The Tyler Wright Legacy
5 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers bid farewell to Tyler Wright on Tuesday, beginning a new era in their scouting department.
Rick Pracey is the new guy in town. Pracey replaces Wright as the Director of Amateur Scouting after spending the last seven years with the Philadelphia Flyers as an amateur scout. He has previously been in a director role before back with the Colorado Avalanche from 2008 to 2015. His most successful draft was in 2009, selecting Matt Duchene (3), Ryan O’Reilly (33) and Tyson Barrie (64).
The announcement felt surprising. However, with new management now in place in Jeff Jackson, gradual change is to be expected. One thing that felt surprising was the reaction. Many people weren’t fans of Wright’s time with the Oilers but not for the decision he made with the team, instead, his previous organization: the Detroit Red Wings.
Wright was with the Red Wings for six drafts from July 10th, 2013, to July 11th, 2019. His time with the Red Wings started with a bang, grabbing Dylan Larkin at 15th overall in 2014 — the forward has now played 584 games with Detroit, scoring 179 goals and 437 points.
After Larkin, however, finding another star in the first round was difficult for Wright and his staff.
Evgeny Svechnikov has struggled since going 19th overall in 2015, however, people want to forget he tore his ACL in the preseason of his rookie year. At the time, Bleacher Report gave this pick an ‘A’ grade.
“Detroit’s selections always seem to look good immediately, and Svechnikov is no exception.”
In 2016, the Wings went with Dennis Cholowski from the BCHL at 20th overall. Cholowski is still only 25 and has 117 games to his name, but that doesn’t make the pick much better as of right now. Of the three players from the 2016 draft who have played in the NHL, Cholowski has the fewest games, with Givani Smith (119) and Filip Hronek (309) ahead of him. Again, Bleacher Report gave the 20th overall pick a B rating.
“It’ll take a while probably, but Cholowski figures to be a regular player in the NHL someday, possibly a very good one.”
Detroit’s 2017 first-round selection, Michael Rasmussen, was labelled the “Most Powerful” player in his draft class but is still working to find his footing at the NHL level.
The 2018 draft saw the Red Wings take Filip Zadina 6th and then Joe Velano 30th. CBS Sports graded the Red Wings an A, suggesting fans should be enthralled with what transpired that weekend.
Mo Seider was the final first-rounder picked during the Wright era. That selection is more famously known as Yzerman’s first pick as the general manager of Detroit, but that doesn’t mean Wright wasn’t involved in the work leading up to that pick. People won’t want to credit Wright for the Wings grabbing a stud d-man, but he stood next to Seider in the draft picture.
In total, 16 of the 52 players drafted under Wright’s watch in Detroit played at least one game in the NHL, 11 of which have played over 100 games. The 16 making it to the NHL gave him a 30.7% success rate.
At what point does it come down to player development? When does the blame shift onto the coaching staff? Ironically, Shawn Horcoff has been the director of player development for the Detroit Red Wings since 2016 and we don’t hear much about how role in all of this.
The lone argument against Wright with the Oilers was drafting Xavier Bourgault 22nd overall instead of Jesper Wallstedt. Neither player has yet to play a single minute of NHL hockey, so how can we truly judge those picks this early? If you want to point out the Bourgault pick, the more significant argument could be that Wyatt Johnston went a pick behind Bourgault. Only eight players from the 2021 class have played more than 50 games in the NHL. Patience is still needed.
It isn’t easy to judge Wright on his time in Edmonton right now, with only Dylan Holloway having played NHL games. We won’t know the legacy he will leave behind until a few years from now, but there’s potential with a handful of Oilers prospects to play at the highest level.
Matvey Petrov looks promising as a 6th-round pick who had a great OHL career and is now turning pro next season. Carter Savoie and Tyler Tullio had good first seasons with the Bakersfield Condors, too. Then there’s Max Wanner, a 7th-round pick whose game has developed nicely since the Oilers took him in 2021.
Blaming scouts is the easy way out. Once the player is taken in the draft, it is down to the coaching staff to hit that player’s maximum potential.
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