Strongest Drafts, Five Years Out

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:

  1. 1980-1,056 (Paul Coffey-394, Jari Kurri-363, Walt Poddubny-157, Andy Moog-142)
  2. 1979-1,052 (Kevin Lowe-383, Mark Messier-375, Glenn Anderson-290, Mike Toal-3, Blair Barnes-1)
  3. 1993-602 (Jason Arnott-321, Miro Satan-217, Ilya Byakin-57, Alex Kerch-5, Nick Stajduhar-2)
  4. 2001-471 (Ales Hemsky-275, Jussi Markkanen-128, Ales Pisa-53, Kari Haakana-13, Doug Lynch-2)
  5. 1996-466 (Tom Poti-230, Boyd Devereaux-230, Matthieu Descoteaux-5, Chris Hajt-1)
  6. 1981-440 (Grant Fuhr-211, Gord Sherven-84, Marc Habscheid-80, Steve Smith-57, Todd Strueby-5, Paul Houck-3)
  7. 2002-440 (Jarret Stoll-286, Matt Greene-151, Mikko Luoma-3)
  8. 1994-439 (Ryan Smyth-269, Mike Watt-89, Jason Bonsignore-79, Ladislav Benysek-2)
  9. 1989-414 (Anatoli Semenov-240, Josef Beranek-146, Peter White-26, Darcy Martini-2)
  10. 1991-406 (Martin Rucinsky-241, David Oliver-124, Tyler Wright-41)
  11. 1999-361 (Mike Comrie-241, Alexei Semenov-92, Jani Rita-15, Tony Salmelainen-13)
  12. 2003-352 (Kyle Brodziak-96, Zack Stortini-95, Marc Pouliot-78, JF Jacques-53; Mathieu Roy-30) **one season left
  13. 1982-345 (Jaroslav Pouzar-186, Raimo Summanen-142, Steve Graves-14, Jim Playfair-2, Deane Clark-1)
  14. 1983-322 (Esa Tikkanen-191, Jeff Beukeboom-117, John Miner-14)
  15. 1992-286 (Kirk Maltby-236, Ralph Intranuovo-22, Joaquin Gage-18, Joe Hulbig-6, Marko Tuomainen-4)
  16. 1987-235 (Geoff Smith-207, Peter Eriksson-20, Igor Vyazmikin-4, Shaun Van Allen-2, Tomas Srsen-2)
  17. 1998-229 (Shawn Horcoff-188, Alex Henry-41)
  18. 1995-213 (Georges Laraque-126, Steve Kelly-86, Mike Minard-1)
  19. 1984-186 (Todd Ewen-121, Emanuel Viveiros-29, Selmar Odelein-18, Simon Wheeldon-11, Daryl Reaugh-7)
  20. 1985-164 (Kelly Buchberger-140, Scott Metcalfe-19, Mike Ware-5)
  21. 2000-153 (Matt Lombardi-134, Brad Winchester-19)
  22. 2005-108 (Andrew Cogliano-82, Danny Syvret-26) **two seasons left
  23. 2007-79 (Sam Gagner) **four seasons left
  24. 1988-63 (Shjon Podein-40, Francois Leroux-11, Len Barrie-9, Trevor Sim-3)
  25. 1986-31 (Ron Shudra-10, Dan Currie-5, David Haas-5, Jim Ennis-5, Kim Issel-4, Mike Greenlay-2)
  26. 2004-21 (Bryan Young-17, Rob Schremp-3, Liam Reddox-1)
  27. 1997-16 (Michel Riesen-12, Jason Chimera-4)
  28. 2006-1 (Theo Peckham) **three seasons left
  29. 1990-0

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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12 Responses to "Strongest Drafts, Five Years Out"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Wow, that 1990 Draft was a real gem wasn’t it? Scott Allison, 17th overall- how many WHL wingers score 66GP-22G-16A-38P-73PIM and go in the first round? I’m guessing not many.

  2. Dennis says:

    I’m glad that Lowe dealt Smyth and decided to tank the season and then went around and made sure a lot of other Oilers suffered injuries so that the Oilers could fall lowe enough to draft Gagner.

    Yours truly,

    David Staples.

  3. Islandlife says:

    Pure genius Dennis.

  4. rickibear says:

    IOF Klowe Conspiracy Club #1: I am just glad we dealt Smyth.

  5. Shawn says:

    A flaw I see with your system LT is that it undervalues goaltenders. You get 40 games out of Moog I think that means as much as 82 games of a forward or D in a season.

  6. Shawn says:

    The other thought I had here is that the scouting staff shouldn’t really be held as accountable for 2006 given the lack of first round pick.

  7. doritogrande says:

    How does 2003 have one year left, 2005 have two years left, and 2004 have no years left? I may be a humble science major, but I see a flaw in someone’s counting.

    Interesting list. There’s a couple draft years that can’t be caught, but the 03 draft should move up significantly next year if Pouliot gets a starting job. Sad thing is as well as we did in the 07 draft, only Gagner and Nash should look to improve that games played number, as there were no second or third rounders, and Plante looks to be about 5 years away from NHL action.

  8. rickibear says:

    Doritogrande: The way Pendergast and Klowe talk about Omark he might add to the 2007 totals.

  9. Lowetide says:

    dorito: The 2004 draft has 2 years left as noted in the post.

  10. CM says:

    Yeah I believe I read somewhere that based on GP NHL wide that 1990 Draft is the second best draft of all time next to 1979. Its pretty sweat that we didn’t even get a game out of it. I guess thats why we sucked so bad in the mid nineties.

  11. David says:

    I’m not sure about using the “five years later” point to measure number of games played. It’s more useful to take a look at the kids, and see what kind of players they’re going to be. Five years in the system is usually good enough.

    For instance, we can probably look at Pouliot and Jacques, and say that they should be NHL players, but neither is likely to be an impact player, or they would have better established themselves. It is, however, a little early to tell with a player like Schremp, who could continue to struggle to make the NHL, or be on the team as soon as this October. We may not know now, but this season will likely tell us most of what we need to know about what Schremp is capable of doing.

    Of course, there are players that show up way before the age of 23 (Cogliano, Gagner), but for the most part, five years is enough development time to figure out what the player can do, if anything, at the NHL level. I’m just not sure about using games-played; that wouldn’t reflect as well on Robert Nilsson, for instance, as lower impact players who happen to translate their game to the NHL level faster.

  12. Lord Bob says:

    I’m glad that Lowe dealt Smyth and decided to tank the season and then went around and made sure a lot of other Oilers suffered injuries so that the Oilers could fall lowe enough to draft Gagner.

    That’s nothing. Glen Sather managed to engineer the financial ruin of one Nelson Skalbania to ensure that Wayne Gretzky fell into his lap, and then repeated the trick with the entire World Hockey Association just to get Mark Messier.

    If only this team had a GM capable of pulling off bad-mystery-novel-style convoluted plans to achieve some minimal objective, this team might finally get somewhere.

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