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.



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.


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.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    If it weren’t for MBS, I’d have a sinking feeling about the direction Good Ship Oiler is going.

    EDIT: now if Montreal would only offer K Lowe the GM job

  • Stocc

    (I’m not good at staying in touch with my family–none of them were drafted)

    Loved this line.

    I like paying a little attention to the developing draft but would never take the time to research anything or give it too much thought. Reading stuff like this series, however, lets me occasionally sound like I know what I’m talking about when the topic comes up at work or amongst friends.

    I also like the odds of happening upon some photos of lovely young ladies that will help me forget how much I hate not seeing my team in the playoffs.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    “I well remember openly questioning the wisdom of picking someone named Titanic and damned if I wasn’t spot on”

    and that is why my cousin Hank Bust never played in the NHL.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    There is a good chance our pick this year won’t
    Crack the line Up next year. It pains me to say this but unless our GM can
    Fix the problems our team really needs we
    might be in lottery again next year.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    There is a good chance our pick this year won’t
    Crack the line next year. It pains me to say this but unless our GM can
    Fix the problems our team really needs we
    might be in the lottery again next year.

    • Bucknuck

      Mr Lowetide,

      You do realize that you said “effective GM”. Therein lies the problem with the Oilers. I will believe Tambellini is effective when the most exciting topic of conversation in April isn’t the upcoming draft. Hopefully he doesn’t get another chance.


  • Guy Lafleur

    I hope they draft another Red Deer Rebel Matt Dumba , the kid is a beast and you can be guarenteed that if anyone takes runs at Hll, Ebs or NUGE he wont pull an Eager and look the other way .he skates like the wind and can put the biscuit in the basket , sures hes not that big ..yet but when hes 22 he could be the OIL version of Wendel Clark!!

    • BigE91

      The idea of drafting a d-man is good, it’s the right move now as opposed to taking Grigorenko and hoping to offload a package for a top 2 d-man. Teams just don’t let those go they are so hard to come by.

      I would rather see them take Murray though, by most accounts he’s close to being NHL ready and would fit better in the timeline. Dumba could be good but he could also be the second coming of Marc-Andre Beregeron.

    • Lowetide

      Matt Dumba’s going to be the one needing protection in the NHL. The way he hits, he will fighting alot of battles.

      I think Wendel Clark is a bit of a reach. Him and Domi and Eddie Shore were possibly 3 of the toughest dudes to play the game. Look up the fight he had in the prsopects game where he got owned ny the french kid.

      • Lowetide

        Hits like Kronwall & has more skill & how often do you see Kronwall drop the gloves? He’ll have to carve his niche in the NHL at the beginning but his aggressive on the backend neutralizes a lot of skilled forwards! I would take Dumba!

        • Bucknuck

          The point was not that he could not be an effective defender, I was commenting that his physical game may not translate at the NHL level as effectively. Also the Wendel Clark comparible makes no sense on any level.

          Kronwall is a good comparible, you could even put in Phaneuf in that mix. Kronwall is protected in Detroit because if a guy goes after him, he turtles, they get a power-play and they make you pay. Maybe that could be the same here in Oil Country one day.

          The thing with Dumba everyone likes is hes all systems go, all game, every game. The negative is he gets worn down because hes small and plays big.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

    Thanks for this LT, happy Easter sir.

  • Zack

    I’m looking forward to your series LT! I too will be writing a few pieces on the draft that will hopefully be up at POTF in the next couple months. With this 2012 draft class there seems to be a lot of debate what the Oilers should do this year, this should make things quite entertaining.

  • Lexi


    Boy Buffalo had a hell of a run before that Titanic pick and they still made the finals in their fifth year. The picks right after Titantic were Darcy Rota, Rick Middleton and Ian Turnbull. No matter how much we complain here, there are only two truly cursed cities; Buffalo and of course Cleveland.

  • Gitagrip

    Lowetide, looking forward to your analysis and insights. In reality on average how many picks make the leap directly from the draft to the show annually, say over the last 20 years?

  • OilerLand

    I think grigorenko is the guy in this draft. His goals are right on par with hall, but his lower assists are a result of playing on a weaker hockey team than hall. Yakupov seems to me like he might end up as a bust with injuries and size concerns, as well as low improvement year over year. The oil would also be better off with a big c to help with depth up the middle.

    Alternatively, what are your thoughts on trading down with montreal if we get first or second. Montreal is looking for a sublime offensive talent, with goaltending locked up, and good defensive prospects on the way. Theres no way they give up nathan beaulieu or louis leblanc (mainly based on ethnicity as riots would reignite to separtist debate). The oilers could dangle omark and grigorenko/yakupov in an effort to pry away jarred tinordi and dumba/murray. Morgan ellis is also a possible target (On par with jeremy blaine). I would also look at brendan gallagher(though hes tiny).

    • Lexi

      I’m not seeing a lot in the Montreal system worth doing that trade for. Tinordi seems like no better prospect then Klefbom, Maracin or Gernet and Gallagher doesn’t seem any better prospect then someone like Reider.

      The one guy I’m wondering if the Oilers could get in this type of trade would be Lars Eller. Is he even worth thinking about?

