Earlier today, I had an exchange with a reader/listener about Edmonton’s poor drafting record going back to last decade and into this one. While we can agree the drafting was poor, the Oilers also wasted an incredible amount of useful talent. As an example, here is my top 20 from June 2007 and how they turned out:
- Sam Gagner: He had a strong rookie year, but could not establish himself as a skill center. He was dealt for Teddy Purcell after signing an albatross contract and is currently trying to reinvent himself.
- Slava Trukhno: Clearly a case of me overrating him, he had three good-not great AHL seasons and then began his pro hockey journey (which continues to this day).
- Andrew Cogliano. Asiaoil loved him from the start, and the Oilers merely liked him. Cogliano turned into a useful player first year pro and has continued to be exactly that player over several years now. Traded for the pick that turned into Marco Roy (who will attend Canucks camp this fall).
- Tom Gilbert. He turned into an effective two-way defender for the Oilers, but the club always wanted him to be Nick Schultz—so they traded Gilbert for the real model. It was not a fair deal.
- Rob Schremp. Junior phenom scored at will on London power play but found the going tough in pro. He was lost on waivers and did make the NHL for 114 games. Still pushing.
- Taylor Chorney. He was a small, fast defenseman and he couldn’t find the range with an addled defensive group in Edmonton. He played 55 NHL games last season, so did find a way to use his skills in the show.
- Devan Dubnyk. He survived everything but the swarm. Oilers dealt him at his lowest value and received Matt Hendricks in return. Dubnyk is a bona fide NHL starter.
- Ryan O’Marra. Injuries at a big hole in his career.
- Alex Plante. Injuries at a big hole in his career.
- Jozef Hrabel. I called him the Pencil because he was so rail thin and he never did make the NHL, but Hrabal has been a regular in the Czech league for some time and remains there.
- Denis Grebeshkov. He had some interesting moments before Edmonton traded him for a second-round pick that turned into Curtis Hamilton.
- JF Jacques: Another player impacted by injuries, JFJ played in 166 NHL games before calling it a day and heading internationally. Last season in Austria.
- Riley Nash: Redline liked him a ton, had him as a first rounder. He wouldn’t sign with Edmonton (Rieder syndrome) and ended up being dealt for the pick that turned in Martin Marincin.
- Jeff Petry: A dandy draft pick as it turned out, Petry patrolled the blue effectively in Edmonton for five seasons, but the Oilers didn’t like him enough to pay him. Dealt for a second (that was used in the Talbot deal) and a four (Caleb Jones).
- Kyle Brodziak: He never had top end skills but was a fine two-way prospect. Edmonton dealt him before he could establish himself (175 NHL games in Edmonton) with management. He has now played 697 games and is still going strong. Edmonton got two draft picks that went nowhere for Brodziak and the pick that turned into Darcy Kuemper. You cannot make this stuff up.
- Theo Peckham: He looked like a player, thundering hitter and mobile. I am inclined to pass on blaming the team for this career path.
- Cody Wild: He was a distant bell in the beginning and he was a distant bell in the end.
- Mathieu Roy: Watching him gave me vertigo.
- Milan Kytnar: Effective two-way center at lower levels, he made the NHL for one game. The beginning of a string of Milan’s acquired by the team.
- Bryan Young: Fringe prospect.
Original list is here. The talent on this list is lower than the No. 1 overall years, but there is quality here. Edmonton did not get 100 cents on the dollar in my opinion. Thoughts? When we talk about where the Oilers are now, it is absolutely appropriate to bring up the 2007 draft (three first-round picks). We should also remember the terrible talent assessment that included deciding Jeff Petry was not worth a long-term deal, trading Andrew Cogliano for nothing, and sending Kyle Brodziak away with a pick that turned out better than the picks acquired.
It was the worst of times and it was the worst of times.