Pitlick, Musil and Moroz: Which high second-round pick was the best Oilers’ selection?

Draft Lottery

Pretty much the only nice thing about finishing near the bottom of the league is the way it improves draft picks. Edmonton had had a top-three selection in five of the last six drafts, and those five players are now key pieces of the team’s long-term plan.

But it’s not just the first-round pick of a team that improves. All of the Oilers’ selections were higher in those years, and on three occasions the team used a second-round pick which was virtually indistinguishable from a first-round draft choice. Those three picks produced Tyler Pitlick, David Musil and Mitch Moroz.

That’s not an overly impressive list, but the question was put to me on Twitter whether in hindsight Musil or Moroz was a better selection for the Oilers (I added in the comparable Pitlick):

Let’s take a look at all three selections, and keep in mind we’re doing this with the advantage of hindsight.

2010 Draft: Tyler Pitlick

15-Pitlick-1

It’s fair to say that the Pitlick pick hasn’t worked out the way the Oilers’ thought it would. The big question here is how much injuries have factored. Over his four-season professional career, Pitlick has played a total of 62, 44, 49 and 31 games in each. He’s had head injuries, he’s had leg injuries, he’s had spleen injuries; he’s earned the “injury prone” label but it’s hard to lay any fault on a guy for missing time with a lacerated spleen. The really bizarre thing is how many of these injuries are unconnected to each other; it’s not like he has one recurring problem.

In a perfect world, the Oilers would have taken USHL defenceman Justin Faulk with this pick. The 6’, 215-pound right-shooting rearguard is maybe the best unknown defenceman in the NHL; he’s emerged as a No. 1 rearguard in Carolina and posted 15 goals and 49 points last season.

Of course, a lot of teams are probably kicking themselves about that one. Here’s a look at the five players picked between Pitlick and Faulk:

  • No. 32 Jared Knight (Boston): Offensive centre had four goals and 10 points in the AHL last year. Zero NHL games played.
  • No. 33 John Mcfarland (Florida): Power forward graduated to the AHL full-time last year, after splitting the previous two years between the AHL and ECHL. Zero NHL games played.
  • No. 34 Dalton Smith (Columbus): Physical winger set a career-high with 17 points in the AHL last season. Zero NHL games played.
  • No. 35 Ludvig Rensfeldt (Chicago): The Blackhawks didn’t bother giving him an entry-level deal; he’s been an up-and-down player in Sweden’s second-best pro league. Zero NHL games played.
  • No. 36 Alex Petrovic (Florida): Late-blooming defenceman had a reasonably impressive 33-game run with the Panthers last year. 46 NHL games played.

As a practical matter, the Oilers weren’t likely to do much better than Pitlick if they’d gone with whoever their second choice at No. 31 was. Faulk is a dream and Petrovic is superior but relative to the quality available Pitlick doesn’t look too bad. The Oilers took Martin Marincin at No. 46 and between Pitlick and Marincin (and with the exception of Faulk and perhaps Jon Merrill) there aren’t a lot of players worth fretting over missing out on.

2011 Draft: David Musil

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Musil is pretty much on-track as a prospect, particularly since the development curve on defensive defencemen is pretty slow. In his rookie pro campaign he established himself as a full-time AHL player. In his second professional campaign he moved up the depth chart and earned an NHL cameo. If he can establish himself as a top AHL player next year and an NHL third-pairing option after the deadline he’ll be sticking to the script for his player-type quite well.

In a vacuum, Musil looks okay. The problem for him is that he’s a) one of a bazillion lower-end defensive options in the Oilers’ system and b) there were some really good players on the board.

Edmontonians tend to fixate on two players. Boone Jenner went No. 37 to Columbus and had some vocal supporters on draft day; he’s a 6’2”, 208-pound centre/left wing who plays a physical game and has enough talent to play scoring line minutes already. More recently there’s been a lot of focus on Brandon Saad, an overage pick of Chicago at No. 43, and that’s certainly understandable given his achievements.

But there was a lot of talent available. Just four years out 25 of the 30 players selected in the second round of 2011 have played NHL games, including the next 14 selections after Musil. The Oilers could almost have tossed a dart at their list of potential second round choices and landed a decent player.

2012 Draft: Mitch Moroz

It’s pretty early to be talking about 2011, but it’s really early to be talking about 2012. Only five of the 30 players selected in the second round have appeared in NHL games and outside of New Jersey defenceman Damon Severson (No. 60 overall) and maybe Chris Tierney (No. 55, San Jose) there aren’t really any breakout talents at this point.

With that said, most of the players picked are further along in their development than Moroz, who was bad early in the AHL and found himself buried on the depth chart as a result; he managed just nine points in 66 games.

But it’s early for Moroz, and he contributes things that NHL teams value beyond his scoring. Perhaps most critically, the second round class as a whole in 2012 isn’t terribly compelling; Edmonton may not have fared all that much better with a different selection.

