Best Drafts 5 Years Out

I do this every summer just for kicks and giggles. It doesn’t really mean anything, except I guess that 5 (NHL) seasons after a draft you sort of know the players who are going to be driving the bus, the players who are on the bus, and the players who have been thrown under the bus.

The Oilers have a rich early history, so it’s pretty much impossible to duplicate the early drafts. Those were some silly good players and of course this was an expansion team in 1979 so some fringe types made the grade in those early seasons.

Here goes, 5 NHL seasons after the draft is the line in the sand. Barry Fraser was the head scout 1979-2000, Prendergast 2001-07 and Stu MacGregor was the man one season ago.

  1. 1980-1,056 (Paul Coffey-394, Jari Kurri-363, Walt Poddubny-157, Andy Moog-142). A very nice group of players here.
  2. 1979-1,052 (Kevin Lowe-383, Mark Messier-375, Glenn Anderson-290, Mike Toal-3, Blair Barnes-1). The top two are pretty much tied. What a cluster. Holy crap.
  3. 1993-602 (Jason Arnott-321, Miro Satan-217, Ilya Byakin-57, Alex Kerch-5, Nick Stajduhar-2). Fraser picked off two outstanding talents in that draft. He doesn’t get much credit post-1983 but that was a beauty right when this organization needed it.
  4. 2003-557 (Kyle Brodziak-175, Zack Stortini-147, Marc Pouliot-141, JF Jacques-60; Mathieu Roy-30, Troy Bodie-4). The 2003 and 2o04 drafts benefit from having the lockout season. Same number of available at-bats but one year of development more than the others. Still, there’s some talent here and three of the players above look like they might have careers.
  5. 2001-471 (Ales Hemsky-275, Jussi Markkanen-128, Ales Pisa-53, Kari Haakana-13, Doug Lynch-2). The first Prendergast draft was probably his best one because of Hemsky alone. We’ll have to wait on the Gagner draft just to make sure. Some overage Euro’s and the savant.
  6. 1996-466 (Tom Poti-230, Boyd Devereaux-230, Matthieu Descoteaux-5, Chris Hajt-1). Devereaux’s skills weren’t exactly lottery worthy but he’s had an interesting career. Poti’s still going too.
  7. 1981-440 (Grant Fuhr-211, Gord Sherven-84, Marc Habscheid-80, Steve Smith-57, Todd Strueby-5, Paul Houck-3). This was a nice draft, Fuhr came very quickly to the show and Habscheid looked for a time like he might be something.
  8. 2002-440 (Jarret Stoll-286, Matt Greene-151, Mikko Luoma-3). 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.
  9. 1994-439 (Ryan Smyth-269, Mike Watt-89, Jason Bonsignore-79, Ladislav Benysek-2). I’ll always be glad they drafted Smyth, he was a beauty player for the Oilers. The Bonsignore pick is the biggest and most devastating miss in the team’s history.
  10. 1989-414 (Anatoli Semenov-240, Josef Beranek-146, Peter White-26, Darcy Martini-2). You’d like a little more from a draft, but it came when they were winning every season and two useful players isn’t a bad return.
  11. 1991-406 (Martin Rucinsky-241, David Oliver-124, Tyler Wright-41). Not enough return although Rucinsky had a career and Wright did some things.
  12. 1999-361 (Mike Comrie-241, Alexei Semenov-92, Jani Rita-15, Tony Salmelainen-13). I really thought this draft was going to be outstanding. Fizzled.
  13. 1982-345 (Jaroslav Pouzar-186, Raimo Summanen-142, Steve Graves-14, Jim Playfair-2, Deane Clark-1). A dud in the middle of gushers. All is forgiven.
  14. 1983-322 (Esa Tikkanen-191, Jeff Beukeboom-117, John Miner-14). This one should rank well above some others here just based on quality. Two very good hockey players.
  15. 1992-286 (Kirk Maltby-236, Ralph Intranuovo-22, Joaquin Gage-18, Joe Hulbig-6, Marko Tuomainen-4). They needed to add some talent that summer through the draft, but it didn’t happen.
  16. 1987-235 (Geoff Smith-207, Peter Eriksson-20, Igor Vyazmikin-4, Shaun Van Allen-2, Tomas Srsen-2). Van Allen ended up having a career, but he was a late breaker.
  17. 1998-229 (Shawn Horcoff-188, Alex Henry-41). Horcoff made this a worthwhile draft.
  18. 1995-213 (Georges Laraque-126, Steve Kelly-86, Mike Minard-1). Steve Kelly never got it going but he always seemed like a decent sort. Ask 10 Oilers fans their opinion of Kelly versus Bonsignore and it’s amazing to see the difference.
  19. 2005-194 (Andrew Cogliano-164, Danny Syvret-28, Taylor Chorney-2). This draft is only 4 seasons old so has a chance to move up some. Cogliano and Chorney seem like decent bets to have careers.
  20. 1984-186 (Todd Ewen-121, Emanuel Viveiros-29, Selmar Odelein-18, Simon Wheeldon-11, Daryl Reaugh-7). Odelein’s injury had a lot to do with this draft.
  21. 1985-164 (Kelly Buchberger-140, Scott Metcalfe-19, Mike Ware-5). Buchberger was a nice late round pickup.
  22. 2007-155 (Sam Gagner-155). This draft has 3 seasons left in it and some nice things bubbling under. Gagner alone should probably make it a success.
  23. 2000-153 (Matt Lombardi-134, Brad Winchester-19). It actually turned out pretty well for Fraser.
  24. 2004-71 (Liam Reddox-47, Bryan Young-17, Rob Schremp-7). Because of the lockout this group has one more season to 5 total. It doesn’t look promising.
  25. 1988-63 (Shjon Podein-40, Francois Leroux-11, Len Barrie-9, Trevor Sim-3). Len Barrie got famous.
  26. 1986-31 (Ron Shudra-10, Dan Currie-5, David Haas-5, Jim Ennis-5, Kim Issel-4, Mike Greenlay-2). Mur-diddly-urdler’s row.
  27. 1997-16 (Michel Riesen-12, Jason Chimera-4). Chimera ended up having a career.
  28. 2006-16 (Theo Peckham-16). This draft has three seasons left and the second coming in Jeff Petry. I do like the kid Peckham a lot, though.
  29. 1990- Thanks for coming.

It’s interesting to note that a few guys ended up as players after the 5th season out from their draft. Among them are Brad Werenka (1987), David Vyborny (1993) and Fernando Pisani (1996). Werenka and Pisani were NCAA kids, Vyborny a European. If we’re looking for late bloomers (5 years plus) it is perhaps wise to look in these areas as opposed to someone like Rob Schremp for likely candidates.

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