RAISE THE CEILING, LOWER THE FLOOR AND STOP REACHING

Today we are going to talk about player types who do not belong in the top 50 picks. I write this post every year leading up to the draft, and since we are about one month out, now this is probably a good time to do it.

When people talk about Edmonton’s poor drafting over the last several seasons, they often point to pre-draft rankings and imply the picks were wildly out of step with consensus. This is (mostly) not the case—the selections in the first two rounds usually align with Bob McKenzie or Red Line.

The issue is with player type. The wise team drafts players with a range of skills, giving their players more than one chance to make the grade. The wise team gets a prospect with substantial offensive potential, giving themselves a chance to fill one of the key roster spots with an internal addition.

Edmonton has been drafting so high in Round 1 since 2010 getting a great prospect has been (mostly) easy. After that? One-dimensional talents have been the norm and that means limited roster options—even if the player works out.

rnh barons1

OILERS 2011 DRAFT

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at No. 1—Bob McKenzie No. 1
  • Oscar Klefbom at No. 19—Bob McKenzie No. 21
  • David Musil at No. 31—Bob McKenzie No. 41

Musil is 10 picks behind—not an especially big gap for the second round—but the selection didn’t look good draft +1 and has gone downhill since. I don’t blame the player, but the decision to select the player-type so early (choosing a defensive defender with a lot of offensive talent still available) was (and maybe still is) flawed.

This year’s David Musil is a young man named Logan Stanley, who is no doubt high on lists compiled by teams like the New York Rangers and—maybe—the Edmonton Oilers. Sportsnet ranks Stanley No. 14, Brock Otten of OHL Prospect has him No. 15 among draft eligibles in this draft and I do not have him on my top 120 (No. 46 among OHL players). My list (I admit) punishes this player type and he is a wonderful skater, but if a team takes him No. 15 overall, they are selecting a defenseman who scored 18 OHL points in 71 games this season. (Bob McKenzie has him first round, Craig Button second round). If you don’t believe me, believe Brock Otten. He has it right.

OILERS 2012 DRAFT

  • Nail Yakupov at No. 1—Bob McKenzie No. 1
  • Mitchell Moroz at No. 32—Bob McKenzie No. 56

This was absolutely a weird draft. You cannot run a company this way. The ironic thing is the early pick (imo) was the correct one—but the Moroz selection ignored offense (again) and math. If Edmonton liked Moroz that much, choosing him at No. 63 would have been the better play. Or trading down in the second round.

nurse capture

OILERS 2013 DRAFT

  • Darnell Nurse at No. 7—Bob McKenzie No. 9
  • Marc-Olivier Roy at No. 56—Bob McKenzie No. 59

There isn’t much to complain about based on rankings, the two early picks were within range of BMs rankings. I had Rasmus Ristolainen ahead of Darnell Nurse, but Edmonton’s choice did show a range of skills and enough offense to suggest he would be able to play a regular role. Roy did not develop offensively as hoped, but on draft day he had a nice range of skills.

OILERS 2014 DRAFT

  • Leon Draisaitl at No. 3—Bob McKenzie No. 4

Oilers delivered in a big way with Leon, he looks like a plug and play for the next decade. The lack of a second-round pick (along with previous selections in that round) left a hole in the asset cupboard.

OILERS 2015 DRAFT

  • Connor McDavid at No. 1—Bob McKenzie No. 1

The Oilers drafted McDavid. They won the draft before Bettman heard the booing.

STRONG DRAFT STRATEGY

  • Value skill above all other things.
  • Value players with a range of skills, who have more than one way to make it.
  • Draft offensive talent and let math do the work.
  • Don’t take goalies early (Oilers have learned this).
  • Don’t take defensemen early unless they bring offense.
  • Speed matters, even more than size.
  • Don’t walkabout in the top 100.
  • Stop mining areas currently frequented that have produced nothing. I’m looking at you BCJHL.
  • Print off the Bob McKenzie list and compare it to your own list.
  • STOP chasing Coke Machines.
  • This list first appeared here.

I had a few people DM me over this, want to be clear on the tweet. Connor McDavid is a ridiculous talent and as such when pucks are not going in there will be questions. He is already a lightning rod player. The young man is playing well (eight assists tied the previous Crosby record of points by a teenager and 97 has a game left) and struggled along with his team today.

I do tire of silly shots about him and that was the reason for this tweet. Remember the day of the lottery? Remember when people were reading his body language? I must have read 100 tweets about how disappointed he was that night.

