TRUE CRIME STORY: THE 2007 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

 

If we can agree that it takes 5 years to properly evaluate a draft (and sometimes—especially with college men—it can take longer), then rage over the 2010+ entry drafts for Edmonton is probably misplaced. If we look back to 2009, 2008 and 2007, what do we see? Is there a culprit? Yes. More than one, actually. 

THE 2007 FIRST ROUND

The Oilers in 2007 ended up with three first round picks, and Sam Gagner (#6 overall) turned out to be an NHL player. Alex Plante (#15) didn’t make the grade and Riley Nash (#21) took his own sweet time arriving (one of those college men) but he’s a regular in the NHL now, too. Edmonton dealt Nash in 2010 so they don’t have him anymore, but you can’t fault the scouts for Nash being traded at the 2010 draft (Martin Marincin pick) that’s just business. The Oilers didn’t have a pick in the 2nd or 3rd round that year but found a fringe NHL player in Linus Omark. 

WHY IS DRAFT 2007 A CULPRIT? The Oilers needed to get more from the first round. A 2line C is a nice thing, but if Nash were inside the top 9F and Plante a member of the top 4D (both plausible based on where they were drafted) that would make a world of difference to this team. 

2008 ENTRY DRAFT

Jordan Eberle’s selection at #22 overall in 2008 is one of the extreme value picks in Oilers history. An extreme big fly, he remains a key cog on the roster and a big part of the future. 

WHY IS DRAFT 2008 A CULPRIT? Once again the Oilers didn’t own a second or a third round pick. When people say "the Oilers haven’t  drafted anyone in the second round since Jeff Petry" it’s important to remember they didn’t have ANY second round picks two years running after the Petry selection. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, as Billy Preston taught us long ago.

2009 ENTRY DRAFT

The Oilers took Magnus Paajarvi (#10) and Anton Lander (#40) early in this draft, and for a long time the two Swedes looked like they would be a big part of Edmonton’s future. 

WHY IS DRAFT 2009 A CULPRIT? Paajarvi delivered on value as part of a very nice deal (David Perron) and I don’t think Oilers fans can complain about that deal. They can be upset about Anton Lander’s handling—he should have spent his rookie North American pro season in OKC and not Edmonton, and that is an organizational error. The pick itself could still cover the bet.

THE REST

The Oilers drafted Taylor Hall (#1), Tyler Pitlick (#31), Martin Marincin (#46) and Curtis Hamilton (#48) in the top two rounds of the 2010 draft. I do think we should be concerned about the 2010 entry draft, but it’s also true that both Pitlick and Marincin made their NHL debut this season (well within the 5-year range) and if Hall, Pitlick and Marincin end up having productive careers there shouldn’t be anyone bitching about the quality of that draft. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

When people say "the Oilers haven’t done much with second round picks since Jeff Petry" we have to remember:

  • They didn’t have a 2nd round pick in 2007 or 2008
  • The 2nd round picks in 2010+ are still developing
  • The 2007 draft—the draft that should be sustaining this club right now—has been an absolute failure. 

I’m not arguing that the Oilers system needs to be better, but do believe the 2007 entry draft is a bigger cause for the current fracture in the system than the 2010 edition. The 2010 draft is a concern, but there’s still time—plenty of time in the cases of Pitlick and Marincin who have shown enough to make the NHL. 

The 2007 draft should have been able to sustain the franchise three deep for a decade. That failure is a major reason why the 2010 group are being looked at so closely and long before they should be regarded as draft failures.

  • outdoorzguy

    Please let the Oilers be the team moved to Vegas!! Then we can get an expansion team and start all over again with new management. It will be better that way.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Dear oudoorzguy,

      I know you’re probably joking, but this is really not something you should joke about. Last place hockey is always better than no hockey.

      Warm Regards,

      The City of Winnipeg

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    The funniest Oilers draft I can remember was 1995 in Edmonton. When it came to the Oilers’ pick Doan and a local kid named Iginla were still on the board. I can remember listening on the radio to the fans chant “Doan, Doan, Doan” when the team walked up to the podium, which was the no brainer pick, and then sounds of shock/dismay when they announced Steve Kelly. Classic. That draft and then the 2003 draft were misses that set the franchise back.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @Ed in PV….even then though, Stu had been criticized. he apparently wanted Seguin and not Hall, but was overridden, he also took heat from people who didn’t want Nuge and wanted Adam Larsson, a d-man instead, and the Oil also took heat for taking Yak and not a center like Galchenyuk or a d-man like Ryan Murray. seems Stu has his critics and always has, you just don’t hear from them as often as the people who praise the guy.