87-Musil-1

It’s a funny thing; if I were running an NHL expansion team and had my choice of these three players, I’d probably take Musil off the Oilers hands. On the other hand, if I were running the Oilers and had the power to go back and nix one of these selections (with the caveat that Edmonton would instead pick whoever their second choice was) I’d be tempted to cancel the Musil pick given the Oilers’ strength at the position and the wealth of talent on the board.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

      • Justin Schultz, highly touted college player and future “Norris Trophy Candidate” is barely, BARELY a third-pairing defender. On the Oilers mind you.

        Where does that put Musil? Like you said “there’s a bazillion lower-end defensive options in the Oilers’ system”.

        Now I don’t pay any attention to junior hockey because it takes a truly outstanding talent to even make the show. Is Musil showing any glimmer of “outstanding”?

        Seems to me we’ve had so little to look forward to the last while at the NHL level that we focus an inordinate amount of effort on juniors, 99.9903% of whom will never amount to anything more than sales guy of the month at Freedom Ford.

      • That is not exactly a rare commodity.

        Third pairing defensemen grow on trees.

        There is always a UFA available, that you can get for nothing. Do not even need to trade for them.

        So in that regard it is a wasted pick. Then again the second round is a bit of a crap shoot. You just hope you can get one good player out of every 5-10 picks, is the way I look at it. I think drafting defensmen is a good idea in the second round however. I think your chances of getting a good D in the second round are higher then getting a good forward. Goalies are also a good option for your second rounder, since not too many of them go in the first round.

  • Pitlick is probably the best pick fo the 3. but injuries have derailed him.. This is a make or break year for him.

    Moroz was a reach pick. Wrong time to take him. Probably should of been a 3rd or 4th rounder. Highly doubt he sees an NHL game.

    Musil is big/smart.. but sadly slow. I mean slow as in slower then Ference slow(yes that bad). Because of his name he will get a shot in the show. But I think it will become clear he doesnt have the speed to play in the NHL.

  • TKB2677

    I would say Musil.

    At worst he’s a big, tough, physical, 3rd pairing NHL Dman that will make hopefully make life miserable for the opposition, kill some penalties and can break up the cycle. As long as he doesn’t handle the puck like a grenade which I don’t think he does, he will have a long career.

    Pitlick is a looking like a bust in my opinion. I know he hasn’t played much due to injury but here is why I call him a bust. He was picked 31st overall. In my opinion, if you are a forward and you are the first pick in the second round, you should be a 2nd line player. Saad is a good example. Pitlick if he can stay healthy is at best a 3rd line winger but probably ends up being a 3rd/4th liner. I agree that the Oilers could use a fast skating, physical forward that can score the odd goal in the bottom 6. But I don’t think any team goes into the draft looking to draft at best a 3rd line winger with the 31st pick. I’m thinking that Pitlick will be a slightly fast, not as tough Matt Hendricks. Hendricks had 8 goals last year so that makes him primarily a 4th liner. Add 5 more goals and suddenly, he’d be a 3rd liner.

    Moroz was taken way, way too high. I think they could have got him at least a round later but as a second rounder, it was a stupid pick.

  • Funny how keeping our later picks in the AHL for long term development is now considered a failure and the player is a bust yet when Detroit does it they are geniuses. It is a crapshoot when picking players in the second round and later but it would be nice to find a real gem once in awhile like a Faulk. Let the kids develop it takes time, and if nothing else they become veterans and leaders for the Condors and help strengthen the system.
    As for Jonathans question, I like Pitlick and the team should not give up on him and he has game.

    • JackB

      AGREED . . . drafting after the first round is a gamble (crap shoot). AGREED . . . Detriot has done very well in drafting in the later rounds (but it seems their best successes have been in drafting European players.) AGREED . . . our scouting has left A LOT TO BE DESIRED . . . but we have had some success in the later rounds.

      Kirk Maltby (3rd round ’92 ) / Miroslav Satan (5th round ’93) [THEN NOTHING FOR 3 YEARS] / Fernando Pisani (8th round ’96) / Tom Poti (3rd round ’96) / Jason Chimera (5th round ’97) / Shawn Horcoff (4th round ’98) / Mike Comrie (3rd round ’99) / Matthew Lombardi (7th round ’00) [THEN NOTHING FOR 2 YEARS] / Matt Green (2nd round ’02) / Jarret Stoll (2nd round ’02) Kyle Brodziak (7th round ’03)

      BUT . . . not much since 2003 !!! (In fact nothing!)

      We still have hope for Dillon Simpson (4th round ’11) / Jujhar Khaira (3rd round ’12) / Greg Chase (7th round ’13) / Ben Betker (6th round ’13) / Kyle Platzer (4th round ’13) / Anton Slepyshev (3rd round ’13) / Bogdan Yakimov (3rd round ’13)

      In fact, for later round picks, 2013 could possibly be our best draft in the last ten years!

      (1) Greg Chase might very likely be a 7th round GEM, and could be the agitator we need.

      (2) Slepyshev and Yakimov could also be 3rd round GEMS.

