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 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.