Mr. Mojo Risin’

Wouldn’t it be great if NHL phenom’s names formed anagrams that spelled "future Gretzky" or "lock for a Hart" or something that gave us a clue about their future? Well, they don’t, and the fact is that all kinds of things can get in their way. An organization building for a better tomorrow is well advised to procure talent in large bunches. For the Edmonton Oilers–under the leadership of Stu MacGregor–mission accomplished.

The Edmonton Oilers have drafted 32 players (in 28 rounds) since Stu MacGregor took over as the scouting director. Of that group, only one has flamed out and many (most) are on track as legit prospects. Lots of them will fall away, mostly due to peaking out below NHL level and injury. It happens to every draft year, and even players who make their mark in the NHL have injury issues (Hemsky, Horcoff, Whitney being recent examples).

Injuries are a massive concern for any hockey player, and a young player can quickly see things go sideways (hello, Mr Pouliot and good day Mr. Lynch). Even a ridiculous talent like Eric Lindros could not overcome the injury bug and his career (despite being HOF calibre).

  • Lottery picks (2): Taylor Hall, RNH
  • Tracking ahead of draft number (5): Jordan Eberle, Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Bunz.
  • On track (21): Magnus Paajarvi, Cameron Abney, Kyle Bigos, Toni Rajala, Olivier Roy, Tyler Pitlick,Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Jeremie Blain, Brandon Davidson, Drew Czerwonka, Kristians Pelss, Kellen Jones, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Dillon Simpson, Tobias Reider, Martin Gernat, Frans Tuohimmaa
  • Behind the curve (3):Johan Motin, Phil Cornet, Jordan Bendfeld
  • Fail (1): Troy Hesketh.

Your list may vary, but no matter how you shuffle it that’s an enormous number of kids still on track or better. Three players behind the curve and one fail. NONE of the kids who are draft misses were selected near the top of the draft.

The interesting thing is to break it down by draft year

  • 2008: Eberle and Hartikainen both tracking ahead of their draft number, while Motin, Cornet and Bendfeld are falling off the pace. The success of this draft year is likely down to Eberle and Hartikainen, with a good chance those two talented forwards cover the bet.
  • 2009: Paajarvi is on track for a 10th overall pick and I think Lander is tracking ahead of his number. The other members of that draft year (Abney, Bigos, Rajala, Roy) are on track save for Hesketh, a player the organization has set free. This draft year is coming into view now.
  • 2010: The draft I think we’ll look back on for a long, long time. Hall is a 1st overall selection and is the franchise player, Hamilton and Bunz (by my count) are ahead of the game and all of Pitlick, Marincin, Martindale, Blain, Davidson, Czerwonka, Pelss and Jones covering the bet. Now, it’s extremely likely that one or two of these guys will fall away, as has happened with Motin, Cornet and Bendfeld in the last season. I’d guess that Kellen Jones and Pelss fall away but they haven’t done it yet. It’s a strong draft and is holding steady. 

We can see glimpses of the future in a tournament like the one that just ended, but there are also concrete results to follow. For instance, since Stu MacGregor took over as director of the scouting department, the Oilers have graduated some incredible talents. What’s more, there are 2nd and 3rd and 5th rounders looking to establish themselves. Just looking at this fall’s training camp, it’s easy to see the impact these drafts have already had on the roster:

  • Possess NHL jobs (3): Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi
  • Vying for NHL jobs (3): RNH, Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander,

That doesn’t include young men like Curtis Hamilton, Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick and David Musil. Those men are tracking well and could push for jobs as early as next season. During the 7 seasons of the Kevin Prendergast era, the Oilers (so far) graduated 10 men who are or look like they’ll be NHL regulars: Ales Hemsky, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Kyle Brodziak, Devan Dubnyk, Andrew Cogliano, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Sam Gagner and Linus Omark. That’s not a complete list, some may establish themselves in the NHL over the next several years and some I’ve listed could fade.

In the four years since MBS took over, the Oilers have graduated Eberle, MP and Hall with a large contingent just behind. MBS has enjoyed higher selections but he’s also found gems like Eberle deep in the first round.

