The Edmonton Oilers continue to build their team via the draft, and increasingly those draft picks are coming from the OHL. How drastic has the change in philosophy been? Pronounced.


During the first two entry drafts with Stu MacGregor as scouting director, NHL teams selected 91 kids from the OHL (out of 422), representing 21.56% of the overall draft pool. That number towers over all other leagues, Canadian and elsewhere. The Oilers in those two seasons selected 12 players, none from the Ontario League–which by the way is generally regarded as the best amateur league on the planet.

Since 2010–and this coincided with the #1 trio of selections for the Oilers–we’ve gotten a much different draft map from Mr. MacGregor and his group:

  • 2010 NHL draft–Oilers select 11, 2 from the OHL (210 players selected in 2010).
  • 2011 NHL draft–Oilers select 9, 1 from the OHL (211 players selected in 2011).
  • 2012 NHL draft–Oilers select 11, 2 from the OHL (211 players selected in 2012)
  • 2013 NHL draft–Oilers select 10, 2 from the OHL (211 players selected in 2013).

The Oilers went from 0 OHL selections in 2008 and 2009 combined, to 7 picks in years 2010-2013. This may well be random–players are chosen based on merit through the eyes of the scouting staff, and it’s possible that the OHL didn’t appeal to the Oilers in those seasons–however, the OHL itself was very fruitful in those years:

  • OHL picks in 2008: 46 (21.8% of the entire draft)
  • OHL picks in 2009: 45 (21.3% of the entire draft)
  • OHL picks in 2010: 42 (20.0% of the entire draft)
  • OHL picks in 2011: 46 (21.8% of the entire draft)
  • OHL picks in 2012: 48 (22.7% of the entire draft)
  • OHL picks in 2013: 37 (17.5% of the entire draft)

During this 6-year period, there were 1265 players drafted, and 264 (20.8%) came from the OHL. In the two seasons Edmonton didn’t shop in the OHL, they didn’t really have a chance to select the elite OHL guys (Stamkos, Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, Del Zotto and others in 2008, plus Tavares and DuChene in 2009); in the seasons since, they have taken Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Darnell Nurse at or near the top of the draft and are already seeing value for those selections.

From 2010-2013, the OHL represents 20.5% of the talent taken on draft weekend. Since 2010, the Oilers have chosen 41 players, 7 of them from the OHL (17.1% of their total draft); basically, the Oilers are now close to average in terms of how much talent they are grabbing from the NHL’s most popular procurement league.


Oh my. WHAT talent. Since 2010, the Edmonton Oilers have plucked the following talents from the Ontario League:

  • Taylor Hall, a young man who has been pushing the river in the NHL for some time. Already.
  • Ryan Martindale, a tall drink of water still developing in the AHL (and he may be in his final year with the Oilers organization based on performance).
  • Tobias Rieder, a quality prospect recently sent away, Rieder has a chance to be an NHL player if he continues to develop.
  • Nail Yakupov, an exceptional talent just getting started; we’re miles from knowing just how good he is. So is he.
  • Daniil Zharkov, another explosive Russian player whose story will develop over a few chapters, the latest being a season or two back home in Russia.
  • Darnell Nurse, a top drawer two-way defenseman with a complete skill set. We’re just getting to know him, but first impressions have been outstanding. Mature beyond his years, a thinking man’s defenseman. More, please!
  • Kyle Platzer, a depth player on a very deep team (this is where hidden gems are found) but we’re not familiar with him so that’s a chapter to come.


The rest of this decade is going to be a wild ride, and the OHL’s contribution promises to be very, very loud. Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Darnell Nurse represent a ridiculous three (in four) year cluster of first round selections, and when added to the WHL, QMJHL and others the future is pretty damn bright.

Up next: the Oilers and the WHL.

  • The oiler scouting is under staffed.

    They have two scouts for OHL one of which assists the lone scout for the Q.

    In the west they have two scouts plus MacGregor for WHL and USHL.

    The devils head scout commented that the difference between those that make it as a pro and those that don’t is in their heads.In order to find that out you need more boots on the ground talking to junior coaches and the players.

