GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Although they are no longer "Oilers" the Nation recalls those young men who were once the great hope for the future. Where did Robbie end up? Jani? Jesse? And what about Traktor Boy?

Every NHL team has a long list of misses along with the hits. We know what Ales Hemsky is up to, Sam Gagner too and of course Ryan Smyth’s career track since 1994 is famous. What about those lesser lights?

  • Rob Schremp: Had a very nice season for MoDo of the Swedish Elite League (55, 19-22-41) and will play for Dynamo Riga of the KHL next year. I bet he finds his way back to the NHL someday.
  • JF Jacques: Signed with Florida today after spending most of this past season in the AHL (6, 0-0-0 in the NHL with Anaheim 11-12). With the NHL teams now looking to mirror LAK’s size on their wings, Jacques may be in vogue again could get a shot with the Panthers.
  • Marc Pouliot: Recovered his career a little with 13 regular season games with the Coyotes and another 8 in the playoffs, and signed after the season with HC Bienne of the Swiss League. I expect he’ll also find his way back to the NHL later on.
  • Zack Stortini: Slugging it out in the AHL in 11-12, Stortini’s size is a positive as the NHL trends toward the bigger bodies but his footspeed is as always a concern. I wonder if the Oilers might have some interest?
  • Colin McDonald: Has enjoyed two strong AHL seasons in a row now and got into a few games for the Penguins in 11-12. Signed with the Islanders over the weekend and I would guess he has a nice opportunity there. He signed a two-way deal but NYI is exactly the kind of organization that always needs depth and he could be an early callup.
  • Linus Omark: The Oilers qualified him, implying there was something possibly on the line, enough for them to retain his rights. But we’re well into free agent season and he’s still here. Omark wants to play in the NHL but that might mean a season or two in Europe or walking on as a TC invite. Daniel Cleary made it work (DET) so it can be done. 
  • Geoff Paukovich: The coke machine-Lucic rising picks last weekend reminded me of the Paukovich selection. He’s got a pretty sweet ride, playing pro hockey in Vegas. Lotta gambling, lotta women, lotta churches. Probably a coincidence.
  • Jani Rita: Has carved out a pretty solid career in his homeland, once romping through the SM-Liiga with 32 goals. He’s settled in as a good contributor but has had injury issues (30+ hockey players all do).
  • Alexei Mikhnov: Traktor Boy has been a regular in the KHL for a long time now. Too slow for the NHL, his play in the KHL suggests a 3rd line winger.

LOOKING BACK SUCKS

Not really, not when your scouting staff makes successful 1st round selections. In a ten year run from 1995, the Oilers took Steve Kelly, Boyd Devereaux, Mathieu Descoteaux, Michel Riesen, Michael Henrich, Jani Rita, Alexei Mikhnov, Ales Hemsky, Jesse Niinimaki, Marc Pouliot, Devan Dubnyk and Rob Schremp in the first round. That’s not enough, not close.

Since then, the Oilers took Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi before the #1 overalls begain arriving. Magnus Paajarvi–the supposed weak link in the MBS first round record book–has already played more NHL games than all of those 1st rd picks 1995-2004 save Hemsky, Devereaux, Pouliot and Kelly. He’ll no doubt pass all but Hemsky and Devereaux this coming season.

Jordan Eberle is better than all but Hemsky and has an excellent chance of passing 83 someday.  

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers aren’t going to be drafting first overall for a long long time (lord willing and the creek don’t rise). Stu MacGregor and his staff have proven they can draft outside the lottery and delivery quality in the first round. A sobering reminder of the good old days is available any time by waltzing through Oilers draft history the moment after Ryan Smyth’s selection through the end of the lockout.

Better times are ahead, and the draft is a major reason.

