If everything breaks right the Edmonton Oilers will sign Vladimir Tkachev to a contract later this week. I believe it’s a quality move, a real innovation—no matter the outcome of the player’s career. Why? NHL teams only have so many ways to procure useful talent, and badly need to exercise all of them. Oilers history has many players acquired in unusual ways.

The Tkachev contract (should it come to pass) is a modern version of an old Oiler tradition: Find players and don’t worry about where they come from. The quality of players acquired can vary but here are three examples of additions that impacted the Stanley teams:

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  • Randy Gregg turned away the (Atlanta) Flames and New York Rangers, played for Canada at the Olympics and then went to Japan before finally negotiating a contract with the Oilers and Glen Sather.  Source
  • Glen Sather was impressed by Mark Messier
    as he played AGAINST the Oilers in the 78-79 season (WHA). Dennis
    Sobchuk was a pretty good player and legend has it he thought he could
    take the kid in the Cincinnati Stinger uniform. Messier apparently had a
    slight edge in punches. 12-0. Sather noticed and picked him 48th
    overall, 1979. You could argue that’s the best value-for-pick in the history of the game. 
  • Charlie Huddy was never drafted. It’s a little misleading because the
    year he was eligible (1979) also happens to be the year that the NHL
    decided to cut back the draft by many, many rounds. In 1979 the NHL 126
    drafted kids, but in the season before they’d selected 234 and in 1980
    the NHL drafted 210 men. The fact that the Oilers signed Huddy September
    14, 1979 which was a month after the 1979 draft (it was held very late,
    August 9th, because the league had to figure out a way to fold in
    underagers like Mark Messier while keeping out other kids his age) tells
    me they had him rated right behind Blair Barnes.
    Huddy on defense was a warm blanket on a cold winter night.

(Not suggesting Tkachev will match any of these players, using as procurement examples)


The Oilers may have had Tkachev on their draft list (ala Barnes—Huddy) right behind Keven Bouchard, and run out of selections, so this is a nice option. You might be asking how this works—how the Oilers can acquire a talent like this—and the answer is included in an article written about Tkachev recently.  Source

Red Line Report had him in the second round (No. 58), but it’s fairly easy to suss out the reason no one took him was lack of size. If we assume Edmonton had interest but decided against him (a reasonable thought), then it’s also probably true the club liked Liam Coughlin BECAUSE of his size.

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It brings us back to the ‘saw him good’ method—scouts viewing players and grading them based on size, speed, skill, grit, etc, versus math—goals, assists, points. So often when we talk about scouting, it’s with the idea that math is avoided in projection. Of course, that’s a narrow and cynical view, both visual and math can be used in assessment. 

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Generally speaking, scouts get it right. If you pick any given draft year at hockeydb, most of the good to greats are gone by No. 60, and they’re rolling up the carpets on NHL future’s about No. 100 or so. Unless a player grows a foot or something, these scouts have identified ways to project into the future.

No system is 100% accurate and sometimes players slip through the cracks. Vladdy Hockey might be one of them, and kudos to the Oilers for looking under every rock to find talent. I believe there’s a pretty good chance Tkachev has a better career than many kids who were drafted in 2014.

Why do I believe that? Well, I saw him good and the math adores him. It’s a tremendous combination, one the Oilers (apparently) have followed when drafting kids like Marco Roy in the past. NO organization is so flush with talent they can turn a blind eye to a player who can help them. Craig MacTavish and his team may sign a part of the Oilers future this week in a non-traditional manner.

The amateur procurement department may be about to deliver another second-round (value) player, with an assist from a CBA loophole.

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    • D


      Don’t forget one of the most unusual acquisitions in terms of method: one Wayne Gretzky.

      If Tkachev can hold a roster spot in the NHL or AHL, it’s an outright win for the organization.

      • Lowetide

        True! I was pushing it with Messier, though. 🙂 John Short told me the Gretzky story in full, man what a crazy part of Oilers history. John got a call to go out and pick up the three (Gretzky, Driscoll and Mio) at the airport and take them to the hotel.

        Mio was concerned because fuel for the plane had been put on his credit card and he didn’t want his wife to be in shock the next day!

        Hah! WHA has one million stories just like that one.

        • D

          Mio had every reason to be concerned! Stories abound about WHA players racing to the bank after collecting their cheques, because they were concerned about them bouncing if they waited too long. I wonder if Mio ever got reimbursed for that credit card? 🙂

        • Cain

          The thing about the Gretzky deal is that Nelson Skalbania gave him a choice between Edmonton and Winnipeg. His agent told him that Edmonton had a better chance of being absorbed into the NHL, so he chose Edmonton. We could’ve been watching Wayne set record after record in Winnipeg, though he wouldn’t have had the supporting cast of Hall of Famers that he did here.

    • Lowetide

      There are certain players that stand out alot more when you watch them play in person compared to on TV. Evander Kane comes to mind..looks like a man among boys and seems like he hits alot more in person.
      For those who saw Tkachev in person last did he look?

    • Lowetide

      All I have to say is they better sign him.

      Ps. Speaking of procurement… I’m finally watching the Calgary game online, and I’m proud to say that Yakupov has learned how to cycle the puck! (6:26:40)

    • A-Mc

      Here is the easy question about whether to sign tkachev: do the oilers currently employ other players that have less promise than tkachev?

      Answer: yes. Therefore you sign him.

      Sometimes the narrative seems to imply that signing him is only a good idea if he performs like a 1st rounder, which is ridiculous. If he can play better than someone you have, at any level, then he is worth signing.

    • ubermiguel

      Add De Vries and Brathwaite to your list. Not stars but they had solid careers after going undrafted then signed by the Oilers. I think Brathwaite is about the same size as Tkachev too. Find players every which way you can, if a few of them turn into NHLers that’s a big win.

