There is no exact blueprint for building a championship team. The Kings, Bruins and Blackhawks have gone about it in different ways, but the Blackhawks made the playoffs once in ten years before their recent string of seven consecutive years in the postseason (I’m including this season) and winning two Stanley Cups, so their path might be most similar to the current struggles of the Oilers.
The Hawks didn’t have a magic cure for their losing. From 1998 to 2008 they made the playoffs once, 2002, so their tale of losing is similar to this nine-year stretch of Suck that the Oilers are currently enjoying.
Before you get to antsy, I’m not saying I expect the Oilers to become the Hawks, but as they get set to face the Hawks tonight, I wanted to show how the Hawks turned their franchise from a laughing stock into a Champion.
Here is who the Hawks drafted starting in 1998.
Mark Bell 8th overall. He played 450 NHL games, but never developed into the player they’d hoped. They didn’t rush him. He played two more years of junior after being drafted, then one in the AHL. He scored 20 goals twice for the Hawks before they traded him.
Kent Huskins, 6th round, played 318 games and Tyler Arnarson, 7th round, played 487. Both were decent late round picks.
They traded their #4 pick to Vancouver for Bryan McCabe and the Canucks first rounder in 2000 (#11 pick Pavel Vorobiev). McCabe played one year with the Hawks before they traded him to Toronto for Alexander Karpovtsev and a 4th round pick (Vladimir Gusev). Basically the Hawks traded the 1999 #4 overall pick and two years later had Karpovtsev, who was an injury-prone #4/#5 D-man.
They had the #23 pick this year and took Steve McCarthy. They got this pick when they dealt Chris Chelios at the deadline to Detroit for Anders Eriksson, a first rounder in 1999 (McCarthy) and a first rounder in 2001 (#29 overall, Adam Munro).
Bad trades will keep you a losing franchise, and trading proven D-men for prospects is often a losing proposition.
The Hawks had 15 draft picks, but none of them played more than 57 NHL games. They took Mikhail Yakubov 10th overall and Vorobiev 11th (pick from Canucks).
This is where they started the foundation for their 2009 playoff team and 2010 Cup Winning team.
They drafted Tuomo Ruutu 9th overall. He played four seasons for the Hawks (2004-2008), before being traded at the 2008 deadline to Carolina for Andrew Ladd (4th overall pick in 2004).
They also drafted goalie Craig Anderson (73rd overall). From 2002-2006 he split time between the AHL and NHL, mainly in the AHL. During the 2005/2006 season Anderson was claimed on waivers three separate times. The Bruins claimed him from the Hawks, then the Blues claimed him from the Bruins and finally the Hawks reclaimed him from the Blues. He was then traded at the draft to Florida for a 6th round pick. It wasn’t until he played in Florida, at age 25, that he posted solid NHL sv% numbers. I only included Anderson, because his 2006 season looked somewhat similar to Devan Dubnyk’s 2014 campaign.
They drafted Duncan Keith (45th overall), James Wisniewski (5th round) and Adam Burish in the 9th round. Both Keith and Burish were on the 2010 Cup winning team. Wisniewski started in the AHL in 2004/2005 and became a regular with the Hawks midway through the 2006/2007 season. He was traded to Anaheim for Sammy Pahlsson at the 2009 trade deadline, and Pahlsson was a solid 3rd line C for the Hawks in their 2009 playoff run to the conference final.
Another solid draft year. They took Brent Seabrook 13th overall, Corey Crawford 52nd and Dustin Byfuglien 245th overall. Seabrook has been a mainstay since the start of the 2005/2006 season. He played two seasons in junior after being drafted. Crawford became the starter in 2010/2011 after they won the Cup with Niemi. He was their third goalie during the 2010 run. Byfuglien was a solid 3rd liner for them in 2010.
The Hawks had a whopping 17 draft picks. They missed when they took Cam Barker 3rd overall instead of Ladd, but they traded Barker to Minnesota at the 2010 deadline for Kim Johnsson, small role in 2010 run, and prospect Nick Leddy, who was on 2013 Cup winning roster. So they made up for a bad choice in Barker.
They also selected Dave Bolland 32nd overall, Bickell 41st and Troy Brouwer 214th. Brouwer was on the 2010 Cup team and then traded to the Capitals at the 2011 draft, while Bolland was part of both Cup winning teams and Bickell was also on both Cup winning teams, although he only played four games in the 2010 playoffs.
Took Jack Skille 7th overall. He never panned out, but just like Barker they moved him for a player who helped them win the 2013 Cup, Michael Frolik. They Hawks also drafted Niklas Hjalmarsson in the 4th round. He has been a solid #3 D-man on both Cup winning teams.
Took Jonathan Toews 3rd overall. He played one year of NCAA and then debuted in 2007/2008. He’s been a major part of their success. None of their other eight picks made any impact with the Hawks.
The Hawks won the lottery, moving up from #5 to #1, and took Patrick Kane. Kane has been instrumental in their Cup victories. None of their other six picks made any impact.
That was the foundation of their Championship teams. Outside of Marian Hossa, they never signed any big-name free agents, Niemi was signed in 2008 as an undrafted goalie, and a trade they made on December 5th, 2005 really helped as well. They sent Matt Ellison and 3rd round pick to Philly for Patrick Sharp and Eric Meloche. Sharp had played parts of three years with Philly, most of it in the AHL, and his best run in the AHL was 52 points in 75 games.
