The Edmonton Oilers own the Pittsburgh Penguins first round pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft, 16th overall, but that pick could become #15 if the Calgary Flames defeat the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Is moving up one spot in the draft worth cheering for the Flames?
I’m not an Oilers fans due to my job, but I’m a proud Edmontonian and I grew up loathing Calgary sports teams, and while I don’t cheer for the Oilers, I still can’t stand any Calgary team. For me, moving up one slot in the draft would not be reward enough to root for a long-standing rival.
That is the emotional side of me, but the rational side decided to look at the history of the NHL draft and see if history suggests it would be a wise decision for Oilers fans to cheer against the Ducks.
Here are the 15th and 16th overall picks from the NHL entry draft dating back to 1979, the first year of the 21-team league.
|15||Boston||Brad McCrimmon||D||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)||1222||81||322||403||1416|
|16||Los Angeles||Jay Wells||D||Kingston Canadians (OHA)||1098||47||216||263||2359|
Both were solid D-men, with McCrimmon bringing more offence while Wells was more physical. McCrimmon was a better overall defender, but both played 1000+ games.
|15||Chicago||Jerome Dupont||D||Toronto Marlboros (OHA)||214||7||29||36||468|
|16||Minnesota||Brad Palmer||L||Victoria Cougars (WHL)||168||32||38||70||58|
Neither had a long career. Dupont was tough as nails, while Palmer scored 22 goals his second season. He was much more skilled, but only lasted 2 1/2 years in the league. I’d give slight edge to Palmer.
|15||Calgary||Al MacInnis||D||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||1416||340||934||1274||1501|
|16||Philly||Steve Smith||D||Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)||18||0||1||1||15|
MacInnis is in the Hall of Fame. This was the biggest gap of talent between the two picks during the past 37 drafts.
|15||NY Rangers||Chris Kontos||L||Toronto Marlboros (OHL )||230||54||69||123||103|
|16||Buffalo||Dave Andreychuk||L||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||1639||640||698||1338||1125|
The Rangers missed out on drafting the 14th most prolific goal scorer in NHL history. Kontos had one excellent playoffs with the LA Kings in 1989, scoring nine goals in 11 games, which was more goals than he ever scored in one regular season. Andreychuk in a landslide.
|15||Pittsburgh||Bob Errey||L||Peterborough Petes (OHL)||895||170||212||382||1005|
|16||NY Islanders||Gerald Diduck||D||Lethbridge Broncos (WHL)||932||56||156||212||1612|
Both players had solid NHL careers. Errey was a solid checker, while Diduck was a good stay-at-home defender. I’d call it even.
|15||Quebec||Trevor Stienburg||R||Guelph Platers (OHL)||71||8||4||12||161|
|16||Pittsburgh||Roger Belanger||C||Kingston Canadians (OHL)||44||3||5||8||32|
I’d call it a draw, neither panned out.
|15||Quebec||David Latta||L||Kitchener Rangers (OHL)||36||4||8||12||4|
|16||Montreal||Tom Chorske||L||Minneapolis Southwest H.S.||596||115||122||237||225|
Chorske won a Cup with the Devils and was a solid third/fourth line checker for parts of ten NHL seasons. Latta was a decent scorer in junior, but couldn’t score much in the AHL or NHL. Chorske wins.
|15||Montreal||Mark Pederson||L||Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)||169||35||50||85||77|
|16||Calgary||George Pelawa||F||Bemidji H.S.||0||0||0||0||0|
Pederson was a talented scorer. He had three 100-point seasons in the WHL, and then he tallied 176 points in 147 AHL games over two seasons, but he couldn’t stick in the NHL. **EDIT**Pelawa died in a tragic accident so impossible to compare.
|15||Quebec||Joe Sakic||C||Swift Current Broncos (WHL)||1378||625||1016||1641||614|
|16||Winnipeg||Bryan Marchment||D||Belleville Bulls (OHL)||926||40||142||182||2307|
An incredible pick for Quebec. Sakic is 9th all-time in points and 15th in goals. Bryan Marchment is one of the best #16 overall picks ever, but he was drafted after Sakic and loses this head-to-head matchup.
|15||Washington||Reggie Savage||R||Victoria Tigers (OMJHL)||34||5||7||12||28|
|16||NY Islanders||Kevin Chevaldayoff||D||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL )||0||0||0||0||0|
Cheveldayoff was a hard-nosed D-man for Brandon and in the AHL, but he never got a chance in the NHL. Savage was a fantastic scorer in junior, and basically a point-a-game player in the AHL, but he only played 33 NHL games. He was the better player, but neither team got much traction with their pick.
|15||Edmonton||Jason Soules||D||Niagara Falls Thunder (OHL )||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Pittsburgh||Jamie Heward||D||Regina Pats (WHL)||394||38||86||124||221|
Soules played 52 AHL games and quit after one season. You will notice a bad trend for the Oilers when it comes to 15th overall picks. Heward wins easily because he played almost 400 games. He had a cannon of a shot.
