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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8 Responses to "Best Drafts 5 Years Out"

  1. geowal says:

    It’s interesting to look at the poor drafts from 1990-1992. Explains a lot to me as to why we witnessed the dark ages from 1993-1997.
    At the time I was well aware of their inability to keep the high salary guys from the cup days. I didn’t know the drafting was so poor as well (I was too young at the time to worry about drafts).

    Seems if they had done some better drafting we wouldn’t have had to wait until 1997 to see a playoff game again.

  2. godot10 says:

    Barry Fraser worked two years, and took the next two decades off.

    Lived off of Sather’s sense of loyalty. Think where the Oilers would have been if the Oilers actually had a head scout who didn’t sit on his ass for twenty years.

    Sather’s biggest failing is the entourage of cronies he surrounded himself with and kept on the payroll.

  3. HBomb says:

    Ok, initial thought here is that maybe this is better expressed in number of games played per player drafted? Just to add a bit of context, considering that there’s less rounds of the draft now compared to, say, in the 80′s. Considering they ditched a 1st and 2nd rounder in 2006 (which was well worth it, by the way), that draft is always going to be at a disadvantage. The next step to this would be applying some sort of weighting to compensate for draft position (the higher the draft spot, the more that theoretically should be expected five years out), but I don’t think this is quite as important (you can find some gems that usually rise to the top by five years out in later rounds)

    A note should be put onto 1979 – that draft class was like 3 classes in one. Three years before I was born (yikes), this one stands out as the deepest class in NHL history, although I wonder sometimes if 2003 is going to end up challenging it one day.

    Speaking of 2003, the only thing keeping that draft first rounder from being the biggest miss of all time for the Oilers is the fact that Pouliot appears to at least be something at the NHL level, as opposed to a total waste of time and space in the Bonsignoire mould.

    Flip side to 1994 though – if the Oilers had taken Jeff O’Neill instead of the “first J-Bo”, I seem to remember reading somewhere that Smyth would have been drafted by Hartford, and the Oilers would have ended up picking the biggest bust since Dolly Parton sixth overall. When you look at it that way, is it really that bad a trade off? O’Neill was a good player, but Smyth was better.

    Second to 1994 is definitely 1995 – Kelly instead of Doan or, worse, Iginla? Bleh. 2000 still pisses me off (Frolov and Volchenkov passed on), and going for Hudler or Higgins in 2002 would have been the smarter play and made that quite the good draft class.

    And 1996 and 1999 were just plain bad draft classes all around, not just for the Oilers. Very few gems in either of those, especially 1996 (that draft year would have formed the back-bone of the 1998 World Junior team for Canada, and considering Canada finished 8th in a tournament it now dominates, that says a lot about the quality of players available in that crop).

  4. YKOil says:

    Nice look at it LT. Vyborny really is an interesting case and he remains the poster boy for any who believe that a guy like Rita may pop up in the NHL again one day.

    HBomb: I believe the kind of stuff you are looking for may be here:

    If that doesn’t actually ‘link’ just copy and paste into your browser.

  5. Lord Bob says:

    Ah, but when you add on Rob Schremp’s inevitable 82 games played in the coming season and his 145 points, that draft doesn’t look so bad!

  6. bookie says:

    Are those games played as an Oiler?

    Would it not be as beneficial to include games elsewhere given the we theoretically got something back for those players?

  7. Art Vandelay says:

    Barry Fraser was the embodiment of “reversion to the mean.”

    Fortunately for Oilers fans, his positive outliers came when they also had Gretzky.

    Unfortunately, Fraser blew when the salary-shedding Oilers most desperately needed to be bailed out by the farm.

  8. HBomb says:

    Unfortunately, Fraser blew when the salary-shedding Oilers most desperately needed to be bailed out by the farm.

    Fortunately, Glen Sather used to make some pretty good trades back then (give-away of Miro Satan for magic beans notwithstanding).

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