One area of procurement I find fascinating is the large pool of prospects outside of the main arteries of talent. Once teams mine the CHL, the USHL, college and junior leagues, general managers reach a crossroads. They can continue drafting less brilliant CHL/USHL/etc players who could not emerge as feature players, or they can find second tier leagues and draft superior athletes. I think Matthew Cairns was such a player a year ago, as was Jujhar Khaira in 2012 and on it goes.
Are the Oilers increasing this area? Are they spending more valuable (earlier) picks on these types of players? How successful have picks been in the recent past? For our purposes, I am using all Canadian and American tier two leagues (including prep).
STEVE TAMBELLINI (2009-12)
- 2009—D Troy Hesketh in the 3rd round, No. 71 overall. Drafted out of Minnetonka (USHS) after 17-year old season. Hesketh didn’t develop as a player and there wasn’t a lot of buzz about him on draft day.
- 2009—D Kyle Bigos in the 4th round, No. 99 overall. 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.
- 2010—F Kellen Jones in the 7th round, No. 202 overall. 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. He is now a productive AHL player, and a dynamite penalty killer at that level.
- 2012—C Jujhar Khaira in the 3rd round, No. 63 overall. 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. Khaira has improved steadily during his entry-level deal, and has played 25 NHL games. He should be considered the most accomplished of these players.
CRAIG MACTAVISH 2013-14
- 2013—F Aidan Muir in the 4th round, No. 113 overall. Drafted out of Victory Honda Midget (MWEHL) after 17-year old season, he played with Indiana (USHL) and moved to Western Michigan University for the last three seasons. Has made progress, but has also suffered from injury. Has one more year of college eligibility.
- 2013—L Evan Campbell in the 5th round, No. 128 overall. Drafted out of Langley (BCJHL) after 20-year old season, he completed his fourth season with UMass-Lowell (NCAA) this spring. Year two was solid to good, but he was that rare college player whose playing time appears to have been reduced in his later years.
- 2014—L Liam Coughlin in the 5th round, No 130 overall. 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 before entering college at Vermont, where he has posted two seasons (66 games) and a lower point total (23).
PETER CHIARELLI 2015-16
- 2015—D John Marino in the 6th round, No. 154 overall. Drafted out of South Shore Kings (USPHL), he played for the Tri-City Storm (USHL) and then played for Harvard this past season. He is an interesting prospect who has a chance.
- 2016—D Matthew Cairns in the third round, No. 84 overall. Drafted from the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL, Cairns was one of the earliest tier two picks of the 2016 entry draft. His scouting reports implied a raw player: Black Book: Matthew is a big defenseman with a good frame. His skating has experienced some improvements but his first few steps are still a little choppy. Simple has been the key for Cairns. He does a good job playing his man one on one letting the play come to him and attacking at the right time.
I think there are probably elements of this scouting report that apply to all of the players on this draft and follow list. They are long rangers in terms of development, but if they turn out the drafting team is going to get a very useful player. In my opinion John Marino is the most promising in this group since Khaira, but that’s probably bias and we will see how this all turns out. I wrote about draft and follow candidates for the 2017 draft here, but the nature of this player is that we are scrambling on draft day to find out about him. One final note: There were four players from this category chosen before No. 100 overall, three of them on Steve Tambellini’s watch and Matthew Cairns.