Oilers Draft Trends

Before Stu MacGregor took over as the Oilers head scout, Kevin Prendergast was the man who made the final decision on Oilers’ picks.

Through the great successes of Hemsky, Cogliano and Gagner and the poor selections that included Niinimaki, Pouliot and Schremp, Oilers fans enjoyed a much better “draft era” than the 1990s led by Barry Fraser.

As good as Fraser’s 79-83 drafts were (and they were top drawer, the gold standard), Edmonton at the draft during the 1990s was more miss than hit.

During the KP era (’01-’07), the Oilers definition of “best player available” changed a few times. From 2001 through 2003, the Oilers chose skill early (with size if they could get it, with Pouliot vs. Parise being the obvious example but Niinimaki was a big kid) and then went for Coke machines in the second and third rounds. By 2003 they also had established a trend of picking players who had passed through at least one draft (Brodziak, Roy, Syvret) but were considered closer to NHL ready than younger options.

In his first three seasons (2001-2003), Prendergast drafted only one truly small player (Dwight Helminen, and they traded him). 94% of their picks were over 6 feet, 60% were over 6-2, 20% of them weighed over 210 the day they were drafted. The biggest kids were Zach Stortini, David Rohlfs and the gigantic Jean-Francois Jacques, whose slow transition to the NHL may be explained in part to the “big men take awhile longer” credo long held for pro hockey.

From 2004-07, the Oilers began to overlook size (Cogliano) and speed (Schremp) at the top of the draft in order to bring more skill into the organization. In fact, both Schremp and Cogliano are under 6 feet tall, the first players taken by Edmonton in the first round under 6 feet since Tyler Wright in 1991. From 2004-07, the Oilers selected all kinds of players who may have been overlooked in previous drafts (Gagner, Cogliano, Trukhno) and because of it have more skill than we’ve seen in these parts in several years.

The new regime continued the love of skill last season (Eberle), but also returned a little bit to some old favorites (size, Finland). I think we might be seeing another turn on the exact definition of “best player available” for this team. Away from “pure skill” and toward size and skill. If the conclusions reached by Robin Brownlee are true then we can expect a Glennie or a Kulikov more than a Schroeder or an Ellis. The devotion to young men who test off the charts in terms of grey matter will likely continue unabated.

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41 Responses to "Oilers Draft Trends"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Good stuff from Brownlee there, eh LT? Glad to see that Kassian isn't really on the radar. Kadri doesn't do much for a lot of people a lot more wired then me and that's all I have to say about that.

    I'll be in the land of the midnight sun – well I exaggerate a little but last trip up to Goulais is was still pretty bright ~ 10:30 iirc though that may have been my friend Art Guinness talking – last trip up there we came hope to find the Oilers had drafted Gagner, Plante and Nash. Nice draft and here's hoping for bigger and better in three nights.

  2. PDO says:

    Both Craig Button & Pierre Maguire had the Oilers taking Scott Glennie @ #10.

    Button went as far as to compare him to Backes out in St. Louis.

  3. Black Dog says:

    Plus I've had a few drinks – when we came hope – last trip up to Goulais is was still pretty bright.

    Oh Jesus shine your light on me!


  4. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: I think your typewriter is ahead of you in the drinks department. :-)

  5. PDO says:

    The Al Gore:

    Allowing people who have had one too many to sloppily express their opinion to the world for the past 15 years.

  6. CM says:

    thanks for the post LT. I kinda like when you delay your posts for the morning. I inevitably check your site right before bed and if there is a new post I have to read it. Its kinda like opening my presents before Christmas.

  7. Black Dog says:

    Listen here, I've been coming around here for years and I've kept quiet about it but this whole Al Gore thing – not funny! Seriously. I mean, the beard, the flannel. And Tipper? Don't get me started! Why that uptight little … never mind that's not important and the environment blah blah blah look at me I'm so earnest and important. And oh yes I invented the internet – I mean you want to talk funny – we should just call the Internet the Al Gore.

    Now that's comedy!

