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:
- 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.
- 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).