Monday Mailbag – Raising the Draft Age?

Mailbag

My friends, it’s Mailbag time again. That means that you’ve submitted your questions and our panel of geniuses wizards wonder men writers have given a chunk of free wisdom that you’ll be able to carry with you for the rest of your lives. I need questions for next week so please send any question you may have to me through email or on Twitter. For now, it’s time to learn something. 


Tickets to the Connorversary are still available, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross in support of Fort McMurray.

1) 5-w30 asks – Do you think their would be any benefits to raising the draft age? So few players go directly to the NHL and it seems like the vast majority of them never hit the 100 games mark. Why not hold everyone else back a year?

Jason Gregor:

It would benefit the teams and players who wouldn’t have draft pressure when they were 17. Teams would have another year to evaluate players and make better picks. Very few players play four months after being drafted now, so it would only impact a few, but to appease the rare few who are ready at 18 they could put in a rule stating you can only draft 18 year old players in the first-ten picks.

Up until 1991 you could only draft an 18 year old in the first three rounds. So the rule has been in place before. They could alter the rule for the elite, allowing an 18 year old in the top-ten, so players like McDavid could still play. I don’t see why anyone would complain. It would appease the very few who are ready, but most importantly it would allow teams an extra year to evaluate players.

Jeanshorts:

I’m onboard with changing the draft age. Let players mature both mentally and physically, giving teams a better idea of their ceiling. But what I would change is the rule in the CBA that doesn’t allow teams to send junior eligible players down to the AHL. I think it’s silly that so many times we see players who have progressed past the junior level, but may not be ready to make the full jump to the NHL, and the only option is to play another year against teenagers. I mean, I understand why the CHL would want to keep around as much top talent as possible, for as long as possible, but still. Let Mitch Marner play in the AHL at 18, I say!

Lowetide:

I think it could benefit some players, but I have seen this before. The first exceptional player who is NHL-ready at 17 will push the rule—and probably win based on the fact he should be able to earn a living at age 18. In theory, you could have a draft that allows a team to draft one underage player in one of the first two rounds. The NHL introduced that format in 1974 as a hedge against WHA raids, and it could work again.

Robin Brownlee:

Yes, I’d be for moving the draft age back a year. The vast majority of draftees, even first-rounders, aren’t ready to play at 18. That, in concert with letting players into the AHL a year earlier, might aid in development.

Jason Strudwick:

I am in favour of raising the draft age as long as once drafted a player can move into the AHL. This would require the major junior leagues agreeing to this but not every player, once drafted, would move to the AHL.

Matt Henderson:

I’m not a fan of raising the draft age because I fall on the side of allowing people to earn a living as professionals as early as possible. Same reason I’m dead against the 20 year old requirement for the AHL. It just prevents teams from having to pay a kid money he’s more than talented enough to earn.

Baggedmilk:

I like the idea of pushing the draft age back. It will give kids an extra year (two?) to develop and teams would be more likely to know what they get. That being said, I think there should be exceptions. If you move the draft age back then kids drafted in the first round should be allowed to be sent to the AHL rather than just play in the NHL or in junior. 

2) HockeyDad asks – What is the current value of Edmonton’s first overall pick for 2017 and do you think Chiarelli might use it as a trade chip this summer?

Jason Gregor:

Not as much as you’d think since no one knows where the pick will be. The Oilers could shock people and make the playoffs, and then the pick isn’t in the lottery. I don’t see him moving it for an established NHL player. Oilers might trade down, but I suspect they keep it.

Jeanshorts:

A BILLION DOLLARS! With the potential expansion draft looming, and the fact that the Oilers could just as easily finish in the bottom five once again, I REALLY doubt Chiarelli deals the 2017 first round pick, unless something of incredible value is coming back the other way.

Lowetide:

I don’t know, but it is substantial and I agree that Mr. Chiarelli should have it as a trade chip.

Robin Brownlee:

We have no idea what the current value is because we don’t know where the Oilers will finish next season. I doubt very much he’ll offer it up this off-season.

