What about Jared?

Along with all of the other very talented prospects who man the blue in the 2009 Entry draft comes the biggest risk/reward imaginable: Jared Cowen.

At 6.05/220, Cowen is one of the biggest players available in the draft. He’s also a very good skater, so good in fact it’s probably his number one asset as a hockey player. Cowen is described as being a shutdown defender in junior and is already famous among hockey fans for his role in the Spokane Chiefs’ Memorial Cup victory a year ago.

A year ago, Al Murray (director of scouting for Hockey Canada’s junior teams) was raving about a kid who was one year away from being draft eligible: “For a player his age and his size, he certainly plays mature and he’s much more coordinated than a lot of those young guys who have a quick growth spurt. He’s another player who’s able to play against the other team’s best players. He skates well, he uses his stick well to deflect pucks and cover the passing lanes and he’s very safe with the puck moving it up to start the rush.”

Early in the 08-09 season, Cowen sounded very confident: “I think I can do a lot of things out there. I’m getting more power play time this year…and concentrating on taking more shots per game instead of not making mistakes.”

Cowen suffered a devastating injury 48 games into the WHL regular season. In early February, Cowen ended up with an MCL sprain and a high-grade ACL injury after finishing a check in a game against Chilliwack.

Cowen: “I felt two pops and kind of a crunch when it happened and I knew right away that it was serious, and obviously I’m just really bummed out that this happened. There are only 20-something games left and then playoffs, which is the best time of the year, and I’ll just have to watch from the stands or on TV, depending on where I am.”

Cowen again: “I had the surgery on February 18. Our team has its own surgeon, but my agent recommended Dr. Stuart (from Minneapolis) because he has a lot of experience performing the surgery. We wanted to pick a guy who NHL teams know. I expect there will be questions about the injury and the surgery at the NHL combine, so I don’t think it will hurt that many of the teams know about Dr. Stuart.”

Apparently there was less actual damage than the original MRI implied, and early estimates had him being ready by mid-July. Which means an NHL team won’t really know what’s going on with him on draft day and will be flying blind.

Should the Oilers take him? It’s a massive risk, especially in a season where there’s good to great talent available at #10. Here’s a list of injuries suffered by Edmonton Oiler picks during their junior or minor league careers in the last 8 seasons:

2001

  • Doug Lynch: A wrist injury that was not properly addressed and then a knee injury after being dealt to the Blues organization have derailed a promising NHL career. That wrist injury came on the heels of a very impressive AHL season.
  • Dan Baum: Was a long shot prospect who had an agitator style and fell victim to concussions. Injuries ended career.

2002

  • Jesse Niinimaki: Niinimaki showed a lot of promise until a (Guy Flaming described it as a “devastating injury”) severe shoulder injury 10 games into the 2003-04 season ended his year.
  • JF Dufort: Suffered a career ending concussion late in 2002-03. Injuries ended career.

2003

  • Marc Pouliot: He was actually injured before the draft–at the Top Prospects game in 2003 when Dion Phaneuf leveled him with a vicious (and imo clean) check. In the summer of 2003 he got hurt at the Canadian WJC camp in Calgary (hip) and that had a major impact on his 18-year old season. It also hurt his performance at the Oilers rookie camp just two months after being drafted. In November 2003 he suffered an abdominal injury and missed the Q/Russia prospects game and he played on 42 QMJHL games that season, finally having surgery in Montreal in summer 2004 to repair the abdominal tissues. He played 3 weeks with a broken wrist during the 2003-04 season. Mono just before the Stanley run.
  • Mikhail Zoukov: Suffered a “serious injury” that wiped out his 04-05 season. Unkown impact on career.

2004

  • Rob Schremp: Suffered a serious knee injury at the end of his second AHL seasons and required surgery.

In the last several seasons the Oilers draft picks have enjoyed better health (Alex Plante would be the exception) and much of their story has yet to be written. If we ignore the injury worry, the argument for drafting Cowen is a strong one. Theo Peckham is progressing nicely but the three college defenders (Petr, Wild and Chorney) are experiencing challenges and Plante remains a project.

