As a long time observer of the Edmonton Oilers at the draft table, it took me a few days to figure out what the club did last weekend. It was not business as usual for Stu MacGregor and his staff. What did they do? Does it make sense?

The success of the 2010 and 2011 entry drafts for the Oilers had a lot to do with reducing risk. MBS and the crew used Oiler picks inside the top 100 overall to extract consensus top 100 selections. We talked about that during the draft series, but let’s have another look using Bob McKenzie’s top 60 list (it is the industry standard).

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  • Taylor Hall selected #1 overall and #1 on the BM list (2010)
  • Tyler Pitlick selected #31 overall and #25 on the BM list (2010)
  • Martin Marincin selected #46 overall and #71 on the BM list (2010)
  • Curtis Hamilton selected #48 and #57 on the BM list (2010)
  • Ryan Martindale selected #61 and #58 on the BM list (2010)

Edmonton had one more selection in the top 100 (Jeremie Blain) and he was not on the McKenzie list. Very little risk at the top of this draft, although the Marincin selection (25 slot reach) does stand out.


  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins selected #1 overall and #1 on the BM list (2011)
  • Oscar Klefbom selected #19 overall and #21 on the BM list (2011)
  • David Musil selected #31 overall and #41 on the BM list (2011)
  • Samu Perhonen selected #62 overall and #51 on the BM list (2011)
  • Travis Ewanyk selected #74 overall and HM on BM list (#61-85, 2011)
  • Dillon Simpson selected #92 overall and HM on BM list (#61-85 2011)

Edmonton had 6 selections in the top 100, and all of them were list on McKenzie’s top 85 (top 60 and 25 honorable mentions). The Oilers took the risk out of the draft in 2011, taking the consensus list and ticking off names and needs with frequency.

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A year ago, before the 2011 draft I wrote "MBS is risk averse. His selections of Taylor Hall, Magnum PS and Jordan Eberle were all in the range of expectation, and he’s rarely gone outside the norm during the first 75 picks (Abney, Hesketh being examples). A list like Bob McKenzie’s is a very valuable tool for the organization that can get past it’s own ego and recognize that these are in fact the consensus best player’s available. In fact, if a player is rated highly and your scouts are telling you to stay away, wouldn’t you like a very good reason for it? Wouldn’t you hope that scout had a really good reason?

 With that as the backdrop, let’s have a look at this season’s top end selections.

  • Nail Yakupov selected #1 overall and #1 on BM’s list (2012)
  • Mitchell Moroz selected #32 overall and #56 on BM’s list (2012)
  • Jujhar Khaira selected #63 overall and not ranked on BM’s list (2012)
  • Daniil Zharkov selected #91 overall and #47 on BM’s list (2012)

The Moroz pick rivals the Marincin selection (which is turning out well btw) and Khaira is the highest ranking player in the three year period who didn’t get a rank (McKenzie didn’t do an HM this year).

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I think there is some evidence that the Oilers management instructions to the scouting staff skewed the traditional "best player available." We know this via several sources, including the GM.

  • Tambellini: "Once in a while you may make a trade to get some size that has the skill to play with your top six or nine—once in a while. But more often than not, nine out of 10, you have to draft these people and develop them.So that was a major goal of ours coming into this draft and we think we accomplished that."

The other thing I come back to–and I’ve looked for evidence believe me–is the unusual situation faced by Moroz with the Oil Kings. I don’t have access to TOI totals or shots on goal, but the anecdotal evidence I do have in regard to Moroz’ role on the Edmonton WHL team suggests he didn’t play a lot for a draft eligible ranked inside Bob McKenzie’s top 60.

From the Nation Radio episode this past Saturday:

  • Kent Simpson: "This guy played a lot of 4line, 3line minutes he was very effective, strong on the forecheck. He stands up for his teammates.He scored 20 goals, and a lot of them came on 3rd and 4th lines minutes. As the season wore on, his stock started to increase. I’m looking forward to what he’s going to do next season in the WHL."
  • Corey Graham: "He took some time to learn what he needed to do in order to earn more playing time. He’s a guy who can play pretty much anywhere in the lineup and he’s one of the more feared guys in the league."


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I don’t think there’s a lot of doubt that the Oilers (as mandated by Steve Tambellini) went after "need" in the second round. I think that’s a mistake in any draft year, especially at #32. However, as Jason Gregor told me on Nation Radio last Saturday Mitchell Moroz wasn’t going to get far into the 2nd round as he was likely the best of his player-type available to fill the need (Lukas Sutter was rated slightly higher). The Oilers liked him, "saw him good."

Is there part of the equation we’re missing with this player?

When we talk about prospects for the draft and discuss the "best player available" we focus on the boxcar numbers and the scouting reports–which focus on style. Why? We don’t have useful tools like time on ice and shots on goal, and those things would give us a much better view of these kids.