    • outdoorzguy

      I understand that player selections are ultimately the choice of the GM, so success at the draft is not just on Macgregor. Nor do I disagree with any on the No 1s taken, although it keeps getting harder to stay in the pro Yakupov camp. My point in primarily directed to the Edmonton media, who seem to gush with praise over any move the Oil make with no “expert” analysis of the situation or, heave forbid, actual criticism of a move.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        i dunno about this media love-in you speak of. some of the media here have been quite critical of this franchise the last few years and have wrote about it many times.

  • Zarny

    Hindsight is always 20/20 so you have to be careful about saying “we could have had this star” later in the draft.

    Yeah, and a whole bunch of teams could have had Eberle. Subban, Benn, Pacioretty etc were not sure bets.

    The onus is on the player for a lot of their development: off-season training, studying video, eating right, not drinking and partying etc. That can be hard to evaluate with 18 y/o.

    For too long the Oilers were guilty of chasing Glen Anderson clones right through the clutch and grab era. Passing on Doan was criminal.

    Ultimately I think it’s hard to assess Oiler draft picks given how poor their farm system has been. They didn’t even have a farm team for a few years. That’s fine for players who can make the jump to the NHL as 18 or 19 y/o out of junior. Doesn’t work for most picks though.

  • Zarny

    The big blunder of 2007 was the Riley Nash selection. If we look at the 5 players taken after each of the Plante and Nash pick, nothing stands out from 15-20. But the pick directly after we took Nash became Montreals Max Pacioretty (Left Wing). Tell me wouldn’t look like a different team with the 6’2 212, 30 goal man manning the left wing. And add that to a LW that boast Hall and Perron, and that’s even deeper than our RW of Eberle, Hemmer, and Yak.

    • Lance

      Yes it is. Yes it is. In year 8 of the rebuild we are at the level of 0 pts equate a moral victory. Never mind the apparent incompetence of ALL coaching staff and ALL management. Bravo Katz!!! Pls move this horror team to Seattle so Edmonton can regain dignity through a new franchise.
      I boycott this team as of now.

      • Spydyr

        Hope that means you are boycotting this board too.

        Any true fan would never wish for his team to be moved. No matter how bad it gets and it is getting pretty bad.

        The Oilers are my team and always will be through thick and thin.

        • Zarny

          My apologies if I hurt your feelings. I will boycott this team as of now. My decision targets tickets, merchandising and anything that involves a financial support to this mismanaged franchise.
          I am a proud Oilers fan. Not just at this time.
          Since this is another failure of a season I say let’s get excited for another high pick that will translate into f@ckall…

      • Zarny

        Except it hasn’t been an 8 year rebuild.

        The Oilers weren’t rebuilding from ’07-’10 I’m afraid. Lowe and Oilers management were chasing the dream after 2006; kicking the can down the road for one more shot at glory. Sutter did the same thing in Calgary for much, much longer.

        This is probably the biggest disconnect between Oilers management and many fans. They are in year 4 of the “rebuild”.

        They should certainly be further along than they are; but the reality is there weren’t rebuilding during the 3 years after the Cup run. They were just losing.

        • Spydyr

          Perception my friend, perception. Anyone can can put any lipstick colour on this pig. Wont change a damn thing. A loser is a loser. 8 years running. I can see a ninth year.

          • Zarny

            Oh I agree, 8 years is 8 years.

            That doesn’t change reality though. The Oilers weren’t rebuilding from ’07-’10.

            In ’07 Lowe signed Vanek and Penner to offer sheets. In 2009 the Oilers tried trading for Heatley. Oilers management tried just about everything to duct tape that 2006 team for one more shot and failed miserably.

            Like I said, that wasn’t rebuilding. That was just losing.

          • Speaking of signings attempts…
            I doubt very much we could attract any outstanding players. For many reasons. I think this team will get better through draft and player development. The only thing is those instrumental people in place at this time are incompetent. the assistant coaches and Carriere were given enough time to assess they are incompetent.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            I wasn’t aware the Oilers didn’t draft during the 2007-2010 seasons. No wonder there’s such a gap in the pipeline.

            It’s good that they’re actually “trying” now (2010 and beyond) that they’ve admitted they need to do their jobs better. If management isn’t help accountable, why start in on the players.

            The only difference between the 2007-2010, and the 2010- current, is someone else is doing their homework for them selecting so high every year. MacGregor hasn’t been any more successful than Pendergast.

  • match16

    When it comes to first-rounders I tend to be a bit more tolerant of errors, believe it or not, mainly because there’s just so much consensus on first-rounders nowadays.

    Flip through the pages of The Hockey News Draft Preview or go to the Red Line Report or whatever your preferred pre-draft publication is – and the top-30 are generally the top-30. The pack tends to vary once you get past 20 or so, but if you’re picking inside the top-20, you’re generally working off the same list that every other team in the league is.

