DRAFT AND FOLLOW, SIGN AND DEPLOY

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.

2006-2009

  • 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).

2010-2015

  • 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)

  1. March 8, 2011: Oilers sign Taylor Fedun from Princeton.
  2. March 19, 2011: Oilers sign Tanner House from Maine.
  3. March 31, 2011: Oilers sign Hunter Tremblay from University of New Brunswick.
  4. April 1, 2011: Oilers sign Mark Arcobello.
  5. July 1, 2012: Oilers sign Justin Schultz from Wisconsin.
  6. April 17, 2013: Oilers sign Andrew Miller from Yale.
  7. March 31, 2014: Oilers sign Jordan Oesterle from Western Michigan.
  8. April 3, 2014: Bakersfield signs Connor Jones.
  9. Summer, 2014: Bakersfield signs C.J. Ludwig.
  10. June 24, 2015: Bakersfield signs D Nick Pageau.
  11. March 31, 2016: Bakersfield signs W Joey Benik from St. Cloud State.
  12. 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.

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35 Responses to "DRAFT AND FOLLOW, SIGN AND DEPLOY"

  1. Klima's_Bucket says:

    Regarding scoring within 7 seconds of entering the zone.

    If you don’t score within 7 seconds, are you better off exiting the zone, and regaining the zone in hopes of scoring within 7 seconds the second time around, or even perhaps the third or fourth time around.

    Particularly in the 2nd period with the long change.

    You could swing back a couple of times, get fresher troops out.

    And score on a tired team or a team trying to complete a quick change because of their tired/stupid mistakes.

    Oh the possibilities!!

  2. John Chambers says:

    US College seems like a great patch for late-blooming defencemen (who I’ve been told develop by sundial), as well as goaltenders whose trajectory can best be likened to Plinko from The Price is Right.

    Seldom, it would appear, are talented forwards available as college FA’s.

  3. John Chambers says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    Regarding scoring within 7 seconds of entering the zone.

    If you don’t score within 7 seconds, are you better off exiting the zone, and regaining the zone in hopes of scoring within 7 seconds the second time around, or even perhaps the third or fourth time around.

    Particularly in the 2nd period with the long change.

    You could swing back a couple of times, get fresher troops out.

    And score on a tired team or a team trying to complete a quick change because of their tired/stupid mistakes.

    Oh the possibilities!!

    A possession strategy to hem the tired team into their own end.

    Effectively I think this is somewhat like what Chicago does in that they have so much confidence in their defense to make lots of short accurate passes, they stretch the ice.

    Obviously they don’t follow a 7 second rule, but it brings up a good point about ‘holding the line’ at all costs, just to perpetually battle for it in the offensive zone boards, versus retreating, maintaining control, then attacking with speed as a unit.

  4. GCW_69 says:

    I don’t understand drafting 20 year olds in general. There is the occasional late bloomer like Tanner Pearson who knock your socks off, but in general players passed over twice have been passed over for a reason. If you like one, whisper sweet nothings in his ear and sign him as a free agent when he is no longer draft eligible.

    To spend 5 draft picks on 20 year olds is completely nuts.

  5. spoiler says:

    With regards to Monsieur Subban…

    After reading the other article from The Gazette, the one on PK’s branding, it looks like we are talking about a fella who has absolutely embedded himself in the Mount Royal community.

    If he’s is traded there will be livid outrage from Hab fans, and unless there is a palpable improvement over the course of the following season, the GM that trades Subban is the GM that gets fired.

    Also, the line from the original article about his teammates tiring of his antics is quite obviously false.

    *resets sights lower*

  6. Showerhead says:

    Klima’s_Bucket,

    John Chambers,

    I like this line of thought – at least for exploring (ie I have no guesses at what the conclusion would be).

    I also have a hunch that watching 3-on-3 OT contributes a lot to your guys’ thinking on this. The extra space available at 3-on-3 definitely* makes puck possession more important than which zone you’re in. Would that still be true at 4-on-4? 5-on-5?

