Tuesday night on Inside Sports, friend of the Nation, Reid Wilkins, spent some time talking about the Oilers’ history at the NHL Draft and the conversation was all kinds of depressing. Just how bad was it? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One thing that any Oilers fan already knows is that the team has been abysmal at finding players in the later rounds of the NHL Draft. That inability to find hidden gems is one of the major problems plaguing this team right now as their depth chart is essentially bare when it comes to skilled prospects. Aside from a few prospects like Puljujarvi, Yamamoto or Ethan Bear, there aren’t many players in the pipeline that look like they will be able to crack the NHL roster, let alone turn into reliable contributors.
It’s not like goal scorers are exclusively found within the first 30 picks so why can’t the Oilers seem to make that happen?
“You can find good goal scorers after the first round, and I think for the Oilers it’s often been that they draft a high-end offensive guy and are unable to fill it in with other draft picks.”
It’s almost like taking flyers on low-ranked Coke machines (or former Oil Kings) doesn’t ever seem to work, amirite? I mean, we all know that the Oilers haven’t drafted well, but things can’t be as grim as we think, can they? Just how bad have the Oilers been at drafting outside of the first round? I’ll let my boy Reid’s research ruin your day just as it did mine, starting from 2010 after the Oilers selected Taylor Hall with the first overall pick.
“Since 2010, the best Oilers’ forwards, not taken in the first round, are Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, and Tyler Pitlick who is no longer with the Oilers.”
Uhhhh… That is… not ideal. And I mean no offence to any these players because I like JJ and Slep for what they are, but only having three guys taken after the first round make the show in the last eight years is baaaaaad. At that rate, the Oilers would almost be better off trading every single draft pick rather than using them to guess on guys. Frankly, only having three players make the NHL in the last eight years is the kind of track record that should mean pink slips for anyone that was involved in the amateur scouting side of the organization, but this is the Oilers we’re talking about after all.
Even so, the optimist in me knows that poor drafting for eight years is obviously unacceptable but I’m hoping that there’s good news for me here, Reid. Tell me you found something positive. Help us feel better about what’s happening with this organization.
“Let’s look back and find 20-goal scorers that the Oilers have drafted after the first round.”
Alright, I like this. Let’s widen the search and maybe, just maybe we can find something positive. Maybe you’ll tell us that the Oilers actually know what they’re doing. Bring on the good news, Reid! My body is ready.
“You probably have an idea of where I’m going here.”
Wait… I’m not liking the sounds of this, Reid. I said I wanted good news.
“There are three of them… in the last 20 years. Three Oilers forwards drafted in the second round or later who have had 20-goal seasons.”
Good Gord. It’s worse than I imagined.
THREE IN 20 YEARS
In the last 20 years, the Edmonton Oilers have only had three non-first round picks with a 20-goal season. Think about that for a minute… The Oilers have picked dozens of players over that time and they’ve only managed to land three guys that have made an impact at the NHL level. If this many swings and misses on the amateur side weren’t so depressing it would actually be impressive in a way. Actually, you’d think that the Oilers would have accidentally drafted an impact player, don’t you think? I guess math hates us.
So who are those three players? I thought you’d never ask.
- Jarrett Stoll, drafted at 36th overall in 2002, scored 22 goals in the 2005/06 season.
- Mike Comrie, drafted 91st overall in 1999, scored 33 goals in 2001/02 and 20 goals in 2002/03. Comrie then went on to have two more 20+ goal seasons with other teams.
- Shawn Horcoff, drafted 99th overall in 1998, scored 22 goals in 2005/06 and 21 goals in 2007/08.
That’s it. That’s the list. In 20 years, the Oilers have only been able to find three guys that have managed to put up 20 goals or more outside of the first round and the last time it happened was 10 years ago. Needless to say, that’s a massive problem that cannot be overstated and is, no doubt, a major contributor to the issues that are happening in the here and now. If you can’t draft and develop players that are able to contribute at the NHL level then you’ll be stuck trying to build your roster through trades and free agency, something that never works in a cap world.
For the Edmonton Oilers, stats like drafting only three 20-goal scorers drafted outside of the first round over the past two decades should be causing all kinds of alarms to be going off at Oilers HQ. You’d hope that these aren’t new numbers to the organization and that they’re doing anything that is humanly possible to try and improve. But is that the case? Until their drafting record improves, and we actually see tangible results, we all have a reason to be cynical and I don’t see that changing until someone drafted outside of the first 31 picks can actually make something happen.
Until then, we wait.
Listen to the full clip below (draft talk starts at the midway point):
With the weather plummeting into tundra-like temperatures, you’ll want to keep yourself fed and you’ll want to do it without leaving your house. Enter Skip the Dishes and their ever expanding list of restaurants and team of food-delivering heroes. Get the sustenance you crave from the comfort of your couch by heading over to SkiptheDishes.com and placing an order. Fuel up, Nation!