    • Lowetide

      Interesting point. Do we know how many scouts New Jersey employs? Oilers have 10 amateur scouts based on the info I have, which goes back a couple of years.

      • 99thOilerfan

        .I took the list for Canada from an article that Rex wrote.

        The oil had two or three European scouts but Musil has taken a coaching job.

        Considering all the money you spend on each failed pick it only makes sense to spend more money on scouting to ensure better results.

        In addition if I were MacT I would want my head of scouting operating out of Edmonton rather than central BC.

        • Lowetide

          Sure, but the original post suggested (to me, anyway) that other teams dwarfed Edmonton’s scouting numbers.

          In hockey (and in baseball although I no longer follow it) you’d have a scout covering a specific area. Below him were ‘bird dogs’ who were trusted with calling about someone in the area that might have slipped through, and then above the area scout there were ‘cross checkers’ for regions.

          The Oilers certainly have bird dogs giving them tips, have regional guys and cross checkers. I’m not certain the value of having four guys in one region?

          imo, probably be better to have scouts you flat out trust in each area.

          • Supernova

            I also wonder about adding a amateur scout In the east, maybe having a couple full time OHL ones, then 2 that work out of the Q which help in the OHL and USHL. It doesn’t seem like it would hurt to add one or two more sets of eyes, including another In Europe.

  • 99thOilerfan


    It seems like our quality of selections have improved, but might be getting all the #1 picks.

    Has there been a “improvement” with Stu MacGregor as the scouting director, over……ah…

    Can you recap when Stu took over, and who he replaced?

    Was it Pendergast? ( total guess )

    • Lowetide

      Yes. It was Prendergast. It’s early in MacGregor’s time to assess, the 2008 draft (Eberle) was certainly a success because they didn’t have a 2nd or a 3rd.

      2009 is just about ready to call, I think Paajarvi will be a good NHL regular for many years and another year of Lander and we should know if he’s going to be around a long time or a short time.

      2010 still has a ways before we know. Hall of course is crazy good, and Marincin could also be an NHL regular for several years.

      So, it’s “in progress” but I’m quite pleased with the progress compared to the KP era.

  • Lowetide

    Stu is such a major improvement over Prendergast I’m shocked people are actually questioning it. Prendergast lost his job with Hockey Canada a little while back because even they realized how poor he was at his job.

    • oliveoilers

      I for one am not convinced Magnificient Bastard is better then KP. Other then the obvious 1st picks other players hes picked up Martindale, Pitlick, Hamilton, Musil don’t look promising. Jury is out on Lander and Marincin. I think a comparison of later picks Stu probably looks average. Its also to early to tell on the Gernats, Davidsons, and Russian Jr. Team.

      • YFC Prez

        Pitlick Hamilton and Musil all looked very good in the first year then fell like rocks after 1 season. Seems to me that’s more of a player development problem. Lander and Marincin are both very close. I have way more confidence in MBS than KP any day. But you are right that we still need more time to really tell.

  • 99thOilerfan

    Can some one okease explain to me what they think the oilers plan is for resigning yak, rnh, and jshultz? My annoying Canuck fan friends all say “you guys will never be able to resign all those guys”.

    My thoughts are that Tamby set a pretty good president with tge hall/ebs contracts. when other teams top players are getting 7-8M ours are at 6M. Rnh is a prime candidate for a bridge contract at 4-4.5 for 3 years unless he blows the doors open this season.

    Thoughts Oilersnation?

    • oliveoilers

      I know. I call it the Canuck Paradox. All my Canuck fan friends tell me that there’s not one Oilers that would make the Canucks and we have terrible players compared to them, and then tell me we can’t afford to keep all our talent! I think Gillis is a puppet for the Green Men!