Jason Strudwick:

It looks like there are some good players to be taken at fourth overall. Does a team want to move up to get one and at what cost? That is the hard call. I would use it as a chip if I didn’t want to move any of my current roster players.

Matt Henderson:

I think the fourth today has roughly equivalent value to Jordan Eberle straight up. That’s not to say it makes sense, but I’d say you could trade Eberle for the same thing you could trade the fourth for right now. That would make it maybe the third most valuable piece Edmonton has. Hall is tops, then RNH, then the fourth. 

Baggedmilk:

The only way that this works is if the other GM is a gambler. Every year we expect the Oilers to get better and they find a way to suck just as bad as ever. Maybe this renegade gambler of a GM takes a shot at next year’s pick with the idea in mind that the Oilers will, once again, spin their tires and end up in a lottery spot. 

3) Andrew Chung asks – With Connor McDavid being ineligible for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, do you think he benefits more by anchoring the U-23 Team or do you think it would have been better for his development to play for Team Canada? Does it even matter?

Jason Gregor:

Sidney Crosby didn’t play in 2006 Olympics, the year after he was drafted, and he developed just fine. McDavid playing with or against the best of the best for what might only be three games won’t alter his development curve much.

Jeanshorts:

There’s probably a less than zero percent chance that five or six games in a pre-season tournament will have any impact on McDavid’s development. He’s already one of the best players in the entire world. He’ll be fine.

Lowetide:

I don’t think it is a major deal to be honest. Expectations of the U23 seem low based on people I have talked to, so from that point of view it could be considered advantageous.

Robin Brownlee:

Doesn’t matter, although I would have liked to have seen him playing for Canada at the World Cup.

Jason Strudwick:

I don’t think it even matters.

Matt Henderson:

McDavid is already a top five player in the NHL and I’m dead serious about that. I don’t know what he’s going to learn from a tournament that has just been created that he doesn’t already know or won’t learn somewhere else. At this point I’m convinced the kid doesn’t need anything from anybody to keep getting better. Nobody gets that good because of outside factors. There’s something inside him that makes him the way he is. He’s special.

Baggedmilk:

It’s a super short tournament. I don’t think the five or six games he plays will have much effect on a player that good. Although, I do think it would have been beneficial for Connor to be able to hang around some of the best players in the league.

4) TheBirdofAnger asks – Can you name me some of your most memorable moments of meeting an NHL player? Where did you meet? How did the encounter go?

Jason Gregor:

Meeting Strudwick for the first time in studio. I’d never had a player ask to take a picture with me. He was a big fan of the show. He did tell some great stories about Jaromir Jagr though.

Jeanshorts:

Doug Gilmour did an autograph signing at St. Albert Sports when I was like nine. It was pretty exciting to see a real life NHLer that close and personal! He signed a Campbell Conference All-Stars card and a giant poster, both of which I still have somewhere. After he signed my things I moved over a couple feet so my friend Joel could get his stuff signed, and so that I could stare at Doug Gilmour longer, but a security guard yelled at me to get out of the line, so I scurried off, never to see Doug Gilmour again. I wonder what ever happened to him…

Lowetide:

I got to meet a bunch of 1980s Oilers, all cool people. I met Jari Kurri at CFRN Radio, where he came in to record a commercial for (as I recall) Shipley Photo. He was a very engaging person, quite funny, but had some difficulty with the script. We spent about one hour working on it, and it was difficult (Kurri had a thick accent but could speak English well enough to be understood) and we got through it. During the periods between reads, I had a chance to chat with him and found him to be a real gentleman. 

Robin Brownlee:

Too many to try to list. Meeting NHL players was my job for 20 years.

Jason Strudwick:

Meeting Bob Probert and playing with him was very cool. I always loved the way he played when I was younger. He was a great guy.

Matt Henderson:

I attended the same wedding as Shea Weber once. It was right after he signed that RFA offer and it was matched making him a gajillionaire. I also met Jason Strudwick twice, and he even let me be on his TV show once.