    So, unless you team wanders off the reservation with your first-rounder (Jesse Niinimaki?), it’s hard for me to get too worked up on whether a guy like Alex Plante didn’t pan out and why the Oilers would ever have picked him in the first place. When they picked him, he went exactly where he should have, give or take a spot or two, and the Oilers were addressing a need when they took him. That he didn’t pan is just how it goes sometimes. And you can bet your bottom dollar that, if the Oilers hadn’t have taken him, some other team would have grabbed him in the first round and he’d have failed with them.

    Heck, even the extreme-failures fall under the argument. Jason Bonsignore is the biggest Oilers first-round bust of all time but he was lights-out-good in the OHL in his draft year. If the Oilers don’t take him at No. 4 in 1994, he still wouldn’t have fallen out of the top-10. His character flaws (and Glen Sather’s gross mishandling of them) were revealed much later on, but at the time, it was a pick they were absolutely correct and on-board in making.

    And that’s pretty much how it goes for the first two rounds – you go with the flow of the consensus. In a way, it’s the easiest part of your draft – you grab the prospects that NHL Central Scouting (and the various media) have been talking about and then, from the third round on, your scouts take over and earn their keep by grabbing the guys whom they consider hidden gems.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    i wonder if its not JUST the draft selection, but also awful development of these players which compounds the failure.

    As i’m watching the game….and listening to Staufer pre game (laugable these days), i cant help but notice what a goalie factory the Kings have become (not just because of their defensive play, too much of a coincidence).

    Then I realise they have Billy Ranford as their goalie coach

    Maybe we have the WRONG ex-Oiler players as assistant coaches…..I think we need coaches that are not just coaches as much as teachers.

    It seems the Oilers Hockey IQ is getting worse ….dumb passes, give aways, getting lost in plays, and no systems play

    We need better teachers at the assistant coaching level

  • Incompetence/failure at drafting is certainly part of the equation. The other part is not compiling a solid roster of tier 2 complementary players along the way. This of course is the result of tanking, which means you have to crash hard via intentionally ignoring those key secondary pieces instead of land softly by continually refreshing role players.

    My belief is that pretty much every team has solid 1-2 lines. The teams that excel also have solid 3-4 lines and defence.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    It took many years of work to get to this point. Every decision brought them to this point. Arguably the worst team in the NHL for the last 8 years

  • match16

    You left out some important info Lowetide. The 2007 draft was a Prendergast draft. You seem to be pinning that one on the current admin, when prender was fired after that draft.

    Credit where its due.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hindsight is always easier to call out after the fact.

    But it’s curious that after Oilers [2007], selected Gagner, Plante and Nash, that Pacioretty, Perron and PK Suban were still on the board?

    Oilers as usual take the shiny bean, who played shotgun with Kane in junior hockey, not unlike Pouliot with Crosby!
    Instead of Gags, they had Voracek,Couture, McDonagh, Eller, Shattenkrik, plus the three mentioned above

    Like I said its hindside… but our 2007 Shiny Bean, was on the ice for all three Kings goals last night…this is not the first time.

    • You know Oilers fans are really stretching a narrative when you hear things like “was on the ice for…”. Bryzgalov was on the ice for all three goals and from most accounts he had a helluva game.

      OK. That’s gross over statement but you get the point. If hockey was an individual game we might have a point for crucifying one guy. But simply jumping on the latest anti-Oiler player bandwagon, while easy and gratifying that you’re “one of the boys” blatantly ignores the fact four other guys were out there. And the guy behind the bench running the show laid out the game plan and systems play. And senior management put this whole trainwreck in motion in the first place.

      Sam Gagner solving his defensive liabilities or being more actively engaged physically will NOT solve this team’s problem. In fact, if we had even an average NHL D squad nobody here would even be noticing his weaknesses.

      Quick question. Who of Gagner, Hall, Yakupov or Nuge were drafted for their defensive prowess? Take your time. No hurry to respond.

    • Sorensenator

      Thanks for the amazing insight, but when the Oilers took Pouliout he had yet to play with Crosby. Hard to take your strong opinion serious when it is flawed from the start.

  • Sorensenator

    I don’t understand how people think we are in year 7 or year 8 of the rebuild. They decided to rebuild after Pat Quinn in 2009-2010. The two years prior to that with Mac T as head coach, the Oilers had WINNING records, Finishing 9th and 10th respectively. The Oilers are in year four of the rebuild, the first year of the rebuild started with Taylor Hall.

  • Bryzarro World

    I laughed when the management dolts were contemplating moving this team. I wanted them to do it just to flush the stink out of the city. Katz would be going broke in another market with this team. We’d have to wait a couple years but a team would come back and make it fun for the fans and players once again