39 Picks

Between the selection of Kevin Lowe in 1979′s 1st round and Esa Tikkanen in 1983′s 3rd round the Edmonton Oilers (in 39 picks) acquired the heart of a champion.

In fact, that “draft cluster” rivals the best 5 year procurement timelines in NHL history. Since expansion, I would suggest that the Habs and Bruins mid-60s sponsorship clusters and the Islanders 72-77 cluster are “classics” that fall just short of the Oiler drafts 79-83.

Not only did the Oilers draft players who emerged as key elements in the “Boys On The Bus” run (Lowe, Messier, Anderson, Coffey, Kurri, Moog, Fuhr, Steve Smith and Tikkanen) they got some trading chips (notably Walt Poddubny) that helped specific areas of need along the line.

I love watching draft clusters emerge over time and impact a team’s roster and fortunes. The Oilers went on a long run of awful draft years after 1983 (1984-1986 brought only Kelly Buchberger, as an example) but there were two five year clusters that helped the team in the 90s and early oo’s.

From the 1st rd pick in 1993 (Jason Arnott) to the 5th rd pick in 1997 (Jason Chimera), Edmonton’s picks included Miro Satan, Ryan Smyth, Georges Laraque, Tom Poti and Fernando Pisani among others. Traded selections included Steve Kelly and Jason Bonsignore in that time period.

The Oilers draft cluster 1998-2002 was also strong despite major dead spots like the entire 2000 draft. From Shawn Horcoff in the 4th rd of the 1998 draft to Matt Greene in the 2nd rd of 2002′s group the Oilers selected several regular players in the 2006 Stanley run (Horcoff, Hemsky and Stoll) along with some trading chips (Rita, Comrie and Salmelainen) that helped specific areas of need at the trade deadline spring 2006.

The 2003 draft looks like a disaster for the Edmonton Oilers. Extremely disappointing since the rest of the league was picking players who are either “franchise” types or quality regulars. Edmonton chose 5 players in the top 100 and the only one clearly on track as a prospect is role player Zack Stortini.

It’s especially galling considering the 2003-07 cluster appears to be delivering on several other levels. It’s way too soon to properly evaluate these draft seasons (5 years from draft date gets you a nice look, so summer 2008 we can officially bury Pouliot), but there are positives everywhere:

  1. 2003 offered some solid picks outside the top 50 (Stortini, Brodziak) so even one home run in the first three rounds would have an impact.
  2. 2004 features Rob Schremp and Devan Dubnyk at the top and progressing as prospects, with gem Liam Reddox ahead of the curve.
  3. 2005 features a kid who looks like a player in Cogliano along with highly touted prospects in Taylor Chorney, Chris Vande Velde and Slava Trukhno.
  4. 2006 which brought in Jeff Petry, a solid prospect who has so far eclipsed his draft number.
  5. 2007 gave the Oilers Sam Gagner who looks worth the price of a top 6 pick and Riley Nash who is delivering big time in college (at 18, he leads Cornell with 12 points in 13 games).

I’m beginning to think that Pouliot and Jacques may represent the “Walt Poddubny” portion of the Oilers 03-07 draft cluster.

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10 Responses to "39 Picks"

  1. Bruce says:

    Nice post, LT. That was a time when the Oilers’ beans were truly magic. It was easy to be optimistic about every draft pick when almost half of them made the league within a year and became stars almost immediately. I agree there’s no other “draft cluster” in history that was as good, and that’s even without considering 99 who was acquired at a similar young age by other means. I still find it totally incredible that by their second year in the NHL the Oil already had the “Big 5″ who were the driving force of all those 400+ goal seasons. Then that summer they drafted a Hall of Fame goalie.

    I’m beginning to think that Pouliot and Jacques may represent the “Walt Poddubny” portion of the Oilers 03-07 draft cluster.

    … if not the “Jim Playfair/Steve Graves” portion. Oilers got both the Pouliot and Jacques picks from New Jersey in exchange for the one pick that Lou Lamoriello used to take Zach Parise, a “trade down” that ranks among the worst moments in Oilers largely-spotty Entry Draft history.

