Small Steps

This is Bryan Trottier. He was smack dab in the middle of some really good decisions by Bill Torrey and the New York Islanders scouting staff.

At the 1974 Amateur Draft, Torrey picked 4th overall and selected big Regina Pats LW Clark Gillies. This was one of the years that NHL teams could draft one underage player (and had to do it in the first two rounds) and Torrey called out the name of the best available player that year (Trottier). 2nd round, 22nd overall.

But Torrey didn’t stop there. In later rounds the Islanders selected college defenseman Dave Langevin and Swedish Dman Stefan Persson. Four very good players in one draft.

But Torrey still wasn’t finished. During the 1974 draft the Kansas City Scouts picked Bob Bourne 38th overall. The Islanders found a way to get him in September of 1974 (in exchange for the rights to two serviceable blueliners, Larry Hornung and the incredibly named Bart Crashley) and Bourne spent the 74-75 season in the majors while Trottier spent the season in western Canada.

The lesson of Bill Torrey is to collect as many good bets as possible and then keep adding to the pile. As much as we Oiler fans focus on the great Barry Fraser drafts of 1979-83 it is certainly worth noting that the Islanders did pretty well in their first drafts after expansion.

On last night’s PPV broadcast Steve Tambellini told us that Stu MacGregor would be making the choices at the Entry Draft this summer. I think that’s a terrific sign (if true) that the organization is less likely to make a screwball pick. It also tells us that the Oilers are likely to get one of Seguin or Hall in the first round.

But the lesson of Torrey is to keep building and make as many good bets as possible. Just as the Anton Lander pick was important to last season’s draft, those two second round picks can’t be wasted either.

One thing I do believe about the current Oilers is that they’re going to devote 3rd round-and-later picks to “organizational needs” and that means a host of knuckle-draggers, long shots and guys with some connection to the friends of the boys on the bus.

Small steps, folks. Small steps.

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