Baggedmilk:

We went to Moose Jaw last year for Smytty’s jersey retirement with the Warriors, and we got a chance to meet him afterward. He is just as nice as you always hoped. He signed a Nation hoodie and I plan on being buried in it. 

5) Blair asks – Do you think Matt Murray’s playoff performance makes Marc-Andre Fleury expendable? 

Jason Gregor:

I’m not sold it does right away. Murray has only played in 33 games. He looks very good, but is he ready to play a full season and handle the burden of being the bonafide starter? I could see Jim Rutherford keeping Fleury next year to see how Murray does, and if he keeps playing great then he could trade Fleury next off-season, or before the expansion draft, if there is one. And no one has seen how goalies will react and perform under the new fitting chart. What if Murray struggles mightily? I could see Rutherford being patient and waiting until next year to see if Murray is legit.

Jeanshorts:

We talked about this on the podcast last week, and if I’m a Penguin’s fan I’m really leery of handing the keys over to him immediately. He’s put up stellar numbers in two years worth of AHL work and has obviously been a revelation in the playoffs, but he’s still a 22 year old goalie with less than 15 regular season games under his belt. The Pens are in a good position though; they’ve got Fleury locked up at a reasonable cap hit for the next three seasons, and even more importantly Murray still has one year left in his ELC. If I’m the Pens I give the crease back to Fleury next season, give Murray slightly more starts than your average backup, then test the trade market for Fleury if Murray is able to continue playing well. Or maybe Murray is just so good in training camp they end up platooning them as a 1A/1B, while still trying to stir up a market for Fleury. Either way the Penguins are in great shape in net going into next season.

Lowetide:

Yes. Absolutely. The Penguins will have to deal Fleury, one would guess it is this summer but there is a chance he will be dealt during the year or before the expansion draft next summer.

Robin Brownlee:

I think it gives the Penguins something to think about, although I think it would be premature to move Fleury this off-season. If Murray picks up next season where he left off this season, then you weigh your options.

Jason Strudwick:

Considering that we are looking at an expansion draft it most likely does. In a normal year I would hold on to him.

Matt Henderson:

I think Fleury made Fleury expendable years ago. He’s one of the most frustrating goaltenders in the NHL because he can go from hero to goat in the blink of an eye. Murray definitely makes Fleury EXTRA expendable. Maybe they call up the Hurricanes and get something done. Even if Fleury is the second best goalie in Pittsburgh he’s still light-years ahead of Cam Ward.

Baggedmilk:

If they’re not going to protect him in the potential expansion draft then yes they should. Losing Fleury for nothing would be a massive mismanagement of assets for the Penguins and Jim Rutherford doesn’t seem that dumb. 


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  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    raise it to 19, then teams would have a better idea of how to predict how a player may turn out and wouldn’t be able to rush an 18 year old into the NHL.

  • madjam

    1. I feel draft age fine , but would also allow the ones not going immediately to NHL have a special status option (one-two per year each team perhaps) to go to AHL rather than back to juniors .
    2. Depends on who would be available at that spot we would draft from , and depth of draft next year . Obviously higher now than what it might be after next year .
    3.Fine he plays with young squad and playing more with them over the Canada team .
    5.Fleury is now moveable if they choose to deal him .

  • camdog

    If they moved the draft a year Connor McDavid would have been playing against Auston Mathews in Europe this past season and maybe last years as well. Who knows how many North American kids would head to Europe for their final 2 years of development and get paid good coin while doing it.

    With Fleury it’s not necessarily about wanting to move him, but being forced to, do to salary cap constraints.

      • camdog

        Maybe, but then it becomes political. What happens if Mathews doesn’t get the same status? Does he go to Europe and sign a 3 year deal (instead of 1) for NHL money? Maybe he doesn’t come to the NHL until he’s 20.