    • Lowetide

      Gagner scores winning goal to give Arizone a 4-3 win over L.A.. Gagner 71% in faceoff circle . H.Samuelson led Arizona with 1 G-2A . M.Domi also had 3 assists . Looks like Gagner going to do well with DOAN .

      • Cain

        One of the brightest spots on the Oiler’s roster this year is the position left vacant by Snowpants.

        Everyone knows we desperately need a proven 2c, and yet NOBODY is whining that they traded our “2c” from last year…that tells you something.

        Nice enough guy I guess, but as a top 6 forward, I am so glad he’s their disappointment now…

      • vetinari

        No correction he score the 3rd goal but is was not the winner. They won in a shootout. Yeah he did ok against a rookie LA defence and goaltender. He’ll go back to normal when Doughty, Muzzin, Regher and Voyonov are back putting him on the seat of his pants.

        • vetinari

          Thanks for partial correction as I originally thought game ended 4-3 in regulation. Your wrong as well because Gagner scored 4th Arizona goal , not their third . Samuelson and Domi both scored in shootout to beat the Kings . L.A. missed both their attempts . Look for Gagner to have a bounce back season , as last year was his least productive in 7 years . I wonder if Samuelson will press for rookie of the year ?

          • vetinari

            How could have Gagner scored the 4th goal if the game ended 3-3 in regulation? I hope not reguarding Samuelson I hate him even more now being kind of an Kings fan as well lol!!

    • vetinari

      @ madjam

      Hey bud thats good to hear for Gagner against L.A but then it is only a weak line-up type pre-season game. But history with him as an Oiler proved its always during the regular season where he seems to stall and play so inconsistently without winning enough faceoffs and without two way senses. I wish him well but….

      Draisaitl played well decently with a great assist and I am liking this kid more and more each day but I selfishly want to see more as the other teams bring in more complete line-ups.

      As for Tkachev, he is a very skilled player who is going to grow and develop even more. His talent is unquestionable and very much of high reward potential. What’s the best?…he does not cost the Oilers anything but an ELC contract that clicks in next season.

      By then, while he gets better and grows bigger (I truly hope so) there will be others on that 50 player protected list not re-signed… such as possibly Bunz, C. Hamilton, Ryan Hamilton, Aulie, etc. Signing Tkachev is a no brainer at this point in time IMO.

      Good to hear Yakupov played decently in first game. Yakimov, Draisaitl, Chase, and Klefbom played very well last night IMO, while Nurse looked a bit erratic – some very good and some not so good.

    • Anton CP

      The modern day NHL is trying to reduce violent physical contact to protect players, of course that I am still amazed by which Matt Cooke still has a job in NHL. This should benefit a player with lots of skills but lack of size to shine. Tkachev may become a good player but he may become something bigger if he plays at Eastern Conference. Signing him is a winning situation no matter how he turned out to be.

    • Yak is set to min temp in the slow cooker…

      Close the lid on the third line until you realize 15 games in that you forgot to set the timer and Yakcity is about to be overcooked if not pulled immediately. Thank goodness there’s still some red in the center… recording a stupid P/60 surpassing one of Pouliot, Perron, or Ebs for some time at the head table… Or the lid is left on and the next time they check the Yak it is just a shriveled turd wrapped in a shadow of itself too timid even to ask for a trade….


    • Gagner v ARCO… I’d say this position is a wash. Maybe ARCO is better, maybe not. Last year arco showed he can be just as effective as Gags, if not more so… But small sample size alarms go off everywherez.

      Smytty v Draisaitl. Not sure how Draisaitl can be as poor as Smytty was in his final season. Draisaitl might not have the best wheels, but last year Smytty was contemplating hooking his own linemates at times for a free ride joining the rush. Maybe I made that up.

    • Cain

      Mitch Holmberg is another one of those guys MacT signed.60 goals in one season in the WHL. Talent no matter the size is more important to me.

      Signing Tkachev now and then sending this kid back to Junior for a season and then playing him in the AHL for a couple of seasons to see if can perform is a smart move. If he performs as a player in the AHL the worst you’ve done is add a player to help OKC win.

      In a no lose situation. I’d sign him.

    • Cain

      I say we sign the guy but with one condition………..the Oilers reverse their donut policy and highly encourage this kid to eat more donuts, especially Honey Cruellers!

      Then they need to feed him seal blubber three time a day followed by a health dose of Ding Dongs before bed time.

      Now after a year we will be happy with the results!

    • vetinari

      Sounds like a low risk, high reward scenario if we sign Tkachev. His contract likely won’t count against the 50 man roster this year and we are likely to bleed off a few contracts by next season anyways.

      The only issue that I have with the guy is size. We’ve moved as an organization from drafting, developing or acquiring light, speedy and skilled players to an emphasis on tall, heavy Groot-like creatures that squirrels swing from while firing ray guns (Guardians of the Galaxy reference for you geeks out there).

      Sign the man but don’t bet the farm on him seeing more than 50 games at the NHL level over his career.

      Of course, smaller guys like Theo Fleury and Pat Verbeek had a pretty good run in the “rock ’em, sock ’em” era of NHL hockey darting between the big men on the ice trying to take their heads off, so who knows?

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Tkachev has talent and is a good hockey player despite his size. The Oilers motto has to be “find, sign and keep good hockey players”.

      On this basis alone Tkachev is worth signing. Will he ever be a top six NHL player? We don’t know at this point but he might be. Given the limited cost/risk involved in signing him, the decision should be clear.

      If he becomes nothing more than asset with value, the Oilers would benefit from this signing. At some future date, he could be moved in return for a draft pick. I am confident MacT will make the right move.