|15||Hartford||Mark Greig||R||Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)||125||13||27||40||90|
|16||Chicago||Karl Dykhuis||D||Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)||644||42||91||133||495|
I watched Greig in Lethbridge a lot as a junior player because my brother played on the team, and he had incredible hands, but he wasn’t the most competitive player. Dykhuis had a solid NHL career and wins this contest handily.
|15||NY Rangers||Alexei Kovalev||R||Moscow Dynamo||1316||430||599||1029||1304|
|16||Pittsburgh||Markus Naslund||L||MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik||1117||395||474||869||736|
Easily the best #15 and #16 draft duo in NHL history. Both had solid careers, played in Cup finals, the Olympics and more. When Kovalev decided to play he was the better player, but often he was an enigma. I’d call it a draw. Both picks were solid.
|15||Philly||Jason Bowen||L||Tri-City Americans (WHL)||77||2||6||8||109|
|16||Boston||Dmitri Kvartalnov||R||San Diego Gulls (IHL)||112||42||49||91||26|
Kvartalnov was a much more skilled player. He had 72 points in 73 games as a 26-year-old rookie in 1993, but the next season he split time between the AHL and NHL. He returned to Europe the following year. Bowen was an odd selection by the Flyers. He wasn’t drafted at 18, and he only played 19 games when he was 19, but the Flyers still took him. He had scored total of 33 points in 121 games the previous two WHL seasons and they still drafted him. A win for the Bruins.
|15||Winnipeg||Mats Lindgren||C||Skelleftea AIK||387||54||74||128||146|
|16||Edmonton||Nick Stajduhar||D||London Knights (OHL)||2||0||0||0||4|
The Oilers never drafted Lindgren, but he ended up playing more games for them than Stajduhar who was remembered more for getting punched outside of Barry T’s than he was for playing with the Oilers. An easy with for the 15th pick.
|15||Washington||Alex Kharlamov||R||CSKA Moscow||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Toronto||Eric Fichaud||G||Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)||95||0||1||1||4|
Toronto traded Fichaud to New York for Benoit Hogue only ten months after the Leafs drafted him. He played 75 games for the Islanders during his first three seasons as a pro, debuting as a 20-year-old, but he never lived up to the hype. He was traded to the Oilers for Mike Watt in 1998, but only played in their farm system. He played in the NHL so a slight win for #16, but neither player made much of an impact.
|15||Toronto||Jeff Ware||D||Oshawa Generals (OHL)||21||0||1||1||12|
|16||Buffalo||Martin Biron||G||Beauport Harfangs (QMJHL)||508||0||14||14||81|
Leafs fans did not like these draft years. Fichaud and then Ware and neither played a game for the Leafs. An easy win for Biron who played in 500 games and had a solid NHL career.
|15||Philly||Dainius Zubrus||C||Pembroke (COJHL)||1243||225||359||584||771|
|16||Tampa Bay||Mario Larocque||D||Hull Olympiques (QMJHL)||5||0||0||0||16|
Zubrus had a solid NHL career. I was surprised to see he played 1243 games, which is 87th all-time. A lopsided win for 15th overall.
|15||Los Angeles||Matt Zultek||L||Ottawa 67’s (OHL)||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Chicago||Ty Jones||W||Spokane Chiefs (WHL)||14||0||0||0||19|
Zultek and Jones never panned out. This is an easy draw.
|15||Ottawa||Mathieu Chouinard||G||Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)||1||0||0||0||0|
|16||Montreal||Eric Chouinard||C||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||90||11||11||22||16|
The Chouniards were not related. Eric was a prolific scorer in junior, but it didn’t translate to the NHL. Mathieu was drafted by the Senators in 1998, but they never signed him and he was drafted again, 45th overall, in 2000 by the Senators. I’m not making this up. They used two draft picks on him and he never played a game for the. Ouch. I’ll give it to the 16th pick because of the terribly awful drafting decision by the Senators.
|15||Phoenix||Scott Kelman||C||Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Carolina||Dave Tanabe||D||U. of Wisconsin (WCHA)||449||30||84||114||245|
Kelman was a big centre, but he didn’t put up huge numbers in junior. He was drafted solely for his size and it didn’t work. Tanabe had a solid career.
|15||Buffalo||Artem Kryukov||F||Yaroslavl Torpedo||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Montreal||Marcel Hossa||L||Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)||237||31||30||61||106|
Marcel Hossa wasn’t as good as his brother, but he was much better than Artem Kryukov.
|15||Carolina||Igor Knyazev||D||Moscow Spartek||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Vancouver||R.J. Umberger||L||Ohio State University||740||178||203||381||297|
A landslide victory for Umberger. He is still in the league, but his foot speed has become an issue.
|15||Edmonton||Jesse Niinimaki||C||Ilves Tampere (SM-Liiga)||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Ottawa||Jakub Klepis||C||Portland Winter Hawks (WHL)||66||4||10||14||36|
I don’t blame Niinimaki for being taken here. The Oilers made a major gaffe by selecting him at 15. He wasn’t rated in the top-100 by many, yet the Oilers felt they knew more than everyone else. Klepis only played 66 games, but the Oilers reach means you have to give it to #16.
