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Photo Credit: Denver Pioneers

Dare to Dream, Oilersnation

I’m a glass half full type of person. I rarely look at “what ifs,” as most come with a negative connotation, and my late father once told me, “Focus on what you can control. We don’t worry if a cow will shit on their hay, even though we want them to shit in their straw.” It is funny what you remember from your teenage years.

I’ll give a point of reference for my non-farming readers. When you put pigs in a pen, they do not go to the washroom on their hay/food. They will go elsewhere. They are quite clean, despite being called pigs, but put cows or horses in a pen and they relieve themselves anywhere in the pen. However, when you have pigs outside, they will eat all the grass, then root in the dirt and that’s why they are open portrayed as dirty. The also don’t regulate their body temperature by sweating, so they must be provided with water or mud to control their body temperature. It is why if you see outdoor pigs they are often covered in mud.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about pigs and cows, or possibly more than you wanted to visualize, let’s get back on track.

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As I noted, I prefer to look for the positive in situations, however, when it comes to projecting NHL prospects I prefer a cautious/realistic approach instead of overhyping a player. Expectations are difficult to achieve, especially when we get too excited about a player’s potential. But sometimes it is okay to think about a best-case scenario.

It is apparent the Oilers need a legitimate goal scorer to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Ideally, the Oilers will develop two scoring wingers in the future, as acquiring one often costs a lot.

Maybe Kailer Yamamoto or Jesse Puljujarvi will be that player, this season or next. We’ll see, but even if they do, the Oilers will need a few more proven goal scorers in the future. The best bets in the organization right now are probably Raphael Lavoie, Dylan Holloway and Carter Savoie. Lavoie is playing for Vasby in the Allsvenskan Division II in Sweden. He has 11-6-17 in 23 games, leads his team in scoring and is tied for third in the league in goals. Holloway scored two goals in two games with Wisconsin before coming to Red Deer for Canada’s World Junior team tryouts. He was named to the 25-man roster earlier today.

Meanwhile, Savoie is on fire in his first season at Denver College. He has 6-2-8 in five games and is tied with four other skaters for the most goals in the NCAA. Savoie has made the jump from the Alberta Junior Hockey League to NCAA look easy. It helps that his Sherwood Park Crusaders teammate, and best friend, Mike Benning is in Denver with him and having the same early success. Benning leads the entire Nation in scoring by a defenceman with seven points.

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Savoie’s start has Oilersnation excited. Now more than ever you need something to get you excited, and while it is extremely early, Savoie’s performance has had many texting my show asking how good could Savoie be. It is a great question, but one that is extremely difficult to answer accurately. Savoie has always been a goal scorer dating back to U15 (then Bantam). If a player isn’t a consistent goal scorer in minor hockey, it is extremely rare he becomes more proficient at scoring at higher levels.

As a 16-year-old rookie in the AJHL, he scored 31 goals and 73 points with the Crusaders. Last season he tallied 53 goals and 99 points in 54 games. He knows how to score, and in Denver, he’s been placed on the first unit PP as a freshman,  and he’s tallied four PP goals in five games. He won’t be a goal-a-game scorer in the NHL, because no one is, but could he become a 20-30 goal-man in a few years?

That would be ideal, especially when you consider Edmonton drafted him in the fourth round, 100th overall, this past October.

Comparing players accurately is difficult, because many factors are never the same, so instead of just looking at AJHL players or NCAA players I wanted to see how many forwards drafted in the fourth round make the NHL.

The style of game has changed over the years, so I looked at the 2005-2019 draft classes for what I thought would give us a more realistic look at fourth round success. I only included forwards who have played at least 200 NHL games. I also included players who will play their 200th game this season. And I also wanted to show the 2016-2019 picks, to illustrate how Savoie likely won’t be in Edmonton for a few more seasons at least.

