When it comes right down to it, there’s no forensics needed in regard to the reasons Stu MacGregor lost his job yesterday. To the tremendous high of Jordan Eberle’s selection to the ‘Death Valley Days’ second round, this one writes itself.
— David Staples (@dstaples) December 5, 2014
I’d like to begin this post with an apology to Stu MacGregor. As David Staples’ tweet from December beautifully illustrates, I did more damage than good to the scouting director’s reputation and for that I’m sincerely sorry. Lesson learned.
Now let’s move on to those picks that got MacGregor fired. The Edmonton Oilers 2008-14 did very well at the draft table IF they stayed away from the walkabout picks—selections I define as being reach picks. When Stu MacGregor was risk averse, good things usually happened. Here are the risk averse selections (I’m using the top 100 from every year, because a pick after No. 100 isn’t a reach).
STU MACGREGOR’S RISK AVERSE SELECTIONS
- Jordan Eberle selected #22 overall, ranked #29 (attended combine)
- Magnus Paajarvi selected #10 overall, ranked #10 (attended combine)
- Anton Lander selected #40 overall, ranked HM (attended combine)
- Taylor Hall selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
- Tyler Pitlick selected #31, ranked #25 (attended combine)
- Curtis Hamilton selected #48, ranked #57 (attended combine)
- Ryan Martindale selected #61, ranked #58 (attended combine)
- Ryan Nugent Hopkins selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
- Oscar Klefbom selected #19, ranked #21 (attended combine)
- David Musil selected #31, ranked #41 (attended combine)
- Samu Perhonen selected #62, ranked #51 (attended combine)
- Travis Ewanyk selected #74, ranked HM (attended combine)
- Dillon Simpson selected #92, ranked HM
- Nail Yakupov selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
- Daniil Zharkov selected #91, ranked #47 (attended combine)
- Darnell Nurse at #7–ranked #9 (attended combine)
- Marc-Olivier Roy at #56–ranked #59 (attended combine)
- Bogdan Yakimov at #83–Pronman #73 (attended combine)
- Anton Slepyshev at #88–Pronman #45
- Jackson Houck at #94–Pronman #91 (attended combine)
- Leon Draisaitl at #3—Bob McKenzie #4 (attended combine)
- William Lagesson at #91—Pronman #60, ISS #71
All numbers are Bob McKenzie unless otherwise noted, and all players listed were within 15 slots of their ranking (that’s half a round, seems a reasonable spot to draw a line in the sand). There ARE picks that didn’t work out or are trending in a downward fashion but I think it would be difficult to fire the scouting director over Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Travis Ewanyk. These are players who—on their draft day—had significant value for NHL teams, as reflected by their presence on Bob McKenzie’s list.
Now, the walkabouts.
THE MACGREGOR WALKABOUTS
- Troy Hesketh selected #71 overall, unranked
- Cameron Abney selected #82 overall, unranked
- Kyle Bigos selected #99 overall, unranked
- Martin Marincin selected #46, ranked #71 (attended combine)
- Jeremie Blain selected #91, not ranked
- Mitchell Moroz selected #32, ranked #56 (attended combine)
- Jujhar Khaira selected #63, not ranked (attended combine)
- Erik Gustafsson selected #93, not ranked
- Kyle Platzer at #96–Pronman #151 (reach)
There are a few picks on each side that probably belong with the other group. David Musil, Samu Perhonen and Travis Ewanyk get lots of attention as bad selections, but the idea here is to take bias out of the equation and in fact those players were in the window of value. From the walkabout group, Martin Marincin and Kyle Platzer have a chance to be winning picks. Either way, if you’re looking for specific reasons why Stu MacGregor is out of work, Cameron Abney, Troy Hesketh and others in this group are likely part of the answer.
One final item before we move on: I have Mitch Moroz listed here because he was taken early. That’s not a reflection of Moroz, as you know, and he hasn’t been given the courtesy of five years post draft to show his abilities. We need to respect that will all of these players.
THE MACGREGOR DRAFTS
Stu MacGregor and his scouting department drafted from five distinct categories:
- The #1 overalls. He was completely risk averse here, they simply grabbed the best player available and walked off the stage. I do believe the club has had periods of time in their history where they might have outsmarted themselves.
- The ranked/combine group. This is the heart of the MacGregor group—32 players were either ranked, attended the combine or did both things. The best among this group (excluding the #1 overalls) might be Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Bogdan Yakimov.
- The walkabout bunch. This is the group that sees Edmonton grab players inside the top 100 who are not ranked in the top 100 and were not included in the combine group. This collection includes Troy Hesketh, Cameron Abney, Jeremie Blain. We shouldn’t expect this to be an area of strength, this is “drafting for need” and “feeling a passion” and rarely works out. I think this group got MacGregor fired.
- The overage kids. Beginning with Kyle Bigos and blossoming 2012, the Oilers seem to have a fascination in late rounds with overage draft and follows in Europe and the NCAA. That list would include Bigos, Kellen Jones, Joey Laleggia, John McCarron, Aidan Muir, Evan Campbell, Zach Nagelvoort, Liam Coughlin and Tyler Vesel. Most of these selections occur outside the top 100 overall. Edmonton hasn’t seen much from this group but many were taken in recent years and few were dear selections.
- The BCJHL. Kyle Bigos, Kellen Jones, Jujhar Khaira, Evan Campbell and Liam Coughlin have all been taken by the team since 2008. Khaira is the only major selection in the group, but the drafting from the BCJHL seemed excessive based on the returns.
Bob Green takes over and one hopes the risk averse style is adopted full force AND it’s also reasonable to suggest that the Oilers would be wise to listen closely to the math people in their employ. Specifically, the following players will likely be moneyball-style selections for the 2015 draft next weekend:
- Jeremy Roy
- Anthony Beauvillier
- Blake Speers
- Dante Salituro
- Dmytro Timashov
- Tyler Soy
- Giorgio Estephan
have no issue with Stu McGregor, his draft record is more indicative of the GM he worked for. He didn't have final say on picks #Oilers
— Supernova (@romanmaximus1) June 21, 2015
Supernova with a nice sentiment last night, thought I’d share it here as we exit. I’m not arguing the MacGregor firing, suspect it’s best for the organization to move along in lots of areas. I will say that many of his picks are still developing and we should give them time. Stu MacGregor’s fate was sealed during the Steve Tambellini era and with the walkabouts.
It’s a lesson for all scouts. Risky picks in the top 100 will bite you squarely in the ass, especially in the modern NHL with McKenzie’s list and all of the analytics available. Put another way: The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to aggressively draft based on what has high value and their own predictive model. If you have one, follow the damn thing. If you don’t? Sail on.