Rear Window

Miles and miles from the lottery, Edmonton’s NHL team is drafting good hockey players. That is rarely enough, as we all know that 99% of life’s success comes from following through.

A good way to gauge a team’s draft success is by counting the number of kids who are developed the old fashioned way: the minors. Seeing a #1 overall pick turn out is great fun, but also expected; even a pick like Sam Gagner should deliver a quality NHL player.

It’s the "following through" that makes the difference: taking talented kids and grinding them into useful role players for the National Hockey League. Those men–the tough defensemen, the two way centers, the physical wingers–are extremely valuable to an NHL team.

BENCH STRENGTH

During the twelve year period leading up to the OKC Barons taking to the ice, Oiler fans saw a lot of fits and starts from the club’s AHL prospects. Here’s a list of Oilers picks and minor league free agents who began their pro careers in the AHL and were good enough to play a game (or more) for the Oilers:

  1. R Georges Laraque 695 games
  2. C Shawn Horcoff 684 games
  3. L Jason Chimera 581 games
  4. C Jarret Stoll 515 games
  5. R Fernando Pisani 462 games
  6. D Marc Andre Bergeron 422 games
  7. D Matt Greene 379 games
  8. D Tom Gilbert 337 games
  9. C Kyle Brodziak 337 games
  10. R Brad Winchester 323 games
  11. R Zack Stortini 256 games
  12. D Alexei Semenov 211 games
  13. G Ty Conklin 200 games
  14. C Marc Pouliot 179 games
  15. L JF Jacques 160 games
  16. C Rob Schremp 114 games
  17. L Patrick Thoresen 106 games
  18. D Theo Peckham 102 games
  19. L Liam Reddox 100 games
  20. L Tony Salmelainen 70 games
  21. R Jani Rita 66 games
  22. D Mathieu Roy 65 games
  23. D Danny Syvret 59 games
  24. G Jeff Deslauriers 58 games
  25. D Taylor Chorney 56 games
  26. G Devan Dubnyk 54 games
  27. D Ales Pisa 53 games
  28. C Tim Sestito 46 games
  29. G Mike Morrison 29 games
  30. D Bryan Young 17 games
  31. C Mike Bishai 14 games
  32. L Michel Riesen 12 games
  33. C Peter Sarno 7 games
  34. D Alex Plante 7 games
  35. D Chris Hajt 6 games
  36. D Doug Lynch 2 games
  37. L Alexei Mikhnov 2 games
  38. R Colin McDonald 2 games
  39. G Mike Minard 1 game
  40. D Johan Motin 1 game

Guys like Tom Poti, Mike Comrie, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner didn’t play in the AHL and Sebastien Bisaillon played all of his NHL games before he played in the AHL. I didn’t count those players.

Results

  1. Over those 12 seasons, the Oilers developed about 1 player per year if we assume an NHL player graduates at 200 games.
  2. The Oilers also have several players "on track" to pass 200 games. I’d count Pouliot, Jacques, Schremp and Peckham as "on track" players.
  3. I think we should agree a lower total seems fair for goaltenders. Let’s say 125 games for goalers. That would mean that Dubnyk is "on track" as well.
  4. Total: 13 players at 200 games or more and another 5 "on track" for the 12 seasons. That works out to 1.5 actual NHL players per season.

HARD NOSE THE HIGHWAY

The Oilers under Steve Tambellini have made an effort to employ AHL veterans who can help bring the prospects along. This might include facing tough opposition until the kids find their way, scoring enough goals for the team to be confident and competitive, and serving a mentor role as the boys transition into their pro careers. It’s a very important job, one that may have helped Pouliot, McDonald, Jacques, Schremp and others in the last decade.

OKC (so far)

  1. R Linus Omark 51 games
  2. D Jeff Petry 35 games
  3. L Teemu Hartikainen 12 games
  4. C Chris VandeVelde 12 games

Guys like Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle didn’t play in the AHL, and I’ve included Petry in this group because this was his first full pro season. I don’t know that we can project any of these kids for 200 NHL games, but they certainly showed some things in year one. There’s some outstanding talent among those four names. Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton and others may soon join the list.

