The NHL draft lottery is this Friday. The NHL entry draft was supposed to be Friday and Saturday, but the NHL wisely decided to push it back until the 2019/2020 season is concluded. While unrestricted free agency gets more focus each summer, the draft is much more important to an organization’s long-term success.
This week across the Nation Network we will look at the best lineup of players drafted for various NHL franchises.
The NHL Entry Draft is the scouts’ championship. It is very difficult projecting how good teenage hockey players will be in the future, but that’s the job description of NHL amateur scouts. This series is all about the scouts and who they picked. Because often, once a player is selected, the scouts have very little say in his future development.
1. The player had to be drafted by the organization. Wayne Gretzky wasn’t drafted to the NHL, so he won’t be on the Oilers team.
2. Players need to be slotted in the position they played the most. Mark Messier, for instance, did play left wing early in his career, but he is a centre.
3. We are picking the best possible lineup, similar to the Olympic rosters. Players who had the best career, even if the majority wasn’t with the organization who drafted them.
4. For organizations like the Flames, who were in two different cities, their all-time roster includes players drafted by Atlanta and Calgary.
5. We didn’t pick any extra skaters, just a 20-man roster.
The Oilers first NHL draft was 1979 and they’ve been involved in 41 drafts total.
Oilers Forwards (Draft number and year)
Ryan Smyth (6th, 1995)– Mark Messier (48th, 1979) — Glenn Anderson (69th, 1979)
Esa Tikkanen (80th, 1983) — Connor McDavid (1st, 2015) — Jari Kurri (69th, 1980)
Taylor Hall (1st, 2010) — Leon Draisaitl (3rd, 2014) — Ales Hemsky (13th, 2001)
Miro Satan (111th, 1993) — Jason Arnott (7th, 1993) — Jordan Eberle (22nd, 2008)
Even without Gretzky, the Oilers’ centre group is still excellent, and the depth cost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a spot on the team — easily the most hotly debated choice. Edmonton drafted a lot of skill throughout their forward group.
Oilers Defence (Draft number and year)
Paul Coffey (6th, 1980) — Jeff Petry (45th, 2006)
Steve Smith (111th, 1981) — Jeff Beukeboom (19th, 1983)
Kevin Lowe (21st, 1979) — Ethan Bear (124th, 2015)
Edmonton’s quest for a right shot defender has spanned four decades. Ethan Bear, in limited NHL experience, made the cut. It was between him and Matt Greene. Greene has a more proven NHL track record, but Bear won by one vote.
Oilers Goalies (Draft number and year)
Grant Fuhr (8th, 1981)
Andy Moog (132nd, 1980)
Outside of Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton’s drafting of goalies since 1982 has not been very good. Dubnyk (520 games) and Jussi Markanen (128) are the only goalies with more than 30 NHL games played.
The Oilers drafting was outstanding early on, grabbing Lowe, Messier, Anderson (1979), Coffey, Kurri, Moog (1980) and Fuhr and Smith (1981) in their first three drafts. They landed Tikkanen and Beukeboom in 1983, but their first two rounds between 1984-1990 produced only Francois Leroux (299 NHL games).
They had some solid picks in the 1990s with Martin Rucinsky, Arnott, Satan, Smyth, Georges Laraque, Tom Poti, Fernando Pisani, Jason Chimera, Shawn Horcoff and Mike Comrie, but the Oilers’ biggest flaw was first round picks between 1982-2003, who barely played in the NHL:
Jim Playfair (21 GP in NHL), Selmar Odelein (18), Scott Metcalfe (19), Kim Issel (4), Peter Soberlak (0), Jason Soules (0), Scott Allison (0), Joe Hulbig (55), Nick Stajduhar (2), Jason Bonsignore (4), Steve Kelly (149), Matthieu Descoteaux (5), Michel Riesen (12), Michael Henrick (0), Jani Rita (66), Alexei Mikhnov (2), Jesse Niinimaki (0) and Marc-Antoine Pouliot (192).
The Oilers early drafting was pivotal in them becoming the most dominant team in the NHL for eight seasons, but their lack of consistent drafting was a main reason they struggled for long stretches in the 1990s and then in the 2000s.
Who would be on your all-time drafted roster for the Oilers?