    You dummy! You lost an election as the incumbent VP to a frigging monkey! Jesus Murphy I could have run the boy and a bag of peanuts and they would have beaten George W.

    Oh my aching head.

    And with that I'm off to bed mes freres. Good night to all and to all …

    a good night.

  8. doritogrande says:


    That had everything but the classic "Get off my lawn!"


    Regarding the draft, I don't much like the prospect of adding a forward of the Glennie tree. I don't see him topping out as anything more than a 2nd liner. For that matter, I don't see anyone beyond Tavares, Duchene, Kane and possibly MPS and Schroeder having first line potential.

    If we're picking at 10, I want someone who has top-line forward or top-3 defenseman potential. For this reason, I'd much rather pick up one of Kulikov, Ellis and even John Moore over any of the forwards not mentioned as first line potential.

  9. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: Classic. How did he lose that election?

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    Anyone catch Tambellini's interview on Sportsnet?

    Mentioned it's not so easy to just acquire a guy like Heatley, and the the salaries have to match.

    On Roloson, he mentioned that he has to think about the organization for not only next year, but down the road as well.

    Was somewhat visibly tensed. I hope he doesn't bald/age as fast as Kevin Lowe did.

  11. PunjabiOil says:

    As for the draft, I'm warming up to taking Kulikov/Ellis. As discussed previously, Schoerder is my top choice.

    I'm less warm to selecting Kadri, as per Willis's latest analysis.

    Glennie, by the numbers, may be a good pick. You just hope he didn't benefit from playing with Schenn.

  12. Bohologo says:

    LT writes: "How did [Gore] lose that election?"

    As PJ O'Rourke noted a while ago, a lot of people in American thought Easy Rider had a happy ending. Maybe Canadians tend to project their own values on the U.S., and are surprised when people like W. get elected?

    But if you prefer cars to politics, I refer you to O'Rourke's legendary piece, "Ferrari Refutes the Decline of the West"!

  13. speeds says:

    Right now I would say Glennie looks like the most likely guy based on the combination of who it appears they like and who seems likely to be available. But it's hard to know what's a smokescreen and what's not.

    If they are after Schroeder they are being pretty coy about it. They didn't profile him on the Oilers site, and they profiled enough to hide whoever they like at 10 in that group, not that he necessarily is. Either he's not on their radar or they aren't trying to publicize any interest.

    I did see Prendergast mention him today though, in his video clip on the Oilers site. I'm trying to convince myself he's their guy, but they are hiding that interest. Gotta keep my hopes up, right?

  14. Lowetide says:

    Bohologo: The only explanation I can think of is that it was a reaction to Clinton's behaviour.

  15. speeds says:


    Glennie and Schenn were discussed a bit in this link, starting maybe 2/3 of the way through the comments.


  16. PunjabiOil says:

    Also in the interview, Tambellini was asked:

    "Has Ales' name come up in any of the talks you've had? Is anyone interested?"

    I'm resigning to the possibility that Ales Hemsky will not be an Edmonton Oiler next year.

  17. Lowetide says:

    speeds: Schroeder would certainly be a worthy pick. I wonder if the fact that they have some control over when he needs to be signed will factor in.

  18. PunjabiOil says:

    Thanks Speeds. Keep up the good work on your blog by the way. Like YKOil, you're reads are great.

  19. DBO says:

    On hemsky being dealt. Starting to wonder what he would bring in a deal? i know, i know he's an excellent player with an even better contract. he's just entering his prime, and should get better. i just wonder whether he'll ever progress beyond great complementary player. Superstars make the players around them better, they don't wait for someone to come along who makes them better. i really like Hemsky, but i wouldn't be surprised to see the team look at what they could get for him.

    And personally i want Ellis for a pick. Willis did a great breakdown at ON on the draft, and LT's post the other day on Desjardins equivalents sold me on Ellis. Special offensive talents who impact the game like this kid do not come along every day. If he was even 6'0, he'd be a top 3 pick. we talk about resigning kotalik for his PP prowess and shootout skills. Why not take a young dman who can QB our PP in 2 years.