  • Gitagrip

    If the Oilers pick 2nd I think they have to take Grigerenko, big strong skilled Centers don’t come up to often plus he is shoots right I believe?

    The question is if they draft Grigerenko do they trade Gagner for a top 4 dman, I used to be in favour of it and still would if the right deal came along, but depending on Gagners contract I wouldn’t be opposed to running those 3 centres on 3 scoring lines.

    If we get Schultz’s rights right after the season and sign him then I think it makes it a lot easier to draft Grigerenko.

    • My personal belief is giving a player with supposed “work ethic issues” in Junior the ultimate role (top-2 line job on a team desperate for wins) is a recipe for disaster. Besides, 3 scoring lines seems to be just fine, ergo Pittsburgh.

      I’m on Team Murray, but hopefully, Lowetide can illuminate us 🙂

  • OilerLand

    Over the years you have turned me into a draft nerd too. Thanks lowetide!! 🙂

    Love the draft, and I’m very excited these past few years that the oilers have been picking at the top.

    Personally, I am hoping for Murray, Forsberg, or Grigerenko. 3 different players but all very interesting to me.

    Look forward to the nerdy draft talk.

  • Bucknuck

    Holy crap, you’re from Maidstone!? That was the spot we always stopped on our frequent travels between Saskatoon and Edmonton decades ago. I especially liked a little place called Jean’s Oasis. It’s called something else now.

  • Dipstick

    If it comes down to Dumba vs. Murray, I have some questions. How much weight do we place on the following facts? Dumba shoots right, Murray left. Dumba is substantially younger than Murray. Even though Dumba is smaller, all of our top D prospects are quite tall.

  • Bucknuck

    @getagrip and lowetide

    Interesting question as to how many draftees make it first year.Too lazy to look up longer than last five years but the average was just over four.
    A total of 22.highest of five twice and lowest of two in 2007

  • We have enough D-prospects what we don’t have is secondary scoring, or a second line. If the Oilers manage to trade for and sign Shultz taking a D-man becomes irrelevant anyways.

    Having said that the cardinal rule is never pass on a big gifted Center.

    Also, Hemsky is only going to be here another year and a half, foresight say’s draft another talented forward to replace aging talented forward.

    -25 or so this year in +/- that needs to increase or same, same next year.

    we are 3/4 through building offence, not finnish the two lines would be just wrong.

    D-man are easier to obtain through trade and UFA, skilled center? not so much without a huge payment. again, why waste a high draft pick on something you can get elsewhere?

    just some pro’s vs con’s for ya.

    • Guy Lafleur

      The Oilers don’t have secondary scoring because the the defence sucks.
      The Oilers have more than enough forwards who can score but nobody who can move the puck quickly up out of the d-zone with a pass, or hit anyone with a pass in stride.

      Secondary scoring is more about the quality of the defence, particularly their puck movement skills, than the quality of the depth forwards.

  • i say we trade are next 3 first round picks and omark for the number 1 pick then draft Ryan Rupert and with the number 2 pick we draft his twin brother matt. There not exactly lighting up the O but it worked for vancouver right???

  • Guy Lafleur

    I still believe Nail would be the best guy for the oil. Even if they have to give something to the jackets. His interviews are great and the kid is built like a truck!

  • RexLibris

    Hey LT.

    You have another convert here. I was always more interested in the prospects than the players as a fan growing up. That only grew once I got into this interwebs fad.

    You’ve certainly fed this growing addiction and now I find myself going to junior games to watch only a handful of players and ignore the score. When I wind up on the streets selling my body for Oil Kings money I’ll have you to blame.

    Anyway, I’ve sort of taken the approach that between a group of three or four similarly aged players at a similar position that, barring serious circumstances, one out of that group should become a regular NHLer (200+ games, by your definition).

    This is the approach I’m taking with the Oiler’s prospects and while it has made me very optimistic about the defensive corps I am leery of their forward group, especially on the wing. There aren’t enough bodies there to insulate this rebuild against the normal attrition of prospects through the developmental process. Pitlick and Hamilton would both have to turn out well to provide the kind of depth we’ll need.

    I’ve also used this approach to try and convince Flames fans that it is unlikely that Ferland, Max Reinhart, Arnold, Baertschi, and Gaudreau will all turn into good NHL players a year or two from now. One probably, two maybe, but all of them…

    I have been thinking this draft the Oilers need to bolster the forward area of their prospect group. Grigorenko is intriguing and with the Oiler’s long-held lust for a big centre its hard to think of them passing on him. Dumba and Murray are, while very different, too close for me to call not having seen either live. And Alex Galchenyuk is just interesting enough to warrant some attention. Either way, I’ll put my trust in Stu MacGregor and pray that it all goes well.

    Oh, and what are your thoughts on the Oilers drafting Henrik Samuelsson? Does he last until the early second round? I just got back from watching him against the Wheat Kings (I’ve seen him a half-dozen times now) and he is a royal jerk to play against. I love that and think that his talents are exactly what this team needs for its future.

  • Lowetide

    Rex: I honestly haven’t looked at the draft beyond the early selections. Beginning this week, it’ll become a focus. I’ll ask Corey today about Samuelsson etc.