Best Drafts 5 Years Out

The Oilers organization has an unusual relationship with the entry draft. The best player who ever donned the copper and blue was never drafted, and the club spent over a decade wandering in the wilderness at the draft table. The Oilers have had some good drafting seasons during the 2000′s, and Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor looks like he has some gems (we’ll have to wait and see).

This is not a completely accurate account of draft quality by season. At times in their history the Oilers have been so deep that a quality player couldn’t get into 40 games a season. At other times, teenagers have played on the 1line because there were no alternatives. However, it is fun to see the recent draft seasons compared to the glory years. The idea here is to use “Games Played” as a weight and then stop the draft 5 seasons out to see how many actual NHL players have developed from one draft summer.

  1. 1980-1,056 (Paul Coffey-394, Jari Kurri-363, Walt Poddubny-157, Andy Moog-142). One of the very best drafts of all time, possibly #1. Massive impact on the franchise.
  2. 1979-1,052 (Kevin Lowe-383, Mark Messier-375, Glenn Anderson-290, Mike Toal-3, Blair Barnes-1). This is one of the draft seasons that might be better than 1980. Between the two (and a couple of lesser drafts that followed) the Oilers lapped the field at the entry draft and built a dynasty.
  3. 1993-602 (Jason Arnott-321, Miro Satan-217, Ilya Byakin-57, Alex Kerch-5, Nick Stajduhar-2). This draft came at a very low point for the organization (similar to the situation they’re in now). Arnott was a high pick who delivered, but Fraser should also get credit for finding Satan. A strong and often overlooked Oilers draft.
  4. 2003-557 (Kyle Brodziak-175, Zack Stortini-147, Marc Pouliot-141, JF Jacques-60; Mathieu Roy-30, Troy Bodie-4). The 2003 and 2004 drafts benefit from having the lockout season. Same number of available at-bats but one more year of development than the others. No outstanding talent but several role players. 
  5. 2001-471 (Ales Hemsky-275, Jussi Markkanen-128, Ales Pisa-53, Kari Haakana-13, Doug Lynch-2). The first Prendergast draft was probably his best one because of Hemsky alone. We’ll have to wait on the Gagner draft just to make sure. Lynch’s injury likely had a major impact on the value of this draft class.
  6. 1996-466 (Tom Poti-230, Boyd Devereaux-230, Matthieu Descoteaux-5, Chris Hajt-1). Devereaux was a very high pick who didn’t have the kind of offensive pedigree associated with lottery picks. He was a solid role player before that Dallas Drake hit and recovered his career a little later on. Poti had some exceptional skills and a lot of chaos, but he’s still playing in the NHL and would have to be regarded as a quality pick.
  7. 1981-440 (Grant Fuhr-211, Gord Sherven-84, Marc Habscheid-80, Steve Smith-57, Todd Strueby-5, Paul Houck-3). This was a nice draft, Fuhr came very quickly to the show and Habscheid looked for a time like he might be something. Goalies get nicked  a little when we measure them by GP, this draft probably deserves to be in the top 5.
  8. 2002-440 (Jarret Stoll-286, Matt Greene-151, Mikko Luoma-3). A little misleading in that Stoll was a draft re-entry and technically belongs to the 2000 group. Greene and Stoll have turned into quality NHL players, and this draft (despite the Niinimaki miss) has to be considered a success.
  9. 1994-439 (Ryan Smyth-269, Mike Watt-89, Jason Bonsignore-79, Ladislav Benysek-2). I’ll always be glad they drafted Smyth, he was a beauty player for the Oilers. The Bonsignore pick is the biggest and most devastating miss in the team’s history. One of the reasons we don’t remember Fraser fondly is the number of high picks that fizzled, something Prendergast never had an opportunity to do (his only top 6 pick was Gagner).
  10. 1989-414 (Anatoli Semenov-240, Josef Beranek-146, Peter White-26, Darcy Martini-2). You’d like a little more from a draft, but it came when they were winning every season and two useful players isn’t a bad return.
  11. 1991-406 (Martin Rucinsky-241, David Oliver-124, Tyler Wright-41). This is the final of the group I would give passing grades. Rucinsky and Wright had nice careers.
  12. 1999-361 (Mike Comrie-241, Alexei Semenov-92, Jani Rita-15, Tony Salmelainen-13). I really thought this draft was going to be outstanding. Fizzled. Comrie saved it somewhat and this isn’t really about what we all thought but lordy Jani Rita looked like a player.
  13. 1982-345 (Jaroslav Pouzar-186, Raimo Summanen-142, Steve Graves-14, Jim Playfair-2, Dean Clark-1). Pouzar had a nice career and the Oilers thought Summanen would be 99′s left-winger, but this draft fell short of acceptable.
