Oiler Draft Notes

In their first 10 NHL drafts, the Oilers had only one success come from the college ranks: Glenn Anderson.

Since we’re getting closer to draft day, I’ve decided to focus on some home truths about the Oilers on draft day and fan bias that shall never change. Among the subjects we’ll talk about in the next few weeks are injuries and their impact on the draft, fans and their almost universal belief that the Oilers organization is a disaster at the draft, Barry Fraser and how much he delivered and then taxed the organization, Kevin Prendergast and his terribly misunderstood draft record, the enormous difference between draft day facts and what we remember, and a few other items about this years draft.

We begin with some interesting tidbits from the past:

  • Kevin Lowe was told the 1979 draft (via telephone) was to start at 10am. He expected a call from Alan Eagleson around 10:15 to tell him which team had selected him in the first round. Lowe waited, and waited, and waited. By 10:45am the phone hadn’t rung and Lowe’s mom said “My God, they’re not drafting him.” A mixup in the phone lines caused a one hour delay, but the Lowe household was not aware of it. At 11:10, Eagleson’s secretary called with the news Edmonton had chosen Lowe—21st overall
  • Glen Sather was impressed by Mark Messier as he played AGAINST the Oilers in the 78-79 season (WHA). Dennis Sobchuk was a pretty good player and legend has it he thought he could take the kid in the Cincinnati Stinger uniform. Messier apparently had a slight edge in punches. 12-0. Sather noticed and picked him 48th overall in the deepest draft in history, 1979.
  • Barry Fraser was responsible for the Oilers final WHA draft (1978) and 1979-2000 (he made the Mikhnov pick, and minutes later Lowe traded for the pick that became Brad Winchester).
  • Jari Kurri very likely would have gone much higher than #69 in the 1980 draft but it was widely thought Kurri would not come over to NA. Inside info gave the Oilers an edge and they selected one of the very best to ever play for them.
  • D Jim Playfair, #20 overall in 1982, and D Selmar Odelein, # 21 in 1984, were both defenders the Oilers chose in the hopes they would develop into rugged blueliners. Injuries sidelined both careers.
  • C Jesse Niinimaki, #15 overall in 2002, and C Marc Pouliot,#22 in 2003, were both centers with size the Oilers chose in the hopes they would develop into big centermen who could play on the top 2 lines. Injuries impacted both careers.
  • Oilers LOVED their 1988 second rounder Petro Koivunen. He was a center who had a solid first season after his draft year (named to the Finnish team for the Pravda Cup), but he never made it. He did play in Finland, though, and did have some good seasons.
  • Raimo Summanen was a more highly rated player than Esa Tikkanen. Oilers brass were quoted often as saying Summanen might be the LW Edmonton needed to throw onto the Gretzky-Kurri line.
  • Michel Riesen, first round pick in 1997, had a terrific camp in the fall of 2000 as part of the Bulldog line (so named for their successful 99-00 season in Hamilton) with Brian Swanson and Daniel Cleary. He played 12 games with the Oilers and was traded to St. Louis
  • G Alexandre Fomitchev (#231 in 1997) was easy to scout. He played for the St. Albert Saints, as did Fernando Pisani and Mike Comrie.

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20 Responses to "Oiler Draft Notes"

  1. mjsh says:

    I remember meeting Ted Green in St. Albert at a Saint’s game and I think he was there looking the goalie. He was small but very athletic. I do not think many junior A goalies have ever done much in the bigs.

    The other Saint that did well was Steven Reinprecht.(bad spelling I am sure.)

    At the same time, the Oil Barons had Richard Parent, Chris Phillips and Harry York. (Scott Upshall came a bit later.)

    There were a couple great series between the Saints and the Barons and later a couple great ones between the Barons and the Calgary Canucks who had Danny Heatley.

    Anyhow, my saw it good on the Oilers drafting is that they got very lucky early especially with Anderson and have been above average the past few years. I am sure that you will put out some excellant information as usual that will tell much more than my saw him good.