    I think the key to answering that question is to look at what % of zone entries are successful at each of those states. 3-on-3 would obviously involve the most success but at what rate does that change? Finally, there will be team-to-team variation at this so does an exit and re-entry maybe make more sense to Chicago than Edmonton?

    Either way, neat line of thought you guys are on.

    *by saying “definitely” what I really mean is “I’m pretty sure.”

  7. Hockey Buddha says:

    It would be nice to pick up Strecher, but I would think he’s more likely to sign in his hometown Vancouver. Then again, he might see a brighter future with the team in Edmonton. The rise of the blue and orange team should be a pronounced one, when it finally happens.

  8. John Chambers says:

    spoiler,

    Subban is an incredibly talented hockey player, but his salary would not fit the Edmonton Oilers payroll constraints.

    Subban would be a good fit for a team with only two highly-paid stars up front like Anaheim, but Edmonton will have 5 maybe 6 guys making $5M plus. At $9M and another $9.5M committed to Klefbom and Sekara, you’ve blown your budget on a few guys and risked your ability to keep McDavid and Draisaitl.

    My guess is that we see Hamonic traded for, and possibly Demers signed or a lesser trade like Severson.

  9. Water Fire says:

    GCW_69:
    I don’t understand drafting 20 year olds in general.There is the occasional late bloomer like Tanner Pearson who knock your socks off, but in general players passed over twice have been passed over for a reason.If you like one, whisper sweetnothings in his ear and sign him as a free agent when he is no longer draft eligible.

    To spend 5 draft picks on 20 year olds is completely nuts.

    Agreed. The draft is gambling with house money in the first three picks and with your own after that. The only tip of the hat you get on the way out from the doorman is your first round pick has a decent chance of an NHL career of some sort.

    A good gambler bets on averages and goes on instincts at times. That being said it’s either younger players in their draft years to get high end guys or free agents already partly trained to get helpful players

  10. John Chambers says:

    Showerhead,

    Although thinking about it, there’s a big difference between entering the zone 3 on 2 or even 3 on 3, versus having five guys sitting back waiting for you.

    Also, in some sense having the puck ‘deep’ is a defensive strategy inasmuch as is the furthest from danger in the event of a turnover. If you’ve seen the Oilers’ defense play anytime over the past decade you know what flubbed 30ft passes look like and you prefer they occur where the least harm can be caused.

  11. OF17 says:

    GCW_69:
    I don’t understand drafting 20 year olds in general.There is the occasional late bloomer like Tanner Pearson who knock your socks off, but in general players passed over twice have been passed over for a reason.If you like one, whisper sweetnothings in his ear and sign him as a free agent when he is no longer draft eligible.

    To spend 5 draft picks on 20 year olds is completely nuts.

    I agree 100%. If you really believe in a 20 year old, use a 7th on him, but nothing more. The draft is more like a poker table than anything. If you think a guy is worth a 4th but don’t think anyone will take him until maybe the 7th, by all means, WAIT. That’s how Detroit got Datsyuk and Zetterberg that late. They saw something they didn’t think anyone else did, and they used their picks accordingly.

    This is speculation, but the Paigin pick from last summer gives me hope this is the new philosophy among Oilers braintrust. Given his improvements year by year and how late the Oilers drafted him, he seems to be emblematic of the “save your Datsyuks until when you think they might be picked” philosophy rather than the outsmart everyone with Heskeths early on that’s dominated recent years. Speculation, as I said, but it gives me hope for this coming draft.

  12. Showerhead says:

    GCW_69,

    Agree with you in as much as the price vs. return is all wrong. I like signing overagers and the college procurement that Edmonton seems to like but using draft picks for them is a waste. Late round picks have low odds in the first place – save them for players with skill and potential.

  13. Klima's_Bucket says:

    John Chambers: If you’ve seen the Oilers’ defense play anytime over the past decade you know what flubbed 30ft passes look like and you prefer they occur where the least harm can be caused.

    30 ft passes.

    Did you mean to add a 0?

  14. Ducey says:

    LT. You might have to include Caleb Jones on your list. I think he was going to go to college before the Oilers drafted him. Not sure of that though.

