Tracking the Mountain Men

This is Eddie Caron. Although his nickname is not “Make up your fricking mind” it should be, as the young man kept hopping between Yale and New Hampshire and shooting his pro hockey career in the foot while doing it.

Caron was one of several “mountain men” drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the period 2000-20004. In those draft years the club chose seven players between #50 and #94 who could safely fit the title of this post.

I thought it might be a nice idea to go back and list their draft day scouting report, detail their progress and see how many of them are currently playing hockey at a level that mades them NHL prospects.

  1. 2000-#35-C Brad Winchester, 6’5, 210. Scouting report: “He has good size and skates well. If he plays physically, he’ll have a chance. Some scouts wonder if he’s playing out of position at center. He needs to play as big as he is. Upside: a big, third line forward.” Result: 119 NHL games as a fringe player, he scored a huge goal in the Stanley run for Edmonton in 2006 and the lasting image fans have is of him grabbing an octupus off the ice in Detroit that spring.
  2. 2001-#52-C Eddie Caron, 6’2, 230. Scouting report: A playmaker, solid passer with good vision. His foot speed is below average, his skills very good but unpolished. Result: When he finally did sign with the Oilers didn’t have much, scoring 10 goals in 54 ECHL games before being sent away.
  3. 2002-#79-LW Brock Radunske, 6’4, 199. Scouting report: Size and speed in a very attractive package. Consistency a problem. Result: Left college early which may not have been a good idea based on how things have rolled out. He has played most of his pro career in the ECHL, not being able to crack even an AHL lineup (28 games total) most of the time. Currently in Europe.
  4. 2003-#68-LW JF Jacques, 6’3.5, 217. Scouting report: Looks the part of an emerging power forward. Owns plenty of raw skills, including decent skating ability and hands. Very good straight ahead speed, nickname “Crazy Train.”. Result: 53 NHL games but not the results expected. Jacques seems to be a “tweener” in that his minor league results suggest he’s a player but he can’t make things happen in the show. Injuries are clouding his future, as he didn’t see any action after January 21. In a recent article at HF, Guy Flaming wrote “he bears the scar from a skate to the chin, he suffered a hyper-extended elbow and now a herniated disc has him back in Edmonton.” We haven’t had an update on that back in a long time.
  5. 2003-#94-RW Zach Stortini, 6’4, 225. Scouting report: Huge, nasty winger. Doesn’t have great hands, so his future may be as an NHL enforcer. Poor skater. Team captain. Result: 95 NHL games and counting, and even more impressive he has played effective hockey when on the ice. The math never liked Stortini but he’s found a role and passed a lot of people on the way to it.
  6. 2003-#51-RW Colin McDonald, 6’2, 190. Scouting report: Owns projectable size and a nice touch around the net. Will need time to develop. Plus shot. Result: He had an up and down college career with an injury thrown in there to slow the development. His AHL debut this season has been underwhelming and he would have to be considered a long shot for an extended NHL career.
  7. 2004-#57-C Geoff Paukovich, 6’4, 207. Scouting Report: Oiler scout Brad Davis compares Paukovich to Joel Otto, a big centre who has offensive abilities but is best suited as a two-way checking center. Paukovich has a noteworthy mean streak in him as well as the size to back it up. Result: Average to below average college career was followed by a full season as a role player in the ECHL. He’s just getting started in pro hockey but like McDonald would have to be considered less than a 50/50 bet to make the grade.

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20 Responses to "Tracking the Mountain Men"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Not to quibble too much LT but it seems like there’s a few others who fit the “Coke Machine” model who you’ve passed over- Jake Brenk David Rohlfs, Dan Baum and Shay Stephenson in 2001, as well as Troy Bodie in 2003.

    On the other hand, after looking at that group, they’re pretty forgettable.

  2. Lowetide says:

    jonathan: Yeah they were bigger prospects but these guys stood about because of where they were taken. When Shay Stephenson doesn’t work out that’s one thing but when the Oilers selected Colin McDonald there was some real NHL talent available.

    Patrick O’Sullivan went 5 picks later, as an example. The Oilers clearly wanted a big man to turn into a useful player and it looks to me they just moved some Coke Machines up their list in hopes of:

    1. getting a few and
    2. one of them turning into something.

    I don’t think it was worth it although Stortini looks like an NHL player (in a narrow view) and JF Jacques remains the most interesting prospect in the system.

  3. David says:

    To call Jacques “interesting” is both an understatement and misleading.

    You could see him being anything from a twelve year key player on winning teams to a career minor league player. And the more we hear about injuries and the more missed opportunities, the more it looks like the later.

