The Kingdom of Sweden

Lost in the shuffle of recent drafts is a trend toward drafting Swedish kids. The Oilers have (rightly) gained the reputation for spending a lot of picks on WHL kids (and kids heading for the western league) but their fascination with Sweden (and Finland) is marbled into the CHL picks. Historically, Sweden has not been a hot spot for the Edmonton Oilers. Here is a list of players drafted out of Sweden by the Oilers since 1979:

  1. Lars-Gunnar Pettersson, 9th rd in 1980
  2. Peter Eriksson, 4th rd in 1987
  3. Jonas Elofsson, 4th rd in 1997
  4. Tomas Groschl, 9th rd in 1999
  5. Mikael Svensk, 6th rd in 2001
  6. Fredrik Johansson, 9th rd in 2002
  7. Mikhail Youkov, 3rd rd in 2003
  8. Kalle Olsson, 5th rd in 2003
  9. Dragan Umicevic, 6th rd in 2003
  10. Bjorn Bjurling, 9th rd in 2004
  11. Fredrik Pettersson, 5th rd in 2005
  12. Linus Omark, 4th rd in 2007
  13. William Quist, 6th rd in 2007
  14. Johan Motin, 4th rd in 2008
  15. Magnus Paajarvi, 1st rd in 2009
  16. Anton Lander, 2nd rd in 2009
  17. Oscar Klefbom, 1st rd in 2011

17 players over 33 entry drafts, or about 1 every two seasons. Sweden has flipped with Finland over the last few years–Oilers used to take the Finns early and the Swedes late but not it has turned around in favor of the Swedes.

It looks to me as though Barry Fraser’s love of Finland skewed the Oilers drafts through his regime. In his 22 drafts, there were 4 draft picks who played in Sweden their draft year. In the 11 years since, Sweden has been fertile soil for Edmonton–13 picks or about one per season. Fraser drafted 11 Finns during his time as scouting director and had tremendous success in this area.

Stu MacGregor is using his precious early picks on Swedes. Since taking over in 2008, two first round picks, one 2nd rder and a fourth round selection have been used on Swedish prospects. For the record, this is where Stu shops at the entry draft:

  1. WHL: 10 (most recent: RNH, Musil, Ewanyk)
  2. Sweden: 4 (most recent: Klefbom)
  3. Finland: 4 (most recent: Perhonen and Tuohimaa)
  4. QMJHL: 3 (most recent Jeremie Blain)
  5. OHL: 3 (most recent: Tobias Rieder)
  6. BCJHL: 2 (most recent: Kellen Jones)
  7. NCAA: 2 (most recent: Dillon Simpson)
  8. Slovakia: 2 (most recent: Martin Gernat)
  9. Belarus: 1 (most recent: Kristians Pelss)
  10. USHS: 1 (most recent: Troy Hesketh)

WHL represents 31% and the entire CHL accounts for 50% of the selections. Sweden and Finland are CHL east and 25% of the selections come from those two countries. Three quarters of the MBS era picks come from the CHL and Swe/Fin. Add the two BCJHL selections into the group and there’s a pattern forming after 4 seasons of this drafting team.

Reading the tea leaves, there’s a good chance that the WHL, OHL, QMJHL, Sweden, Finland and tier 2 junior (BCJHL, AJHL, USHL, etc) will be heavily scouted in the coming year. It’s also safe to say that Norway will receive more attention than Russia.

Another busy edition of Nation Radio today at noon. Scheduled to appear:

  • Guy Flaming from The Pipeline Show and Coming Down the Pipe! I’ll talk to Guy about the Team Canada WJ team’s prospects camp in Edmonton this coming week and he’ll try to educate me about the NCAA/CHL border war.
  • James Mirtle, Globe and Mail writer and one of the best hockey writers on the planet. I’ll ask him about the Lombardi-Tambellini Milagro Beanfield War, Nikolai Khabibulin’s situation and the Islanders arena situation.
  • Mark Spector from Rogers Sportsnet. One of Edmonton’s most credible media people gets a one hour daily show and I’ll ask him what Oiler fans can expect when the show hits the air.
  • Jim Byers from the OKC Barons. We’ll talk about the Oilers activity this summer and how it might impact the Barons. There’s a chance players like Teemu Hartikainen and Jeff Petry return to OKC and I’ll ask him about which of last season’s prospects he considers most NHL ready.
  • Dustin Nielson from Team 1260′s Nielson and Chase morning show. A draft geek like myself and a guy who loves sports, he’s got yet another gig starting in the fall and I’ll ask him about it.

As always, email questions and comments are welcome at nationradio@theteam1260.com and I imagine there will be a few questions about NK, the Smyth-Fraser deal and Team 1260′s brand new shows. Bring it on, we’ll answer everything we can and make sure your comments hit the air.

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