2005 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2006  Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Chris VandeVelde 97 278 18-30-48 Matt Beleskey 112 477 76-82-158
Jared Boll 101 579 28-38-66
Vladimir Sobotka 106 548 53-118-171
Tom Pyatt 107 445 43-58-101
2007 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2008 Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Dwight King 109 365 53-56-109 Dale Weise 111 513 55-70-125
Colton Sceviour 112 454 59-82-141 Derek Grant 119 264 31-39-70
Matt Halischuk 117 280 33-42-75 Gustav Nyquist 121 570 146-202-348
2009 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2010 Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Casey Cizikas 92 534 74-97-171 Joonas Donskoi 99 348 61-94-155
Craig Smith 98 661 162-168-330 Marcus Sorensen 106 197 30-29-59
Markus Foligno 104 565 75-108-183 Tom Kuhnhackl 110 232 18-36-54
2011 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2012 Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 96 435 89-95-184 Josh Anderson 95 267 65-50-115
Johnny Gaudreau 104 464 151-294-445 Cedric Paquette 101 377 47-38-85
Tobias Rieder 114 434 59-79-138 Andreas Athanasiou 110 303 84-72-156
2013 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2014 Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Miles Wood 100 268 48-48-96 Lucas Wallmark 97 167 23-33-56
Andrew Copp 104 356 46-64-110 Viktor Arviddson 112 335 117-97-214
Tyler Motte 121 187 22-16-38 Danton Heinen 116 229 37-70-107
2015 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2016 Pick # GP G-A-PTS
Austin Wagner 99 127 18-14-32 Noah Gregor 111 28 3-2-5
Denis Malgin 102 192 38-32-60 Connor Bunnaman 109 21 1-1-2
2017 Pick # GP G-A-PTS 2018 None yet
Emil Bembstrom 117 56 10-10-20 2019 None yet
Drake Batherson 121 43 6-13-19

Basically, we have seen an average of three NHL forwards emerge from the fourth round between 2005-2015. It is too early to say how many will emerge from the 2016-2019 draft classes.

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Johnny Gaudreau has been the most prolific by far, while Gustav Nyqvist, Viktor Arviddson, Craig Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Anderson and Andreas Athanasiou have all had 20-goal seasons. The fourth round has produced some solid players over the past 15 years, so why couldn’t Savoie continue that trend?

Oilers GM Ken Holland will not rush him. I’d expect Savoie to play three seasons at Denver, possibly all four, while allowing him to get stronger, faster and to maintain his offensive confidence.

Winning teams need to develop mid-round picks, and the Oilers are due to have a forward emerge from later in the draft.

Tobias Rieder was a solid fourth round pick in 2011. He’s actually played more NHL games (434) than Oscar Klefbom, who was taken the same year. Klefbom is a better player, but Rieder was a solid pick. Chris VandeVelde was selected 97th overall in 2005 and carved out a 278-game NHL career, while the best fourth round or later pick by the Oilers in the 2000s was Kyle Brodziak in 2003. He was taken 214th overall, but ended up playing 917 NHL games.

The Oilers drafting had a good run of mid-to-late round picks between 1996-1999.

Fernando Pisani was taken 195th in 1996 and played 462 games.
Jason Chimera was taken 121st in 1997 and skated in 1,107 games.
Shawn Horcoff was selected 99th overall in 1998 and played 1,008 games.
Mike Comrie was the 91st pick in 1999 and played 589 games.

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The problem for the Oilers was the only other players to become regular NHLers those years were Boyd Devereaux (sixth overall, 1996) and Tom Poti (59th in 1996).

The good news for the Oilers, is drafting across the NHL has improved the past decade. We don’t see as many major misses in the first round mainly because teams have more scouts and more video to watch than they did in the 1980s and 1990s.

There is a very good chance Dylan Holloway plays in the NHL. How good he becomes is still undecided, and if Savoie continues to develop the Oilers 2020 draft will look very good in a few years.

In a glass half full scenario, their roster in 2023 or 2024 could have a middle round drafted forward producing on their team. That hasn’t happened since Comrie was selected in 1999.

And Comrie, like Savoie, lit up the AJHL, as a 17 year old when he scored 60 goals in 58 games. Savoie scored 53 in 54 games.

Dare to dream, Oilersnation, dare to dream.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks again to the Farmer’s Business Network for their generous donation and to Maschmeyer Farms for their awesome bid of $10,250. Thank you.

Day Nine: Pyramid of Giving

Today we will build a pyramid of giving to help the Christmas Bureau. It is a simple donation.

We will have 15 people donate $100
Eight people will donate $200.
Four people will donate $500
And two people, or companies, will donate $1000.

And we will raise $7,100 for the Christmas Bureau. (Tax receipt included).

It goes from 2-6 p.m on TSN 1260. You can text the show between 2-6 p.m. at 101260 and include your name and donation
. Thanks in advance.

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