A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER?

Long-time observers of the Edmonton Oilers at the draft table know the club has a tendency to go "walkabout" during the second and third rounds of the draft. Recent comments by the GM perhaps give hope that the club will go in a new direction for picks 31-100.

THE 2009 DRAFT

An excellent example of the Oilers "walkabout" at the draft table occurred in 2009. The club ended up with four players from Bob McKenzie’s final list but went about it in unusual fashion. Here’s how it actually went down:

2009 Oilers draft

  • Magnus Paajarvi selected #10 overall, ranked #10 (attended combine)
  • Anton Lander selected #40 overall, ranked HM (attended combine)
  • Troy Hesketh selected #71 overall, unranked
  • Cameron Abney selected #82 overall, unranked
  • Kyle Bigos selected #99 overall, unranked
  • Toni Rajala selected #101 overall, ranked #50 (attended combine)
  • Olivier Roy selected #133 overall, ranked HM (attended combine)

The Oilers have done this in the past (although 2010 had 5 BM names and 2011’s list boasted 6), basically setting aside their list after round one or two and spending the "middle" selections on a very specific need–in the case of 2009, a tall tree blueliner, an enforcer of some repute, and a massive defender who could block out the sun.

If the Oilers had drafted (in order) Paajarvi, Rajala, Lander and Roy in their first four selections would the value of the player be more in line with the pick’s value? Certainly. However, the fact that players like Rajala and Roy were available long after their projection suggests the Oilers weren’t the only ones cheating for size over skill in 2009.

The question is: does that kind of drafting model produce results?

THROUGH THE PAST, DARKLY

Stu MacGregor’s 2009 draft resembles several from the KP era, but I’ve chosen 2003’s edition to compare. I am using Redline Report’s draft rankings in this instance (McKenzie had Pouliot #13 ranked, but his list didn’t go past round one in 2003).

2003 Oilers draft

  • Marc Pouliot: selected #22 overall, ranked #40
  • Colin McDonald: selected #51 overall, ranked #57
  • JF Jacques: selected #68 overall, not ranked in top 100
  • Michal Joukov: selected #72 overall, ranked #62
  • Zack Stortini: selected #94overall
  • Kalle Olsson: selected #147 overall
  • David Rohlfs: selected #154 overall
  • Dragan Umicevic: selected #184 overall
  • Kyle Brodziak: selected 214th overall
  • Mathieu Roy: selected #215 overall
  • Josef Hrabal: selected #248 overall
  • Troy Bodie: selected #278 overall

There are a couple of examples in this draft (using Redline’s numbers) of Prendergast and his scouting staff going draft walkabout:

  1. Selecting JF Jacques late in the 2nd round and passing over higher ranked eligibles. Jacques was ranked #118 by Redline, which would have put him squarely in the 4th round.
  2. Selecting Zack Stortini #94 overall, ahead of higher ranked (by Redline) prospects. Stortini was #194 on the Redline list, and the Oilers would go on to select Kyle Brodziak (#185) more than 100 picks later.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

In a recent article, Jonathan Willis quoted Oiler director of scouting Stu MacGregor on his new boss:

  • "Every GM sees things a little bit differently, and he works a little bit from a coaching standpoint in that guys have to be able to think, players have to be able to figure out what the coach is showing and teaching."

There’s always a danger in reading too much into these quotes; then again, I don’t recall reading many articles on the "hockey sense" of what I’m calling the "walkabout" group. 

A change in the weather? We wait.

(OKC Barons photos courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

    • Lowetide

      There are two NHL players from that draft–one is Brodziak who the Oilers gave up for some depth draft picks; the other is Colin McDonald, who took forever to make it but I’m glad he did anyway.

  • Spydyr

    Calgary and Columbus could easily move up in the draft if they choose to.

    Edmonton could move up also.

    If I were guessing with only 1 pick per team

    Col- Jones

    Florida- MacKinnon

    TB- Drouin

    Nash- Barkov

    Carolina- Monahan

    Calgary- Lindholm

    Edmonton – Nichushkin

    • DSF

      I can see Calgary trading their pick and Pittsburgh’s to Nashville for a chance to take Barkov.

      Also, I think it’s highly likely that the Panthers take Drouin since they have a lot of young centres in their system.

      • RexLibris

        Agree on Drouin to Florida. Huberdeau with Drouin is a nice pairing, and they have some depth down the middle.

        As for Calgary trading up to take Barkov, with what assets do they convince Nashville to trade down? Feaster likes to gamble but has thus far been reticent to deal away any of Backlund, Baertschi or Brodie. Those three aside there really isn’t enough there to likely entice Nashville. Adding a 21st overall pick to a deal that sees Barkov go the other way just doesn’t seem like something Poile is likely to do.

