Looking back, the height of Edmonton’s chaos under Katz may have taken place at the 2012 entry draft. When people talk about things like ‘snafu’ or ‘fubar’, they are referring to being present in moments like this one:
- Mark Spector: Head amateur scout Stu MacGregor would ask the scouts to vote, and then he would leave the room. He’d come back with some alternate criteria to describe the type of player the Oilers wanted to choose, and they’d vote again. Every time, the vote came back the same. Nine votes for defenceman Ryan Murray, and two for Nail Yakupov. Truth be told, one of those Yakupov votes had started as a vote for Alex Galchenyuk, then morphed into support for Yakupov. Source
As you know, the final vote that counted (Tambellini? MacT? Katz?) cast the ballot for Nail Yakupov and the rest is history. I have written about this very issue before, and wrote about the best plan of action in life when faced with the issue described above:
- If I could give one piece of advice to the Oilers scouting department it would be this.
Fuck ’em, fuck ’em all. Sooner or later, everyone gets the shiv, might as well go down with the courage of your convictions. You were looking for a job when you found this one. Source
I agreed with the pick of Yakupov in 2012, agree with it now. I am also not a scout. You need to fire all of your scouts if there are no plans to listen to them. If you ever wonder why Bob Nicholson, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan were needed by this organization, read that Spector article again.
- No. 1 overall: R Nail Yakupov. The difficult maturation of Yakupov never had a chance in Edmonton, and I will go to my grave blaming the suits—your mileage may vary. Through 3.44 seasons with Edmonton, he averaged only 32 points per 82 games played. He was pretty damned good when they gave him a veteran center.
- No. 32 overall: L Mitchell Moroz. Moroz is now two AHL seasons into his career and did improve year over year. Two things have happened recently that could help him. First, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan do like bigger forwards, and there is a role for Moroz (or similar) on a future Oilers team. Second, he did play (when he played, Moroz got into 40 games) more (estimated 12 minutes) than a year ago (estimated 8:49) if estimated time-on-ice is accurate. That increase in TOI suggests the organization believes he can develop into something useful. Scott Cullen’s numbers tell us selection No. 32 has a 34% chance of playing 100 NHL games and the average pick at this number becomes a minor leaguer with 50+ games in the NHL.
- No. 63 overall: C Jujhar Khaira. He did exactly what one hopes every prospect can do, spike during his entry-level deal. The fact Khaira did it in year two is even better. Having already played in the NHL for the new coach and GM gives him an advantage heading toward training camp, and he could see more NHL time in the coming season. One thing Khaira seems to have over several previous AHL hopefuls (Hartikainen, Lander): Good foot speed. It is important. Scott Cullen’s work shows a player taken No. 63 overall has a 37.5% of playing 100 NHL games and the average player at this number is a good to very good minor league who could be expected to play in 50 or so NHL games. Khaira has 15 on his resume.
- No. 91 overall: L Daniil Zharkov. Russian winger was a surprise add to Bakersfield’s first training camp roster last fall. The cool story ended badly though, as he tore the ACL in the same knee that forced him out of action last season. Absolutely up in the air as a prospect. Scott Cullen’s numbers tell us selection No. 91 has a 24.5% chance of playing 100 NHL games and the average pick at this number becomes a minor leaguer with under 50 NHL games as the expectation.
- No. 93 overall: D Erik Gustafsson. This was a really nice pick, have had a chance to see him and I think he will have an NHL career. Definitely playing a support role for the Blackhawks (41 games), his underling numbers are pretty damn nice. The Cullen story goes like this: No. 93 has a 24.5% chance of playing 100 NHL games and the average pick at this number becomes a minor league player/under 50 NHL games. Gustafsson has basically covered his draft bet, buy whoever picked him a beer when you see him.
- No. 123 overall: D Joey Laleggia. He had a pretty strong AHL debut, posting 27 points in 63 games. The coach gave him playing time too (estimated 18:50) and that is somewhat unusual for new pro players. Laleggia is an older prospect—turns 24 in June—so his time is now. Cullen’s toy has Laleggia with a 16% chance of making it to 100 NHL games and average is a minor leaguer with 10-50 games in the NHL.
- No. 153 overall: John McCarron. He signed a pro deal and played most of the year with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. Unlikely to have a long pro career, but you never know. His chances are no worse than men like Aidan Muir and Evan Campbell, and you could argue the chances are a little better based on his size. The Cullen story goes like this: No. 153 has a 15% chance of playing 100 NHL games and the average pick at this number becomes a minor league player/under 50 NHL games.
Cullen’s list is here, and you may also enjoy ‘Harvest Moon‘ written in the moments after the draft. If you look at this draft through the filter of the Yakupov pick, I think it is pretty difficult to argue the scouts failed in this draft. Khaira and Gustafsson look like they will get an NHL chance, and we will see how Yakupov fares in his new town. Three NHL players from this draft is possible and that would represent a pretty good selection weekend.