  15. ashley says:

    Interesting stuff about the controlled zone exits. This requires good team coordination. I believe that the forwards of past years and first two thirds of this year have made the defense look very bad by leaving the zone too early. If we want to leave the zone in control, we need numbers.

    A turnover in the Ozone used to result in retreat by the other team (80’s). Now a popular strategy is to pressure the puck possessor and if they don’t have good stickhandling skills (Darnell Nurse, Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart) and don’t have a short pass to a center or winger in their Dzone, you can force them to either give it to you there, or fire it off the boards and out so that your D regain possession. This way your team has the puck more often and scores more goals.

    It’s critical that everyone stays around to help get the puck out of the zone. This takes short quick passes, 6-12 footers, well-sequenced and the puck should be on someone’s stick as it crosses the blueline rather than unpossessed part way into a 100 foot pass to a winger at the boards just past the redline.

  16. ashley says:

    Klima’s_Bucket:
    Regarding scoring within 7 seconds of entering the zone.

    If you don’t score within 7 seconds, are you better off exiting the zone, and regaining the zone in hopes of scoring within 7 seconds the second time around, or even perhaps the third or fourth time around.

    Particularly in the 2nd period with the long change.

    You could swing back a couple of times, get fresher troops out.

    And score on a tired team or a team trying to complete a quick change because of their tired/stupid mistakes.

    Oh the possibilities!!

    Completely different game, but you see this in soccer all the time. A team will sometimes have possession for many minutes consecutively. They will attack with a beautiful sequence of passes but if they don’t find the openings and angles that they need to generate a quality chance they pass the ball back, sometimes all the way to the goalie and try again.

    A unique thought for hockey. If a team has quality players who can pass and receive reliably, it might be worth a try. But I have a feeling the smaller playing space vs soccer would make it more difficult to retain possession for another attack.

  17. cc says:

    LT,

    Kind of on the topic of NCAA draft prospects. This past week I looked at and posted a couple of potential NCAA prospects that could be drafted out of USHL & Canadian Junior. And made note of the potential draft picks and sleepers in this years draft.

    The formatting needs a little work but I’m starting to look into what type of players you should draft and what round is the right round.

    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-ushl-forward/
    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-canadian-junior-dmen/
    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-preview-canadian-junior-forwards/

    CC

  18. Halfwise says:

    So the nightmare scenario is Calgary trading Dougie for PK, right?

  19. bbf_iii says:

    Gregor article on his interview with Klefbom: http://oilersnation.com/2016/4/11/klefbom-it-s-been-a-crazy-season?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    As someone in a previous thread guessed, the need for the custom skate looks to be due to skin sensitivity.

  20. Water Fire says:

    bbf_iii:
    Gregor article on his interview with Klefbom: http://oilersnation.com/2016/4/11/klefbom-it-s-been-a-crazy-season?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    As someone in a previous thread guessed, the need for the custom skate looks to be due to skin sensitivity.

    Do I win anything?!!? A Bomber footprint casting?

  21. Water Fire says:

    ashley:
    Interesting stuff about the controlled zone exits.This requires good team coordination.I believe that the forwards of past years and first two thirds of this year have made the defense look very bad by leaving the zone too early.If we want to leave the zone in control, we need numbers.

    A turnover in the Ozone used to result in retreat by the other team (80’s).Now a popular strategy is to pressure the puck possessor and if they don’t have good stickhandling skills (Darnell Nurse, Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart) and don’t have a short pass to a center or winger in their Dzone, you can force them to either give it to you there, or fire it off the boards and out so that your D regain possession.This way your team has the puck more often and scores more goals.

    It’s critical that everyone stays around to help get the puck out of the zone.This takes short quick passes, 6-12 footers, well-sequenced and the puck should be on someone’s stick as it crosses the blueline rather than unpossessed part way into a 100 foot pass to a winger at the boards just past the redline.

    Too true. I have rattled on about the fact that it’s not possible to define forward and defensive aspects with such a fine line as WG’s link supports.

