Love those Vikings!

The Edmonton Oilers love those Swedes and increasingly are spending their valuable draft picks on Finnish kids too. For the second season in a row Edmonton invested a pick in a player from Finland, and Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson from Sweden represents the highest ever selection by the Oilers for a European player.

The staple centers are still the CHL and American locations and the Russian kids are a distant bell. But Sweden and Finland are not only hotbeds for the Oilers, the selection of MPS signals a willingness to (for the first time) use the very important top picks on European kids. Here’s the rundown since 2001, which signals the post-Barry Fraser era:

  1. WHL-14 (latest Cameron Abney ’09)
  2. Sweden-13 (latest MPS and Lander ’09)
  3. QMJHL-10 (latest Olivier Roy ’09)
  4. OHL-8 (latest Sam Gagner ’07)
  5. USHS-6 (latest Troy Hesketh ’09)
  6. Finland-6 (latest Toni Rajala ’09)
  7. US College-4 (last played drafted Wild ’06)
  8. Czech-3 (last player drafted Hrabel ’03)
  9. USHL-2 (last player drafted Petry ’06)
  10. AJHL-2 (last player drafted Glasser ’05)
  11. Russia-2 (last player drafted Bumagin ’06)
  12. OPJHL-2 (last player drafted Cogliano ’05)
  13. BCJHL-2 (latest Kyle Bigos ’09)
  14. EJHL-1 (last player drafted McDonald ’03)
  15. NAHL-1 (last player drafted Rohlfs ’03)
  16. US U-18-1 (last player drafted Paukovich ’04)
  17. Slovakia-1 (last player drafted Kytnar ’07)

Leagues and countries that saw no selections this season are in italics, basically half come from either the CHL or other Canadian junior leagues and 19% come from America. Sweden is next with close to 17%, Finland about 8% and the Russians, Slovaks and Czechs who the Oilers select at this point are playing junior hockey in Canada.

The big news comes from what we’ll end up calling the Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor era, which began in 2008. In the 2 drafts with Stu, Sweden and Finland are more important:

  1. Sweden-3
  2. WHL-3
  3. Finland-2
  4. QMJHL-2
  5. USHS-1
  6. BCJHL-1

So we’re going to have to pay a little more attention to some of the Euro kids under MacGregor’s watch, especially in the early rounds.

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