    I really liked Sobchuck. Don’t know why he never had a decent career.

  2. speeds says:

    mjsh:

    I think you missed one notable Saint who did OK.

    This guy

  3. mjsh says:

    Yes, he had a fairly nice career. He was a way earlier than Fomichev, Pisani, Reinprecht and Comrie. I remember thinking where are they getting these guys, Pisani left and then came Comrie in to replace him. In case you did not notice I was an Oil Baron fan. I went to every playoff game they had both home and road for about 5 or 6 years running.

  4. Oilman says:

    No mention of Tony Hand!

  5. mjsh says:

    Gotta hand to LT. He has everything on hand

  6. Mr DeBakey says:

    How to measure drafting?
    I’ve been thinking about it.

    To Begin
    Give each player a number
    N = GP+GP+PTS

    I know LT likes GP, but adding PTS gives credit to the heavy hitters.

    So, working with the Top 100 picks from each of 1995 thru 2004:

    Horcoff’s N=1458[career to date]
    Hajt’s N=12
    Legwand’s N=1613
    and so forth

    Do the same for Draft Position
    [10-year average]
    2nd Overall N=1426
    32nd Overall N=253
    62nd Overall N=144
    and so forth

    Divide one by the other
    Pouliot N=321
    22nd Overall N=398
    Factored N=.807
    This measures each player against his cohort

    Oilers top 10:
    Shawn Horcoff 6.521
    Georges Laraque 6.397
    Tom Poti 6.160
    Jarret Stoll 4.473
    Tony Salmelainen 2.753
    Mike Comrie 2.690
    Boyd Devereaux 2.383
    Alexei Semenov 2.198
    Zack Stortini 2.062
    Brad Winchester 1.426
    Laraque’s N is 6.4x higher than the average 31st overall.

    Detroit’s:
    Jiri Hudler 4.892
    Johan Franzen 4.195
    Tomas Kopecky 3.231
    Valtteri Filppula 2.112
    Tomas Fleischmann 1.650
    Niklas Kronwall 1.589
    Jiri Fischer 1.399
    Maxim Kuznetsov 0.799
    Yuri Butsayev 0.447
    Jesse Wallin 0.283

    Florida’s:
    Oleg Kvasha 6.863
    Kristian Huselius 4.875
    Radek Dvorak 3.840
    David Booth 3.741
    Joe DiPenta 3.588
    Daniel Tjarnqvist 2.937
    Niklas Hagman 2.926
    Kamil Kreps 2.906
    Greg Campbell 2.627
    Ivan Novoseltsev 2.034

    Average Factored N
    Oilers 1.07 [41 Picks]
    Detroit 1.11[19 Picks]
    Florida 1.19{41 Picks]

    Does this make sense?

  7. PDO says:

    Gotta hand to LT. He has everything on hand

    You could even say, he’s rather handy!

  8. Schitzo says:

    Does this make sense?

    Overall, it’s a neat method. I can think of a few places it could be improved:

    1) Games + Points doesn’t give a Jussi Markkannen or a Matt Greene much credit

    2) Only going to the top 100 eliminates solid picks like Brodziak, and also home runs like Zetterburg and Datsyuk. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good thing or not, since those picks have to be as much luck as skill.

    3) It doesn’t compare within a draft class. Pouliot looks ok compared to the average 22nd overall, but we all know how the 2003 draft class looked. Similarly for poor Patrick Stefan. He’s an awful 1st overall, but the ’99 draft class was pretty darn bad.

  9. Bluedog says:

    Thanks Lowetide, et al. Great stuff as usual. I appreciate all of your research, interest, styles and viewpoints, and feel fortunate to have all of this enlightenment in my Favorites. It’s a regular read.

    And besides that, g’Oilers!

  10. Matt N says:

    Does this make sense?