  20. Chris says:

    At this point I'm hoping for an Ellis pick myself. Admittedly Willis' salesmanship for me wasn't as effective as the NHL equivalency..but he was beating a number of the forwards that have been discussed as a defensemen on the equivalency. That takes a pretty special player. Although I'm obviously not going to be terribly upset if we pick one of the consensus guys Schroeder, Glennie and Kulikov all have their merits and the seeming potential to be useful NHL players. I supose Ellis simply seems like he has the most potential to be a 'star'. Although that's never a sure thing when your picking at the tenth spot.

  21. Mr DeBakey says:

    "How did he lose that election?"

    The media decided to punish him for being in the Clinton administration.
    {the Beltway elite always hated the Clintons]
    Despite that, he had more votes than W

  22. Phil says:

    When I think about the Gore-Bush election, only one thing comes to mind:

    What does a chad taste like?

  23. Traktor says:

    David Backes had 126 PIM's in his draft year.

    Glennie had 25.

    Button is an idiot.

  24. Bohologo says:

    LT: Exactly. Some Americans would rather have a dopey guy who claims to be a born-again clean living type than a smarty pants like Slick Willy and his groping ways.

    Mr. Debakey: Beltway elites may have hated the Clintons, but it was middle America, most of whom don't read the Post, that voted for W. Twice.

    Popular vote count notwithstanding.

  25. Jonathan Willis says:

    Traktor: I was fine with him as Flames GM. It's really too bad he wasn't considered for the Minnesota job.

  26. Jonathan Willis says:

    Nice to see so much fondness for Ellis. For guys who don't especially like him, my other favourite players (Alex Hutchings as a 2nd round pick and Benjamin Casavant later on) might be more palatable.

  27. Jonathan Willis says:

    Hunter: I can't pass on Bonsignore. Perfect example of a guy who looked like a player but never posted results at any level.

    Although as far as culpable stupidity goes, tonight I'm focused on a) everything Barry Fraser did from say, 1990 on and b) the picks of Mike Rupp and Scott Parker (especially Parker) in 1998.

    I've lost a lot of respect for the scouting profession tonight.

  28. hunter1909 says:

    Not ever wanting to talk politics on a message board, but Richard Nixon had every bit as good an argument for contesting the 1960 presidential election, but conceded because he felt that it was dishonorable to drag the American people through a court case.

    Al Gore had no problem going to court.

    PS: Just slightly hilarious to see middle America getting bashed. Just where the fuck do you think Western Canada is located?

  29. Jonathan Willis says:

    Politics is fun, and especially the conventional wisdom guiding it. Gore vs. Bush didn't bother me so much, but the decision by the Democrats to send Kerry out there in 2004 was just plain hilarious.

    Speaking of hilarious, is everyone following the Iran situation? This paragraph just blew me away.

  30. Jonathan Willis says:

    I should clarify: Bush vs. Gore didn't surprise me so much, since I thought the former had a good campaign while the latter was rather tepid.

    The result made a certain sense, considering the context.

  31. godot10 says:

    //Who in your opinion is the absolute WORST EVER Oilers first round draft pick?//

    I sort of like Barry Fraser's consecutive catastrophically bad misses in 1989 and 1990, Jason Soules and Scott Allison. Scott Allison was particularly bad in a strong draft year.

  32. uni says:

    Willis: If that paragraph is accurate they didn't steal that election, they flat out mugged, blackjacked and left that election for dead in an alley.

  33. Black Dog says:

    LT – we actually had a rinkgside seat for that one as we lived in Florida from '98 to '01

    The Democrats are like the Conservatives here – they don't know what they're doing, plain and simple, for the most part, while the Republicans, like the Liberals, know politics (at least until recently) and will do anything to win.

    Even with Clinton the election was Gore's to lose but he ran a poor campaign and was just so completely uncharismatic. And much like Kerry when he did that damn salute, the kiss with Tipper to show he wasn't wooden was just so staged.

    Bush played it like Reagan as best he could – folksy and easy – and people liked him more then they did Gore.

    I think in the end it came down to that. Americans don't like eggheads so much.