Did Mitchell Moroz score 16 goals as a WHL rookie playing 4th line minutes? I think there’s anecdotal evidence that he did, and that would give us greater context and allow us to see the player better. We don’t have that, and must conclude that the Moroz pick was a rare reach by this scouting staff. I do think there’s some hint here that we’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this player in 2012-13. If he scores 30 for the Oil Kings this year, we’ll have to have another look at the selection.

And can we work on getting CHL TOI numbers published? Shots on goal?

  • Lowetide

    They actually put someone on the moon, brought back rocks and everything.

    We don’t have TOI totals for the WHL, and that information would be helpful. Not just for the 2nd rd picks but for Yakupov as well. For instance, he scored a helluva lot in the OHL on an average team. If he did that without playing crazy minutes, that suggests an exceptional offensive player.

  • I saw a good dozen or so Oil Kings games, and I’d say I liked Moroz. He didn’t stand out a whole lot though, so it is indeed a risky pick. He also played several games on the 4th line with Curtis Lazar, who I can say is a phenomenal player (remember that name next year, when he is draft eligible). But, I’d say he’s a really big kid who can skate straight lines quite quick. He definitely has no fear of initiating contact, is a solid fighter, and can score goals from in close. Likely the only highlights you’ll see of him will involve fighting or hitting though.

    All in all, I don’t mind the risk at all. This draft class was really weak. It had quite a few good but not great defenseman, but beyond the odd good forward here and there, I’m not really sure there was a lot worth losing any sleep over. Of course, every draft has its gems, but they don’t reveal themselves right away.

    The Oil saw a need for a big power forward (gosh, we’ve seen that movie 100 times now) and decided to take a few stabs at drafting a big, skill forward. We’ve got some decent D prospects in our prospect pool, so I personally have no problem with this.

    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure the Oilers would have taken teammate Henrik Samuelsson if he were available at 32, but no such luck. Good player.

  • D

    The Oilers have total control of Moroz’s development, from age 17. They wouldn’t have total control of Lukas Sutter’s. or whomever else they might have drafted.

    MBS has show a bias for big defensemen. Matt Finn is about the size of Taylor Chorney. Reinhart was always in the conversation with Murray. Marincin, Gernat, Musil, Klefbom, Davidson, Bigos are all big and some of them huge.

    • Lowetide

      Went to a few, didn’t notice him much early on and then as the season wore on he became more of a factor.

      But even if you see every game TOI is a tough thing to estimate.

      • I am the Liquor

        For some reason I thought you were a Founder’s Club member?

        His TOI was very low. Typical fourth line minutes, maybe a little less. Very little if any PP time, no PK, doesnt leave a lot of time to score goals.

        I just dont think you get a good representation of a player by looking at numbers on a page. If you want to know about a player the best way to do it is to watch them play. Not always practical, and in those cases you either watch video and/or look at the stats page.

        Stats should be the last resort, not the first option. There are countless examples of anomalies in stats, particularly the “advanced” variety. That is why you see so much tinkering, ie rel corsi instead of plain corsi or adj rel corsi, etc, it goes on and on. If those numbers no longer support a preconceived bias, then find something else that does, like ONSV%.

        You get a much more accurate assessment by watching imo. And even that may not be accurate, depending on bias, and whatnot.

        For instance, I probably saw somewhere between 25-30 Oil King games this year. Now Im no expert and am certainly no professional scout, just a fan, but I think I have a pretty good handle on Moroz’ game. Much more than I would if I were to be looking at GF/60 and/or any other combination of statistics.

        Of course, that is just my opinion, man.

  • My biggest dissapointment was that there were no trades at the draft. With the additional picks this year and next I would have loved them to be aggressive and move up to get Samuelsson.

    That being said, they drafted for need and were really only off the board by much on the Moroz pick, which they have inside knowledge on, and can control his progress. Sounds like there is a good chance it is not as much of a reach as it seams to us.

    While BPA is great in theory, you cannot ice an entire team of featherweights without getting killed. If we drafted 6 guys under 6′ and under 185 lbs that were all drafted lower than where they were rated I would still be pissed. We have a very crowded top 6 that really only has an opening if They decide to keep everyone in current positions or trade Hemsky or someone else to bring in a Dman.

    That means the holes on our roster are not top 6 forwards. Do we really want to attempt to draft small 3rd and 4th liners? I hope not.

    I am surprised they did not take a flyer on one of the tall athletic goalies in the later rounds.

  • Lowetide

    But that’s the thing, though. I agree he didn’t have a lot of PP time, hell I don’t remember seeing him on there.

    BUT he scored FIVE of his 16 regular season goals on the PP, and then two of his four playoff goals were PP.

    Strange. 35% of his goals on the PP and there’s not a lot of info on him 5×4.

    How much DID he play on the PP? It would help.