My tweet reflected that night and placed it onto today. The suggestion being that people are going to say dumb stuff for the next decade, so we might as well get used to it. But the joke only works if we all agree that the situation is ridiculous.

So. Let me state this now so you will know (if reading) how I feel about Connor McDavid.

In my lifetime as a hockey fan, my chosen teams have been blessed (as have I) with Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jarri Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and others. I have been paid in full as a fan. Whatever this is, the McDavid time, is more than any fan should expect let alone take for granted.

Connor McDavid is going to be one of those special names and I am so pleased to be a witness to it. Seriously. It is a pure pleasure, cannot imagine anyone would feel differently. Blessed. Again.

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22 Responses to "RAISE THE CEILING, LOWER THE FLOOR AND STOP REACHING"

  1. dustrock says:

    Remember when people said the Blues were done and I said they’re down by 1 game and Brouwer hit 8 trillion posts? Oh right.

  2. Richard S.S. says:

    The Oilers Universe has changed and most people are struggling to keep up. Oilers hired Bob Nicholson on Saturday, 31 March 2014, and no one really understood why. Change was coming, but no one expected it to happen this fast. or be so massive. Connor McDavid changed the Universe and we just have to hang on and enjoy the adventure.

  3. Younger Oil says:

    You forgot to add “Draft more left handed defenders” to the list 😀

  4. 36 percent body fat says:

    Follow Winnipegs draft strategy,

    skill, skill, skill and more skill. And take rediculous talents when the fall to you instead of trading them for pylon defenceman

  5. square_wheels says:

    I would add – find talent from proven professional leagues regardless of their age or nationality and simmer them in leagues below until ripe on the vine.

    How the Lightning are in the east finals WITHOUT STAMKOS is a testament to almost all those bullets above – you must have depth at all positions.

    For a short while this winter I thought Yyzerman had “lost” it (Drouin situation) but this team could be the new Detroit.

    If they can get this far without Stamkos then throw most of that money at a 10 X $8M for Hedman and sign the rest to solid contracts. Too bad they didn’t fleece Toronto for their 1st this year !

  6. digger50 says:

    From last blog. Nial Yakupov even strength CHL points per game at 0.952!! How has he go so wrong??

    I watch him with my own eyes and I have never seen an NHLer look so lost. Not lost like a rookie, just completely out of sync with others and the play in general. I went back to watch some of his junior highlights and read scouting reports, he looked fine.

    Of course everybody has an opinion of Yak. Has there ever been a complete investigation into Yak and his development to fully understand how he got where he is?

    Reading/Listening to Feedback from Shultz it is disappointing to say the least. I remember Hall stating Justin was always one of the best skaters and skill players in camp, every year. Player usage and confidence. Who knew? Everybody?

    Maybe Yak expectations were too high, but he still should have been a solid second line winger all day. Is he so unique or different they can’t figure output? Or simple player usage and confidence? Is this one of those because Oilers things?

    I’m going to be upset reading how easily another team has found a model for Yak to succeed.

  7. dangilitis says:

    And paajarvi now has more playoff points than every oiler in the last decade

  8. Westchester Oil says:

    Thanks for a very good post LT. Your comments about Moroz are spot on. The other draft pick from the last 10 years that still bugs me was when they went ‘off the board’ and traded up to take Riley Nash (another BCJHL’er) in 2007. He cost us a late first round and an early second round pick. Doh!!

  9. digger50 says:

    Pickup number 4 will still be up in the air until expansion is announced and a plan for RHD is in place. What about pick #32?

    What are some favourites base on the criteria mentioned? Skill first, versatility., speed, offended….

  10. RedArmy says:

    What would be the fan bases reaction if these were Chia’s five moves?

    1-buyout korpikoski
    2-sign demers to the sekera contract
    3-sign gryba to a one year deal
    4-eberle to Wild for spurgeon, kuemper
    5-yakupov, nurse, 4th overall to Habs for Gallagher, Eller, 9th overall

    Maroon mcdavid draisaitl
    Hall Nuge Gallagher
    Pouliot Eller kassian
    Hendricks letestu pakarinen
    Kharia lander

    Klefbom demers
    Sekera fayne
    Davidson spurgeon
    Gryba

    Talbot kuemper

    * Reinhart in the ahl

  11. Genjutsu says:

    RedArmy:
    What would be the fan bases reaction if these were Chia’s five moves?

