The day began with the usual spin about big deals ahead (“Oilers close on a couple of fronts”) but sputtered for obvious reasons (the Oilers CAN trade Staios, but they need to trade for someone better in return. No one wants to do that, since there are free agents straight ahead one week into the future).
The draft started well. With Voracek and Gagner on the board, Edmonton chose well with Sam Gagner:
5-11, 190, August 1989 (late birthday is good), ISS: Extremely smart hockey player, plays both ends of the rink and has tremendous vision.
I like him because he can take and make a pass at high speed and makes good decisions with the puck. I could tell you how MUCH I like him if you would give me his ATOI totals. No matter, I like the pick.
At 15, the Oilers went back to two old chestnuts: SAW HIM GOOD and DRAFT FOR NEED. You just KNEW they’d take a defenseman with the second pick even if Christ Almighty was available up front.
I talked to Guy Flaming earlier today and he mentioned Alex Plante at 15 (he really did, I’m not making this up). Guy mentioned a nice size, decent speed package with skill and that he didn’t get beaten much one on one. I think Plante is a classic example of “draft for need”, an Edmonton Oilers tradition that dates back several years. The Oilers passed on Alexei Cherepanov and Angelo Esposito by taking Plante and THAT imo will end up being the most often quoted “mistake” from Kevin Prendergast this draft. Best Player Available wasn’t served with this pick.
The draft up to this point was somewhat controversial but you could defend the decisions. However, by paying a supreme price (30+36) and trading up for a future role player in Riley Nash I believe the Oilers wasted assets that should cost someone their job.
All we’ve heard about this draft is that the picks from 15-50 are interchangeable and it seems to me that if you’re going to trade up it should be for a Mikael Backlund or David Perron. Losing two early picks in a draft that resembles 2002 made zero sense. Buffalo got Jochen Hecht for the 31 and 36 picks in 2002, Edmonton gave up 30 and 36 for the chance at a guy who should have been available at 36.
No matter. Tomorrow morning Jim Matheson will have an article about Kevin Lowe “blocking Calgary” from getting the guy they wanted in Riley Nash. You can choose to believe them or not. Frankly, after seeing this kind of thing over and over again, I could care less.
Gagner I like, Plante you can defend, but the rest of the draft looks like it was aided by seed capsules of the opium poppy