Cowen won’t deliver huge offense (Desjardins NHLE: 82gp, 4-7-11) but if healthy this player would be a lock for the top 5 overall.

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39 Responses to "What about Jared?"

  1. Boondock says:

    Cowen is in my top 6 with Tavares, Hedman, Duchene, Kane and MSP. If one of these guys for some reason falls to 10, you have to take them unless the medical prognosis is much worse than has been reported.

    I saw Cowen a few times this year. Really strong skater for someone his size. A guy who can outmuscle PF’s in the corner and handle skill players off the rush has massive value, IMO.

  2. Smytty777 says:

    I haven’t seen any draft rankings that have him outside the top 7, so I don’t know how he would be available at 10. If he is I think it is a no brainer to take him.

    My understanding is that he goes 3rd overall if healthy.

  3. godot10 says:

    If Cowen is there at ten, you take him.

    If he is sitting there at eight, you probably try to move up to get him.

    Would Cowen be a greater risk than Ellis?

    A pipeline of Peckham, Petry, Plante, and Cowen would look pretty good…almost Nashville like.

  4. Traktor says:

    Kansas City is proud to select from the Spokane Chiefs, Jared Cowen.

  5. Jack says:

    I was reviewing the 99 draft last night. That was a particularly bad year and I understand there is some science to it…but I just scratch my head when people talk about how such-and-such a player will be definitely be drafted top-6 and it’d be a real coup if he fell to 9, etc. etc. There were exactly two notable players chosen in the top-10 in 99 (Sedins), and three in the first round (add Havlat at 26). The best player in the draft wasn’t chosen til 210 (Zetterberg).

    I’m not saying these prediction exercises aren’t interesting, because they are, but the precision with which people discuss who will be drafted where and why is bizarre and honestly a bit indulgent.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Jack: Acutally, I think the NHL draft is an excellent predictor of future success. I can say with authority that the 2009 draft will see most if not all of the impact players of the future gobbled up in the top 50, and almost all of the strays will be gathered in 51-80 (it’s a deep draft) after that.

    It’s not indulgent, it’s being aware of the facts. NHL scouts are excellent at their jobs, and these lists (redline, ISS, Bob McKenzie) have enough of a track record now for us to confidently discuss a player like Cowen and his draft day number.

    The major factor in this regard is injury, which is the subject of the post. If healthy, we’d know for a fact his name would be called early in the first round.

  7. Smarmy Boss says:

    His game is so smooth. One of those guys that is a treat to watch.

    I’d take the gamble so if they Oilers have the opportunity and it didn’t work out then I’m not allowed to complain.

  8. Dean Millard says:

    Wishful thinking LT…I’m pretty sure Cowen won’t be there at 10, either will Kulikov, no matter how hard the Oilers wish. Oliver Eckman Larsson might be though.

  9. speeds says:

    Cowen is a wildcard that will be difficult for anyone not “in the know” to project in terms of draft positioning. The drafting teams will have more medical information than anyone with regards to his knee, and will use it to rank him where those creating mocks just have to guess. Unless word leaks out, which it may.

    He was top 4 in both ISS and RLR before his injury, consistently. If his knee is fine, I don’t think he’ll far from that. If it’s not, who can know how far he might fall without knowing how bad the knee is/is projected to be after recovery?

  10. speeds says:

    I think the Oilers are in a funny spot with regards to having a chance to pick Cowen. It depends on how much risk you are willing to take.

    Obviously, it’s just a wild guess without any sort of medical information, and where he becomes an acceptable risk depends both on your willingness to assume whatever risks exist, and how risky his knee looks going forward.

    My initial take is that if his knee is fine, he doesn’t last until 10. If his knee is a legitimate risk/worry going forward, based on whatever medical information exists, 10 is too early to pass on the next best player available by drafting Cowen.

  11. Coach pb9617 says:

    If he is sitting there at eight, you probably try to move up to get him.Without a second thought.

  12. doritogrande says:

    Even with the injury season I don’t see him dropping to the Oilers. I had made a preliminary projection for the top-10 based on my prospect evaluation and team need in a recent draft article, and I have him going to Phoenix at #6. They lack any sort of defensive prospect after a long (and impressive) string of forwards like Hanzal, Mueller, Turris and Boedker.

