One of the things we all forget as time goes on is injuries and their impact on young hockey players. It’s actually a huge portion of the procurement and development business, and can wipe out an entire draft class for teams.
One of the galling things about injury is that you can’t really say how much it impacts a prospect, only that it can’t be good. I’ve written miles about Marc Pouliot and his injuries but you never see them referenced in regard to the 2003 draft and the Oilers swinging and missing. It seems like a legit consideration but our memories don’t connect the two things (failed prospect and injury).
This post (done annually) is an attempt to remind us about how much bad luck can impact a prospect. Here’s a quick look at some (this is not close to complete) of the injuries suffered by notable Oiler picks over the last decade:
- 2001: Doug Lynch: A wrist injury that was not properly addressed and then a knee injury after being dealt to the Blues organization derailed a promising NHL career. That wrist injury came on the heels of a very impressive AHL season, and washed away his future.
- 2001: 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.
- 2002: 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 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. Possibly a major impact on his career.
- 2003: JF Jacques: Although fairly healthy during his junior career and early pro seasons, JFJ lost an enormous amount of time and some of his skill set due to (back) injuries. He’s apparently healthy and hoping to land another Oiler contract, but injuries had a major impact on his career.
- 2003: 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 season and required surgery. Unknown impact on career.
- 2005: Taylor Chorney: Sprained knee spring 2008 right at the end of his college career. He also suffered a knee injury in 10-11 while with the Oilers, I don’t know if it was the same knee and of course unknown impact on career.
- 2006: Theo Peckham: Suffered a shoulder injury late in the 09-10 season; suffered concussion one year later.
- 2007: Alex Plante: Suffered back and concussion problems in the year after he was drafted.
- 2008: Jordan Eberle: Sprained left ankle during rookie NHL season, 2010-11.
- 2010: Taylor Hall: Ankle injury during rookie NHL season, 2010-11.
It’s important to keep track of these things. Next Friday and Saturday, the Oilers will draft another group of kids and some of them will have an injury history. Those injuries and the ones suffered during their early years as NHL prospects can have an enormous impact on development.