This is Sam Gagner moments after the Oilers selected him at last summer’s Entry Draft.
Each year I do a “Games Played” comparison of Entry Drafts by the Oilers, with a five year window as the “line in the sand.” Five years isn’t really enough to get a complete picture of a specific year, but it’s a clear indicator of success, since everyone is 23 or older by that time.
Here are the seasons in order, with the years that are not yet complete listed below:
- 1980-1,056 (Paul Coffey-394, Jari Kurri-363, Walt Poddubny-157, Andy Moog-142)
- 1979-1,052 (Kevin Lowe-383, Mark Messier-375, Glenn Anderson-290, Mike Toal-3, Blair Barnes-1)
- 1993-602 (Jason Arnott-321, Miro Satan-217, Ilya Byakin-57, Alex Kerch-5, Nick Stajduhar-2)
- 2001-471 (Ales Hemsky-275, Jussi Markkanen-128, Ales Pisa-53, Kari Haakana-13, Doug Lynch-2)
- 1996-466 (Tom Poti-230, Boyd Devereaux-230, Matthieu Descoteaux-5, Chris Hajt-1)
- 1981-440 (Grant Fuhr-211, Gord Sherven-84, Marc Habscheid-80, Steve Smith-57, Todd Strueby-5, Paul Houck-3)
- 2002-440 (Jarret Stoll-286, Matt Greene-151, Mikko Luoma-3)
- 1994-439 (Ryan Smyth-269, Mike Watt-89, Jason Bonsignore-79, Ladislav Benysek-2)
- 1989-414 (Anatoli Semenov-240, Josef Beranek-146, Peter White-26, Darcy Martini-2)
- 1991-406 (Martin Rucinsky-241, David Oliver-124, Tyler Wright-41)
- 1999-361 (Mike Comrie-241, Alexei Semenov-92, Jani Rita-15, Tony Salmelainen-13)
- 2003-352 (Kyle Brodziak-96, Zack Stortini-95, Marc Pouliot-78, JF Jacques-53; Mathieu Roy-30) **one season left
- 1982-345 (Jaroslav Pouzar-186, Raimo Summanen-142, Steve Graves-14, Jim Playfair-2, Deane Clark-1)
- 1983-322 (Esa Tikkanen-191, Jeff Beukeboom-117, John Miner-14)
- 1992-286 (Kirk Maltby-236, Ralph Intranuovo-22, Joaquin Gage-18, Joe Hulbig-6, Marko Tuomainen-4)
- 1987-235 (Geoff Smith-207, Peter Eriksson-20, Igor Vyazmikin-4, Shaun Van Allen-2, Tomas Srsen-2)
- 1998-229 (Shawn Horcoff-188, Alex Henry-41)
- 1995-213 (Georges Laraque-126, Steve Kelly-86, Mike Minard-1)
- 1984-186 (Todd Ewen-121, Emanuel Viveiros-29, Selmar Odelein-18, Simon Wheeldon-11, Daryl Reaugh-7)
- 1985-164 (Kelly Buchberger-140, Scott Metcalfe-19, Mike Ware-5)
- 2000-153 (Matt Lombardi-134, Brad Winchester-19)
- 2005-108 (Andrew Cogliano-82, Danny Syvret-26) **two seasons left
- 2007-79 (Sam Gagner) **four seasons left
- 1988-63 (Shjon Podein-40, Francois Leroux-11, Len Barrie-9, Trevor Sim-3)
- 1986-31 (Ron Shudra-10, Dan Currie-5, David Haas-5, Jim Ennis-5, Kim Issel-4, Mike Greenlay-2)
- 2004-21 (Bryan Young-17, Rob Schremp-3, Liam Reddox-1)
- 1997-16 (Michel Riesen-12, Jason Chimera-4)
- 2006-1 (Theo Peckham) **three seasons left
Here are the seasons that are not yet completed:
- 2007- 79 (Sam Gagner)
- 2006- 1 (Theo Peckham)
- 2005- 108 (Andrew Cogliano-82, Danny Syvret-26)
- 2004- 21 (Bryan Young-17; Rob Schremp-3; Liam Reddox-1)
- 2003-352** (Kyle Brodziak-96, Zack Stortini-95, Marc Pouliot-78, JF Jacques-53; Mathieu Roy-30) **one season left
A few notes on each season since Prendergast took over as lead man of the scouting staff:
- 2001: Ranks 4th overall and is one of the best draft seasons in Oiler history. You can nick the draft Edmonton had that season because of the overagers but Doug Lynch getting injured is also a consideration. Ales Hemsky carries the day in any argument and I think the 2001 draft represents a very good “starting point” for success that should roll out for this team well into the next decade.
- 2002: Ranks 7th overall and gave the Oilers two NHL regulars in Stoll & Greene. A little misleading in that Stoll was a draft re-entry and technically belongs to the 2000 group but this would appear to be solidly in the “average draft” window.
- 2003: Ranks 12th overall and there is one season’s worth of games to add to this group. The 2003 draft was an extremely deep one and the Oilers didn’t perform well at the top of the draft compared to other clubs. Still, measured against their own previous success this draft could rank #4 overall by this time next season.
- 2004: Ranks 26th overall and this season will be important to this draft group. The 2004 -05 season was the lockout year so there are 2 years left to add for the 2004 draft crop. So far no one has emerged as a regular and it appears to be the “weak sister” of the Prendergast group.
- 2005: Ranks 22nd overall already with 2 years left and Andrew Cogliano already more established than any of the 2004 kids. There’s a very nice group bubbling under from this draft year but it is very unlikely to be a top 10 draft on this list after 5 seasons.
- 2006: Theo Peckham has had a cup of coffee and there are 3 seasons left for this group but without a first rounder it’s unlikely to emerge as a top 10 draft 5 seasons after.
- 2007: Sam Gagner has already played one full season (79 games) with a possible 328 games straight ahead before the 5 year anniversary. Gagner alone could make this one of the 10 best Oiler drafts by this metric.