When it comes to the NHL entry draft, I’m kind of a super nova nerd. If you have dozens of hours to waste in the next three months, please click through and I’ll give you a tried and true guide to following the NHL draft.
When I was a single man, the NHL draft was an obsession that needed to stay private. The ladies weren’t impressed with my "Sam Pollock took Bob Gainey despite his lack of offense at #8 overall–do you know how confident you have to be in order to make that pick and how incredible it was that things worked out?" so all those anecdotes remained unsaid.
Once married, I found my wife liked me enough to endure stories from the drafts past and present, which is only fair since I listen to her stuff about shoes, drapes, mahjong, her relatives, my relatives (I’m not good at staying in touch with my family–none of them were drafted), I thought those old timey draft thoughts and future ones too would remain "in the family" due to lack of interest.
Once Al Gore invented the internet I found there were nerds everywhere! DRAFT nerds! Holy moly! I think of us as the anti-storm chasers in that nothing happens but there’s a whirlwind of activity in our minds. I can’t tell you how much cooler it is now to be a draft nerd–I still don’t think the ladies dig it but at least we can bring our own private obsession into the clear light of day.
There are now SEVERAL draft publications and many publish during the year. Long ago, the Hockey News was the only game in town and I well remember reading it cover to cover (with my Mom and Dad yelling from the next room "it’s a beautiful summer day, stop reading about hockey and go outside" and then I’d take the HN outside and read it there) and thinking about the draft. When the actual draft issue of HN arrived (I had a standing order at Rexall drugs, Maidstone Saskatchewan–paid for it with money earned delivering the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix which also had excellent coverage) it was like Christmas day.
THE NERD’S GUIDE TO THE NHL DRAFT PART ONE
This is Morris Titanic. He was the first round draft pick for the Buffalo Sabres in 1973. The Sabres had been to the draft three times previously, selecting Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Jim Schoenfeld with previous first rounders. That’s a brilliant run, but I well remember openly questioning the wisdom of picking someone named Titanic and damned if I wasn’t spot on.
The first thing to remember about the draft is that some of the kids we’re going to hear about over the next few weeks will be Perreaults but most will be Titanics. It is the nature of the beast–there are 690 jobs available (or so) each season the NHL laces them up, and by the time this year’s draft is 100 selections old the scouts will have nailed down all or most of the truly exceptional talent available. Now, it doesn’t mean that someone won’t grow three inches over a summer, or that power skating instructor’s can’t turn a slow Coke Machine into Milan Lucic, but it does mean that once Edmonton picks their first three names expectations should be lowered.
I’m starting the series now because it is important to begin the process of getting familiar with the names at this point in time. On Monday, the Central Scouting Bureau will release their final rankings. Although the actual order of the draft will in no way resemble the list, it’s a strong guide and most importantly gives us an idea about the European goalies and skaters. We’ll spend much of the spring getting to know those names as well as we now know Yakupov, Grigorenko, Forsberg and Murray. tsn will have it posted sometime Monday morning, it’s a good read if only to find the big wingers, the small forwards and the unusual names (anyone remember pre-draft discussion of Christopher From Bjork a few years ago?).
On Tuesday, the draft lottery will tell us where Edmonton picks in the first round. Their final slotting is still up in the air (28th or 29th) and the slotting is very important. Here are the chanes of winning the lottery based on final slotting:
30th – 25.0%
29th – 18.8%
28th – 14.2%
27th – 10.7%
26th – 8.1%
25th – 6.2%
24th – 4.7%
23rd – 3.6%
We don’t know where Edmonton will draft, but it is safe to say that one of Yakupov, Grigorenko, Forsberg or Murray will be available when they head to the podium.
After that, the big item to pay attention to is the NHL combine list. Don’t worry, I’ll post it here for you because it’s a very important item for Oiler fans. In the last two drafts, Edmonton’s list has pretty much come from the 100 or so invites.
- 2010 (7): Tyler Bunz, Brandon Davidson, Taylor Hall, Curtis Hamilton, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Tyler Pitlick.
- 2011 (6): Travis Ewanyk, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Samu Perhonen, Tobias Rieder
An average number for selection would be 3 (30 teams, 100 players) or 4 if you’re draft as high as Edmonton. In point of fact, 13 of the 20 selections (65%) in 2010 and 2011 combined attended the NHL combine. The Oilers themselves are very informative about the combine on their website and that’s another exceptional source of info for Oiler fans who pay close attention to the draft each spring. The Oilers top 5 selections in 2010 and 2011–10 players total–all came from the NHL draft combine.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
For many Oiler fans, the end of another disappointing regular season is a painful thing. For draft fans like me, a new door opens and the opportunity to watch Stu MacGregor and his staff add more quality and depth to the organization beckons.
I hope you join us. A lot of the Oilers future will be added at this year’s draft. The club may trade up or down or trade the lottery pick entirely, but whoever runs the club come draft day it’ll be an exciting time.
Part 2: NHL equivalencies and Oiler draft trends in the MBS era.