Is The Oilers Drafting Record Really THAT Bad? (2003)

I’m going to miss those WBS Penguins uniforms. This is Marc Pouliot, one of 5 Oiler picks from 2003 who’ve spent time in the show already.

Unlike the 2001 and 2002 drafts, the 2003 version has Edmonton well behind in terms of having the best player taken in the division (Phaneuf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler and Brad Richardson are all clear of 100 NHL games) but 5 is a pretty big number considering one of the seasons since summer 2003 was the lockout.

Here’s the NW games played:

MINNESOTA: Brent Burns (185), Patrick O’Sullivan (44)
CALGARY: Dion Phaneuf (161)
EDMONTON: Marc Pouliot (54), JF Jacques (44), Zack Stortini (29), Kyle Brodziak (16), Mathieu Roy (17)
VANCOUVER: Ryan Keslert (158), Nathan McIver (1)
COLORADO: David Liffiton (3), Brad Richardson (114)

GP Totals

  1. Minnesota 229
  2. Calgary 161
  3. Edmonton 160
  4. Vancouver 159
  5. Colorado 117
  • Calgary drafted 9th overall and had 9 picks.
  • Minnesota drafted 20th overall and had 9 picks.
  • Edmonton drafted 22nd overall and had 12 picks.
  • Vancouver drafted 23rd overall and had 10 picks.
  • Colorado drafted 63rd overall and had 8 picks.
  1. Minnesota again had the best draft so far, and Patrick O’Sullivan is just getting started.
  2. Calgary got Phaneuf.
  3. Edmonton got 5 guys, with Pouliot likely the best of the 5.
  4. Vancouver got a nice player in Ryan Kesler.
  5. Colorado did a nice job picking up Richardson despite not choosing until 63rd.

This was a very deep draft, the deepest of the three we’re looking at right now. The Oilers dealt down in an effort to get another pick (JFJ) but gave up the chance to select Zach Parise. I don’t think this is a draft we can point to as being a weak spot for the Oilers.

One final note here: I noticed in the comments section of the 2001 draft a mention or two of Jean Francois Jacques and his ineffectiveness at the NHL level. While I can agree he’s been quite poor, it’s important to remember what an unusual prospect he is, and despite the poor play his skills should eventually make him an NHL regular.

Jean Francois Jacques hasn’t looked it at the NHL level, but he’s an extremely unique player.

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10 Responses to "Is The Oilers Drafting Record Really THAT Bad? (2003)"

  1. jon says:

    Typically this is the year we should be looking at players like Pouliot and Jacques to give us an indication of the player they can be. With nerves and coming onto an injury-wracked train wreck of a team, it’s pretty hard to gauge what exactly those two guys can do at the NHL level. A fourth line of Nilsson-Pouliot-Jacques next year could be interesting.

  2. Andy Grabia says:

    I’m confused, LT. Is your criterion for draft quality “games played”? If so, it makes little sense, as the Oilers season last year indicates. How many points did all those draft picks contribute? How many games did the Oilers win? I guess longevity counts, but lots of shitty teams give lots of ice time to shitty prospects, no?

    If I look at the Oilers draft picks since Lowe took over, I see three quality NHL players: Lombardi, Hemsky, and Stoll. Lombardi re-entered and went to Calgary, so he doesn’t even count. I suppose you could throw in Jussi and Greene as second tier guys, and it’s unfair to include players from the past couple years, but I don’t think that is a good enough job, especially since drafting is particularly important in a market like Edmonton.

  3. Lowetide says:

    andy: GP is the best “weighting” system I can find.

    If we can agree that any roster spot represents a “line in the sand”, then GP does indeed qualify as a measure.

    Also, when we’re talking about rookies then certainly they don’t contribute much but that’s pretty much universal.

    As for quality picks since 2001, I’d nomintate:

    Hemsky, Markkanen
    Stoll, Greene

    and we’ll see about 2003. May I ask how many NHL regulars you think most teams produce each draft? Not trying to be a dink, just wondering how closely you follow the draft.

  4. Andy Grabia says:

    May I ask how many NHL regulars you think most teams produce each draft? Not trying to be a dink, just wondering how closely you follow the draft.

    I have no idea, actually, and no offence taken. It would be something to look at, that’s for sure. But if a team is getting between what, ten to twelve draft picks each year,what should the standard be? 10%? 15%? 20%? I’d say a reasonable expectation would be that between 10-20% of any team’s draft picks end up being solid NHL players. Maybe even higher, depending how loosely you define “solid NHL Players.” It’s a great question. What do you think?

