The Edmonton Oilers drafted Taylor Hall yesterday, signalling a brand new day for the team and its fans. They also gave us a clue as to how much they've soured on the NCAA, sending away Riley Nash while drafting a Minnesota State forward on his way to the WHL. The heart of the draft was long over before the Oilers spent any equity on NCAA or NCAA-bound players.
That's cutting off a large portion of the world's hockey pie. The Oilers have long been a team to careen in terms of player preference styles; one year they're chasing down Coke Machines and two years later they're after undersized speed demons. We know this, we're used to it.
We also know that there are some good reasons to avoid taking players from certain regions. Russian players have the lure of the KHL, making that nation a less attractive talent pool. It doesn't mean Edmonton must avoid the KHL prospects completely, but spending a high pick would seem to be folly. If the Oilers (and we don't have enough evidence to suggest it is a trend) have decided to avoid the NCAA, USHL and other feeder leagues (until the bottom of the draft) then it is a concern for Oiler fans. Avoiding talented Russians is one thing, but the American talent pool is rich and getting richer. I'm hopeful the organization doesn't talk themselves out of the region because of a few poor choices or poor management decisions.
I think the Edmonton Oilers today are a club with so many forwards that it is difficult to project anything. If we can agree to set aside 6 players (I've chosen Moreau, O'Sullivan, Jacques, Potulny, Nilsson, Deslauriers) the 23-man roster projection comes into view:
- G: Khabibulin, Dubnyk
- D: Whitney, Gilbert, Smid, Souray-replacement, 2 veteran depth D, Peckham*
- C: Horcoff, Gagner, Fraser, Cogliano
- L: Hall*, Penner, Ryan Jones, MPS*, Omark*
- R: Hemsky, Brule, Pouliot, Eberle*, Stortini
This is my depth chart, you can pull one name and add another but ther general idea is that the Oilers have to dump a goalie, 5 forwards and add three defenders. Let me know if I missed anyone. Bottom line? They're not close to being done. --
Here's a really quick look at the 2010 Oiler picks.
- #1 overall LW Taylor Hall: Immediately the best prospect in the system, the Oilers have an outstanding young player ready for the fall. If he gets enough powerplay time and especially if the Oilers can find a way to send him out with good players against the soft parade, this guy could win the Calder. BPA at this spot, good value.
- #31 overall C Tyler Pitlick: Big, physical center with skill. The Oilers have a few of them in the pipeline now but you can never have too many of this player type. I still think it was a great idea for the Oilers to have the night to re-set their draft order and this pick reflects the result. BPA at this spot, good value. Oilers have since stated they had him among their top 30 selections. They LOVE the fact he's leaving the NCAA and heading to Medicine Hat.
- #46 overall D Martin Marincin: Tall, lean 2-way defender with good speed and the ability to think on his feet. Needs to be more consistent, but that's something we can say about pretty much every prospect taken today. ISS and speeds ranked him at 40, McKenzie at 71. I don't know that he was BPA at this spot (it is harder to define as the draft gets deeper) but do believe he was a value pick at this slot. Oilers are very high on him, with Stu MacGregor hinting he may play in the AHL in '10-'11. Tambellini loves his poise on the international stage and his mobility (for a man his size).
- #48 overall LW Curtis Hamilton: A wide-bodied winger with solid skills (OK skater, good shot, has a nose for the net) he endured injury problems which cut back on scouts ability to "see him good." He's 6.02, 211, and Smarmy Boss has a nice description of him and his season in Hamilton's draft post comments section. ISS60 and Bob McKenzie57, which makes him a slight reach pick. Tambellini likes his hockey sense and describes him as a good 2-way winger. Intelligent, solid player. MBS likes his size and strength and how well he competes along the boards. Smart player.
- #61 overall C Ryan Martindale: Tall C with speed, Redline (at the top prospects game to scout this year's talent) said: Until he rang a quick release snap shot off the crossbar in the third period, you could have told us he wasn’t dressed at all. ISS61, BM58 so it would seem to be a saw-off in terms of value. Tambellini says his inconsistency may come from growing into his body (6.02) and made it clear they were looking to increase size and C (and D) at this draft). MBS likes his talent but wants him to "be there" every night.
- #91 overall D Jeremie Blain: Had a fine season in the QMJHL and has good size for a defender. Oilers have had success in the Q, but it has been awhile. He appears to have caught fire in the new year, based on this from HF: Blain continues to play a lot of minutes for the Titans, top four plus PP and PK. He currently has 3 goals and 27 assists in 49 games. He looks bigger and stronger than in earlier viewings. He battles and competes well. There is more upside here than first thought. I don't think we can call this a value pick. Tambellini says he plays with an edge, Bill Dandy really liked him a lot and this was likely a scouts pick.
- #121 overall G Tyler Bunz: Redline had him #178 overall but I'm fine with using a depth pick like this one. In fact, I think the Oilers should use one every year in this range. They only need to get lucky once a decade. His SP numbers are poor, but that Tiger team didn't play much defense whenever I saw them. Freddie Chabot has worked with him through the Team Canada development camps and is high on him.
- #162 overall D Brandon Davidson: ISS had him #74 and Redline had him #204. That's a wide range, but Remmerde (a great fricking blog, buddy was our guide today folks) is a straight forward scout and says there are some things to like. Based on his words, I'm counting this as a value pick.
- #166 overall L Drew Czerwonka: and the chocolate factory! Sorry. There's not much to say about a pick like this one. There are no expectations, it was probably a pick for the area scout and if he turns out holy hell that's a great pick. The only negative is that there are still some names on the board at this time who graded out better and that's something this organization does at certain points in the draft: select for need. Having said that, it wasn't like Slava Trukhno shot the moon.
- #181 overall F Kristians Pelss. Poster Buddhaa over at hf boards: Pelss played for the farm team of Riga Dinamo - the Riga Dinamo Junior which played in the Belarus Open League (+/- ECHL level). Was the youngest player on the team. Didn't score much. Unless he's drafted by CHL, he should play next year in the Rigan Dinamo junior team in MHL (the junior league for KHL). Pelss played in U18 and had three points in 6 games (2+1). Haven't seen him much, but supposedly should have decent upside if he's put in proper development program (e.g. CHL). Long shot, but an interesting story.
- #202 overall L Kellen Jones: Undersized skill player who performed well for the Vernon Vipers. Has a twin brother and they're both heading to the NCAA (Quinnipiac) this fall. His brother's name is Conner, but I think we should call him "Chipper." Like the Czerwonka pick above, they either "saw him good" or this is a hat tip to some regional scout or bird dog who has done good work in the past. There's not a lot to recommend this player outside of solid numbers in a secondary league.
Overall impressions: A good, good draft. Hall clearly is going to be the story of this draft, but nice value in the second round (Pitlick, Marincin) and later (Davidson) tell us the Oilers set up their draft board well. I also like the Hamilton and Bunz selections, leaving only the Martindale pick as a question mark (they drafted for need) among the team's most dear selections. I think MBS is an outstanding scouting director and if he can find a way to push those "saw him good" picks back another round he'll be even better.
Blain, Czerwonka, Pelss and Jones are probably scouts picks, payment for all those nights driving to little towns all over the world in search of the next Taylor Hall. These men are going to be under pressure to deliver more than an average number of NHLers to the show for the next several seasons and it looks like they've delivered this season. Report card day is around 2015 summer. See you then.