  • wiseguy

    So if I said that they picked:

    #1 – Bob Mackenzie #1
    #32 – BM #47
    #63 – BM #56
    #91 – BM not ranked

    Does this make us all feel better that it wasn’t such a risky draft after all because in the first 3 rounds we’re within 15 of Bob Mac’s rankings? Same 4 picks, same four players, so does the order we draft them really matter?

    It’s all a matter of perspective.

  • wiseguy

    Is there another team with as much top end skill as the oilers (Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Yak, Gagner, and Hemskey – Omark and Paajarvi as Honorable mentions) ?

    Second to this, is there another NHL team with as many solid defensive prospects, as in ones that will likely play in the NHL, and play well (by last count I think there were eleven not including Feduin) ?

    So my question is, at what point does a team start drafting BPA that fits organizational need? Does this happen, or should we always be taking BPA every round of every draft? Our skill and our defensive prospects will see the Oilers set with those 2 positions potentially for years to come. So I like that now they’re drafting BPA based on need. So they drafted the best coke machine available, and next year I imagine they’ll take the best goalie available, or the best center available.

    Where I’m not happy is that our management seems to think we can only build a team through the draft and isn’t doing a very good job of trading or using free agency to fill in the needed pieces around what we’ve drafted. I know our players have little trade value, I hear that high end players don’t want to come to the city of Edmonton, but as a GM, Tambillini was hired to circumvent these factors. And if he can’t then why is the overpay option simply out of the question? Calgary just overpaid, and though it might not work out, at least they got one of the few bug name pieces available. Why do the Oilers have a no overpay policy when it comes to big names? We, apparently only overpay on gamble players that were crap on other teams but could turn it around here, instead of proven players that would be expected to be just as good here. Sometimes, ya gotta overpay, and sometimes you have to draft BPA for a specific need. And when you are doing those two things, that signals your team has gone from rebuild, to becoming a contender, because no team has ever won the cup solely through a draft (okay maybe Pittsburgh but we don’t have a Stall, a Fluery, a Letang, a Crosby, and a Malkin with our draft selections).

  • Lowetide

    Last year these same scouts had the confidence to sit on Gernat till the 5th round even though they said he was ranked in their top 35.They were able to do this because they knew he wasn’t on anyone elses radar.This year they had the confidence to make the Moroz pick early because they knew he was on other teams radar and would be gone if they waited.Personally I don’t think it is a big deal,Moroz is no more of a reach than Marcinin was.

    • Yah how big of a reach is it when you take a guy projected to go in the round you pick him in? They wanted Moroz.. he wouldn’t have been there next pick. I guess they could have tried to trade down for a later 2nd + another pick, if teams would have been willing to do so. But I don’t really see this as that big of a deal.

      But you can pretty much guarantee that we’ll hear about how the Oilers screwed up when one of the guys between #33 – 40 actually pans out 😛

  • RexLibris

    Hey LT,

    Those legs. My word.

    Back to the topic at hand: I was a proponent of drafting Galchenyuk, based on potential, size, skill and position. My argument was that this may be a year where the Oilers had the luxury of leaving some talent on the table, so to speak, in order to draft the player that would complete the roster (2nd line center).

    With that in mind, while the Moroz pick kind of ticked me off at first (I was pulling for Frk or Thrower) I can’t be too critical of their later round selections being decided apparently by the same method I suggested for the first overall.

    Once Samuelsson was off the menu I think Moroz was next in line. Henrik is more skilled and a far better pest than Moroz, and I would have traded a roster player for the pick to get him (yeah, I’m not a GM for a reason). But if you have to go home with someone, Moroz is a pretty nice consolation prize in that area.

    I am glad you mentioned the scouting staff getting their walking orders from management. From what I have read and heard about other organizations this is the rule of thumb for scouting groups.

    That being said, is it such a bad thing that in this somewhat shallow draft year the Oilers should switch focus slightly and target brawn over skill, zig when everyone was zagging?

    They have enough skill in the bank they can afford a day out at the racetrack, so to speak.

    By comparison, the Flames were gambling with their rent money in taking Jankowski.

  • oilersplumber

    LT……..where do you get those pics……??
    Nice work….Is there a measurement of the “quality” of the TOI ?…..when my sons were small they always had lots of TOI………but most of the time they would spend scanning the bleachers for mum and dad……….

  • I am the Liquor wrote:

    There are countless examples of anomalies in stats, particularly the “advanced” variety. That is why you see so much tinkering, ie rel corsi instead of plain corsi or adj rel corsi, etc, it goes on and on. If those numbers no longer support a preconceived bias, then find something else that does, like ONSV%.

    This is hogwash.

    The only reason for Relative Corsi is because it’s impossible to compare players across teams with regular Corsi. That was recognized as a problem with the method when it was first used – you’re comparing teammates to teammates. Quality of Competition numbers have the same problems, though to my knowledge there’s no easy way to fix them – the way there is with Corsi.