This season will be a major one for the current Oilers scouting staff. That 2010 draft has so many prospects whose arrows are still pointing in the right direction, but the past suggests at least a couple will fall off the rails. Even with that, the 2010 draft is tracking very, very well. Bunz, Marincin, Hamilton and Pitlick look like strong prospects and others like Davidson and Blain are tracking well too.

This was a good week for the amateur scouting department.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    This year’s class didn’t have quite as much star power as last year’s aside from RNH, but I think some key members of our future played in this tournament. Lander, Pitlick, Marincin and even guys like Martindale, Blain and Davidson could all be big factors in whether or not we accomplish our goals in the future.

  • Lowetide

    Bunz was the key guy for me. I think he’s going to have a strong season (barring injury) and we’ll be talking about him alongside Marincin, Hamilton and Pitlick from 2010.

  • OutDoorRink

    There is a problem with this analysis: some of the stu picks are nhl players and others are higher on the depth chart, but this on a 30th place team. It would be more impressive if the new draftees were pushing out players on top teams. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about the bright future for the Oil. I’m just saying this analysis has a problem…

    And: Mom; stop looming behind and reading my typing … haven’t you got better things to do?

    • Lowetide

      I believe the three kids who have made the team would have made stronger clubs too. Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi were very good rookies. Would they have made the St. Louis Blues roster? Interesting question.

      • Little Buttcheeks

        That uncertainty is my point. I think they are good players. With regard to the draft performancependergast era and for some time earlier, the lack of a well-managed farm system (remember, those years with no ahl team!) is a big factor. The solid use of the Oklahoma City team sole by the Oilers is important.

        It would be interesting to compare nhl teams with regard to their farm systems these days. It is a big area of potential investment that is somewhat outside the cap. It there a relationship with nhl team performance? There sure was with the Montreal Canadiens of old.

  • Woogie

    I think you also have to consider Prendergast didn’t have as much in the department to help progress his draft picks like MBS does.

    Sharing an affiliate AHL team. Less player development coaches. etc.

    Our new money bags owner can spend as much as he wants on development of players, unlike our past ownership group.

  • Woogie

    Props to MBS for making these picks, but also how much credit do you have to give to the developmental support that’s now in place (ie: actual farm teams, Mike Sillinger etc.) for allowing these kids to stay on track?

  • Little Buttcheeks

    With respect to Stu’s record at the draft, I don’t count Hall or RNH because even a blind monkey could have found those bananas, but I think his real value is in finding guys past the second round who, finally, can be said to be real potential NHL prospects.

    • Little Buttcheeks

      I think that your assuming too much when you state “a blind monkey could have found these bananas”. Remember Parick Stefan? Alexandre Daigle? Picking first or top 5 dosen’t gaurantee you anything. It only gives you an opportunity to pick earlier. The Oilers took Eberle,Plante and whats his puss who we traded for Marincin. Of the 3 first round picks only Eberle has made it to the NHL. SMB record is a work in progress. Be patient when your throwing out the blind monkey analogies. They may come back to bite you in the butt.

      • I’m not saying picking #1 overall is a “guaranteed-can’t miss-absolutely sure thing-never fail” proposition: I’m just saying in both those draft years, almost every major prospect rating service, commentator, scout and executive had those guys at the top of their lists. Those particular players were no brainers. Stu’s real worth is in finding the guys after the second round who have high levels of compete and untapped potential.

    • RexLibris

      I tend to agree in that first overall’s can be a little tougher to actually blow. After all, even Feaster managed to pick right when he drafted Stamkos first overall. That being said, had it been KP at the draft table in 2010 or last June I’d have been scared silly he’d trade down for some unheralded Finn.

      When I defend the Oilers’ position to fans of other teams (they usually say something like the Oilers shouldn’t be rewarded for intentionally sucking for so many years) I say that the excitement here is only in part because of the 1st overalls, but that a large part is due to the depth picks like Omark, Lander, Marincin, Pitlick, Musil and so on. So in that regard I agree that MBS’ legacy in Edmonton as a scout will rest largely on what he does in the rounds 3 through 7 rather than the first two. It’s that drafting depth that fans, especially Flames fans, seem to fail to recognize when they criticize our team.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I thought Philip Cornet had a pretty good youngsters tournament. I definitely noticed him in both of his games moreso then a few others. 23 points in the AHL as a rookie is not that bad.

    My opinion, but I wouldn’t say he’s behind the curve for a 5th round pick. He’s got good size and his foot speed looked okay.