|15||NY Islanders||Robert Nilsson||C||Leksands IF (SEL)||252||37||81||118||90|
|16||San Jose||Steve Bernier||R||Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)||609||104||120||224||291|
Another 15th pick that haunts Oilers fans. Edmonton never drafted Nilsson but they acquired him in the Ryan Smyth deal. He had excellent hands and great hair, but his motor didn’t rev high enough. Bernier carved out a solid career.
|15||Nashville||Alexander Radulov||R||Tver (Russia)||154||47||55||102||74|
|16||NY Islanders||Petteri Nokelainen||R||SaiPa Lappeenranta (SM-Liiga)||245||20||21||41||103|
Radulov is clearly the better player, but he didn’t like North America, or the discipline needed off the ice, and returned home to the KHL. I still give the 15th slot the nod, because he was a much better player in his short NHL career.
|15||NY Islanders||Ryan O’Marra||C||Erie Otters (OHL)||33||1||6||7||17|
|16||Atlanta||Alex Bourret||R||Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL)||0||0||0||0||0|
Another Oiler connection at #15. O’Marra was also part of the Smyth trade and he never found a comfort zone in the NHL. He was a better prospect than Bourret, but he couldn’t adjust to the NHL game. Draw.
|15||Tampa Bay||Riku Helenius||G||Ilves Tampere (SM-Liiga)||1||0||0||0||0|
|16||San Jose||Ty Wishart||D||Prince George Cougars (WHL)||26||1||5||6||10|
Just like the 2005 draft neither played long enough to make any sort of impact. I’d call it a draw again.
|15||Edmonton||Alex Plante||D||Calgary Hitman (WHL)||10||0||2||2||15|
|16||Minnesota||Colton Gillies||L||Saskatoon Blades (WHL)||154||6||12||18||72|
Another nightmare at #15 for the Oilers. They reached on Plante and he was unable to live up to the unrealistic expectations of his draft slot. Concussions also derailed his career. Gillies was another big body from the WHL, but he too struggled in the NHL. Slight edge to 16, but not by much.
|15||Ottawa||Erik Karlsson||D||Frolunda Jrs (Sweden)||397||84||219||303||202|
|16||Boston||Joe Colborne||C||Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)||160||19||43||62||83|
Colbourne has emerged as a solid role player, but Karlsson is one of the best D-men in the league. A decisive win for #15.
|15||Anaheim||Peter Holland||C||Guelph Storm (OHL)||130||21||21||42||55|
|16||Minnesota||Nick Leddy||D||Eden Prairie H.S.||336||30||100||130||48|
Like Colbourne, Holland has become a useful NHLer, but Leddy is a top pairing D-man. Easy win for #16.
|15||Los Angeles||Derek Forbort||D||U.S. National Development Team||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||St. Louis||Vladamir Tarasenko||R||Novosibirsk Sibir (KHL)||179||66||69||135||57|
Could you imagine if the Kings had taken Tarasenko instead of Forbort. They’d likely still be in the playoffs. A great pick for the Blues.
|15||NY Rangers||J.T. Miller||C||U.S. National Development Team||114||15||18||33||49|
|16||Buffalo||Joel Armia||F||Assat Pori (SM-Liiga)||1||0||0||0||0|
Armia had more hype leading up to the draft, but the Rangers made the right selection taking Miller ahead of him. Miller is emerging as a key piece for the Rangers, while Armia was traded to the Jets in the Evander Kane trade and is trying to find his way. #15 all the way.
|15||Ottawa||Cody Ceci||D||Ottawa 67’s (OHL)||130||8||22||30||20|
|16||Washington||Tom Wilson||R||Plymouth Whalers (OHL)||149||7||20||27||323|
Ceci and Wilson are regulars in the NHL and both are effective. I think it is too early to say who becomes better. I’d call it a draw today.
|15||NY Islanders||Ryan Pulock||D||Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Buffalo||Nikita Zadorov||D||London Knights (OHL)||67||4||12||16||55|
Again, too early to tell, but I was a huge fan of Pulock in junior. Zadorov has had some off-ice issues and was rushed to the NHL, while Pulock had a solid rookie pro season scoring 17 goals and 29 points as a D-man for the Islanders’ AHL team.
|15||Detroit||Dylan Larkin||C||U.S. National Under-18 Team||0||0||0||0||0|
|16||Columbus||Sonny Milano||L||U.S. National Under-18 Team||0||0||0||0||0|
Larkin and Milano are both good prospects. Larkin had a great WJC, but again it is too early to tell.
I didn’t see enough of a trend to make it worthwhile cheering for the Flames just to move up one spot. The 15th spot did produce MacInnis, Sakic, Karlsson, Kovalev and Zubrus, while the 16th spot had Andreychuk, Tarasenko, Naslund, Leddy and Umberger.
Overall I see eight years where #15 turned out better, and 13 years where #16 turned out better. The rest were either draws or too soon to tell.
I realize this draft is completely different, and it is considered a very deep draft. In theory, drafting higher should give you a better player, but history shows us that isn’t the case in many situations ranging from the first overall pick to the last pick. It can vary from year-to-year.
I don’t think it is worth it for an Oilers fan to sell their soul and cheer for the Flames. Do you?
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