    Though even if healthy I don’t think he goes any higher than 6 to be honest. My top-10 went as such:

    Islanders – Tavares
    Tampa – Hedman
    Colorado – Kane
    Atlanta – Duchene
    LA – Paajarvi
    Phoenix – Cowen
    Toronto – Schenn
    Dallas – Kulikov
    Ottawa – Glennie
    Edmonton – Schroeder

    Do I make a move up to draft Cowen? No. It’s cost us at least our second rounder in a deep draft. Something we did with Riley Nash, but not something I want to get into the habit of doing.

    On a completely unrelated note: I’m now watching a commercial for Ulcerative Colitis, featuring our own Fernando Pisani. Pretty good commercial IMO.

  13. misfit says:

    I think the only way you draft him is if you think that your team could use a Braydon Coburn 4-5 years from now. By my count, I’ve got 30 teams that could use just that.

    If I was running the Oiler draft table, and Cowen was there at 10, I think I could get the record for shortest time on the clock before making a selection.

  14. kris says:

    DG:

    I know nothing about the draft crop this year, except the bare minimum, but Kane looks like he could drop a few spots. He’s pretty small and some of the guys you have listed behind him are very intriguing: Duchene, Cowen, Paajarvi-Svensson.

    I’d go:

    1. Hedman (not that the Isles will pick him)
    2. Tavares
    3. Duchene
    4. P-Sven
    5. Kane
    6. Cowen

    But I’m pretty much picking out of a hat.

  15. kris says:

    LT:

    You’ve mentioned Glennie,

    But would you rather have any of the higher ranked guys who might, by some team going off the board, be left at 10?

    ISS says Kadri, Larsson, Kulikov are 8,9, and 10. How would you rank those three?

  16. Lowetide says:

    I’m not a draft expert but would take Glennie over any of the three. I’d rank Kulikov, then Kadri, then Larsson.

  17. Jonathan Willis says:

    I just picked up THN’s ’09 Draft Preview (it’s quite good – my favourite item they do, actually). They’ve got Cowan at #4; I can’t see him falling to #10.

    Of course, they also have Ellis at #17, so what do they know ;)

    This is one of those drafts (not unlike 2003) where it would be nice to stockpile picks – even late picks. If the Oilers eventually decide to shed a bunch of their excess forwards, I wouldn’t be too upset over a bunch of 3rd round picks from this draft.

  18. Lowetide says:

    Jonathan: would you trade #10 for #16 and #44?

  19. oilerdago says:

    My understanding is that the general consensus of this draft is that it’s deep but there’s only a few (3-4) truly elite players.

    Given this, there is logic to trading down to the middle of the first round in order to pick up an extra pick (mid-2nd).

    Benefit is you are picking up two players that will help the future. Considering that no one is looking/expecting someone to step in this season, you can afford to do that.

    Just reading the various posts and the different draft predictions (it seems that 8-17 is all over the place as well). You might have the guy you wanted all along there.

    You might also have another situation like you did in 2003.

    I think it would take tremendous courage for Tambellini to make that deal. I would, but easy for me to say on a Saturday nite in May.

  20. Jonathan Willis says:

    LT: If Ellis was gone I’d make that trade in a heartbeat. There’s going to be a very good player available at #16 (possibly any of Glennie, Despres, Moore, Kassian) and that #44 pick could be a very good player.

    If Ellis is still available though I wouldn’t do it, simply because I think he’s going to be a very special player.

  21. speeds says:

    I think that, given what is likely to happen on draft day, trading down is probably a good idea. That said, I wouldn’t accept that trade offer if I were Tambellini LT, at least not unless my pick was pretty far off the board. The value just isn’t good enough. Last year, ANA was able to move down from 12 to land 17 and 28. After that, they turned 28 into 35 and 39.

    Then again, if my pick is pretty far off the board, maybe I’m better off to trade with the Isles, who are rumored to be looking to trade up from 26 (SJ’s 1st rounder which they got from OTT in the Campoli/Comrie trade).