  34. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: Yeah, the Dems don't seem to be able to run out coordinated people. The Dukakis "helmet in a tank" photo was as harmful as poor old Stanfield dropping the football back in the day.

    The funny thing about the Conservatives in our country is that they never seem to get it. I know the media drives the bus in a lot of these things but lordy they can't see the forest from the trees.

    I remember a friend of mine in media sort of summed up the conservatives one time years ago. It was when Stockwell Day was the leader of the reform party. He held a press conference in some unusual place with his family in the backdrop.

    My buddy calls me and asks if I'd seen any clips of the PC. No.

    "When you do, check out his daughter-in-law. HOT!"

    I think it was his daughter-in-law. Anyway, the point is that Day has this tremendous eye-candy behind him causing a commotion in the media and his handlers don't even think about it.

    If that was a Liberal PC, Chretien would have gone over and drooled on her.


  35. Alice says:

    /I've lost a lot of respect for the scouting profession tonight/


    Very interesting review of the first rounders, where the order varies but they're all 'consensus' guys for the most part. And some of them shouldn't be, using this POV. Like you said, wow. In the later rounds though, looking at a small handful out of a pretty huge haystack, we're getting to ignore the noise by looking at only the survivors – and the numbers seem much less predictive by this point anyway.

    Would be interesting to take a look at our Day of Infamy (2003).

    Also, how come the late rounders who made it were mostly Q guys? Was that just an anomaly of the time, or does it point to a league less well sifted, where [more] useful pieces drop down into the 80's, 90's and 100's? Cornet, for instance.

  36. Black Dog says:

    LT – agreed, the only Conservative who ever got it was Mulroney and of course he cleaned up. Read his autobiography, very interesting stuff, he was a politician through and through for better for worse and the proof was in his electoral results.

    Clinton was the same. You have to get into the gutter and play hardball.

    Living in the States and seeing that election was stepping through the looking glass, let me tell you. Watching the coverage the night of the election was surreal. All of the major networks acted as if the US not only invented democracy but were the only people in the world who practiced it.

    When my wife and I began dating it was really tough for nurses to get jobs and so she looked into going overseas or to the US and the recruiters told her that the culture shock of going to the US was far greater then anyone knew.

    So true.

    We lived there for 3 1/2 years and for anyone who repeats that old traditional refrain about Canadians and Americans being the same I can only say 'man how wrong you are'

    Different as different can be.

  37. Ben says:

    I decided to quickly do 2003, since it's one of the more CHL forward heavy drafts. I put in brackets beside each player their ranking this season in points per game. I think the scouts win this one easily as they were closer to reality on 7 of the 11 players, with Staal and Richards having similar rankings on both lists.

    1. Staal (5)
    2. Horton (6)
    3. Carter (2)
    4. Brown (7)
    5. Bernier (9)
    6. Fehr (8)
    7. Getzlaf (1)
    8. Pouliot (10)
    9. Richards (3)
    10. Stewart (11)
    11. Perry (4)

    Percentage of Offense
    1. Staal 45.6 (5)
    2. Pouliot 42.4 (10)
    3. Brown 41.1 (7)
    4. Bernier 40.2 (9)
    5. Horton 39.5 (6)
    6. Perry 35.9 (4)
    7. Carter 34.1 (2)
    8. Stewart 32.4 (11)
    9. Richards 32.1 (3)
    10. Getzlaf 29.2 (1)
    11. Fehr 22.0 (8)

  38. Ben says:

    Oh, and college is a different-ish animal, but here's Parise's percentage as well.

    Parise 39.1

  39. Alice says:

    Hey, thanks for that,
    And Pou at 42… Sometimes a dart is just a dart, I guess!

    Alex Hutchings being behind a bunch of high-school players though, what the hell?

  40. Big T says:

    The thing I always try to remember is that Americans are just plain old more conservative than we are up here. Hell, even with all that Bush had done, it was neck and neck between Obama and McCain with a month to go.

    Don't underestimate different beliefs when it comes to evaluating election results down south.


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