    Certainly the defense needs upgrades ( and not in size PLEASE as the Oiler D is fairly large league wide but lacks enough NHL hockey competent skating and puck movement) but it has been the awful system play and neutral zone utter incompetence that has been the fission behind ‘the shift’ and .025 seconds of offensive zone pressure.

    The Oilers can score off the rush with the best of them – the lack of scoring overall comes from not being able to do the 40% trench warfare well enough.

    You need both, McLellan sees it, I think he’d rather have mostly controlled entries but that hasn’t been possible to this point. And at times the other team will play well enough to stop it.

  22. Lowetide says:

    cc:
    LT,

    Kind of on the topic of NCAA draft prospects.This past week I looked at and posted a couple of potential NCAA prospects that could be drafted out of USHL & Canadian Junior.And made note of the potential draft picks and sleepers in this years draft.

    The formatting needs a little work but I’m starting to look into what type of players you should draft and what round is the right round.

    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-ushl-forward/
    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-canadian-junior-dmen/
    https://oilersfuture.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/nhl-draft-preview-canadian-junior-forwards/

    CC

    That is excellent stuff, CC.

  23. AsiaOil says:

    Watch some old Red Army tape…….

    ashley: Completely different game, but you see this in soccer all the time.A team will sometimes have possession for many minutes consecutively.They will attack with a beautiful sequence of passes but if they don’t find the openings and angles that they need to generate a quality chance they pass the ball back, sometimes all the way to the goalie and try again.

    A unique thought for hockey.If a team has quality players who can pass and receive reliably, it might be worth a try.But I have a feeling the smaller playing space vs soccer would make it more difficult to retain possession for another attack.

  24. Alsker says:

    Klima’s_Bucket,

    re: your 7 sec rule…this would require defensive pairings confident enough not to back up past center( thus trapping the opp and preventing a line change)as well as the ability to make an accurate first pass to one of their forwards exiting the zone to re-establish attack position. There are teams that could do this but ours is not presently one that could. Let alone have our forwards retreat onside in a prompt and orderly fashion. Great idea, would take a disciplined and more vet team to pull it off. Besides it reminds of a very old joke about rodeo cowboys I recall.

  25. Philosophil says:

    I recall the discussion after the 2014 draft that theorized perhaps the Oil were drafting College picks to offset a bubble or glut of impending signings in the next cohort. In retrospect it doesn’t seem to hold water, but the Oil draft strategy that year was so odd that the theories around it reflect the crazy.

  26. Water Fire says:

    ashley: Completely different game, but you see this in soccer all the time.A team will sometimes have possession for many minutes consecutively.They will attack with a beautiful sequence of passes but if they don’t find the openings and angles that they need to generate a quality chance they pass the ball back, sometimes all the way to the goalie and try again.

    A unique thought for hockey.If a team has quality players who can pass and receive reliably, it might be worth a try.But I have a feeling the smaller playing space vs soccer would make it more difficult to retain possession for another attack.

    You see it sometimes but North American ice and NHL competition contests possession too much for it to be like Spain winning the world cup a while back.

    Chicago is the closest and they are great at it, still looks far more chippy than high level soccer.

  27. 31saves says:

    AsiaOil,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Hyf2Gpf9U

    This video seems a pretty good description of the soviet style. One thing I’ve often heard about the Soviet team is that they wouldn’t dump the puck in, nor would they shoot the puck if they were under pressure. Instead, they’d double back and regroup, sometimes going offside and waiting for a perfect opportunity. I’m not old enough to have seen them live, but quite entertaining and effective on the old tapes!