    1-buyout korpikoski
    2-sign demers to the sekera contract
    3-sign gryba to a one year deal
    4-eberle to Wild for spurgeon, kuemper
    5-yakupov, nurse, 4th overall to Habs for Gallagher, Eller, 9th overall

    Maroon mcdavid draisaitl
    Hall Nuge Gallagher
    Pouliot Eller kassian
    Hendricks letestu pakarinen
    Kharia lander

    Klefbom demers
    Sekera fayne
    Davidson spurgeonGryba

    Talbot kuemper

    * Reinhart in the ahl

    I liked everything up until #5.

    Sens like a massive overpay on the Oilers part.

    I like Eller but he makes to much cash for what he brings and is a leftie. Even if you think Eller for Yak is a wash, and I don’t, the rest of that trade Nurse and a move down from 4 to 9 for Gallagher.

    That’s too much by mile and I’m a big fan of the little guy.

    Just too much to give up IMO.

    No matter how many watermelons he breaks.

  12. TsuDhoNimh says:

    LT,

    I didn’t think McDavid struggled in that game. How many times was he in a puck battle along the boards against 1 or 2 defenders and came away with the puck every single time. Sure he doesn’t have any goals but he controls the play every time he’s on the ice. He does look at times like he’s trying to do too much maybe though.

  13. kinger_OIL says:

    RedArmy,

    – First LT this is a great post! Great analysis of the trials & tribulations of the past. Very sanguine,

    – Second Red Army, your transactions fit what I am thinking: trade a Steve Austin, get some more D, a back-up G, and so on. There is a lot of gutting that is going to go on. Book it.

  14. Mr DeBakey says:

    digger50: What about pick #32?
    What are some favourites base on the criteria mentioned?

    Taylor Raddysh -RW- R- 6’02- 202 – Erie Otters
    56 ES Pts [Tkachuk had 63]

    That’s hopin’
    Good chance he doesn’t make it out of the 1st Round.

  15. kinger_OIL says:

    – One thing about Yakupov: there was a link in the last post. This is the quote from clearly a planted response : ” But Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins experienced the same dysfunction, and though none are perfect players, they have all far exceeded Yakupov’s development.”

    – That quote is so money. If Yak wasn’t the 4rth top pick, he would have had the same plush minutes, no consequence for not back-checking, primo linemates. Yak is the same as Eberle even more better for this team if he got the same treatment. I will believe this untill the end.

    – Yak dealt with way more adversity to get to where he was as well.

  16. Bruce McCurdy says:

    kinger_OIL,

    Eberle was a #22 overall, not a #1. He has way overachieved the draft bet. & he has scored every year he has been in the league.

  17. Johnny skid says:

    kinger_OIL:
    – One thing about Yakupov: there was a link in the last post.This is the quote from clearly a planted response : ” But Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins experienced the same dysfunction, and though none are perfect players, they have all far exceeded Yakupov’s development.”

    – That quote is so money.If Yak wasn’t the 4rth top pick, he would have had the same plush minutes, no consequence for not back-checking, primo linemates.Yak is the same as Eberleeven more better for this team if he got the same treatment.I will believe this untill the end.

    – Yak dealt with way more adversity to get to where he was as well.

    positive comments regarding yak here are usually followed by a high level of resistance, but back-handed complements are typically allowed.

  18. BONVIE says:

    kinger_OIL:
    – One thing about Yakupov: there was a link in the last post.This is the quote from clearly a planted response : ” But Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins experienced the same dysfunction, and though none are perfect players, they have all far exceeded Yakupov’s development.”

    – That quote is so money.If Yak wasn’t the 4rth top pick, he would have had the same plush minutes, no consequence for not back-checking, primo linemates.Yak is the same as Eberleeven more better for this team if he got the same treatment.I will believe this untill the end.

    – Yak dealt with way more adversity to get to where he was as well.

    The only question left to ask about Yakapov is wether he is more likw Alexander Daigle or Patrick Stefan.

  19. OF17 says:

    BONVIE: The only question left to ask about Yakapov is wether he is more likw Alexander Daigle or Patrick Stefan.

    PPG first 4 seasons:

    Daigle 0.58
    Yakupov 0.44
    Stefan 0.42

    I love Yak’s personality, but that is not good company to keep.

  20. Professor Q says:

    Mr DeBakey: Taylor Raddysh -RW-R-6’02-202 –Erie Otters
    56 ES Pts [Tkachuk had 63]

    That’s hopin’
    Good chance he doesn’t make it out of the 1st Round.

    Take Raddysh with the #32 then in 2 years draft Jerzy Orchard…

    I’m sure there are many other fruit and vegetable themed players…

  21. Professor Q says:

    square_wheels,

    I don’t believe they can sign a player for 10 years?

  22. rickithebear says:

    Corey Perry:
    Teams who defend win championships!

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