  • Reg Dunlop

    WOWOWOW J.S. picked the Oilers, if anyone has not heard. Lets all just thank KP for his wonderful drafting because they set the Oil up for multiple first overall picks and we all know what those multiple picks are now leading to…

    • Lowetide

      LOL. That was funny, well done. I’ll always remember the summer he went to power skating school in Regina (Liane Davis) and how he made progress but never went back (or at least not long enough).

      And about the same time Kyle Brodziak–whose skating was also an issue–worked like a dog to improve.

      Hard work pays off.

    • EasyOil

      Based on last season, yes Eberle is ahead of Hemsky on the overall depth chart, no argument there. But Eberle has a loooooong way to go before he reaches Hemsky’s overall contribution to the team. People don’t seem to realise that Hemsky is one of the few skill players in the league, let alone the team, who puts up points (last year excepted) whilst playing the toughest competition.

      Eberle destroyed the softs last year, but I doubt if he’d survive the toughs – yet, that is. He will eventually I’m sure.

      Point is, Hemsky learnt (under MacT) how to become a REALLY good hockey player. He is massively underappreciated from that point of view. We’ll have to see how Eberle pans out after more than just 2 years in the league before declaring him mightier than Hemsky. This year could have been an outlier (his shooting % was very high)and he could go back to ~50 points or so. Unlikely, and I’m sure he will continue his meteoric rise, but lets temper our expectations and come back to this conversation in 5 or 6 years as to who’s better.

  • Lowetide

    So with Schremp it really was just a matter of effort? It hurts to watch that. To think he could have had a career if he’d simply kept on with the power skating training.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I’m not president of J.F. Jacques fan club. But with the teams beefing up. Would not the Oilers better with someone like Jacques over Hordichuk. Toughness is only so good if a guy can play more than 2 minutes a game. The Hordichuk signing was a complete waste of a roster spot. Jacques can at least skate and forecheck, and play 6 minutes a nite and score 5 goals a yeat. Darcy had one good game last year. I sure hope the Oil augment their line up some quality role players.

      • BigE91

        even injury prone he played and produced 5 times more then Hordichuk. Oiler fans forget the guys still a good forechecker, led the team in hits and was a willing combantant. He’s a coke machine.

        My point was more that we need a bigger bottom 6 with guys who can play. It does not need to be Jacques. I refered to him cause he was mentioned by Lowetide in the artical.

  • Reg Dunlop

    The 10 year run of draft futility from ’95 is surpassed by the stretch between Tikkanen and Arnott. Wow there were some duds in there. Goes to show that hockey and beer go together while hockey and daiquiris don’t.

  • BigE91

    Hordichuk had an interesting interview on the Jason Gregor Show, basically said he spent last season in shackles from the coaching staff. Jacques had a chance to play from the first to the fourth line and couldn’t find his niche. Hordichuk is a player who knows his role and how to play it if you let him.

  • BigE91

    LT . Lets not worry what we did 10-15 years ago . The picks have been bad but that was then and this is now .Your correct re most of those picks but when i think of the past it was going to the finals 7 times with 5 wins . How we did it was up to the men in charge. As a ticket holder before and after getting in the NHL I feel like I saw it all . The Good , the Bad & The Ugly . Thank God we are back to the Good .Nice to know where those players ended up but frankly I don’t care. We still need a top 4 “D” and i can live with the forwards ( Even though I would trade Jones & Eager ) . We need to keep pressure on Tambellini & company .

  • BigE91

    This can’t be right:

    “Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere’s shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Nation Radio on Team 1260 in Edmonton.”

    Maybe “over a century” was supposed to be “over a decade”?

    • Wax Man Riley

      Didn’t he sign in NY?

      He also hasn’t played in the west since his days with the rebels. My guess is he wanted to stay in the east. Would have been a good option.

      Did you hear the Hordichuk interview? He seems to know his role, and he says he runs through most of the guys his size, so he has to take on guys 20-30lbs, and 3 inches taller, a la Parros. He alluded that he was handcuffed last year by the coach too.