    The Isles have a boat load of picks, including #1, 26, 31, 37, 56 and 62. 2 – 1sts, 3 – 2nds, and a 3rd.

    If we use ANA’s overall return from last year as a model* (12 for 17, 35, and 39), 10 for 26, 31, 37, 56 and 62 is not unreasonable. I’m not saying NYI does it, or EDM does it, it depends how they judge the talent/org needs in terms of quantity of picks vs. quality of picks. But if EDM is willing to trade back that far, it might be an avenue to explore.

    And if they really want to be picking around 18 OV, I think that if you could make a deal like that NYI deal, you could use some of the proceeds to make the move from 26 to 18ish happen. Of course, if that’s where NYI wants to be in the draft, that’s what they’ll do on their own, but it all depends.

    *-I think the return may be atypically high for what you would get in that transaction, but I think it is less atypical than your proposed offer which, IMO, is at least an early third rounder short in value coming EDM’s way.

  22. Lowetide says:

    speeds: The return you propose is very steep imo. I don’t think I’ve seen a trade like that (perhaps it has happened by tagging two as you’ve done) but in a deep draft that looks like a reach.

  23. speeds says:

    I suppose it is “steep” in terms of number of picks, and it of course depends on where the teams judge teh talent tiers to be, and how much the drop is from one pick to another.

    But last year ANA moved from 12 to 17, a smaller, less valuable move than the 10 to 16. They received a 28 OV, instead of the 44 OV the Oilers would receive in your proposed trade. They made a second trade, another less valuable move down (28 to 35, instead of 10 to 16) and for that move they got 39 OV, also higher than the 44OV EDM would receive for moving from 10-16. It’s just not enough value. 44OV would be an acceptable return if EDM were moving down 2 or 3 spots, but not 6 spots from 10-16 in this draft, IMO. The projected talent drop off is too much.

  24. Lowetide says:

    speeds: I guess it can be done, and certainly if available the Oilers would have to consider it strongly. I’d bet they don’t get that much value, though. Seems like something of a perfect storm as opposed to an established level of value.

  25. speeds says:

    We’ll see what Tambellini’s negotiating skills are like in terms of draft positioning. They were not one of Lowe’s strong points.

    He’d trade down for less than he probably should have (Niinimaki, Pouliot), and the one time he traded up (Nash)he paid an arm and a leg.

    Another example of more, IMO, fair trade down value would be the CAL/NSH trade in 2001, where IMO the talent tier situation was very much like the one this year. CAL traded down from 11(Sjostrom) to 14 (Kobasew), and received 41 OV for doing so. If EDM were offered something similar this year, 10 for 14 and 44, I think that would be a decent offer, one reasonable to take depending how the draft has gone.

    I don’t like the move down to 16, because it’s possible you could be moving out of tiers, I think my list has a drop off around 15. Enough guys from down the list should be taken so that you’d still get one of your top 15 at 16, but I don’t think it’s worth the gamble for only 44 OV.

    Moving from 10 to 11-14 though seems pretty reasonable though, depending on return. Im not strictly against moving down to 16 or 17 or 18, but I wouldn’t want to do it all at once from 10 because it would be too easy to miss out on everyone you like. If you get to 10, and have a list of 4 or 5 guys you like more or less the same, then I don’t mind moving down to 13, seeing how many/if any of those 4/5 are left, and then deciding whether to pick or move down again if someone’s making you a decent offer.

  26. Jonathan Willis says:

    Speeds: You’ve sold me.

  27. godot10 says:

    //If you get to 10, and have a list of 4 or 5 guys you like more or less the same, then I don’t mind moving down to 13, seeing how many/if any of those 4/5 are left, and then deciding whether to pick or move down again if someone’s making you a decent offer//

    This is how we got Pouliot instead of Parise or Getzlaf. And many people have still not stopped whining about it.

    In general, it is probably a bad idea to trade out of the top ten. How many times have the Oilers drafted in the top 10 recently?

    Trading down the bottom half of the first round is less risky than trading out of the top ten.

