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.