When it comes to evaluating prospects, the accepted time frame is 5 years; five seasons after a player is drafted, signed as a minor league free agent or begins his career with a PTO. That’s when we can begin to view a player as a bust or a contributing hockey player. Before the five year window closes? We watch the arrows, good and bad.
If we adopt the 5 year view, then we can safely look at the 2008 entry draft when this season ends and make the call. Here’s what I see:
- #22 overall: Jordan Eberle. Home run. An absolute out of the park on a rope big fly. Jordan Eberle represents extreme value for any organization and he was drafted deep into the first round. I don’t think you can count on that kind of return often. Ranks 2nd in NHL goals among players chosen in 2008’s draft.
- #103 overall: Johan Motin. Safely back in Sweden now after playing in one NHL game. Once the first 100 names are called in any draft, I don’t think we can expect "NHL regulars" to crop up often. Motin was not a successful draft pick, but he was not a major disappointment either. I’d say his cost/benefit is about equal. No check mark for the scouting staff, but not black mark either.
- #133 overall: Phil Cornet. Has played in 2 NHL games and has scored 34 AHL goals in his last 96 games at that level. As with Motin, Cornet is neither a positive or a negative; unlike Motin, Cornet is still in the organization and still has a chance at an NHL career (although not a strong one).
- #163 overall: Teemu Hartikainen. Harski is (imo) a positive check mark for the organization’s scouts no matter how this turns out. For a club to grab a player this deep in any draft and get 47 (and counting) games in the NHL is quite rare. Give NHL scouts credit, most of the good players are gone by selection 100. Hartikainen’s GP total ranks 45th among players chosen in 2008–that’s mid-2nd round.
The club also drafted Jordan Bendfeld deep in the draft, but he was an organizational pick and barely made it to the AHL (26 games).
Overall, I’d say the 2008 draft was a terrific success. Eberle is now a quality regular in the NHL, Hartikainen is pushing for a regular job, Cornet is still in there trying and Motin got into a game before heading back home. The downside is that they didn’t have a 2nd or 3rd rd pick, but scouts don’t make those decisions and must play the hand that is dealt them.
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
We have to wait a year before being able to evalue 2009, and the other drafts are years away from reaching the 5-year completion point. However, we can follow the arrows:
- 2009: Magnus Paajarvi’s emergence this season serves as a cautionary tale in regard to judging a draft too soon. Paajarvi appears to have turned a corner, and if he ends up having a quality career then the 2009 draft will look better than it did even six months ago. Anton Lander is still pushing for employment and we know the organization remains high on him. Top 100 selections who did not deliver include Troy Hesketh and Cameron Abney, with the Kyle Bigos story still to be written. Picks outside the top 100 (Toni Rajala, Olivier Roy) are still working their way up the pro depth charts and we’ll certainly know more a year from now.
- 2010: Taylor Hall was a worthy #1 overall selection, but the second round picks have been disappointing for the most part. Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton have battled injury, and their offense didn’t come with them to pro hockey. Only an incredible turnaround in the final year of their entry level deals can save them from oblivion. Martin Marincin is a second round pick who has played well at the pro level, and Ryan Martindale seems to be finding the range in the AHL too. After pick 100, Tyler Bunz, Brandon Davidson and Kristians Pelss are showing promise.
There are good and bad arrows from the 2011 and 2012 drafts, but it is much too soon to make sweeping statements about any of the prospects beyond the two #1 overall selections.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The 2008 draft is a success, 2009 is looking better with a year to go and 2010 should give the Oilers one or two helpers to go with Taylor Hall. Is that enough? The future will decide, but from here it looks like the 2010 entry draft will fall well short of what some of us felt it would accomplish.
The Oilers badly need some of these defensive prospects to cash. Among the group that includes Marincin, Klefbom, Gernat, Musil, Simpson, Davidson, Gustafsson, Bigos and Laleggia the club will need at least a couple useful players and maybe one or two tradeable assets.