          • RexLibris

            Why would Poile do that? It would be exchanging a franchise center for two lesser lights. On a team with a perennial need for offense, and affordable talent at that, I just don’t see why it would be in their best interest.

            From Poile’s perspective, take that 4th overall and select Barkov (or maybe even MacKinnon if he falls), then deal Weber for Voracek, Couturier, a 1st round pick, and perhaps a 2nd rounder with some playoff contingencies built into the deal.

            Those moves taken in concert with the acquisition of Forsberg and a half-decent young defensive group in front of a good goaltender and I think the fans in Nashville would forgive the departure of Weber.

          • DSF

            It would depend on how large Poile thinks the gap between Barkov and Monahan/Lindholm is.

            Corey Pronman thinks there is a significant drop after #5 but not all scouts agree.

          • RexLibris

            Baertschi is a promising young winger, but Backlund is a heck of a developing depth center with great possession numbers and Brodie is a very good young defenseman.

            If I had to pick one straight off of their roster for the Oilers it would be a toss-up between Backlund and Brodie.

            Like I said, I don’t see why Poile would do the deal, but the argument does require one to list the best Flames’ assets and those three are pretty much it with the debatable exception of Giordano.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        If the Panthers take Drouin, is it assured that Yzerman will take MacKinnon having Stamkos and an untradable Lecavalier locked up?

        I could see them taking the Russian power forward. Nashville then has the option of Barkov and Mackinnon. Calgary can deal with Carolina or hope they go for the Dman they need.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    So, LT has the keys to the Palatial Oilersnation studious this weekend eh?

    How bout we throw a party and trash Wanyes place this weekend LT. We’ll be certain to make sure you have a good alibi. Any of that #14 Jordan Eberle Birthday ice cream cake left in Wanyes freezer?

    Ice cream cake and Budlight lime a good combo?

  • DSF

    If Monahan is gone the oilers should take Horvat..

    He is built along the same lines as Barkov just shorter by 2 inchs.

    Has decent speed but like Barkov will need to work on agility.

    In the game against Saskatoon won almost all his face-offs

    Made a nice steal and setup a goal and later drew a penalty which gave them the winner.

    He is a rising prospect who will solidify his position at this tournament

    • RexLibris

      That might be a trade-back option.

      I wonder if the Oilers are looking at how to position themselves to somehow be able to take both someone like Horvat and perhaps Zadorov?

      One $20 for two $10s?

  • @RexLibris

    I don’t think all GM’s are aware of draft probabilities like many Oiler fans are, including our own talking trade down (hopefully not).

    A GM that is aware and can find a colleague that isn’t can make some hay. Getting into the top 5 has a very high chance of producing a very good NHL player, especially this year.

    I hope MacT is trying. To get one of the elite centres for the 7th and even both 2nds to me would be a no brainer given the Oilers woes at centre.

    Defensive centres with limited offense aren’t the ones hard to get, or expensive. Sign that player especially given they pretty much are always vets.

    Offense comes gifted, defense through experience. The Oilers need experience in that role given the age of the core. They shouldn’t be looking to draft that help, look how quickly Lander is coming along, same type of player. Draft the high end skill.

    • RexLibris

      I was asked by someone over at FN the other day whether I thought the Oilers should trade #7 for immediate help.

      My response was a clear no.

      They need a center, badly. If anything they need to trade up. All the winds are blowing against that possibility, but last year the organization said everything they could about drafting Ryan Murray, and we all know how that went.

      No, I’d like them to get Monahan, and trading places with Carolina is just about the only way I can see it happening.

      On another Nations thread I’d proposed something like exchanging picks, adding Hemsky, and maybe another body, and then switching 2nd round picks as well as one way of approaching it.

      Long story short, I agree on drafting high-end skill, especially with size and (apparently) some character.

      • RexLibris

        I agree entirely with drafting Monahan. I’m opposed to trading first rounders. If we keep drafting first round talent I believe we can keep a good stable of high end prospects so that we can be competitive for many years.

        I would use a combination of gagner, paajarvi, hemsky, the seconds,, musil, etc to address our centre and d positions.

      • I’m with you Rex, trade up not back.

        Although, I think I value Barkov a little more then Monahan, I really do think there is a deal there with Nashville or Carolina.

        I would seriously consider moving Hemsky, Paajarvi, Gernat, Oilers second, to move into 4 or 5.

        Buying down some of Hemsky salary.

        I would also like to see the Oilers go after Horvat as well, I do recall talking to you earlier about Horvat.