      (3) Kyle Platzer is surprising a lot of people (but is still a ways away from making the NHL)

      (4) And (a long shot) Ben Betker (6’5″/204lb) turned a few heads at the last prospect camp. Wouldn’t that be great if he turned out to a good skating, hard hitting 6-7 D. (We sure need a big body like that, who likes to hit and can pass!)

      And, although it is far too early tell, in our draft this year, both Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones (Seth Jones brother) could possibly be good prospects for 4th and 5th round picks ?? (let’s hope !)

      And . . . we certainly hope (and expect!) that Chiarelli will improve our scouting staff . . . ANY CHANCE HE COULD STEAL DETROIT’S EUROPEAN SCOUTS ???

  • All 3 are early second round picks but as pointed out very few players have emerged as NHL material from behind them.

    I’ll admit I would have liked to see the Oilers pick M Blackwood (G) in the second round this year.

    My plan is to watch Connor McDavid light up the show like extra neon bulbs for 5 years and see what, if any, career our 3 (second round) Muskateers carve out.

    Just an update on my McDavid fist pump: first thing is to remember which hand my beverage of choice is in.

  • camdog

    Other teams use the second round to try and find players to play on their top 3 lines or top 2 defensive pairings. The Oilers on the other hand have been looking for 4th liners and 3rd pairing d-man.

  • Jaxon

    I think these picks should all be traded as pieces in multiplayer deals. I don’t see them making the team, and if they do it will be in a supporting role that could be acquired every summer for pennies on the UFA market. The ‘pedigree’ or ‘high second round pick’ gives them some value that will only decrease as time goes on. If only to let the opposing GM say to their fan base that they got a player with some good draft pedigree who hasn’t had a chance yet. If any of these three sweeten a deal enough to get something of value back, then do it. If packaging them with a Nikitin, Purcell, Hendricks or Ference or even Schultz can increase the return, I’m all for it.

  • The Soup Fascist

    How about Marco Roy, the late 2nd rounder the smartest guys in the room picked in the 2013 draft. 56th overall, and such a disappointment that the Oil don’t even offer him an ELC and let him re-enter the draft in 2015. Guess what? Not one team picks him, a guy we waste a second round pick on is not even worth a 7th round gamble and goes undrafted his second time through. And thats after 2 more years to develop and supposedly be closer to making the bigs. The worst part is most of these same smart guys were still sitting at the Oils draft table this past June. I can only assume they’re sharing all their wisdom with Chia. What a pathetic joke. Adding Chia was great but why do those other ass clowns still sit at the draft table? The optics are terrible.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Musil. The problem with Musil is where he was picked, and who wasn’t. Musil is the type of dman u trade a 4th round pick for (Gryba). At 31st, u should still be swinging for the fences, not picking solid, depth players.

  • The Soup Fascist

    These three guys are an example of why the Oilers were a laughing stock in the NHL for so long. These guys will never get much more than a cup of coffee in the bigs and you can throw in Khaira and Simpson into that mix as well. Glad they kept MacT on as asst. GM.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      some of these picks were why Stu and his staff are no longer employed by the Oilers! Stu may have redeemed himself with what looks to be a pretty solid 2013 draft, but he crapped the 2014 draft and now it was too little too late for them. and i also wish MacT wasn’t around at all. the last thing i personally wanted to see was MacT at the draft, and front and center for the photo op.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Willis,

    Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and the Oilers would be a different team right now had they taken Faulk, Jenner and Saad. (Which would be unreal)

    I’m curious, did the Oilers bugger the picks up, or is it that much of a crap shoot on who will turn out and who won’t. I’m curious what the numbers, analytics (NHLe – for points)etc would say when comparing the boom players from the slight busts.

    In hindsight, should the Oilers have known to take a swing with Saad or did the Hawks luck out?

    That would be a great read

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Willis,

    Obviously hindsight is 20/20 and the Oilers would be a different team right now had they taken Faulk, Jenner and Saad. (Which would be unreal)

    I’m curious, did the Oilers bugger the picks up, or is it that much of a crap shoot on who will turn out and who won’t. I’m curious what the numbers, analytics (NHLe – for points)etc would say when comparing the boom players from the slight busts.

    In hindsight, should the Oilers have known to take a swing with Saad or did the Hawks luck out?

    That would be a great read

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    The Musil pick is a good synopsis of the challenges building through the draft. At this point, he’s probably the best of the three, but relative to his draft class he is an under-performer.

    Some years you’re going to find an abundance of quality players in round one and two. In others, even the top of the first round has marginal players. Which is why having a surplus of picks this year was a good thing, and trading them away was not the greatest move.

  • Mason Storm

    Still too early to be asking this question. Lot’s of people giving up on a just turned 21 yr old Moroz but that’s way too early. Pitlick’s a player, just needs to stay healthy & mostly not try to put an opposing player through the boards. Musil is a player also but needs more seasoning & the right situation. Is he going to get that in Edmonton with so many other prospects on the blue line. Do we know how Gryber is going to work for instance & will the Oilers bring him back if he fits in. My point is this, what does that situation alone do for Musil, Davidson etc.