    At ten, the focus should probably be looking to move up to make sure you get the top ten pick you want, than in moving down.

    I wouldn’t want to use draft picks to trade up, but existing players, so one see where there is potential interest in a Nilsson (or Pouliot) plus the 10th ahead of you in the draft.

    e.g. Nilsson would look pretty good on left wing with Spezza and Heatley.

    e.g. If Zubov and/or Sydor don’t return, would Dallas be interested in Staios as a veteran D to go with all their young guys.

  28. godot10 says:

    Staios and the 10th to Phoenix for the 6th?

  29. Jonathan Willis says:

    Godot10: Don Maloney isn’t an idiot; that’s even if he was looking to add salary.

  30. speeds says:

    godot10:

    If people want to criticize where the scouts had Parise in their rankings, and the Oilers for not drafting him at 17, that’s one thing. That doesn’t mean that the general idea, to trade down in that spot, is a poor one. I am under the impression that had they not traded down, they would have taken Pouliot at 17 anyways.

  31. Lowetide says:

    Plus of course Pouliot was ranked “in the range” as a player and wasn’t a reach ala Niinimaki. It’s gone now, and everyone has chosen their side in the argument, but one day I’d love to have a rational discussion about just how much those injuries cost Pouliot.

  32. godot10 says:

    JW: //Don Maloney isn’t an idiot; that’s even if he was looking to add salary.//

    Phoenix only has 5 NHL defensemen (4 signed and an RFA), and the RFA Yandle looks like a prime target for an offer sheet, considering the state of the franchise.

    Staios is relatively affordable, only costing $2.5 million per in actual salary for the next two years. He is 3 years younger than Klee who is UFA.

  33. Jonathan Willis says:

    Godot10: There isn’t a serious argument to be made that Steve Staios is worth moving from 6 to 10. Especially for a cash-strapped franchise that doesn’t want to spend nearly 3-million on a third-pairing defender.

  34. godot10 says:

    //There isn’t a serious argument to be made that Steve Staios is worth moving from 6 to 10. Especially for a cash-strapped franchise that doesn’t want to spend nearly 3-million on a third-pairing defender.//

    Cap dollars don’t matter in Phoenix. Actual dollars do. Steve Staios averages $2.5 over the next two years, not $3.

    What UFA is going to sign in Phoenix with the ownership undecided? The only way they will get veteran players is likely by trade. Any UFA who signs is likely going to want more than two years.

  35. Lowetide says:

    godot10: Staios isn’t the sort of player who can move you up the draft at all. He’s kind of the opposite of Schremp (also useless in this excercise) in that much better offers will be available from other teams.

    I like Staios, believe he has value (although the contract limits it). But if the Oilers want to move up the draft, I’d expect an inexpensive player or a quality pick would need to be part of the equation.

  36. Tyler says:

    I like Staios, believe he has value (although the contract limits it).I’ve got a hard time seeing it. He’s a 5, at best, on the Oilers right now. There’s no way that’s worth a cap hit of $2.5MM or whatever he makes.

  37. Lowetide says:

    He’s a 5 on the Oilers, but when healthy the top 4 is very nice. Plus, veteran defensemen have value and although he’s certainly crumbling these old buggers have seasons that can vary widely in quality (usually due to injury imo).

    I don’t think Staios’ contract is unmovable.

  38. misfit says:

    I’ve said this somewhere before (probably HF), but the thing I’ve noticed with Staios is actually the exact opposite of what’s been said about him a lot for the last few years (that he’s not as effective when he gets a lot of minutes).

    Each of the last 3 years, he’s been given fewer minutes and a lesser role in terms of matchups (but still getting the defensive zone draws), and he’s been less and less effective. When injuries pushed him into the top 4, he looked much better, and I think he produced better results as well.

    So I’m not really sure if his game has dropped off all that much, or he’s just been spending less time with the better forward lines and starting more often in his own end. I mean, look at what Greene did when he was forced into a bigger role in Edmonton and again in LA.

  39. godot10 says:

    It is difficult to judge Staios because he was playing with Strudwick, who was pretty bad in everyone’s eyes except MacT’s.

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