The Edmonton Oilers have altered their definition of “best player available” several times over the last decade. I think that is probably a terrible idea, because you’re chasing this year’s model.
The scouting staff (led in this decade by Kevin Prendergast and Stu MacGregor) have delivered precious diamonds in a trickle and something less than gems by the truckload. That’s not a put down, drafting prospects into the show successfully requires walking to the podium early in each season’s draft. The Oilers 2000-06 drafted in the teens or lower (Mikhnov #17; Hemsky #13; Niinimaki #15; Pouliot #22; Dubnyk #14; Schremp #25) and in the 10 seasons of the oughts selected in the top 10 twice (Gagner and MPS).
2010 summer has a chance to be something very special for the Edmonton Oilers and their fans, something to remember. Something like the sounds coming out of Ottmar Gramms house 42 years ago. Something that will impact this town and its team for years to come.
And the authors will be Stu (Magnificent Bastard) Macgregor, Steve (Luca Brasi) Tambellini and Tom (Hasten Down the Wind) Renney. But they better stick it good. Because the memory of Pat Quinn and Kevin Prendergast (Desperadoes Under the Eaves) lingers, and the legendary mistakes (led by Jason “Carmelita” Bonsignore) live on in this town like an “Eat-at-Joe’s” neon sign.
For the record, Oilers draft trends have gone like this:
- In his first three seasons (2001-2003), Prendergast drafted only one truly small player (Dwight Helminen, and they traded him). They loved the Coke Machines and took them at least one round earlier than the world expected them to. The biggest kids were Zach Stortini, David Rohlfs and the gigantic Jean-Francois Jacques, but they weren’t the best kids so the club never did get a top 6 forward with size from the 00’s drafts. Quebec province blessed them with Hemsky and they spent lavishly in that province for some time before getting their fill.
- From 2004-07, the Oilers began to overlook size (Cogliano) and speed (Schremp) at the top of the draft in order to bring more skill into the organization. In fact, both Schremp and Cogliano are under 6 feet tall, the first players taken by Edmonton in the first round under 6 feet since Tyler Wright in 1991. From 2004-07, the Oilers selected all kinds of players who may have been overlooked in previous drafts (Gagner, Cogliano, Trukhno, Chorney) and may be ignored in future ones. Riley (“Love Story”) Nash and his love of Cor(“Ali MacGraw”)nell greatly displeased the Oilers. Gagner was the highest pick in forever, and appears to be worthy of the selection.
- Since MBS has arrived (2008) we’ve seen some unique things and a return to the bigger man credo. Magnum PS is the highest Euro selection in team history, Finland made a welcome comeback and Coke Machines are back in the third round. They seem to be less in love with the college men, still drafting them but always wary of the “MacGraw” factor; under MBS college kids get drafted later. The love of skill remains and the Oilers appear to be back in the “lets add some bullets” mode that dominated their 2001-04 drafts. In fact, in those seasons (4 in total) the club selected 47 players and Robin Kovar (an average of 12 per season). Since then, the club has averaged 6 per season (31 picks in 5 years). The Oilers have a ton of picks again this season.