During his time as GM, Craig MacTavish did some interesting things. Aside from drafting two Russian Russians (Yakimov and Slepyshev) in the same year (seriously off the grid compared to Edmonton’s own past), he also spent the entire 2014 draft (Leon and KevEN aside) rummaging through college options. It did not turn out well, and despite some reasonable attempts at thinking along with the coach, they are left with an entire spring of no signings-for-pro. I don’t want to bore the hell out of you (although honestly, that is why you are here) but do want to take a quick trip through the past decade and college players drafted by Edmonton.
- 2006—D Jeff Petry in the 2nd round. Drafted out of Des Moines (USHL) after 17-year old season, he stayed another year in the USHL and then hit college (Michigan State) for three more years before turning pro at age 22 by signing with the Oilers.
- 2007—C Riley Nash in the 1st round. Drafted out of Salmon Arm (BCJHL) after 17-year old season, he attended Cornell (NCAA) for three years before turning pro at age 21 by signing with the Carolina Hurricanes.
- 2009—D Troy Hesketh in the 3rd round. Drafted out of Minnetonka (USHS) after 17-year old season, he derailed.
- 2009—D Kyle Bigos in the 4th round. Drafted out of Vernon (BCJHL) after 20-year old season, he attended Merrimack College (NCAA) for four years before turning pro at age 24 by signing with the San Jose Sharks.
Edmonton spent some of their precious assets (a first, second, third and fourth) on players headed for college. The return in actual talent was pretty good (Petry was full value, Nash has had a career) but the Oilers sent away both assets too early (another trend, we could really hammer them if I had included 2005 an Andrew Cogliano).
- 2010—F Kellen Jones in the 7th round. Drafted out of Vernon (BCJHL) after 20-year old season, he attended Quinnipiac (NCAA) for four years before turning pro by signing with the Oklahoma City Barons for his 24-year old season. Fabulous AHL penalty killer.
- 2012—C Jujhar Khaira in the 3rd round. Drafted out of Prince George (BCJHL) after 17-year old season, he attended Michigan Tech for one year and Everett (WHL) for one year then turned pro. He is a promising young forward in the Oilers system at this time.
- 2013—F Aidan Muir in the 4th round. Drafted out of Victory Honda Midget (MWEHL) after 17-year old season, he played with Indiana (USHL) last season and has been at Western Michigan University for the last two seasons. Is not progressing at this time.
- 2013—L Evan Campbell in the 5th round. Drafted out of Langley (BCJHL) after 20-year old season, he has three seasons in with UMass-Lowell (NCAA). Year two was solid to good, but this past year he fell off the pace and is an outsider as a prospect (imo).
- 2014—G Zach Nagelvoort was chosen in the 4th round. Although his draft day numbers were very good, he has faded since and didn’t play much in the second half of his junior year. Completely up in the air as a prospect.
- 2014—L Liam Coughlin in the 5th round. Drafted out of Vernon (BCJHL) after 19-year old season, he had some issues getting into (Boston) university so spent another year in BC. He was traded by Chiarelli to the Chicago organization last summer and was a freshman for Vermont this past year. Miles to go.
- 2014—F Tyler Vesel in the 6th round. Drafted out of Omaha (USHL) after 20-year old season, he has played well for two years at U Nebraska-Omaha. No idea if they ever sign him, but is on the radar as a prospect (imo).
- 2015—D John Marino in the 6th round. Drafted out of South Shore Kings (USPHL), he played for the Tri-City Storm (USHL) this year and is off to Harvard in the fall.
Since the turn of the century, Edmonton has:
- chosen 26 ‘draft and college’ players
- twelve have been chosen after their 17-year old season
- eight have been chosen after their 18-year old season
- one has been chosen after his 19-year old season
- five have been chosen after their 20-year old season
- the 19-year old (Coughlin) was chosen in the MacT era
- three of the five 20-year olds (Nagelvoort, Campbell and Vesel) came in the MacT era
- All of the 20-year olds have been chosen since 2009.
As we head into the offseason, I am going to be looking for trends like this, along with college free-agent signings (increasingly an area for procurement). On the face of it, the group procured over the last decade is not terribly promising. Should Edmonton shop here? I think they might be better served using those picks in the CHL or in Europe. College kids like Troy Stecher should be pursued when they reach free agency, but investing draft picks hasn’t been an efficient use of team assets (imo).
RECENT OILERS SIGNINGS FROM COLLEGE (FREE AGENTS)
- March 8, 2011: Oilers sign Taylor Fedun from Princeton.
- March 19, 2011: Oilers sign Tanner House from Maine.
- March 31, 2011: Oilers sign Hunter Tremblay from University of New Brunswick.
- April 1, 2011: Oilers sign Mark Arcobello.
- July 1, 2012: Oilers sign Justin Schultz from Wisconsin.
- April 17, 2013: Oilers sign Andrew Miller from Yale.
- March 31, 2014: Oilers sign Jordan Oesterle from Western Michigan.
- April 3, 2014: Bakersfield signs Connor Jones.
- Summer, 2014: Bakersfield signs C.J. Ludwig.
- June 24, 2015: Bakersfield signs D Nick Pageau.
- March 31, 2016: Bakersfield signs W Joey Benik from St. Cloud State.
- April 7, 2016: Oilers sign Nick Ellis from Providence.
Signing college free agents is a more efficient use of assets and it can be done—the Ottawa Senators are fabulous at it. I think MacT used this pretty well, Bob Green expanded it and now Peter Chiarelli should absolutely push it to another level.
Sources say it's down to a shortlist including the #Canucks and Oilers for Richmond B.C native and North Dakota defenseman Troy Stecher.
— NEWS 1130 Sports (@NEWS1130Sports) April 11, 2016