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        Canuck fans have a hard time with Edmonton in general, going all the way back to the 80’s when the Oilers were winning cups and the Canucks weren’t. then they had to suffer even more in ’94 when the Oilers East….the New York Rangers, and no less than 7 former Oilers beat the Canucks in 7 games for the cup. then on top of that, Mark Messier, by then likely public enemy #1 in Vancouver, signs with the Canucks! also the whole Linden relinquishing the captaincy to Messier and the fact they never made the playoffs the 3 years he was there as well as fans feeling he never lived up to his contract there is likely what has continued to fuel hard feeling towards Edmonton after all these years. add the fact that BC boy Justin Schultz signed here and not with home province team Vancouver and you have some pretty raw emotions on their part.

  • Rob...

    You guys deserve some sort of medal for most prolific bloggers during the least newsworthy part of the summer.

    I’d be curious to know if the OHL dominance is a case of lies, damn lies, and statistics. How many kids play in the OHL vs. the WHL & QMJHL? Once that is taken into account is the dominance less pronounced.

    Also, 2013 looks like an anomaly, but if you scan lists across the web of top NHL draft prospects for 2014,15&16 WHL players pop up quite frequently as projected first round picks. It will be interesting to see if the OHL is able to maintain its fairly stable standing.

  • YFC Prez

    The last few years all the Oilers had to do was not mess up in the first round. I think they still worry about that a little. Nish would have been a home run or a strike out pick, Nurse was the just get on base pick. Sorry for the baseball metaphor LT.

  • Rob...

    The Oilers have had 4 excellent picks in a row including possible ones in Nurse , Klefbom , Marincin (for Riley ), and other possibilities that could turn out to be superior talents . I don’t know whom else has done better to be honest . Sure we had 3 first – but we could have had three busts if our scouting was inferior . Graduate one good pro /season out of system is acceptable by most standards – more than one is acceptional any year . At least ours are of the exceptional variety lately .

  • Adriana Lima…..Please!

    I’m still trying to get over taking Nurse over Nichushkin.

    I’m very comfortable with Nurse and what he brings to the Oilers, but that’s my biggest fear, Nurse was the safe pick that might only amount to a 3/4 defensmen.

    Where as Nichushkin could be a dominate player for years, and could have filled a huge hole without removing a roster player like Paajarvi.

    I take the risk? But that’s me.

    Still, I’m pulling for Nurse to be that 1/2 that we need.

  • Great read LT once again…

    Although Jennifer Garner is very hot I myself also go for Olivia Wilde, Gemma Arterton, and this includes I still love Salma Hayek.

    She looks so good in Grown Ups 2 as Sandler’s wife!!!!!

    The list for the Oilers through the latest yrs of draft is arguably extremely impressive…no matter which junior league the kids come from. Ebs, Paajarvi, Klefbom, Hall, Marancin, RNH, Gernat, Yak, Nurse…Wow!!!

    Even though the Oilers had 3 straight 1st overall picks… I can’t see any other NHL team with this load of talent whether present or future based..

    Then add in the freebie signing of J. Schultz and this is an excellent “Field of Dreams” vision for the Oilers…

    I am a fan of Stu’s big time and I just now wish that the Oilers’ team of Pro Scouts could start to get it right a lot more than they have these last few years…

  • Bob Cobb

    I want to know why my comment in your other blog 3LW was removed?It was in response to Nuge2Hall, and regarding a Eklund rumor. I didn’t call anyone names, or make a fist commet so why was it removed?

  • Lowetide

    Too early to crown Big Mac as king of the Scouts.
    At this point its only Eberle that shines.[ Discounting the Lotto Picks, my dog could have made] He’s had more misses than hits other than again the LOtto Kids.Many draftee dont make the bigs is a give, But come on Hamilton and Plante, not even close.

    Also no wonder you can’t attract players to come and play and live in Edmonton, when the Owner and
    Chief Scout dont want to live in Edmonton. Ironic.

  • striker777

    Getting Prendergast replaced with MacGreggor was perhaps the most impactful thing Tambelini has done with the club. Seeing year after year of failed draft classes and same scouts keeping their jobs – was the most frustrating thing, for me personally.
    Now, if only MacT could similarly reform our Pro-scouts – we would be infinitely better.