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Monday Musings: Scouting Staff

Ken Holland hired Archie Henderson as director of pro scouting and Tyler Wright as director of amateur scouting on Friday. Henderson worked with Holland for four years in Detroit, while Wright spent six years In Detroit. They are familiar with each other, but both have worked for other organizations.

The Oilers amateur scouting has been infinitely better than the pro side for the past five years. You just have to look at the trades involving NHL players to see where it can improve. That needs to change and Holland isn’t finished rounding out his pro scouting side.

I’d expect Holland to add another North American pro scout, and also one in Europe, but it might not happen right away. He is looking to grow the infrastructure of the scouting department. Currently they have Henderson, Chris Cichocki and Paul Messier. Henderson lives in Calgary, Messier in Montreal and Cichocki lives in the Western states close to Bakersfield. They also have Scott Howson in Columbus, who does some pro scouting, but his main focus is overseeing draft picks who aren’t playing in the ECHL, Bakersfield or with the Oilers.

Having another pro scout in the east makes sense, and especially one in Europe. Holland got his start scouting and he still loves doing it and feels it’s extremely important.

Holland likes to have scouts who are experts in one area, and for specific teams. One of Henderson’s job this summer will be outlining which teams a scout is covering. And that includes their farm team. For instance, if they scout the San Jose Sharks, they will be expected to know all the best pro prospects on their AHL team, which is also in San Jose.

That might seem like a lot, but remember that in reality there are only five to seven players on an AHL team that are realistic options to become NHL players. It is the harsh reality, but that doesn’t downgrade the importance of the other players on those teams. Having good AHL veterans, who can insulate young players, support them and push them to be better, is vital for any NHL organization.

Scouting has really changed in the past 20 years. In the late 1990s, there were very few full-time pro scouts in the NHL, and even ten years ago there weren’t many full-time pro scouts within each organization. Now every team has a pro scouting department of between four to six scouts, so expect Holland to add a few more in the future. It might take a full year to find the right people, but he and Henderson will be looking to round out their pro scouting department.

QUICK HITS…

1. The NBA summer league is going on right now and some have asked if this is something the NHL will do.

Currently, every team has their development camp within two weeks of the NHL draft. Teams bring in their draft picks, and a few unsigned players, but much of the camp is about development. Whether it is skills, weight training, nutrition or other things. It isn’t about evaluating their play.

Then in September teams like to see how their young players look in game action. Holland played a major part in the development of those tournaments.

“We started the Traverse City tournament in 1998,” said Holland. “Jim Nill and the rest of our staff, we didn’t want to evaluate our kids against (Steve) Yzerman and (Nick) Lidstrom, because it wasn’t fair. The first year was four teams and now it is up to eight teams. And there are other tournaments; there is one in Vegas, in Florida, another in Montreal and there was the Penticton tournament for years. I’m going to talk with all the teams involved to see what occurred there and if we can start it again.”

Has the NHL considered one huge rookie tournament similar to what the NBA does now?

“At the manager’s level there was some conversation and we explored it league-wide,” said Holland “But right now they felt the individual tournaments was better. In the CBA you only have a week with the rookies, before the vets report, so if you do physicals, and then travel to the tournament you only have five days for games.”

“Certainly having a big tournament would be a great way to create excitement for our sport before the season. It is a great way to showcase the future, but maybe having three big ones would be best for travel and exposure,” continued Holland.

His suggestion makes a lot of sense. You could have ten teams in the West, a 10-team tournament in Central time zone and another in the East. It would make sense in September. This year the Oilers and Flames rookies will play two games against each other, similar to last season.

2. Dave Tippett wants another assistant coach and he is having discussions with possible candidates right now. I’d expect it to be finalized later this week or early next week. He spoke about the importance of having another coach who will relay information from upstairs during games, but also one who will work with the skaters on skills and drills after practice. Tippett outlined how he will approach coaching the Oilers here.

3. With every passing day, I believe the majority of UFAs lose some bargaining power. Marcus Johansson wanted a five-year deal around $4.75 mill, but he ended up signing for two years at $4.5 million. Ryan Dzingel was looking for more money and term, but signed for two years at $3.375/year. So what will Derick Brassard sign for? His agent was looking for $4m x 4, but he won’t be getting that now. Will he have to settle for a one year deal? Two? And at what price? If the money comes in between $2.5-$3 million then the Oilers would be in the conversation.

4. I will be very surprised if Kris Russell doesn’t play LD this year. Of course injuries will play a part, but having him on his natural side will help him and the team. I wonder if Tippett starts the season with Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson as the top unit, in a shutdown role. They were good together in 2018. And then Oscar Klefbom would play in the second pair with one of Joel Persson, Matt Benning or possibly Caleb Jones, who played RD last year in Bakersfield.

Which D pairs would you run on opening night?

5. The latest trade rumour I’ve heard regarding Milan Lucic….Lucic and Kris Russell to Calgary for James Neal and Michael Frolik. A four-player trade between divisional rivals is rare, especially if it was Edmonton and Calgary. If it does happen, and I’m admittedly skeptical, it would show how lacking in emotion the rivalry is. But, based on my sources, I’ll say this is simply another unsubstantiated rumour.

THIRD ANNUAL OILERSNATION OPEN

After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday). Tee off at 2 p.m.
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.

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  • OilTastic

    Though I’m still very happy with our amateur scouting staff and last 5 drafts, Hopefully Henderson can finally fix our historically horrid pro scouting! Those recent trades indeed set this clubs attempt at becoming a contender back several years!

  • BR

    SHeesh, why not double the pro scout staff – There’s so much room for improvement here.

    Hopefully we nab another middle six player on a value “show me” deal and then give out a couple PTO’s for camp as well. Might find another Chiasson.

    The CGY trade won’t happen, CH+GY have had their fill of Russel and Lucic has nowhere near the upside of Neal.

      • inverno76

        Well everyone and their dog is speculating an Alberta deal this week. I’ve hear Lucic, Russell and Puljujarvi’s name from our side and Neal, Frolik and Bennett’s from the Flamers.

        Not saying it’s happening but where there is smoke you likely have a Gamberdella for
        Sveningsson deal.

  • OilCan2

    The Pro Scouting will WIN the Oilers some trades and their salaries DO NOT count against the cap!! The D is going to shift to cover Sekera’s spot and it should open the door for Jones & Persson. Jones, Bear & Lagesson are in their last year of waiver exempt. I was with the writer right up to the Calgary trade then it was LOL for a 5 minute major.

  • toprightcorner

    I don’t see how any of the existing pro scouts can keep their job. Maybe Sutter was the main reason for their poor track record, but I cannot think of one trade in the oast 2 years the Oilers won. I would be fine if they broke even on every trade, but the fact is that they lost almost every trade they made and some by a significant margin.

    I think the Oilers should start completely fresh will their entire pro scouting department and let Archibald build it how he wants to.

  • Serious Gord

    If Mr. Katz truly has a cost-no-object attitude/desire towards the oil winning not just a cup but several he would be spending multiples more than any other org on staffing scouting and analytics into a ‘27 Yankees of player evaluation team.

    He doesn’t so he isn’t.