        I mentioned him a lot on ON and the wait and see him at the MEM cup, he sure looks good.

        • RexLibris

          I don’t think you need to offer that much to move up from 7 to 5.

          Hemsky, Musil and a 2nd round pick is as high as I go. It gives them a pick, a player and a prospect for the advantage of moving up two spots to 5th in a draft that is considered 4 deep.

          Personally, I’d start Rutherford at Hemsky (50% salary retained) and the 7th with a corresponding swap of 2nds and maybe one of either Plante or Teubert.

          From Rutherford’s perspective he may still get the prospect he wants, as well as an NHL ready player he’s seen firsthand, and a depth blueliner for a potential playoff push or to cover injuries.

          If we keep saying that Hemsky isn’t worth more than a 2nd round pick, and that moving up two spots at the draft is roughly equivalent to relinquishing a 2nd rounder as compensation, then the math would seem to equal out. Add in the fact that, if Carolina is out of it at the trade deadline they’d have an attractive UFA asset to dangle for more picks and prospects and I think there is a deal there somewhere. Besides, Rutherford signed Semin to that massive contract, so it isn’t as though we’re dealing with the second coming of Al Arbour here.

          • RexLibris

            You trade to #5 only if Barkov is available , however Carolina would want him too. Or

            You might trade up to have the choice between Monahan or Lindholm, however if i’m Carolina and Edmonton makes an offer I go to Calgary and try for a bidding war

          • DSF

            Yeah, Calgary has an awful lot more bullets than the Oilers with those 3 first round picks.

            I can see them being very aggressive maybe trading someone like Cammalleri to Carolina.

          • RexLibris

            I can’t see any of those players you mention being attractive for Rutherford. I do agree that it wouldn’t take a bunch to move up in comparison to moving from say number 5 to 3 but it would still have a high cost with the potential of Barkov or Drouin slipping. The number 7, a second rounder and one of your top def prospects may get it done. Hemsky, Plante and Teubert aren’t really incentive to give up a potential franchise player even if Carolina believes they can get their guy at 7 imo.

          • DSF

            I’m not sure if moving up two spots is worth anything ( let alone proven players and picks) unless the player involved is ” exactly what you need”!

            If the move up get you the player you covet, then it’s probably worth taking the chance. If Brakov is that player……..fine make the trade. The real question that needs asking, is Barkov that much of an improvement over Monahan?

            If our scouting department can make the case, then I’m sure MacT has his strategy in place……….I still on the fence as to how good Magnificient Stu really is? Anyone can draft first overall…….real good scouting departments produce in the second and third rounds.

          • RexLibris

            I’ll give some time to MacGregor, but if Frank Musil recommends the player then I’d definitely lend an ear.

            Agreed on the depth drafting. It isn’t the worst in the league, but the next two seasons determine a lot for the Oilers’ bottom six (do they save money by promoting depth from within, or lose it by hunting it on the open market?).

          • RexLibris

            Hemsky’s value to Rutherford is that he is an established NHL player.

            But yes, Paajarvi and Hartikainen are perhaps a little more interesting for Carolina because they have potential.

            There’d be a lot of risk in either case.

            The alternative option is the Oilers try to trade back, picking up two picks to try and hope to end up with Zadorov and Horvat.

            Or, you know, they could just pick at #7. *sigh*

  • horndog77

    The oilers need to trade up and scoop what ever center they feel would be best for them. They have picks and players to do it, and in doing so maybe they can burn the flames. By the way that’s a nice pearl necklace.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    we’ll see in 43 days just how “impatient” MacT really is. i have a hunch he will be doing his best to give the Oilers a much needed makeover at the draft.

  • Lowetide

    Should be a dandy prospect at number seven – so retain it ! Mess with the others if they want , and even try to get another first rounder if possible . They have done it before – even though results not so favorable . Not like we need a whole bunch more prospects at this stage .

  • PutzStew

    Love the map LT.

    The Whole league has had ample opportunity to grab Hemsky and no one has. Any trade involving the Oilers moving up, will not involve Hemsky.

    The biggest Question I have is, if Drourin, Barkov, Mackinnon and Jones are all gone when Calgary Picks, but Monahan and Lindholm are both on the board, why would Calgary chose Lindholm over Monahan?

    PS Because they are idiots isn’t a real answer.

  • PutzStew

    Read this at another blog certainly is an interesting thought.

