The day a photograph is taken it tells one story, and as time rolls along it tells another. The day this photo was taken, a lefty for the BoSox was a player of interest. What he did after this day makes it worthwhile, gives it significance.
An entry draft is like a photograph. The day of the event there is much to celebrate on all sides and a bright future to dream. As time elapses–even one year–we begin to see how that day impacts individuals, teams and the league. I believe the Oilers 2010 NHL Entry Draft could end up being exceptional.
It doesn’t take long for a draft year to go sideways. Six months after he was drafted Marc Pouliot was taking on down arrows by the carton and two years after he was drafted Nick Stadjuhar had the ultimate “wrong place, wrong time” story that cost his career dearly.
The 2009 entry draft–just two years ago–suggests that Troy Hesketh was a poor selection and there are other players with significant down arrows. The 2010 draft keeps rolling along.
- Taylor Hall–emerged right out of the draft as a player of note. Despite playing on a poor team, he managed to lead the team in goals (while missing 17 games) and is already “the franchise.” He’ll turn 20 in 2 months.
- Tyler Pitlick–despite a nagging ankle injury that may impact his 11-12 season and should be considered significant–had some nice arrows in Medicine Hat. Pitlick’s offense (56gp, 27-35-62) ranked him 3rd among WHL rookies and his EV stats (56gp, 22-19-41) suggest he might be a real goal scorer. His 22 EV goals rank him 2nd among Tigers during the regular season despite missing several games and playing only sporadically on the big scoring line. His shot is already considered a strength and he plays a physical style.
- Martin Marincin–Oh doctor. Big man with speed, the ability to play a physical style (although reports have him as passive) and deliver some offense. I never get too excited about defensemen and their offense because there’s a very good chance he’ll never man the point on an NHL powerplay. Having said that, he’s an efficient passer and can move the puck. Despite impressive size he’s narrow and needs to put on weight. An outstanding prospect, the only down arrow was a subpar second half (first half: 33gp, 10-25-35 +6) (34gp, 4-17-21 -18).
- Curtis Hamilton–The law of averages suggests that Hamilton won’t deliver as strong a season as he managed a year ago. THAT season came after some injury and the best news from 10-11 was Hamilton’s health. An exceptional WHL season along with a WJ roster spot (and he played well) have Hamilton’s stock on the rise.
- Ryan Martindale– I have a hard time figuring out how good he’ll be, mostly because of the quality of the line he played on. He’s big and skilled, those guys get all kinds of chances. He has improved season over season and has certainly covered his draft bet so far.
- Jeremie Blain– Lanky defender was drafted in the 4th round (Oilers have done well there). Blain has posted impressive assist totals for two years in a row but counting on him offensively would be unwise for the reason mentioned in the Marincin piece. He has a nice range of skills and a lot of good arrows, although the injury suffered last fall should be remembered as we move forward.
- Tyler Bunz– Young goalie is getting some national attention and could make the WJ team this Christmas. He has emerged as a legit NHL prospect and his SP number improved 21 point season over season in Medicine Hat. Lots of good arrows.
- Brandon Davidson– Another puck mover and a player who built on a strong draft season with another impressive season. Offensively, compares a little behind Marincin and Davidson but he’s still on track as a prospect. I would say he’s the first prospect outside what we might call “tracking well” based on the fact that he’s 20 years old and without a contract.
- Drew Czerwonka– Ignited his status as a prospect with a season well beyond what we might have thought he’d accomplish.
- Kristians Pelss– Crazy to be talking about a legit prospect from round 7, and Pelss is the 10th player selected by MBS at the 2010 draft. He’s a talented forward who came on very well as the season wore on. Finished his season 24, 7-10-17 and is likely to see more playing time this season.
- Kellen Jones– Small skill forward had a solid NCAA debut despite his team’s inability to post offense. Lost in the flood, unlikely to emerge as an NHL calibre talent but he’s on a solid path.
Some of these prospects will slide and we can see injuries (Hall, Pitlick, Hamilton, Blain) on their resumes. However, it’s such a deep group and they are all tracking well; the arrows going up trump the down arrows by a large number. After just one season, we could be looking at the following in year 2:
- one NHL player (Hall)
- five AHL rookies with solid resumes (Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton, Martindale, Davidson)
- two WJ players (Marincin, Bunz)
And all of them have done impressive things in season one after their drafts. Here are their Desjardins’ NHLE’s (where applicable):
- Curtis Hamilton (WHL) 10-23-33 (18)
- Ryan Martindale (OHL) 13-18-31 (18)
- Tyler Pitlick (WHL) 12-15-27 (18)
- Martin Marincin (WHL) 5-16-21 (18)
- Jeremie Blain (QMJHL) 1-20-21 (18)
- Kellen Jones (NCAA) 7-12-19 (20)
- Brandon Davidson (WHL) 3-14-17 (19)
- Drew Czerwonka (WHL) 5-11-16 (18)
- Kristians Pelss (WHL) 5-8-13 (17)
Not listed in the NHLE are Taylor Hall (who scored 22 goals in the NHL) and Tyler Bunz (a promising goaltender). How many will the Oilers graduate to the NHL? How many will play more than 200 NHL games? Of course we don’t know, but it’s incredible that all of them did enough in this past season to be considered on track as prospects.
I think we can begin to discuss this group as possibly approaching some of the best in Oilers history; even while acknowledging that at least one of them will fall off the pace in the coming season.