Issues Revisited (2007 Draft)

This is Alexei Cherepanov, the highly rated Russian player who ISS ranked 4th best for the 2007 draft. He fell all the way to New York Rangers (17th) and howls could be heard from fans of the other 29 NHL teams.

The Russian who reminds some of Alexei Kovalev (style-wise) fell for two reasons: he was only average at the U18′s in Finland and there is no agreement between the NHL and the Russian Federation in regard to transfer agreements.

Russian players are “unsafe”, and many teams (certainly those picking above New York) decided to use their first round selections on players who have fewer options. With the news this weekend of a special “Super League” in the frozen Tundra that is Russia (and friends) there may be no “safe pick” for NHL teams beginning this fall.

However, that aside, how ARE these kids doing this winter? And how does this affect the opinions of fans who were so upset this summer?

Here are a few issues and the early results:

  1. Selecting Gagner over Voracek (EDM). This was a pretty big deal for many and I don’t know that it is going to be resolved any time soon. Gagner made the Oilers this fall and appears to be taking a step forward lately (he’s 33gp, 3-13-16, -7 overall and 1-5-6, +3 in his last 8gp), but Voracek is destroying the QMJHL (25gp, 16-34-50, +12) and currently 6th in total points. His Q points-per-game total has improved year over year from 1.45 to 2.00 and I still haven’t read anything bad about the kid. This may be one of those times when there wasn’t a bad choice. I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with Gagner.
  2. Selecting Thomas Hickey 4th overall (LA). ISS rated Hickey 17th overall and compared him to Brian Rafalski as a player. The 2007 draft had a bunch of offensive defenders from the dub whose defensive coverage ranged from outstanding (Alzner) to just very good (Hickey, Ellerby), but the Kings tagged Hickey because they “saw him good.” He’s playing well for Seattle in the WHL but he doesn’t yet have clearance from Alzner (who was rated #6 by ISS and went 5th overall).
  3. Selecting Plante ahead of Cherepanov (EDM). Plante has been hurt for all but 8 games this season (1-1-2) and has not had a chance to show much this season. His injury cost him a chance at Team Canada for the WJC’s and in a very important development year he’s lost some time. Cherepanov is healthy and playing in the RSL, although his scoring level is off slightly from last season. Signability remains the issue and it should be noted that the “Rangers will sign him, bring him to camp and he’ll make the team this fall” panic in the streets was a slight overstatement.
  4. Passing over Esposito twice (EDM). Few mention this as an issue at this point in time, as Esposito is scoring at about the same level as last season (he should be taking a step forward) and he was passed over again for the WJC’s. Jury is still out on this being a mistake but early returns suggest he was not the BPA at #6 and #15.
  5. Trading picks at #30 and #36 to trade up for Riley Nash (EDM). Phoenix took Nick Ross (defenseman for the Pats) and Goalie Joel Gistedt with the picks. Nash has played well in the NCAA and would have to be considered “on target” at this point, but the Oilers moved up 9 slots to get him and left David Perron on the table. I considered it a “miss” on draft day and still do despite the promising results for Nash.

For the Oilers, I’d say the Gagner pick looks shrewd, the Plante pick has delayed results due to injury but the outlook is somewhat better due to performance by the Russian and the continued lack of a transfer deal, and the Nash pick has worked out better than expected on first blush.

So far, pretty good. For a fan like me who can remember the dark days of the 1990s, having one of the three in the NHL and another playing well in college smells like napalm in the morning.

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9 Responses to "Issues Revisited (2007 Draft)"

  1. PunjabiOil says:

    Interesting to point out that Sam Gagner put up 2.23 PPG at 17, and 2.00 in the playoffs.

    Of course he was playing with Kane….but I believe he’d be putting Kane Esque numbers if he was in the OHL right now.

    Voracek’s a good player though. He put up 86 points, well ahead of 2nd place on last year’s team (59). Like you said though, Oiler fans can’t be upset with the pick.

    Hickey – I saw him play at the only Oil Kings game I went to. He didn’t really stand out or anything – he’s quite small (5-10, 182 lbs) – sure he could turn into a good pro down the road, but if it were Kevin Lowe selecting him at 4th overall, I’d explode.

    I still think Esposito and Cherepanov are going to be good hockey players down the road. Especially Cherepanov – young guys can struggle.

    Plante – not sure what to think of him. He’s a puzzling guy, with mixed reviews by people who ”saw him good”

    I’m fine now with trading down for Nash, if the Oilers really believe he’s a player. I don’t know why he wasn’t invited for Team Canada camp – although that has little bearing on how he’ll end up as a pro.

  2. Asiaoil says:

    I wanted Voracek for his size and offense on RW since Gagner seemed a bit like a slower more offensive version of Cogs – but the kid has made a believer out of me. He is BARELY 18 and keeping his head above water playing center in the NHL which is very unusual. He’s also almost a year younger than Kane. Nothing to complain about here at all even though Voracek looks very good. Just like the Pitkanen-Lupul trade – who cares what Lupul is doing.

    Plante I have plenty of time with simply because this org knows dmen and makes very few mistakes in this area.

    Nash I thought was an idiotic move and I’m eating crow on this one – he looks very much a player and is having a great freshman year.

    Agree – looks like we chose better than it seemed at the draft.

  3. Andy Grabia says:

    LT, I saw in your comments from the Nucks game something about Mandel playing hardball with Katz. I was at a bar, and therefore didn’t hear any of it. Can you tell me what was said? Sorry for sidetracking, guys. :)

  4. Lowetide says:

    Andy: It was something like he will not spend any city money on a new rink. PLEASE don’t quote me it was late and that damn Sleeman’s fellow had been influencing me for some time.

  5. PunjabiOil says:

    Yeah, basically Mandel said no residential or non-residential money will go into the project.

    Said the city has to get creative to finance it.

    Scott Oake then brought up the argument that arena’s pay themselves off with development…Mandel responded that federal government, and the provincial government get money back by taxes, but the municipal doesn’t.

  6. RiversQ says:

    Mandel responded that federal government, and the provincial government get money back by taxes, but the municipal doesn’t.

    Which is more than a litle simplistic IMO. Did Oake catch him with the property tax thing or did he offer it up himself. I can’t remember.

    As far as the rest goes…

    I’ll stick by my Voracek preference, but Gagner had a decent track record at the time (the London questionmark was probably balanced by his age) and if I wasn’t depressed by it then, I sure won’t be now that he’s shown glimpses of what he might become.

    Nash and Plante seem to be pulls on the one-armed bandit to me. Both probably have equal chances of hitting big or flaming out. I suspect one of them will be an NHLer and the other won’t. The early returns are that Nash has the inside track, but a lot can change.

  7. PunjabiOil says:

    Did Oake catch him with the property tax thing or did he offer it up himself. I can’t remember.

    Oake suggested it himself.

  8. Andy Grabia says:

    Thanks, guys.

  9. Bank Shot says:

    Plante seems like the homerun swing to me. Big guy with soft hands, but apparently has some deficiencies in his game like skating. Sounds like the type of guy that ends up being a great pick, or a complete bust.

    Nash sounds like the guy that’ll have a good chance to be a fourth liner if his offence doesn’t develop.

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