scouting combine and we knew that they’d had him in there and a number of other teams were on the radar for him right around that area so we knew we had to step in there and get him if we wanted him. Wisconsin has been recruiting some of the finest defencemen in college hockey over the last number of years now and they are extremely excited about him as a player. His brother and father are both much taller than he is so we think there is still some physical development to come."


This isn’t a putdown of MacGregor or his staff, after all they ripped up that 2009 draft with MP, Lander, Rajala and Roy. Having said that, "reach picks" are prone to high risk/reward and this one looked a little wobbly leaving the gate. Other MBS picks that haven’t come off the rails but look somewhat doubtful for NHL success include Johan Motin, Phil Cornet, Jordan Bendfeld, Cameron Abney and Kyle Bigos. That’s 6 (with Hesketh) and as we discussed at the top of this post 55% of the kids drafted never play a game. 32 draft picks would mean 17.6 should peak outside the best league in the world.

The Tall Tree from Minnetonka is the first player from the MacGregor draft era to be an official bust. Anyone who has ever hired someone for a job knows you never know about people until you’re working with them. Troy Hesketh didn’t take advantage of a great opportunity in life, and the Edmonton Oilers took a reach pick in the third round (where all reach picks should be taken, after the top 60) and it didn’t work out.

Credit to the organization for makiing a quick cut, and best of luck to Troy Hesketh.

  • EasyOil

    Have to admit to quite liking the Hesketh pick when it was made, but his season this year was just abysmal. Haven’t watched the kid play so can’t exactly comment on what happened, whether it was just things not happening for him or him not trying, but very surprised he didn’t decide to join the Oil Kings to try and rejuvenate his career.

    I also have to admit to quite liking Bigos as a player, have heard nothing but good reviews about his play at Merrimack. Should be a solid AHLer if nothing else.

  • Looking around the 3rd round that year there are a couple guys that in hindsight would be better picks, but even guys like Howse who had good juniour campaigns are still in tough to make the big leagues.

    Tough to see a guy nose-dive off the charts like that, but close to par for the course at that stage in the game.

  • @ Lowtide

    Would you really classify this guy as a “bust”?
    Considering this guy was most likely a flyer or reach pick anyways.

    I don’t know the player, in fact I don’t even recall the Oilers drafting him. Now if MPS or Eberle “fail” then I would consider that a Bust.

    • EasyOil

      I would classify Hesketh as a bust based on his draft position. He wasn’t much of a reach, as LT states several teams had their eye on him. If I remember correctly, at the time he was considered possibly to be the most talented of the “Big 3” – Hesketh, Abney and Bigos – and the most likely to make it to the bigs. Like I said, I actually liked the pick at the time and I know I wasn’t alone in that. No he wasn’t a first round talent like MPS and Eberle, but I wouldn’t quite have called him a reach. More of a project that didn’t work out.

  • Chris.

    Very interesting article.

    I would certainly call any 2009 draft pick who craters so early a bust. It appears not to be a case of a Liam Reddox type who absolutely busted a nut to get to the bigs but just did not have the size or quite enough talent to make it. From reading the article you get a feel that the talent may have been there and that size was waiting to happen and attitude was the problem.

    The question becomes how do you identify “attitude” better or do you send all your drafts to see a sports psycologist who can discuss what it might take to be a success. Or should a sports psycologist be part of your development team. Really, someone should have seen a bust coming and intervened. At minimum it would be nice to develop your busts into possible low round draft pick trade bait.

    • EasyOil

      Interesting thoughts with regards to the Oilers intervening when it looked like his season was falling off the cliff. I’ve no doubt the Oilers were talking to him and exploring options, but there comes a point where it just becomes hopeless and there’s not a lot of point spending more money on developing a clearly spent force. 1 assist in 34 games as a 20 year old in the USHL of all leagues is most likely that point. Its harsh, but as LT says I wish him the best and hope he finds his way, but meaningful pro hockey is most likely beyond his reach at this point.

  • O.C.

    Even if no one saw this coming, it’s still a bust, just not one that hurts much as say a Bonsignore.

    The pick was worth it…put another way, if he had developed as many thought, it was a steal.

    If one third rounder out of five makes the NHL regularly, you are ahead of the rest of the league. One miss isn’t what matters here. Stu’s entire body of work vs his peers is what counts.

    Opinion o’ the Day.
    Marincin, Roy, and Klefbom have a strong chance to play more than 200 games.