    But there’s no way that a player with his skill set should be outside the NHL. Do you know how many teams could use a large guy who can hit, score and skate, even if it’s in a third line role?

    Interesting isn’t quite the word for him, but I’m not quite sure what is.

  4. Lowetide says:

    David: I think the word you’re looking for is “interesting.”

    :-)

  5. robert cleave says:

    Enigmatic, maybe?

  6. Lowetide says:

    That’s a good one. Also, shit for brains might work.

  7. Ducey says:

    Alex Plante kinda fits the “big man, project” profile too.

    Its different for Dmen though, eh?

    The Oilers guys you mention (other than Stortini) just don’t fight well enough to make the jump. They are not maneuverable enough to catch anyone for a hit and they can’t score. Poor combination.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: Plante would be a good guy to add to the list. I always keep D and F apart, they usually progress so differently.

    Jacques is a pretty good player all around, he’s the “one of these things just doesn’t belong” guy in the group.

    I think the Oilers have given him every chance (he broke camp with the big club fall 2006 and fall 2007) but he seems overwhelmed when they play for real.

  9. doritogrande says:

    threadjack: I have now become fan of Boston, Philly and Calgary for the rest of the first round as a result of the Ducks capping the epic fail following last season’s cup.

    If Calgary and Boston happen to win their G7′s, I vote for “Year of the Epic Fail” as the tagline for this year’s playoffs.

  10. Jonathan says:

    //jonathan: Yeah they were bigger prospects but these guys stood about because of where they were taken. When Shay Stephenson doesn’t work out that’s one thing but when the Oilers selected Colin McDonald there was some real NHL talent available.//

    I see your point. However, I’ve been doing a review of the Oilers draft picks since 2001, and they’ve selected guys in three categories: young Euros, old Euros, gritty North Americans. Almost all of the older Euros have worked out to some degree, while none of the younger Euros and none of the bigger North Americans have worked out. I think the fact that none of their lower drafted Coke Machines worked out is an indicator we can use to gauge that drafting strategy, especially when the other late round picks are turning into Jussi Markkanen, Ales Pisa and Kyle Brodziak.

  11. Lord Bob says:

    If memory serves me right, Caron wasn’t so much sent away as he voluntarily retired. The guy had commitment issues his entire career (as you so nicely observed) and had quite a bit of trouble keeping a manageable playing weight as well.

  12. Lord Bob says:

    Just had to add…

    If Calgary and Boston happen to win their G7′s, I vote for “Year of the Epic Fail” as the tagline for this year’s playoffs.

    It’s more than a feeling?

    To put it as Carey Price might, I close my eyes and it slips away?

  13. Lowetide says:

    Lord Bob: There was one good thing that came out of the Caron fiasco and that’s a great quote in an HF article.

    “It’s a failure on our part, probably a failure on my part and I’ll take the blame for it because I pushed for Eddie,” McCarthy volunteered. “I’m not going to let Kevin [Prendergast] be the fall guy for that one.”

    McCarthy is Chris McCarthy, who has been an Oilers scout for 15 years (I think his first draft was the Arnott draft). That’s a stand up guy who said that.

  14. speeds says:

    IHere’s a Caron link that might be interesting to some:

    http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/05a0344p-06.pdf

  15. Lowetide says:

    Interesting find. Did that other guy amount to much?

  16. Jonathan says:

    //Did that other guy amount to much?//

    7 AHL games and a decent ITalian league career:

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=51302

    In other words, no.

  17. Lord Bob says:

    Again, from memory, the book on Aquino was an irritatingly soft offense-only forward who hadn’t been in his own end of the rink since midget and piled up a bunch of points playing with nobody in particular in a second-tier hockey school.

    I can count the number of those guys to have good careers on the fingers of zero hands. :P

  18. Dennis says:

    I was only in-and-out at the time at HF but when reading about Caron, there was a quote from him about how seriously he took school. Now, let’s be honest, that’s a better bet then trying to make it in pro hockey but that’s not the kind of kid you should be wasting a high pick on either.

    Plus, his appetites were Krutov-esque.

  19. knighttown says:

    Doesn’t #17 on Boston look like the guy they were trying to find with all those draft picks? Kind of reminds me of the suit in the Bruin’s GM box giving all the fist pumps any time the B’s score a goal. I think he wore number 8 for a few years in Bean-town and I think my son is named after him. You know you’ve made it if kids are being named after you. The window for Cam to have a little brother named Jean-Francois is closing fast.

  20. Ducey says:

    “The window for Cam to have a little brother named Jean-Francois is closing fast.”

    I guess you will have to settle for “Ales” then.

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