Bjorn on the Bayou

Word this morning that Oiler draft pick (2004) Bjorn Bjurling is thinking about retiring due to slow recover from a shoulder injury (and surgery).

Article is here. Google translate does a nice job and it seems a case of a veteran hockey player becoming frustrated with the timeline for recovery. Bjurling plays a tough position and has seen a lot of miles.

Bjurling was one of 6 goaltenders drafted by Kevin Prendergast:

  1. G Jussi Markkanen: Prendergast had some success drafting overage players early in his time as scouting director. Markkanen had a solid career as an NHL backup and of course played some of the team’s most famous games 2006 spring. He went 3-3, 2.17 .905 during his SC games. Markkanen was chosen in the 5th round, 133 overall in 2001. He would have to be ranked as a draft success.
  2. G Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: This was an important pick for KP because it cost the team a high 2nd rd selection (31st overall in 2002). JDD took a long and winding route (and was somewhat hampered by the organization’s inability to ice their own farm team), but finally did arrive in the NHL and has had one season as a starter (48, 3.26 .901 in 09-10). Cast away by the Oilers this summer, the story has more chapters to be written.
  3. G Glenn Fisher: Drafted out of the AJHL and headed for the NCAA, Fisher never really did get untracked as an NHL prospect. In three pro seasons, he played in only 4 AHL games. Another 5th rder, 148th in 2002. He was not a draft success.
  4. G Devan Dubnyk: The Oilers don’t take goalies in the first round often, and Dubnyk looked like a possible flop for much of his time in junior and the minors. However, the slow development process seems to have delivered a strong candidate for #1 duties in the NHL. Dubnyk went 35, 2.71 .916 in front of a porous defense and appears poised to break through as an NHL starter. 14th overall in 2004, may cover the bet.
  5. G Bjorn Burling: 9th rd pick, 274th overall in 2004. An overager like Markkanen, Bjurling was 24 and the starter for Djurgarden (SEL) when drafted by the Oilers. His SP in his draft year–.923–was very impressive. He never played as many as 45 games or posted a better SP after that, and now of course his career is in jeopardy due to injuries. It was clearly not a draft success for the Oilers, as he never spent a minute in the organization’s system. Still, he had a career and would seem to have been a decent bet at 274th overall.
  6. G Bryan Pitton: Big goalie taken in the 5th rd, 133 overall in 2006. Has had a career that could be described as slightly better than Fisher but not what player or team was hoping for on draft day. Not a draft success.

In assessing KP at the draft (in terms of goalies), it is tracking pretty well. Three goalies made the NHL and all spent at least some time in the starting role. Markkanen offered very good value and the three kids who missed (Bjurling, Fisher and Pitton) were taken in areas of the draft where failure is commonplace.

Prendergast’s legacy at the position probably relies on Dubnyk delivering in the starting role. At this point it would seem to be a reasonable bet.

Note: The title of this post makes no sense, but it’s one of my favorite songs so you’ll have to forgive me. :-)

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