This post is just one dumb man’s opinion. This is meant entirely to stir the pot and promote conversation. I’m an expert in nothing but taking naps, and if you disagree with me please let me know in the comments, and keep coming back every 10 minutes or so because we would love
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Cam Talbot’s name has been floating around the hockey blogosphere for some time now, as a potential replacement for the picture of Grant Fuhr taped to a plastic chair currently occupying the starting goalie position for the Edmonton Oilers. Conversations (arguments) flared up again when Murray Pam of The Hockey News tweeted a rumour that the Oilers may be willing to part with the 16th overall pick in this years NHL entry draft to acquire the Rangers backup.
— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) June 13, 2015
Now, I’ll start off by saying that yes, I recognize that’s a pretty steep price to pay for a guy who 1) has never played more than 36 games in an NHL season and 2) plays behind a New York Rangers team that has been to the Stanley Cup finals and Eastern Conference finals during Talbot’s two seasons as Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy. HOWEVER I also think that we, Edmonton Oiler fans, need to stop putting so much stock into
magic beans draft picks.
The draft is all we’ve had for the last decade, so it’s not like I don’t understand where a lot of you are coming from. We’ve coveted these first round picks because we literally had nothing else to look forward to other than the potential of a bright future, maybe, at some point, possibly. And I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to groom homespun talent in order to be successful rather than trying to buy every shiny free agent on the market.
But here’s my biggest problem; the argument I keep seeing is essentially “It’s a gamble to give up (18 year old junior player to be named at a later date) because POTENTIAL and because Talbot doesn’t have enough NHL experience.” You can’t give up a guy with ZERO NHL experience for a guy with SOME BUT NOT ENOUGH NHL experience? Am I the crazy one here? Does that only sound insane to me?
We’ve (rightfully) complained about the Oilers poor drafting record since 2006, and yet the idea of getting rid of a draft pick for a guy who is trending to be an elite number one goalie is enough to make some people go a little nuts. This is the same group that hasn’t been able to find an NHL player outside of the first round since Jeff Petry (Lander and Marincin are on a solid upward trajectory but other than that the cupboard is basically bare). The same franchise that TRADED DOWN in the 2003 draft, to avoid making a mistake like drafting Parise or Getzlaf, and wound up with basically nothing from what is considered one of the most stacked drafts of this era. You’ll have to excuse me if my confidence they’ll hit a home run with this pick is lower than Toby Petersen’s blood sugar.
And speaking of that 2003 draft…
THE DEEP, DEEP DRAFT
It seems every other year we hear about just how OH SO DEEP the draft is! SO MANY GOOD YOUNG PLAYERS! DEEP DEEP DEEP DEEP DEEP DEEP! And, of course, this year is no exception. And I mock, but I do agree that there seems to be boatloads of potential this year, possibly more than the last 2 or 3 years. I’ve seen it compared favourably to everyone’s favourite draft year (except Oiler fans) the aforementioned 2003 draft. “THE 16TH PICK COULD BE THE NEXT PARISE OR GETZLAF” is a common refrain. Let’s take a quick peek at who was draft from 15th to 20th that year.
15. Robert Nilsson
16. Steve Bernier
17. Zach Parise
18. Eric Fehr
19. Ryan Getzlaf
20. Brent Burns.
So you’ve got two bonafide superstars in Getzlaf and Parise, an incredibly good player in Burns, two bottom six guys in Fehr and Bernier, and *HHHHNNNGGGGG* Robert Nilsson… (never stops laugh-cry-vomiting #KidLine #NoNotThatKidLineTheOtherKidLineFromSixYearsAgo).
The draft is, and always will be, a crapshoot, and the Oilers have had a questionable (at best) drafting record since 2006. The 16th overall pick COULD be a superstar player in the mold of Ryan Getzlaf (though I think the Oilers already have that player in Draisaitl) just as easily as it could be the next Hugh Jessimen (remember him? Exactly). And on the same token Talbot’s numbers say he COULD easily be a bonafide top 10 goalie, just as easily as he could be the next Andrew Raycroft.
The Oilers were burned pretty brutally last year by gambling on two unproven starters, so we’re all a little gun-shy about doing it again. I get it. But I personally just think it’s time Oiler fans stop coveting draft picks so highly, and start opening their minds to the idea of building a team with actual NHL players that can be competitive sometime over the next five years. We can’t just keep putting our eggs in the “One Day This Kid May Be Pretty Awesome” basket.
Giving up the 16th pick for what amounts to a 50/50 chance of acquiring a player that will anchor the Oilers back end for the foreseeable future is a risk. But the Oilers aren’t in a position where they can just sit back and continue to do the cautious thing. They need to start taking some risks in order to finally move this boat toward the playoffs. If they have to give up some future potential for players that can help them win now, so be it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought the Avalanche were insane to give up a first round pick for Semyon Varlamov. But that gamble paid off and (one bad half season aside) he’s been great for them. Why couldn’t the same thing happen for the Oilers? ESPECIALLY after all the insane luck we’ve had over the last few months? KEEP RIDING THAT HOT HAND UNTIL WE GO BUST!
Everyone was clamouring for bold moves; this seems pretty damn bold to me. BRING ON THE TALBOT ERA!