That’s a helluva first season.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I agree. Not trying to be negative, but at this point there are a lot of SM picks that are showing promise and hopefully will develop but not much more than that. We will know much more in 3 years.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Agreed, what does he have to his credit to date….just Eberle so far excluding the lottery selections?

      The jury’s still out on Harsky,Lander,Paajarvi and Omark etc.

      • Lowetide

        Well yes and no. The jury’s still out on Lander and Hartikainen, but Paajarvi is trending very well. Steve Kelly was a 6th overall pick, he never posted a season in the NHL like the one Paajarvi just ripped off at 19.

        Omark was drafted in the KP era.

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

          By almost any measure, Paajarvi had a disappointing season for a 10th overall pick.

          His P/60 were well south of the rookie crop of 10/11, his plus/minus was near the bottom of the barrel, his shooting percentage trailed at least one rookie defenseman, his 5v4 P/60 was a little better but hardly in the same area code as the top rookies and he was 399th in the NHL for hits per 60 by a forward.

          Comparing him to a complete bust like Steve Kelly might pump his tires somewhat, but why not compare him to top 10 draft choices who actaully ‘ripped off a season at 19″.

          Hold off on the coronation.

          • Mike Modano's Dog

            Let me guess, this is either Robbie Schremp looking for a job or Kevin Prendergast.

            Someone just listed you the last 10 years of #10 overall picks, and you gloss over that fact (perhaps you didn’t read it) while focusing on other meaningless stats instead.

            “By any measure Paajarvi had a disappointing season for a 10th overall pick” Really? If you’re looking at the sport of hockey he is doing really well as a 10th overall pick. We just saw the last 10 years of them and he is looking VERY GOOD for his draft position.

            Players tend to not be as good in their rookie season as later on in their careers. I thought I’d point out that trend. He finished in the top 15 in the whole league for rookies, many of whom are older than him. His -15 on a team as bad as the Oilers, not being given the most definsive linemates, is very reasonable, I think. There were a lot of Oilers this year in that same position. Defensively he is actually quite good – especially for a 19 year old. He works really hard at it, and anyone can tell he busts his butt coming back in his own zone. How many 10th overall choices can you say that about?

            If you’re just wanting to treat him (a mistake) as just a player and ignore the fact he was 19, and a rookie, you could do that. His points rank him 178th in the league, which would make him the 6th best forward on an NHL team, averaging it out (you divide by 30, as you like to say), and his goals have him 167th best, which would average out to the 5th best forward on NHL teams. Not bad for his first year.

            You’re really stuck on the fact he didn’t seem to hit very much. Might that be because he’s not a hitter?

            I’m just wondering if you’re hiding behind statistics instead of just saying you don’t like him? If that’s the case, just say it then. He was top-10 in the league as a rookie in games played, shots and more importantly, goals. So he got a lot of experience, and thrived in the end.

            Oh, and you’re right, LT perhaps shouldn’t have compared him to Steve Kelly – Steve Kelly was drafted 4 spots before him. The reason I believe it was a good point, however, is that the point he was trying to make is that recent draft choices have been quite good so far. Comparing them to others, including Steve Kelly, drafted in an earlier era by different men were not as successful. You’re saying the opposite doesn’t make it true.

            “Let the coronation begin!”

          • book¡e

            Mike – DSF basically spends his time making quasi-rational or irrational arguments to try and goat people into debating him. He then intensely engages for the whole thread. Keep that in mind when you read (or skip over) his posts.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            the DSF handbook basically amounts to:

            1) throw out random post re:horcoff,schremp,gagner,mact

            2) have BS called

            3) ignore those posts

            4) throw out more random stuff

            5) have that BS called

            6) ignore those posts too

          • billylikestodrinksoda

            what do you mean by almost any measure? By a statisical analysis of a guy who got 3rd line minutes with minimal powerplay time on a last place team? Not exactly the definition of a good “measure”

            00 mikhail yakubov
            01 dan blackburn
            02 eric nystrom
            03 andrei kostitsyn
            04 boris valabik
            05 luc bourdon
            06 michael frolik
            07 keaton ellerby
            08 cody hodgson
            09 the man himself
            10 dylan mcIlrath

            the tenth overall pick the past 10 years excluding this year. Now, call me crazy but I am gonna throw stats away for a sec and use common sense. Obviously he could blow up and be a bust but looking at that list, there are few people who wouldnt take paajarvi as their first choice in the 10 spot at the moment

          • justDOit

            I’m with you on that, bigroberto. MPS had to adjust to the small ice, to a new home (and continent), and had to play on one of the worst last-place teams in decades. If you can’t see the glint on that un-cut diamond, you might want to adjust your spectacles.