    Overall, it’s a neat method. I can think of a few places it could be improved:

    1) Games + Points doesn’t give a Jussi Markkannen or a Matt Greene much credit

    2) Only going to the top 100 eliminates solid picks like Brodziak, and also home runs like Zetterburg and Datsyuk. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good thing or not, since those picks have to be as much luck as skill.

    3) It doesn’t compare within a draft class. Pouliot looks ok compared to the average 22nd overall, but we all know how the 2003 draft class looked. Similarly for poor Patrick Stefan. He’s an awful 1st overall, but the ’99 draft class was pretty darn bad.

    A neat idea. I don’t think you can quantify this with any kind of number other than games played. The best you could do would be go through each round and come up with subjective measurement based on some sort of system (similiar to LT’s 15 point method). With a few different people doing the measuring and averaging it out it would be a pretty good picture of drafting comparisons by team.

  11. Mr DeBakey says:

    Only going to the top 100 eliminates solid picks like Brodziak.
    I plan to do the rest. The first 100, and the two teams before & after Edmonton in the alphabet, were the pilot.

    Games + Points doesn’t give a Jussi Markkannen….
    Using GP only gives a Chad Kilgour too much credit.
    It could be modified, 3 parts GP to 1 part PTS for instance.
    Especially in the later rounds, I think

    3) It doesn’t compare….

    I agree. Trouble is factoring for everything, or trying to, makes the final number too nebulus.
    But once the data is in place & sorted,
    experiments can be performed

  12. dstaples says:

    A legendary beating that Mess put on Sobchuk. I do believe I was at the rink, but maybe I just saw it on TV.

  13. NBOilerFan says:

    PDO said…
    You could even say, he’s rather handy!

    You know what Red Green says about being handy.

    ;-)

  14. Showerhead says:

    Speaking of handiness:

    Blind prostitutes…

    You really have to hand it to them!

    :)

  15. doritogrande says:

    Speaking of blind….

    Why does the CNIB have a parking lot?

    Are you in Winnipeg for the summer Showerhead? Maybe we could organize a draft party that Steve Tambellini will make a toke shoutout to!

  16. Showerhead says:

    If I’m around, I can definitely provide a case of Keith’s and a few other WPG-based Oiler fans.

    That said, I have had the just awful ;) luck to being hired for a Conservation job living and working out of Grand Beach this summer so I might or might not be able to make it back to the city. Send me an e-mail to atesm@hotmail.com and I’ll be sure to let you know.

  17. PDO says:

    Keenan fired.

  18. Oilman says:

    Now seems like a good time to point to something I wrote about a month ago.

    http://2minsforstupidity.blogspot.com/2009/04/forgotten-man.html

  19. Bruce says:

    Jari Kurri very likely would have gone much higher than #69 in the 1980 draft but it was widely thought Kurri would not come over to NA. Inside info gave the Oilers an edge and they selected one of the very best to ever play for them.

    Look up Jari Kurri in Hockey-reference.com, and you will see he played one game in 1978-79 for Finland in the WHA. Click on Finland and then click on game results, and you will see that one game occurred on March 20, 1979, Finland 4 at Edmonton 8.

    Two future NHLers played for the Finns (actually Jokerit Helsinki) in that game, namely Matti Hagman and Jari Kurri. Both of them would play for the Oilers. Kurri was just 18, had a little bit of hype due to his participation in the World Junior earlier that winter, and made an admittedly vague impression as a strong skater with raw talent and rough edges.

    That same season Mark Messier, a 1-goal scorer in the WHA, made his rather stronger impression on Dennis Sobchuk’s face. Glenn Anderson meanwhile had a fine performance before 2000 fans and Lorne Davis at Varsity (now Clare Drake) Arena in a Denver University at Golden Bears exhibition game.

    Oh yeah, and Peter Pocklington bought a kid named Gretzky and then signed him to a 21-year personal services contract at centre ice on his 18th birthday.

    Then that summer we got into the NHL, and all of those seeds started to germinate. I’m sure glad Davis, Fraser and Sather were paying attention.

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