        When Gretzky started playing pro hockey no teenagers were permitted in the NHL so the World Hockey Association signed Gretzky. If not mistaken the NHL was forced into lowering the draft age, because they were losing talent. Most teams would prefer the draft age at 19 because they would lose less money signing draft busts, but on the other hand they risk losing the real talent to other leagues.

        • Leaking5w-30

          I like the suggestion that 18 year olds can be taken in the top 10. Once drafted they should be AHL eligible.

          Bet that that less than 10 would actually be picked each year. Other than that draft at 19.

  • Spydyr

    I have been saying push the draft age back to 19 for years but allow the first three picks to select exceptional 18 year old players with the one caveat that they cannot be sent back to junior their first season and have to stay in the NHL.

  • Steveland Cleamer

    Fleury has a modified NTC/NMC. You’re all talking like they can just up and move him.
    The NTC states he has the choice between 18 teams. Will the Penguins be hampered by it? And is the better play to not maybe move Murray while he is “hot” on the market??

    • Dan 1919

      Pits will be vying to win a Stanley Cup next year. Fleury is a great option for a team looking to make the playoffs, but has unfortunately proven to struggle as a playoff goalie these past few years. Assuming that Murray shows he can be a starter early next year, Fleury will be moved.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Re #1 and the draft age. Schultz will have his name on the cup and really did play quite well. To me this is a clear sign of just how screwed up our development system and treatment of young players is/was. If I was another teams GM I would be salivating at getting a shot at any young Oiler as they may well be Diamonds in the rough. I expect Yak to do very well somewhere else. Would another year help fix this mess maybe some but Chia and Co could take ten years to fix the ten year mess we live with as fans.(Not saying we will take ten years to make playoffs but that the management will take that long to really develop a true development system where late drafted players can really have a shot at the NHL)

    • camdog

      I’ve been neutral in respect to Schultz the past year in Edmonton, a Schultz defender, not because I like his game but because the Oilers didn’t have anybody else and he is still young enough that be could possibly improve. Last night Schultz played 7:33, if you watch the replays the Sharks mounted their best offence when Schultz was on the ice.

      In the playoffs Schultz did not play well. His minutes and time on ice were heavily managed by the coach. When he was on the ice Crosby or Malkin would come down very low each and every time to support Schultz. They were making plays that no centre on the Oilers are capable of making and then getting back in the offensive zone to provide offence. The only plays were Schultz had success in were keeping the puck in at the line and puck movement in offensive zone.

      I do expect him to land a job in the NHL next season as a number 6 d-men that get’s second line powerplay minutes, but if he doesn’t have a Crosby or Malkin coming down low to help him out, he’s going to have problems next season.

      • Hockeyfan

        What you typed is true, except he played good for what he was used for. What also is true is that you are saying your forward group are incapable of backchecking properly, which was apparent from the fits Tmac had last year. Shultz, as well as Yak and whatever 6 mil. man the Oil trade will improve immensely once removed from the Oil culture.

        • camdog

          When Schultz was on the ice the Pittsburgh centres exceeded what you would call proper back checking and the wingers played their position on the boards the way they are expected to and won many battles for the puck when Schultz blindly put the puck on the boards. Good coaching and good play by the forwards, plays that the Oiler forward group would not be able to make on a regular basis.

          Yes it is true that Schultz did play all right for what he was used for. Of course the Pens had Letang eating a majority of the minutes on the right side so there wasn’t a need for Schultz to take on more minutes. Letang got robbed of the Conn Smythe.

          • Ed in Edmonton 1

            In the 3rd period last night I only saw Schultz on the ice for the 1st half of the pen’s power play. Schultz looked okay with the Pen’s but was playing sheltered minutes.

            I wonder what the group that say the only way to evaluate a player is by eye and that stat’s have no real value would think about this.

          • CDNinATL

            Schutlz’s minutes were seriously being managed last night. I looked it up last night. First period he had something like 7 or 8 shifts. The second period, only 3 shifts and he had only the one shift in the third.

            There was no way they were letting him on the ice with only a 1 goal game.

      • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

        Can see your point that he was far down the roster had heavily managed minutes etc. I was not trying to say he was a top 4 guy. I was stating that he played far better than he had here and that I felt he was put in a position where he could succeed and learn. I do feel you were far clearer on your points than I was so credit to you. May we just have something far more positive to discuss next year than the mess we have lived in for ten years.

  • @Hallsy4

    I think the WHL draft age should be moved up a year. Players are drafted after 2nd year Bantam (14), and cannot play until 16 at the earliest. This just doesn’t make any sense. Often, the kids who hit an early growth spurt are better at 14 because they are bigger and stronger. Then they do not grow or improve as they peaked at 14, but WHL teams still take them as they don’t want to look foolish on a sqaundered draft pick. Having the draft after 2nd year Bantam makes the WHL a lesser league than it should be, as the best players possible are not playing in it. Too often are there Rookies in the WHL who put up very few points in Midget the previous year, then make the jump to the WHL. To be in the WHL players should first dominate midget before making the jump, it’s just irritating when a player puts up 10 pts in midget who plays in the WHL the next year, and the kid next to him scores 50 and probably plays Jr A (Not to take anything away from Jr A, but WHL is supposed to be the best). The WHL draft as it is now results in the WHL not being as good of a league as it should be. In my opinion western Canada produces the best hockey players in the country, or certainly at a high volume per capita, and the WHL should be the best JR league. It’s not however, as we see in Memorial cups with OHL and QMJHL teams dominating the WHL representatives. I believe these teams have the draft a year later, and I believe the best players play on these teams, and not only draft picks (Often eastern teams have guys who played Jr A first, and made the jump when they are a year or two older). I just can’t see any benefit of keeping the draft as it is now, and huge benefits of moving it back a year. Struds, as a former WHL player, what are your thoughts on this? Gregor, I’d like to hear your insight on this as well as I believe you have a lot of knowledge of the western league. For the rest of the braintrust as well, what do you think?

  • The argument I can see for drafting 18 year old players has to do with development. It gives teams a chance to start developing the player a year earlier.

    In the NBA and the NFL players come in right away so drafting more fully developed players is great, however with the NHL and MLB there are years of development ahead before players are ready so there is more of a need to project and identify promise.

    That being said if they went to 19 I see no reason for exceptions for top players. Waiting won’t kill them. The NBA went to 19 and it only took a couple years for everyone to forget that top guys used to get drafted a year earlier.

  • madjam

    I believe the KHL has their draft open at 17 years of age , but very few if any go that route . They do not pay them much either in comparison to even the AHL . We lose more to American colleges than overseas , but are easier to retrive .

    • madjam

      Was Schultz and /or Yakupov part of the reason for Belanger”s rant ? If so , then maybe we are better not getting him back and perhaps dealing Yak A.S.A.P.? Most seem to think Hall,Eberle and Hopkins were the problem to Belanger , but maybe the three were not .

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    If anyone has a “Schultz” sweater and spent all that money I’m sorry as I wished for a Schultz to come to Edmonton as that is my last name just before we traded with Mini and then won the Norris Candidate lottery. My dad once two handed another player over the head as that is what he learned from Dave the Hammer Schultz (Guess I expected more from the family name). http://hockey-time-machine.tumblr.com/post/133142929273/pens-dave-schultz-raises-his-stick-over-his-head

  • The Whispererer

    Here’s a bit of trivia:

    all 4 of Pittsburg’s Cup wins have come in their head coaches’ first season in charge.

    Bob Johnson, Scotty Bowman. Dan Bylsma and Sullivan.

  • The draft is probably at the perfect age currently.

    Nuge became the top Centre in his rookie season. Landeskog appointed Capitan after 1 year. Ekblad top D man in his Rookie season. McDavid a top 5v5 player in his rookie campaign. Eichel is the best player on his team in his first year.

    Yet there is still some uncertainty at every draft position making draft selection a significant part of an organizations ability to improve.

    Also, raising the draft age is a sure way to push our superstars over to Europe.