FINAL DRAFT OBSERVATIONS

Over these last few weeks I’ve enjoyed passing along some of my "secrets of a draft geek" insider information. Hope it wasn’t too boring, and as a final stanza here are a few observations from the weekend.

Nail Yakupov was the big prize at the top of the draft, and the lottery allowed Edmonton to take the skilled winger. They followed it up with two 2nd rd picks that went "in search of" big forwards who can both enforce and score enough to hang with the elite skill players once in awhile. The Oilers plucked their picks from the usual spots (OHL, WHL, BCJHL) for the teenagers and got their 20 year olds from the familiar haunts SEL and NCAA.

ELSEWHERE

Interesting thing I hadn’t seen before, the Vancouver Canucks being credited for advanced Moneyball techniques that other teams have not (to my knowledge) employed on a regular basis. Quoting the article:

  • Mike Gillis: “If you look at baseball, historically high schoolers never pan out. College kids almost always do. I apply a philosophy from the fourth round onward, that we’re going to select players who are going to go to big programs in the US and develop their skills at a pace that is much more easy to watch.”

The Oilers spent picks in round 4+ on three 20-year olds: an SEL defender, a puck moving defenseman from a big USA college and a big winger who may have turned an offensive corner this spring at Cornell. All three are playing at a fairly high level at age 20. Vancouver invested in prospects of a similar (although slightly younger) age who are exiting high school or tier 2 hockey and now entering NCAA hockey at good schools. It’ll be fun to watch this play out, I’m interested in seeing which investment is wiser. On the face of it I would think the Oilers have the better prospects—they are playing at a higher level—but we’ll see as this plays out. Vancouver has uncovered several prospect gems from unusual places in recent history.

Oilers fans were melting the Al Gore Saturday morning when Mitchell Moroz was taken 32nd overall.Jason Gregor mentioned on Nation Radio Saturday that there were several teams lining up for Moroz and he was destined to go during the second round. I would love to know the reasons behind Edmonton passing on Lukas Sutter, who was the next man up in this family of players.

From the group of players we sometimes call coke machines–Milan Lucic types who server as both enforcer and offensive help on a skill line–I did a little digging into where the big PF coke machines were going. They came off the board earlier than projected, as often happens:

  • #16 Tom Wilson
  • #27 Henrik Samuelsson
  • #32 Mitchell Moroz
  • #39 Lukas Sutter

Bob McKenzie had those players ranked:

  • #18 Tom Wilson
  • #36 Henrik Samuelsson
  • #52 Lukas Sutter
  • #56 Mitchell Moroz

One first rounder and three second rounders according to BM, it ended up being 2 and 2. I don’t think there’s much doubt Moroz performance in the post season improved his final draft number. If Moroz gets playing time with Curtis Lazar in 12-13, his goal total (16 a year ago) should improve greatly.

OOO, THAT KEN HOLLAND!

  • When Detroit took Martin Frk at #49 I winced. That’s a helluva pick.
  • Hampus Lindholm going #6 overall tells us once again that we never really know everything (as fans) about the Euro kids before the draft.
  • I wondered why Filip Forsberg was ranked so high, and as it turned out some NHL teams clearly hadn’t ranked him #3 overall. The league he plays in–below SEL—and his goal total probably had something to do with it.
  • Buffalo got Grigorenko at #12. Ridiculous. The stuff that was reported about him was out of this world. I hope he has a huge year, finishing 2nd in the Calder voting to Nail Yakupov.
  • Best draft moment: #1 pick Yakupov.
  • Worst draft moment: #27 Samuelsson to PHX.
  • Most exciting draft moment: The Pittsburgh-Carolina trade. Great drama, right up there with the famous baseball winter meetings deal (McGriff plus plus from Toronto to San Diego for Alomar plus plus) that saw Peter Gammons almost hyperventilate on camera.
  • Montreal and Toronto both had excellent drafts. Dammit.
  • There was a player named Linus Ullmark taken. Probably not related.
  • I always choose a "player to follow"–someone outside the mainstream lists and usually a forward. This year it was Francis Beauvillier and he went #174 to Florida.
  • Lots of cool names this year, but nothing close to Christopher From Bjork who was eligible but passed over a few years ago.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

For Oiler fans, the first chance to see the newest crop is this week. Beginning Wednesday the top prospects camp gets underway (special bonus points if you can tell me some of the former Oiler prospects who have worn the # given to Nail Yakupov) and fans get their first glimpse of the latest phenom.

For NHL scouts it’ll soon be back to work. The Ivan Hlinka goes in August. Opening day comes very soon.

  • If I were organizing the pitch for Schultz, this is how I would do it:

    1) Fly out to Toronto in Darryl Katz’s jet to see him in the flesh. Darryl, Steve, Kevin and my choice of player to bring is Taylor Hall.

    2) Schultz has already thought long and hard about where he wants to go. So this is it! Go hard and leave nothing on the table.

    3) I chose Hall because he’s been there and can speak well of the opportunity in Edmonton. He can also say it with a little energy, get Justin excited. It is an exciting time in Edmonton! We need somebody to help make Justin believe it. This team on the verge of something special and we have an opportunity to play a significant role in this journey.

    4) The advantage for Edmonton is that we offer a unique experience that none of the other contenders can offer. Being a part of a team on the rise to greatness. Kevin Lowe can atest to how satisfying the 1st Cup was after building this Oilers dynasty from the beginning. You own this victory because you were there when it all started.

    5) The Canucks, Rangers and Leafs have pressure to perform next year, all in relative context. He may not get a fair opportunity to earn a top 4 Dman position right away. May not be a rewarding experience having to sit on the bench while the Canucks play for the Cup. They have to win now with core group well in their 30’s. They cannot wait for a 22 year old to round into form. And even if Justin did, it would put pressure for the team to trade away a top 4 to create room for him. Not always a comfortable situation.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I want to take this a little further off track. The best hockey nick name is former Kamloops and UofA player Stacey Wakabayashi-Stacy Walking right by me. At least its my fave.