  14. 2005-339 (Andrew Cogliano-246, Danny Syvret-49, Taylor Chorney-44). This might end up being known as the “well he looked like a hockey player” draft with Cogliano having one year’s experience three times and Chorney a saloon door on the blue. I do believe that Cogliano is a smart kid and will figure it out, but the 2005 draft five years on does not get a passing grade.
  15. 1983-322 (Esa Tikkanen-191, Jeff Beukeboom-117, John Miner-14). I think this one gets a passing grade as well, the 5-year measurement punishes this draft because the club had improved. Two solid NHL players, and in the case of Tikkanen a very unique talent.
  16. 1992-286 (Kirk Maltby-236, Ralph Intranuovo-22, Joaquin Gage-18, Joe Hulbig-6, Marko Tuomainen-4). This came at a time when the club really needed to add solid building blocks for the future, but it fell well short.
  17. 1987-235 (Geoff Smith-207, Peter Eriksson-20, Igor Vyazmikin-4, Shaun Van Allen-2, Tomas Srsen-2). Van Allen ended up having a career, but he was a late breaker.
  18. 1998-229 (Shawn Horcoff-188, Alex Henry-41). Another draft that looks less effective because of the 5-year rule. Horcoff most certainly helped the Oilers during the 00′s but the club was shooting blanks in the first round.
  19. 2007-227 (Sam Gagner 223, Alex Plante-4). This draft has two more seasons to go before reaching the 5-season limit and has a chance to be both a top 10 all-time draft and deliver some exceptional quality after Gagner. Plante has already had a cup of coffee, with Omark and Nash to come. No passing grade yet, but tracking well.
  20. 1995-213 (Georges Laraque-126, Steve Kelly-86, Mike Minard-1). Kelly was a painful miss but he was in fact highly rated that summer. Guy Flaming has written some amazing articles over the years about the Kelly miss, and every Oiler scout stands by the decision and admits they liked him better. Doesn’t change anything, but there must have been something there.
  21. 1984-186 (Todd Ewen-121, Emanuel Viveiros-29, Selmar Odelein-18, Simon Wheeldon-11, Daryl Reaugh-7). Odelein’s injury had a lot to do with this draft and its lack of success.
  22. 1985-164 (Kelly Buchberger-140, Scott Metcalfe-19, Mike Ware-5). Buchberger was a nice late round pickup but Fraser was choogling during these drafts.
  23. 2000-153 (Matt Lombardi-134, Brad Winchester-19). It actually turned out pretty well for Fraser. Lombardi emerged as a true NHL talent and Winchester a role player. It took awhile, and of course Lombardi is the Stoll mirror.
  24. 2004-143 (Liam Reddox-56, Rob Schremp-51, Devan Dubnyk-19, Bryan Young-17). This draft is an extreme disappointment, although Dubnyk can still save it and Schremp looks like he might have a career. However, unlike the 2003 draft which produced useful role players this one was pure thud. Like Rita, Schremp was a guy most of us thought would be a player but the TOI totals were the part of the equation we weren’t privy to and that was a big part of it all.
  25. 1988-63 (Shjon Podein-40, Francois Leroux-11, Len Barrie-9, Trevor Sim-3). Len Barrie got famous.
  26. 2006-31 (Theo Peckham-31). This is actually a pretty cool draft. Peckham is the only NHL player so far, but Petry should get some time soon and considering the team didn’t have a first round pick the draft would be very successful if these two turn out. This draft is at the 4 year mark, so won’t get a passing grade.
  27. 1986-31 (Ron Shudra-10, Dan Currie-5, David Haas-5, Jim Ennis-5, Kim Issel-4, Mike Greenlay-2). Mur-diddly-urdler’s row.
  28. 1997-16 (Michel Riesen-12, Jason Chimera-4). Chimera ended up having a career, but developed slowly.
  29. 2008-1 (Johan Motin-1). This draft is just getting started, with Eberle the marquee player but Hartikainen also part of the group.
  30. 1990-0. Thanks for coming. Fraser should have been fired, but the Oilers won the Stanley (again) and honestly not many people were paying attention.
  31. 2009-0. This draft has burned one year with no GP. I think it has a chance to be a monster, Stu’s first really big draft. The two Swedes played SEL hockey and flourished this past season, and don’t look now but Olivier Roy might be a player.
  • Impact drafts: 1979, 1980
  • Quality drafts: 1993, 2003, 2001
  • Passing grades: 1996, 1981, 2002, 1994, 1989, 1991, 1983
  • Not quite good enough: 1999, 1982, 2005, 1992
  • Fail: 1987, 1998, 2007*, 1995, 1984, 1985, 2000, 2004
  • Epic fail: 1988, 2006*, 1986, 1997, 2008*, 2009*
  • WTF? 1990

Years marked with an asterisk are the seasons that are not yet 5-years out. 2007 is the last KP draft that has a chance to be his best (2003, the Pouliot draft) but I’d suggest the 2001 draft (Hemsky) was his most valuable.

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