      We don’t need him to score or fight. We need him to throw a dirty hit on Heatly when Clutterbuck starts to take liberties.

      • MessyEH!

        I have to agree. We need dirty grit in the bottom 3. You run our stars and we’ll take liberties with yours. Eager, hordi, Sutton and Peckham could fulfill the requirement for grit. Cheap shots to take care of the other teams pests. Katz could give them a little incentive. $$$

  • OIL4LIFE

    I think it’s fair to assume that Eager was in shackles too. Yes he battled injuries early on and never seemed to get on track, but you could sense he was holding back.

    There are very few guys in the NHL who are 240 and skate like the wind…….he could be a very effective player if he is free to be physical. In addition if he embraces this physical role, with his skating, he should be able to rotate through the lines as needed.

  • OIL4LIFE

    @ Hags9k

    I could be wrong but i dont thinks so if you look at the end of the season last year, Ebs and Nuge did play against the toughs. Nuge stalled out like he hit a brick wall, but Ebs kept clicking along. Not saying he has done more for the team over all than Hemsky. But in my mind he is the clear # one Right wing.

    But then again some fans amaze me with all the Halls a god, Nuge is the best player ever, Nail will be better than Bure, oh and then we have tha Eberle guy too. Makes me laugh.

    • EasyOil

      Oh yeah, not disagreeing that Eberle is improving all the time and at this point is the no.1 RW on the depth chart (if you go by the traditional 1-4 lines), and I have no doubt that he’ll be at minimum taking on the 2nd toughs, but probably eventually the 1st toughs much like Hemsky.

      I wouldn’t say the fanbase consider Eberle as an afterthought, but there is a reason for a small iota of doubt: percentages. Whilst I don’t agree with those that believe he’ll regress significantly due to him having abnormally high percentages this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a small drop, but this should largely be balanced out by his increased experience and generally getting better as a player.

      The reason Hall gets much love is the way he drives play in the right direction consistently, so is a darling of the advanced stats crowd (I consider myself a tweener, not a math guy but not a “only guys who hit are good hockey players” guy – I see merit in using both math and conventional “scouting” together). Nuge is loved for his PP impact (although the PP was largely %’s driven, so might well drop off) and his wide range of skills. Yak is loved because his junior stats are off the charts, better than Hall’s in many areas. Eberle is loved for the ice running through his veins, his WJC heroics, his stupidly accurate shot, for being well-rounded, for being so far the best scorer of the bunch despite being a lower draft pick.

  • paul wodehouse

    Its the MM show …nice photos BUT…the lead picture (4me) made me wanna throw up …THE worst ILL FITTING garment i have EVER seen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    on any human being … I would have looked better in that two piece Frock… monumental fail on the edit process of that image… still was her though and thanks for the cruise down memory lane… the 50`s were really only sixty years ago … and not even three quarters into the century you`ve been doing this … well done LT …

  • OIL4LIFE

    #26 EasyOil

    Thanks for the reply. I had thought the thread might die. I get the reason for loving the others in the fab 4. It just gets me that most people don’t know or care that Hall,Ebs,Nuge all had 106 points in their draft year.”They are all gods” lol Having been a vested fan in Eberle from before we drafted him, I can say with great Confidence he has always played at a level where you wait for the drop. Six years later no drop. lol
    I for one will just keep cheering my ass off for him, and hope the bandwagon runs all others over. 🙂

  • BK

    I’m a fan of MBS, ALTHOUGH, what isn’t stated in this article is the Gagner draft (2007) they could have had Jakub Vorecek, Logan Couture, Brandon Sutter, Ryan McDonagh, Lars Eller, Kevin Shattenkirk, Mikael Backlund, or Max Pacioretty.

    IN FACT WE ALSO DRAFTED Alex Plante and Riley Nash in the top 21, so pick any 3 out of those names, we could have had instead!

    Almost ANY combination would have been better! NOT such a great first round perhaps.