He came to Chicago, and scored 20 goals and 35 points in 80 games in 2007, but the next year he exploded for 36 goals, and you have to think the arrival of Kane and Toews helped Sharp evolve into the player he is now. When the trade was made in 2005, no one in NHL circles thought Sharp would become an integral part of two Cup winning teams.
The Hawks drafted well, made some astute trades, got lucky by winning the 2005 lottery, although they lost the 2004 one which cost them Malkin or Ovechkin, and had a major bonus in the Sharp trade.
The foundation of their team was built through the draft, and the final tweaks came via solid trades. If the Oilers are ever going to escape from the cycle of losing it has to come mainly from drafting and developing and then they need to win some trades.
HOW DO OILERS COMPARE?
Like I said earlier, I’m not suggesting the Oilers are close to the Hawks, but during the first few years of the Hawks decade of losing, their drafting wasn’t great either.
With Petry gone the Oilers have nothing to show from the 2006 draft. If the Montreal picks turn into an NHL player in a few years, then we will talk, but for now the Oilers have nothing to show for that draft year.
Eight years later the 2007 draft is a major reason why the organization hasn’t improved. They had three picks in the top-21 and now none of them are here. We will never know how different of a player Sam Gagner would have been if he wasn’t rushed into the NHL at 18. Alex Plante was a reach, while Riley Nash never played here. The good news from that draft is that the Oilers traded Nash at the 2010 draft for Carolina’s pick and selected Martin Marincin.
If Marincin can keep developing they will have salvaged something from the 2007 draft.
When I look at the Oilers, I think you have to start with 2008 as the year their drafting become the foundation of their team. Jordan Eberle was taken 22nd overall and he’s become a very good point producer. Steven Stamkos is the only forward more productive than Eberle from his draft year, and since he debuted in the NHL only 31 players have produced more points than his 265.
Anton Lander, 2009 pick, is starting to develop into a solid 3rd line player. Magnus Paajarvi turned into David Perron, who was turned into Rob Klinkhammer and a first round pick this year. I liked the original Perron trade, but unless they get a warm body for the Pittsburgh pick at the draft, I see that move as more hope, rather than actual NHL talent.
Taylor Hall has been an excellent player, if he can stay healthy he’s proven he can be a point-a-game player. Marincin, and Tyler Pitlick, if he can stay off the IR, are making the 2010 draft look better and Brandon Davidson has a shot to become a 3rd pairing D-man down the road.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom, 1st and 19th in 2011, look like solid picks. I wouldn’t have taken David Musil, but he wasn’t a major reach in the 2nd round. He was close to there on many draft rankings.
Nail Yakupov has shown glimpses of his potential, but likely won’t ever live up to his #1 overall status. They either hope he keeps developing or they have to make a smart trade that helps the team.
Darnell Nurse has benefited from two more years in junior. He will come to training camp in the fall and push for a roster spot. The temptation will be great to keep him, but some seasoning in the AHL won’t hurt him. He, along with Leon Draisaitl and this year’s top-pick, will be crucial for the success of the Oilers in 2016 and beyond.
The Oilers have to hope that a few 2nd-7th round picks from 2011 and beyond like Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev, Marco Roy, Mitch Moroz, Greg Chase and Jujhar Khaira develop into NHL players, but no one should expect that for a few more years.
The previous statement is what makes me believe the Oilers are still a couple seasons away from competing. They need Klefbom, Marincin and Nurse to mature, and between now and 2016, maybe 2017, Craig MacTavish has to make some trades that will help his team on the ice, not solely in compiling draft picks.
The Hawks made the playoffs once in ten years, and it would have been eleven if not for the lockout, so sadly, for Oilers fans, I see one more year of no playoffs, before the Oilers can take a serious run at the post season.
No lineup changes for the Oilers. They need to put forth a much better effort, especially in the opening ten minutes, than what they showed vs. the Kings on Tuesday.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From Second City Hockey…
Edmonton have dropped four of their past five games as they start a five-game road trip in Chicago.
Luke Gazdic and Teddy Purcell each scored and Ben Scrivens allowed all five goals on 29 shots in Edmonton’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton sits in last place in the Western Conference with 46 points. They’ll miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, but hey they’re in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, Buffalo has 43 points.
With Taylor Hall out because of long-term injury Jordan Eberle has stepped up to produce offensively. Eberle leads the team with 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 63 games this season. The 2008 first-round pick had three assists in his last three games before he was held scoreless against the Kings.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads the team with 16 goals this season. In his fourth year as a pro, Nugent-Hopkins is just four goals shy of surpassing his career-high 19 goals in a season.
Scrivens is 1-2-0 with a 4.23 GAA and .865 save percentage in three meetings against the Blackhawks.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers start the road trip with a 4-2 loss.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers play better and MacTavish puts another check mark beside the “Visually better” box, despite the Oilers being outshot by nine shots.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle has 12 points in his last 14 games, but no goals. He had nine goals in 13 games prior to that. He begins a new goal-scoring stint tonight with his first goal in 15 games.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Shaping the defence
- Petry trade: Predictable
- Motivation Music
- Pouliot producing and Congrats Joey!!
- Monday Musings
- GDB 60.0: MacTavish on Petry, Klinkhammer and Roy
- Jetting Back to the West