  • OutDoorRink

    I have to say Pitlick really impressed me the most aside from the obvious Lander and Marancin. He absolutaly ripped it over the shoulder of the Lamers Netminder.

  • Woogie

    Maybe none from this years version will make this years club . Although i believe Musil , Landers , Hopkins and Bunz will be better than most of them to begin with . They have to knock off Teubert , Chorney and Petry just to begin with on defence . At forward position will be even tougher . I estimate only about a 40% chance any of them will . Many showed they are close , but i doubt they are going to play horseshoes with the draftees this year . I’d like to see it , but i doubt Tams is leaning that way even though it’s doubtfull the lineup they will go in with , will finish any better than if he went with 5 new youngsters .

  • John Chambers

    I’m very happy with Tavares’ contract. This sets a great precedent for Hall.

    If ST has a brain he’ll try to lock Hall up on a similar deal next summer, and give us a full year of easy breathing.

    • John Chambers

      Yeah sure John, but Tyler Myers had a minus season and is also getting $5.5 million bucks. What happens when Eberle and Paajarvi both pot 30 goals next year? Are we going to have to pay all of them over $5 mil? Them Nugent the same the following year? I foresee chaos ensuing.

      • John Chambers

        What’s the problem, Chambers? $16.5 million for 3 top-6 forwards? Add in Hemsky and Nugent at those dollars and I’m pretty sure you’re okay.

        As long as we can avoid the Lecavalier-type contract, have Dubnyk and Bunz as our young, cost-effective duo in net, and Musil, Marincin, and Petry on affordable contracts we’re going to be golden.

        I for one am amazed that Charles Wang didn’t want to sign Tavares through 2030 at a cap hit of $9M, and Oiler fans should be ecstatic about it.

  • Craig1981

    I enjoyed the artical but I think you may be over optimistic. Pitlick has not turned out as great as we hoped and IMO has been past by the other 2nd rounders. Rajala has fallen off (I have always cheared for him) and pelss was unable to crack the KHL squad he tried out for. I think MBS has gone a great job but I think several others are below the curve (as any team could expect)

    • Peterborough

      Pitlick is comming off an injury, so I think thats unfair to judge him this early. Rajala was a 4th rounder and a bit of a gamble, but that’s where you gamble, high risk high reward usually doesn’t pan out. Pelss was a 7th rounder dude and was a total project when taken, you expect guys like that not to turn out. Things a worrysome when the 1s and 2s flash out early.

      up brother its still early and all of those kids have lots of time to turn it around.

  • DJ Dynasty Handbag

    “Wouldn’t it be great if NHL phenom’s names formed anagrams that spelled “future Gretzky” or “lock for a Hart” or something that gave us a clue about their future?”

    Jaromir (jagr) = Mario JR.

  • I even think Stu McGregor in the Klondike era would have succesfully panned for gold where others failed!

    But I do agree with most posts its looking late round 2 and onwards to see the true value and the huge difference it makes for NHL teams to get contributions to their NHL roster from those picks.

    so the likes of Tony Rajala, Temmu Hartikannen, Martindale, Hamilton, Lander – getting a stud out of this group and having the others simply being contributers is when McGregor gets the front car of the next Cup parade in Edmonton.

    Biggest credit to date for me…. saving some face of the 2007 draft when Oilers had the fortune of three picks but coming home with one small centreman (Gagner)and two duds Plante and Nash. McGregor recommending flipping Nash for a pick resulting in Marcinin. BEAUTY!

  • OutDoorRink

    Stu’s doing great. So many players that are excited about playing for the Oilers. We don’t have to look outwards anymore. The cupboards are full. A new arena and we’d really be cookin.

  • K-UGER Industrial Smoothing


    Without even reading this article already its the best one you’ve written. Great title and intro. Love the Doors, and everything Jim Morrison represented.

    • Lowetide

      Me too, love the Doors. I looked high and low for an old timey photo of him, think there are about two on the internet of Morrison before the hair grew long.

      bassistheplace: That’s Grace Kelly. Beautiful.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    That Jaromir = Jagr JR thing blew my mind.

    Did you guys see When You’re Strange? Val Kilmer nailed Jim Morrison.

    EDIT: MARIO jr that is…