            And complaining that he’s 399th in the league in hits is hilarious! You were counting on him to be a bruiser, DSF?

          • Lowetide

            The other thing is that the NHL tracks hits in a poor manner. Complete homer rinks boost totals and other rinks appear to pay little attention. I don’t trust that stat.

            At all.

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

            LT, you know as well as I do that over an 82 game season played by 30 teams that that hits stat will be smoothed.

            We can say with certainty that Magnus is one of the softer players in the league.

          • justDOit

            I guess big numbers like 82 games X 30 teams confuse you. Unless you have some evidence that the Oilers’ team scorers are less likely to hand out hit stats.

            Which, of course, you don’t so your comments are totally irrelevant.

            And, if you’re basing his “production” as a tenth overall pick on his rookie season…he’s clearly been sub par.

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

            The comment is completly relavant.

            LT says he doesn’t trust hit totals… Thiers no way to prove it either way, but if guys play 41 games in an arena that has lower standards for hits their numbers will be higher then those that play in arenas with tougher standards.

            Pretty simple.

            And I don’t know what kind of non-sense you are trying to push with your last sentence. A quick look at past 10th overall picks shows he’s doing quite well for himself.

            I do however agree he’s got a long way to go before he proves he’ll have a solid NHL career.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          I guess it’s a little unfair to need a scorecard on Stu so soon. We should know by his 8 or 9th yr in that position if he needs to be run outta town.

          The clock is ticking Stuart.

  • RexLibris

    Good point LT. As I’ve said before, I’ve argued this point, drafting well in the mid-rounds being as important as nailing the 1st round picks, with fans of other teams.

    Just a side note: Did anyone else when they heard about the Weber arbritation settlement feel sorry for the Predators? When I heard it I felt like I was back in the 90s, with good young talent developing and getting pooched by a mediator before having to trade said talent away because we couldn’t afford him. I don’t suppose Nashville can do much except accept and try to trade near the deadline for a king’s ransom.

    If I were a Predators fan I’d want to try and trade Weber to the Oil for some forwards, but I don’t see Tambellini wanting to take on that much salary.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I think Nashville did this to themselves. If the stories are true that they offered $4.75 I’d be majorly PO’d if I was Weber. Weber will be the 5th highest paid defenseman next year, and anyway you slice he is one of the 5th best defensemen in the league. Other teams have their guy at a lower cap hit, but in Nashville’s case the full cap hit helps them. They look top be in a very similar boat to the Oilers back in the 90’s – on the cusp of putting things together, but unable to keep their best players because of salary let alone add the little extra pieces that are missing.

      At least Weber is an RFA next year again – it’ll be interesting to see if Suter and Weber get dealt…which makes the Fransen trade make even less sense – I think that will come back to haunt them.

  • Ender

    At first I wasn’t sure I agreed with the premise that goalies should be ‘on-track’ with that many fewer games in the NHL than skaters. If anything, I mused, I would think the typical goalie should have a longer playing career than a skater. That could mean a higher threshold of games played, not lower.

    What’s the rationale? I guess it’s this: if a goalie puts in 50 starts a season for 2.5 seasons, they’re at least a 1A/1B goalie on that team. If they can hold that spot for that length of time, then I can see how that puts them on par with the skater that plays 80 games per season over the same span.

    • Lowetide

      Ender: Yeah. A complete season for a skater is 82 games, but goaltenders rarely play 70. So, I think 50 or so might be considered a complete season and settled on 125 as the line in the sand.

    • Jodes

      Drafting Properly is the first step.. Or do you not recall how the Oilers drafted for most of the 90s and early 00’s?

      The ship definately corrected itself with Stu “The Magnificent B*st*rd” MacGregor being the head scout!