    Saying the stat is being created to support a preconceived notion is a blatant lie. It’s telling that you didn’t say what this preconceived notion supposedly is.

    • I am the Liquor

      The stat is being created because the evidence that the stat it is replacing and the info that was being extrapolated was easily proven to be nonsense.

      For example there was an adjustment to how Qualcomp was calculated because at one time, according to Qualcomp, Matt Cooke was tougher competition than Malkin. Which of course is nonsense.

      As far as “making up” stuff to support preconceived bias, who ever heard of ONSV% before the pocket protector crowd needed some reason to explain the awful +/- numbers that dogged their poster boy Shawn Horcoff?

      Their were people that would actually have you believe that for some reason the goalie would perform better/worse because of who was on the ice in front of them. Maybe, the poor ONSV% should be an indicator of how poor the player was performing defensively instead?

      Seems to make more sense to me.

      Btw, how many Oil Kings games did you see this year?

  • raceguy

    Not having TOI available is one of those glaring, odd omissions that I think the CHL could easily remedy. It might cost an extra scorekeeper, but it also might save fans from Schrempitis.

  • oilersplumber

    I agree with the sentiment that the Oil have some of the greatest offensive youth in the league. And everyone seems to agree that we lack sandpaper and that ‘pest’ quality that make 3rd and 4th lines so effective. What we don’t have consensus on is how to put get those latter qualities. We have tried for years to put together an effective 4th line and have failed miserably since those 15 games of Glencross. Is it such a terrible thing for management to go fishing in the draft for these player types? I don’t think so. The Moroz pick may appear to be a stretch based on overall skill set (which is how the draft lists are compiled) but he seems to be that intangible that we haven’t been able to secure through other means. Hopefully he pans out.

  • Good stuff LT.

    Can’t we just call this 2012 draft class weak? I mean, I have no sense of the potential of any of these players beyond #35 and I could tell you that there was little offense available after #15. I mean Tom Wilson went #16 and he might be the only other forward (not named Pov-Pov, Galchenyuk, Forsberg or Grigorenko) in the entire draft who could score 20 goals at the NHL level.

    After #20 it was a crapshoot and MBS took a shot at landing need. Did he leave some talent on the board? I guess so. At least, if you take MacKenzie’s list as Gospel, he did. And I’m not necessarily convinced MacKenzie’s list reveals the “most talented,” but rather, those players “most likely to be drafted” in the top 100, derived from his tips from scouting staff sources.

    Thus, LT, I think you had it right on your blog a couple days ago when you wrote: “this year could be Nail and little else.” And we shouldn’t be too surprised when it works out that way.

  • I am the Liquor

    The Moroz selection in the sense that the Oilers came out of the draft with Moroz is fine by me. Alot of people, I think Matheson pegged him first, had him as a player of interest for the Oilers. And why not, for obvious reasons they should have a better book on him and every other Oil King than pretty much any other team in league.

    So the hang up for me is less about the situation Moroz came from – meaning toi, linemates, situational play and so on – and all about the spot he was picked at.

    Who may have been still available and if it was the best use of the pick. To me this is where to focus on and here is the question I keep coming back to;

    Why if Moroz was a guy you really wanted, but #32 was by consensus too high to take him, wasn’t another 2nd round pick aquired?

    I admit that I have absolutely no use for Tambellini as a GM but with that confession aside this draft is supposed to have been at best a crap shoot and at worst one of the poorest draft classes in years. A scenario that should have been tailor made for a GM who was shopping for an additional pick when he was conviced a guy was worth taking.

    Add in that he has basically sat on his hands for the past 8 months and should be feeling the pressure of finally being on the clock to do something and the question just gets amplified even further.

    It is very vexing to me that this team was entering a scenario where it seemed they HAD to do more than just run through their picks and yet they did nothing, including better position where they took Moroz.

  • I am the Liquor

    “he didn’t play a lot for a draft eligible ranked inside Bob McKenzie’s top 60.”

    That’s the tell there is a lot more to the story. How often do Bob’s scouts flag 2nd rounders with one CHL season and a limited role in the first half?

    As his role expanded on a pennant winner a lot of scouts were keen to see more and the only team with intel on every last shift pre-empted.

    Would serve the haterz right if he goes the UFA* route and plays in Russia.

    * UFA as in the Russian host for the WJC. He’ll still be 2nd year and younger than most, but if he’s quick off the blocks he still could play himself into a role on Team Canada.

  • raceguy


    I am pretty sure they hang on to the info maybe download it when the game is over.Do a tally,get a handle on how much time a guy is playing.Pretty sure they wouldn’t go “oh look,so and so played 18 minutes tonight and then crumple it up and throw away on the way out of the rink.