Just when you think that the season can’t get any worse, I present another Baggedmilk interview! Just because the Oilers can’t make the playoffs to save their lives, that doesn’t mean I can’t focus on my goal of becoming OilersNation’s own version of Howard Stern? With that, I present a portion of my interview with the one and only Dustin Nielson.
Baggedmilk: In your opinion, what the hell is wrong with this hockey team?
Nielson: Scouting, both at the pro and amateur levels. Who ever originally suggested they trade for the rights to Nikita Nikitin should have already been fired. At some point you would like to see a player drafted after the first round actually pan out, that’s not happening right now. Scouting is such an important part of every organization when you can’t get that right you’re behind the eight ball from the very beginning.
I could probably list about ten other problems as well but I have a rec league game tonight.
BM: What’s the hardest part about hosting a sports radio show right now?
DN: The hardest part about hosting a show, at least in Edmonton right now, is having a legitimate discussion about the Oilers current season because it’s been over since November. We can have great debates about the future of the club but what’s the point of providing an in-depth preview of a game that may as well be a pre-season contest. With the way the last four seasons have gone we’ve decided that if you can’t have some fun with it you will be miserable and who wants to wake up to that every morning? #creedtuesday
BM: Speaking of radio, it seems like every radio job you’ve had has been in the morning. Are you some kind vampire, or do you just hate sleeping in?
DN: I don’t sleep very often but I’m used to it. In Fort Mac I spent two years getting up a 3:00 AM and working until after the junior hockey game on game days. For the last five years the alarm clock has been going off at 4:00 AM. I stay up until midnight every night watching games and highlights and then prepping for the morning show, sleep for four hours and then try to catch a short nap in the afternoons. I don’t care for Vampire shows, except for the episode of Quantum Leap when Sam Beckett leaped into a vampire.
BM: With the Oilers being this bad, do you ever miss doing junior play by play instead of your radio show?
DN: Regardless of how well the Oilers are doing I always miss doing junior play-by-play. I actually enjoyed the bus trips around Alberta. Doing Golden Bears hockey and football games gives me my play-by-play fix for now and no I don’t take the bus to Clare Drake.
BM: You hosted the draft for Hockeys Future in 2008 – what do you make of the spectacle that the draft has become in recent years?
DN: I’ve always been a hardcore NHL draft nerd. I started covering the draft in 2006 for Hockey’s Future and the only draft I missed was the one in New Jersey, because…New Jersey. The amount of information from different sources that is now available for the draft would have been all I needed for Christmas 15 years ago.
This past draft in Philadelphia was crazy, they had six rows of media seating near the draft floor and then another 60-80 or so members of the media jammed in the concourse on the lower level of the arena.
When I first started doing my old Hockey’s Future radio show in 2004 it was because it was difficult to find info on prospects. That’s not the case anymore.
Here are my top five favourite scouting services/rankings.
1. ISS Hockey
2. NHL Central Scouting
3. McKenzie’s Draft Rankings
5. Corey Pronman
BM: Everyone knows about Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but who are the the later round picks that Oilers fans should be interested in?
DN: I’m a fan of Finnish hockey players so for starters I apologize about Jesse Niinimaki and Jani Rita.
I’d keep tabs on Julius Nattinen. He’s a 6’2 forward that put up almost a point per game in Finland’s U20 league last year as a 16/17 year old. He’s getting some SM-Liiga play this year with JYP and has 15 points in 7 games with the U18 team.
I’d keep tabs on Callum Booth as well. He’s a goaltender with decent size who I believe will back up Zach Fucale for the Quebec Remparts the rest of the way this season. He was on the QMJHL all-rookie team last year and has been a part of the Hockey Canada program as well. I’m not sure how far he’ll last in this draft, but consider the lack of depth at that position for the Oilers he may be a target.
BM: Are there any current Oiler prospects that interest you outside the usual suspects (i.e. Nurse, Marincin, etc)?
DN: BOGDAN YAKIMOV. I’m actually kind of intrigued by Anton Slepyshev over in Russia, probably because we don’t get a chance to really watch him play. It looks like his game is taking a bit of a step in the right direction offensively this year, so that’s a positive for the organization.
BM: You do play by play for the U of A… Do you think the Oilers could learn anything from the Golden Bears?
DN: It’s an absolute pleasure doing Golden Bears because they do so many things so well. The one aspect of their game the Oilers should take a look at is how the Bears support the puck. It’s not very often the Bears have to make a cross ice pass. They work their way out of their own zone as a five man unit and you just don’t see that with the Oilers, you need smart defensemen to move the puck and Golden Bears have plenty of them, the Oilers not so much.
BM: What do you expect to happen between now and the trade deadline for Oilers personnel?
DN: I wouldn’t expect Craig MacTavish to be very busy between now and the deadline. I don’t see Jeff Petry signing long term with the Oilers so they have to move him. The good news for the Oilers is that a right-handed shot defenseman that skates well should be a hot commodity at the deadline. I would expect the price tag on Petry to be a 2nd round pick and a prospect — somebody will pay that. Outside of Petry I’m not sure opposing general managers will be calling about anyone else.
BM: If this season continues down the road it’s on, do you think Daryl Katz will be able to fire his friends in management?
DN: Nope and as ridiculous as that is I think everyone just needs to accept it.
Dustin is a really smart dude, and I appreciated him taking the time to answer my stupid questions, and his candor while doing so. I’m surprised that he was even able to answer my questions despite the fact that he only sleeps a few hours per night. Unfortunately, I do think he’s right on in terms of what management will look like going into next season. I know that we’d all like to see changes from the top, but he (like I) don’t really expect much to happen. *sigh*
You can find Dustin Nielson every morning on the Nielson and Fraser Show on TSN 1260 from 6:00 to 10am, or on Twitter at @NielsonTSN1260.