    Trade Oilers #7 pick if Valeri Nichushkin is available to Philly for
    Sean Couturier

    Philly still has the 11th pick and could get a good dman (Zadorov) or center (Horvat, Gauthier)

  • Per bob Mackenzie on one of his draft shows be mentioned lindholm playing and with forsberg. I wonder if that gets used by Nashville in determining if lindholm and forsberg will have continued chemistry. Maybe a possibility barkov doesn’t go at 4.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I would not be surprised to see a couple drop from the top 4 that was once considered a lock. Guys like Nurse, Zadorov and Routselainen are big, mobile and have mean streaks. Each one could be anchoring a blue line for 12-15 years. Monohan is big and talented and proved this year that he can put up numbers even without help. Lindholme has an unbelievable motor, great vision and a tremendous compete level. This is going to be one interesting draft.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I do believe all teams not involved in the Playoffs are free to conduct business now. There’s nothing that prevents them from improving their team the day after their seasons over.

      MacTavish certainly appears to be just another puppet, much like Tambellini was.

  • 719

    With the Islanders suess this year and a move to the Barclays center I would think a move with the Islanders is expected.The Oilers want to get bigger up the middle. That is obvious.Do they do it this summer or do they wait 2 more years. Is it possible to imagine a trade that sees Gagner move to the Islanders in exchange for Griffin Rheinhart and their number 1 pick? The Islaanders need secondary scoring. Tavares is a horse up the middle.They will be looking to improve immediately this summer before they move into a division with the Pens next season. Moving Gagner makes sense in that it opens up that middle spot for a veteran center with some size.I like Sam. But his face off perentage is never going to be above 46%.His defensive game is average.He ranks only behind Kane in his draft class in terms of points and that makes him a very valuable trade commodity.

    I like Gauthier also in terms of a big center.If Monohan is gone I take the big Russian Zadorov. Never have enough quality dmen in the system.

    • DSF

      Good grief.

      You really think that Gagner will get you Reinhart AND a first round pick?

      And, BTW….

      Couture .72PPG

      Voracek .62 PPG

      Gagner .62PPG

      Pacioretty .62PPG

      Considering Gagner is an unsigned RFA likely looking for big dollars, you would be hard pressed to get even a low first round pick never mind a very good young player on top of that.

  • DSF

    If your the Islanders. A 16 th pick overall and a defenseman that you were willing to trade along with every one of their other picks last year for Ryan Murray. If the rumors were true. You really think that they value that more than a proven .62 ppg player? DSF set aside your Gagner hate for a minute and look at where the Islanderes are in their development vs the Oilers. They need secondary scoring. Their lineup needs support players.Guys who can give Tavares a little help. You don’t think Gagner can play that role? Do you really believe we can win with Gagner in the middle on the second line with RNH as our primary center? If Gagner played wing perhaps.But the Oilers need a little more size than what Gagner can bring on the wing.His skill set is more suited to center.I think you’ll see Gagner moved this summer to make room for a bigger center.

    • DSF

      Last year was considered a very weak draft and the Isles wanted one player. This year’s draft is considered extremely deep and the Isles did not offer that pick. Trading a defensemen who played on our World Junior team and a 1st rounder for a small center with some of the worst possession stats in the NHL would not happen. I do like Gagner and would want him on my team as a 2-3 center any day though. Would you want the Oilers to trade Klefbom and let’s say Max Domi who may go around there for Gagner?

    • DSF

      Well, if the Islanders are looking for secondary scoring (which is questionable) why would they look for another centre?

      John Tavares

      Frans Nielsen

      Josh Bailey

      Casey Cizikas

      Keith Aucoin

      Ryan Strome

      Anders Lee

      Considering the Islanders finished 7th in the league in GF/G and 21st in GA/G I would think their priorities are likely on the defensive side of things.

      The problem with trading Gagner is you have to find a team that needs a second line centre since Gagner is ill suited to playing a 3rd line role.

      How many teams out there don’t already have a second line centre equal to or better than Gagner?

      It’s a pretty short list.

  • horndog77

    I like all the talk about Edmonton getting bigger guys, but I think all teams in the nhl want these players. The smaller less physical players are not as desireable so the trade value would be less. I have a hard time believing that Hemsky could realistically fetch more than a earlier second rounder and the same could be said for Gagner. I think we over value these players because we are oiler fans

  • RexLibris

    Here are the possibilties as I see it

    Colorado- Jones

    Florida – Drouin/ MacKinnon

    TB- Drouin/ MacKinnon

    Nash- Barkov/ Lindholm – most likely Barkov

    Car – Nichushkin, Monahan Lindholm Nurse, Zadorov

    Cal- Nichushkin, Monahan Lindholm

    Nashville if they wanted Lindholm they could possibly trade down 1 spot.
    Carolina – Might trade down if they want a D man
    Calgary could move up 3 first round picks