  28. Edmonton_fan says:

    This is interesting… Came out yesterday.

    http://www.mckeenshockey.com/prospects-blog/mckeens-2016-top-30-nhl-draft-rankings-apr-2016/

    “The other main change in the top five was moving Mississauga center Michael McLeod into the top three following his first-round performance in the OHL playoffs where he almost willed his team to a huge upset over the high-powered Barrie Colts”

  29. Kmart99 says:

    Edmonton_fan:
    This is interesting… Came out yesterday.

    http://www.mckeenshockey.com/prospects-blog/mckeens-2016-top-30-nhl-draft-rankings-apr-2016/

    “The other main change in the top five was moving Mississauga center Michael McLeod into the top three following his first-round performance in the OHL playoffs where he almost willed his team to a huge upset over the high-powered Barrie Colts”

    Those descriptions of Laine are tantalizing. Makes me really not care if the Oilers go #1 or #2. Even at 3 there are great players.

  30. Hockey Buddha says:

    Edmonton_fan:
    This is interesting… Came out yesterday.

    http://www.mckeenshockey.com/prospects-blog/mckeens-2016-top-30-nhl-draft-rankings-apr-2016/

    “The other main change in the top five was moving Mississauga center Michael McLeod into the top three following his first-round performance in the OHL playoffs where he almost willed his team to a huge upset over the high-powered Barrie Colts”

    Yeah, the Mckeen’s list is an interesting take on things. It challenges the thinking of other draft lists. The ability to perform in big games is a huge factor for consideration. There have been rumblings about Laine for a while, but Matthews, for the most part, is firmly fixed in that top seat on most lists.

  31. Jaxon says:

    Interesting Oilers connections for Stecher. He played with Joey LaLeggia for Penticton Vees and with Dillon Simpson at University of North Dakota. Hopefully, they both have good things to say about the organization. That said, I’m not sure Stecher has shown enough of what the Oilers need (offence and difficulty to play against). His NHLE as a 3rd year player was only 22pts. His stats don’t read as a player who is all that offensively gifted. I’m still hops they sign Demers and trade for Paliotta, Bowey AND Pysyk.

  32. AsiaOil says:

    Yeah the soviet big 5 (not the Detroit version) was probably the best 5 man unit in hockey history – maybe not individually the best – but as a unit they have no peer. Those guys were Mozart on skates.

    31saves:
    AsiaOil,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Hyf2Gpf9U

    This video seems a pretty good description of the soviet style. One thing I’ve often heard about the Soviet team is that they wouldn’t dump the puck in, nor would they shoot the puck if they were under pressure. Instead, they’d double back and regroup, sometimes going offside and waiting for a perfect opportunity. I’m not old enough to have seen them live, but quite entertaining and effective on the old tapes!

  33. Keith says:

    AsiaOil,

    The documentary ‘Red Army’ referenced above should be a must see for any ‘red’ blooded hockey fan. Also it is currently free on Netflix, for anyone interested…

  34. russ99 says:

    The 7 second info is really interesting.

    Kind of turns the current en vogue strategy of playing keep away and shots from everywhere in the O-zone on its head, even though we’ve been seeing things way too close to Eakins’ failed Corsi for Corsi’s sake strategy.

    My gripe with the McLellan isn’t the possession/shot centric strategy in itself, it’s that the Oilers don’t deviate from it ever, even on the power play.

    Good coaches adapt for the players on the ice, both their own and the opposition.

  35. GCW_69 says:

    OF17: I agree 100%. If you really believe in a 20 year old, use a 7th on him, but nothing more. The draft is more like a poker table than anything. If you think a guy is worth a 4th but don’t think anyone will take him until maybe the 7th, by all means, WAIT. That’s how Detroit got Datsyuk and Zetterberg that late. They saw something they didn’t think anyone else did, and they used their picks accordingly.

    This is speculation, but the Paigin pick from last summer gives me hope this is the new philosophy among Oilers braintrust. Given his improvements year by year and how late the Oilers drafted him, he seems to be emblematic of the “save your Datsyuks until when you think they might be picked” philosophy rather than the outsmart everyone with Heskeths early on that’s dominated recent years. Speculation, as I said, but it gives me hope for this coming draft.

    I can see some possible benefit in drafting the older players out of Europe given the development system over there, but I agree that saving those picks for the ass end of the draft is when you grab them. Over agers from the tier two Canadian hockey leagues and even the CHL is what bothers me. The oilers should not be allowed to Scout the BCJHL ever.

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