    • Souby

      “Even if no one saw this coming, it’s still a bust, just not one that hurts much as say a Bonsignore.”

      Bonsignore was a huge bust obviously, but we have to include Steve Kelly on that list as well. I was there when he was drafted and was one of the thousands shouting “DOAN!”, but they picked Kelly instead at #6, bypassing Doan who has played 1119 games in the NHL. That was a terrible moment in Oilers draft history.

  • Troyboy

    I laugh at all the bashers!! Don’t you realize that this is about the amazing job Stu and his crew have done in their tenure!!! The Oilers are stacked with young talent. Argueablely the best in the league. I am as excited to see what a great year OKC is going to have as I am about the OIL!!! They are going to be a force! Bow down to Stu… He and his staff have put the OIl back on track for the future!!

  • Troyboy

    I don’t know from the sounds of things even if he did start to improve with the current depth the Oilers now have, which I must say is sounding like a lot of good quality Dmen at camp right now, he wouldn’t get near the NHL anyway. It sounds like Musil and Teubert are really standing out. Maybe the Oil don’t need to trade for another player, maybe they just need to wait a little longer.

    • Exactly why I also think you cant really call this guy a bust. The Oilers have depth at the postion ahead of this guy, now if Teubert burns out, then I think you can make an argument that he was a “bust” but in the mean time let them develop and see what kind of gem appears.

  • book¡e

    @ Troyboy, Mrs P-D, and SrCain – You missed the obvious satirical indicators. The post was meant to ridicule poster who attack the Oilers for just about anything.

    First “I blame Tambellini, or Lowe, and maybe Katz” – it doesn’t even make sense with the ‘or’ and the ‘and maybe even’ parts.

    Second “This is just another example of how this organization is the worst in the history of the NHL” – the hyperbole here is over the top. This is particularly obvious due to the nature of the article which is primarily praise for the Oilers – with a 3rd round prospect not panning out to be great (hardly unexpected).

    Third – if either of those two did not flag it, I even included a Temherte slaqî (as noted in Wikipedia – In certain Ethiopic languages, sarcasm and unreal phrases are indicated at the end of a sentence with a sarcasm mark called temherte slaqî or temherte slaq (U+00A1) ¡ , a character that looks like the inverted exclamation point.)

    Anyway, I get the confusion. Some of the comments on this site are almost that ludicrous .

    With that said – its always more fun when some people catch the satire and other people think you really are advocating eating children

    • Puritania

      Well in the first part the or could be referring to the thought of many that Lowe is pulling tambo’s strings.

      The second thing, well there have been some posters on here that actually have made comments like that and weren’t joking in the slightest.

      Third, I had never heard of that thing before. Good to know. Eliminates the confusion.

  • book¡e

    Stu is a Magnificent Bastard, but I would watch him carefully. If we look back at Oiler head scouts and indeed scouts across the league, they tend to have 2-3 really good years and then the wheels fall off. I suspect its a lot like bands or authors who never reach the level of their early material. Somehow head scouts are at their best early on, but they often keep their position for a period well past their short live prime.

  • A bust is a bust is a bust: It is a draftee that doesn’t make it to the NHL. This is a good definition since it IS called the NHL entry draft, not the ‘Half-decent AHL/ECHL utility player draft’. As LT notes, “…55% of the kids drafted never play a game [in the NHL].” This means 55% are a bust. This doesn’t mean they are bad human beings and should immediately be sacrificed on the Altar of 1000 Sadnesses to the demi-god Bazuul. The fact that the Oilers have cut ties with Hesketh added to the fact that he re-entered the draft and was not picked reinforces the idea that he is a definite bust.

    Don’t mix up a bad choice or a reach pick with a bust. Some good picks will bust.

    He’s a bust. Now, who’s going to make up the other 16 (ish) busts?

    EDIT: And the award for most gratuitous usage of the word ‘Bust’ in an OilersNation post goes too……

  • Quicksilver ballet

    With little or no credible competition to the NHL, this may be a good opportunity to return to drafting late 19 and 20yr olds. If 4 of 5 kids drafted never play an NHL game, there is a problem with this drafting process. Best of luck to Mr. Hesketh.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    There are going to be picks like this no matter who is doing the drafting. You can’t be afraid to strike out while swinging for the fences every now and then. We will still get at least 2 NHLers out of that draft and that’s not too bad.