  2. Dennis says:

    My only problem with your last point is that I’ll need to see Lowe trade those guys for something useful before I’ll believe it.

    Yes, I know he did it in ’06 but in all ways, shapes and forms, ’06 has been the exception during Lowe’s Rule.

  3. Lowetide says:

    I was really high on Pouliot, he was such a good passer. If you make up a list of guys who can pass the puck and receive it well and then compare them to guys who can’t (say, Hemsky V Raffi to be ridiculous) the number of passers who make it are greater than those who can’t.

    It makes sense of the face of it and in the time I’ve been paying attention to drafts it’s a nice indicator of future success.

    Pouliot was a terrific passer, nice soft touch and such but he’s gone backwards pretty much everywhere and at this point is about one inch better than the Michel Riesen’s of Oilers draft picks.

    Dennis: In terms of value, Pouliot is a throw in at this point imo. As in “and Pouliot” sort of deal.

  4. doritogrande says:

    Lowetide said: with gem Liam Reddox ahead of the curve.

    Okay, He’s playing well this year, but he was garbage last year in the ECHL. I’m wary of calling him “ahead of the curve” yet. Let’s see him actually put it together for a full professional season. Anyone know why he hasn’t played a game since Dec 22?

  5. dawgbone says:

    Pouliot with a Shortie from Jacques yesteday ;)

    Not sure what the deal with the kid is, because last year he looked like the type of player who might not live up to offensive totals, but his ability to keep the puck out of his end was pretty good.

    Now I don’t know if it’s completely fair to blame it on his linemates, but one wonders if he wouldn’t be a better fit right now than Brodziak. Kyle got a nice pair of linemates off the hop + he had some great early season production (6 points in 7 games).

    Since that time though, he’s played 35 games, has 7 points and is a -14. I know Pouliot hasn’t played particularily well since getting demoted, but he’s had 6 or 7 pretty strong games in a row.

  6. Lowetide says:

    From the December 22nd game notes on the Springfield website: “Falcons forward Liam Reddox left the game midway through the opening session with an apparent ankle injury and did not return tonight.”

    As for him being ahead of the curve, any player who skates an NHL shift after going 112th overall would have to be considered ahead of the curve no matter what happens in the future.

  7. Lowetide says:

    db: I agree to a certain extent, but it’s pretty hard to argue that Pouliot has earned a trip back to the NHL.

    He’s been 3-3-6, E in his last 4 games and that’s as good as he’s looked at any time this season. He might back into a recall but isn’t forcing the issue imo. He does has 24 shots in his last 6 games, though.

    btw, Colin McDonald has 3 goals in his last 3 games.

  8. Dennis says:

    What it comes back to is not a whole lot of rookies are gonna look good at EV unless they’re playing nobodies while playing with somebodies.

    And that’s especially true of our 13-89 because while they look to be future players, they’re not Kane-Towes or Crosby-Malkin, either. There’s a limit to what these fellows can do and even though 51′s older and has more pro games experience, he needs babysitters as well.

    And to grant some salve to one of my favorite whipping boys, the same thing goes for Smid. He’s nowhere near the quality of player you need to get for Pronger but he should be on the third pairing and playing with a vet because his upside just doesn’t look that great right now and if you’re gonna play him, he needs some help.

    Anyway, back to Pouliot, yes, 51 has beek getting killed for awhile and though I like the fact that Brodz is still getting scoring chances, it wouldn’t be a damn shame if he took a HS every now and then.

    And, dammit, I’m a Thor fan but even he got to play with 16-19. Pouliot never even got a real shot this year. Seems like I remember him playing with two other kids in at least four of his next starts.

  9. rickibear says:

    I’m a Thor fan but even he got to play with 16-19.

    At which point in the year is that a positive.

  10. Dennis says:

    Well, it’s better than having to play with two of 12-13-89, which is where I remember Pouliot making a couple of his starts.

    Then again, if you’re one of the people who think it’s a good news that Torres is gone for the season, and I’m not saying you are but I am going somewhere with this, you probably think that Pouliot coulda made some hay with some of those aforementioned kids.

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