  5. Lowetide says:

    Andy: I’ve heard many times that if a team can come away with two regulars from a draft they’re doing well, and MANY teams come away with less than that. I don’t believe it’s a good way to measure things though, because Phaneuf makes the Flames draft alone and that is extremely unlikely to change at any time down the line.

    I also think that at some point you can let an organization off the hook for a bad first round (once or twice, not all the time like the Oil in the 90s).

    For instance, when they took Henrich in 1998 it turned out badly but Horcoff is going to play over 1,000 NHL games so it is fair to cut some slack.

    Also, it depends on where they draft. For instance, not getting two studs in 1994′s top 6 cost this team for YEARS, but getting Hemsky at #13 in 2001 was like having a pick at #5.

    Honestly, the Oilers since 2001 have done a fine job imo against the median. I just don’t have a better way to prove it than GP against NW teams (if you do all 30 it becomes very messy).

  6. MikeP says:

    Andy, with all due respect, I think you’re flat out wrong.

    “Poor” and “good” are, by definition, relative terms. You can’t look at a single team’s record for # of draft picks panning out, particularly if you’re going to then say “well, New Jersey had 10 and Edmonton had 5, so Edmonton sucks.” Could be Edmonton was actually middle of the pack, or NJ was so far ahead of everybody else that you throw them out for purposes of comparison (acknowledge they rock and everybody else sucks relative to them, but what about relative to everybody who isn’t NJ).

    You have to look at every single team at every stage, and compare them relative to one another. Absolute measurements like 10% only make sense if they’re in the context of other teams.

    The last time I looked, a couple of years ago, Edmonton was middle of the pack. I don’t expect they’d have made great gains on that since, but I do expect they’ve made some.

    For what it’s worth, I think Markkanen deserves a place in successful picks, if only for his performance in 6 games in 2006.

  7. namflashback says:

    I’ll admit to not being much of a draft watcher. However, your measure of GP is a decent one I think. Impact players, or potential impact players will rise above their peers sooner and stay there longer. It is blind, in a positive way, to all the real obstacles a player might face in making it. Pouliot had injury and mono. Ninimakki had an injury. The best ones will rise when given the opportunity. For where they picked in the draft order, the scouting dept seems better than ok from my view. Too bad lowe won’t be around to get the kudos.

    Now, about that pro-scouting record . . .

    IIRC the Sabres use video + analysis primarily for the pro-scouting function. Makes sense, pretty much universal availability of multi-angle video and plethora of stats at the nhl and ahl level.

  8. William says:

    What about the ol’ genetics vs. environment debate? Sure, sometimes you’re going to get to pick a “can’t miss” blessed with God-given talent like Crosby, Griffey, or Tiger Woods. (And sometimes despite genetics, these fellas don’t cut it because of their head – see Falloon, Daigle…)

    But for the rest of the mere mortals, how they were developed through a team’s minor and major league system would have to play a huge impact on whether or not they played. The Oilers seem to have a lot of these kind of players, and I always wonder how far they’d go under someone else’s tutelage (Winchesters, Schremps, Pouliots, Jacques…).

    Guess what I’m thinking out loud is how much weight you can put on the original draft vs. how much value gets added to a player once they’re in the system.

    For lack of anything easier, GP straight up is a good place to start the conversation. A statistical measure would be some kind of nightmare… like weighted average of where and how many times the team drafted in the year, money spent on the players and development along the way, length of time it took the team to get the kids to the big show, and games played + performance in the big leagues.

    Anyways, keep it up LT…

  9. Andy Grabia says:

    “Poor” and “good” are, by definition, relative terms.

    Oh, totally agreed. But so is Games Played, in my opinion. I think much better measurements could be used.

    You have to look at every single team at every stage, and compare them relative to one another. Absolute measurements like 10% only make sense if they’re in the context of other teams.

    Totally agree, and totally disagree. Agree in the sense that you have to look at every other team and compare them, which (sorry) neither LT or anyone else has done. Disagree in the sense that I think every team should have a target in mind for what they want to accomplish. I don’t mind hearing fans say that the draft is a crapshoot, but I’d like my GM to speak with a bit more confidence and certainty in the system he is operating.

  10. MikeP says:

    Andy, even if he’s lying?

    If any GM could say with confidence that he was a nigh-infallible judge of character + talent, he’s wasted in his job because he could make tens of millions consulting, I’d wager.

    I agree that GP isn’t a perfect metric – so what’s better? (Like LT, I’m not trying to be a dick, but I did put a fair bit of thought into it and I honestly can’t come up with anything better.)

    As far as comparing all teams – well, LT’s done the NW division, I can probably see my way to doing the league this weekend. I have an adequate supply of beer and hopefully some free time.

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