THE PROBLEM IS YOU DEVELOP A PAST

When it comes to prospects, the entry level contract represents the time clock on an NHL career. For the 2010 draft picks (especially the forwards) this coming season is vitally important, and for Curtis Hamilton the road to a second Oiler contract is a long one.

Hamilton is not progressing, he is not forcing his coach to play him more and he is not building the kind of resume that will get him a contract with another NHL team should the Oilers choose to walk away. This after a very good final season in junior hockey and a solid WHL career:

hamilton numbers

Hamilton’s progess in the AHL (his totals in that league: 102, 10-10-20) suggest a fringe AHL player, and also suggest that either the scouting department missed the boat (Hamilton is a second round pick, #48 overall), the AHL coaching staff was unable to develop him, or the player himself has been so uninspiring that playing him more would have been negligent.

A year from now, it probably doesn’t matter. There is, however, a price to pay. The organization badly needs “value contracts” of the type Curtis Hamilton could provide if he had progressed at a normal 2nd round rate. That cost will impact the player and the team, and if too many of these fails occur in a short space of time, the minor league coach and the amateur procuring department.

The problem is you develop a past.

(photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

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47 Responses to "THE PROBLEM IS YOU DEVELOP A PAST"

  1. PaperDesigner says:

    Hamilton is probably the most frustrating prospect of recent years.

    Given his quality offensive production at junior, the scouting reports that had him as an excellent two-way winger, and the gaping hole at third line wing on this team, he’s probably the most critical failure of the secondary prospects that they’ve drafted. Well, him and Pitlick, but I wasn’t convinced of much after Pitlick had a good, but unspectacular junior season.

    But man, what happened? How did NONE of his offense translate to the AHL? How is he not at least a good checking winger by this point?

    I suppose he still has a chance. Given you’d be looking at a lower line role for him, he might still have a break-out role, make a push as a black ace, then get a regular shift on the fourth line, and so on, but it’s hardly likely.

    You have to draft a bunch of these guys. You have to get a guy who looks briefly like he might be a top six forward, disappoints a little, and still ends up as an okay third and fourth line guy. You draft Moroz, Hamilton, Lander, Pitlick, Hartikainen, Ewanyk, and hope that one or two of them will be a NHL player in there somewhere.

    But personally, I thought Hamilton was the guy to emerge. They really have to hope Lander establishes himself soon and Hartikainen comes back from Russia as a NHL player.

  2. regwald says:

    And you could argue that Pitlick is barely a step ahead. Two failures such as these two is bad news for the Oilers.

    Even the nose dive by Bunz causes a concern. Roy has shown progress. Bunz has regressed significantly.

  3. russ99 says:

    Ending the entry level contract is a hurdle, but bigger ones are the 50 contract limit and the AHL rule where no more than 6 skaters on the ice can have played 260 combined AHL, NHL and overage European major league games.

    So yes, Hamilton better get it in gear either this season or the next or he’s gone. Ditto for Pitlick.

  4. Ribs says:

    and also suggest that either the scouting department missed the boat (Hamilton is a second round pick, #48 overall)

    Were there any boats left at the 48th pick?

  5. Lowetide says:

    Ribs:
    and also suggest that either the scouting department missed the boat (Hamilton is a second round pick, #48 overall)

    Were there any boats left at the 48th pick?

    Yes. Yes there were. they went at #59 and #147. :-)

  6. russ99 says:

    Ribs,

    Its easy saying so in hindsight, but Calvin Pickard went one pick later, plus we drafted Bunz in the 5th, which assumes we were looking for a goalie.

  7. Young Oil says:

    Ribs:
    and also suggest that either the scouting department missed the boat (Hamilton is a second round pick, #48 overall)

    Were there any boats left at the 48th pick?

    The biggest one was probably Brendan Gallagher, at 147, but he was passed over by every other team for 99 picks so the Oiler scouting department can’t really be singled out for passing on him.

    Mark Stone at 178 as well, not sure of he’d be considered a boat!

  8. RexLibris says:

    The troubling thing for me with the Hamilton/Pitlick developments (or lack thereof) is that the Oilers scouting crew has spent several picks on players of the same type since 2010.

    Looking back over the draft record of the MacGregor crew, and discounting who is specifically responsible for what picks for a moment, we can see their strengths: they can find blueliners both at home and abroad, they generally get it right in round one (and that is a priority beyond measure for a rebuilding team), and they probably hit league average on goaltenders because that is freaky voodoo. What they don’t do well, but seem to do often, is identify some big tough son-of-a-gun winger and take him a shade too soon because they like what he brings, or that he can play with skill.

    It isn’t necessarily the selection that has me concerned, because many teams choose size over skill and the Oilers haven’t entirely neglected the latter (Rieder, Omark, etc), but it is that they are repeating something they obviously aren’t very good at.

    Its like the guy who’s always dating the wrong kinds of girls but can never get it through his head that he needs to change his focus.

    Hamilton was probably worth the shot, and there is likely blame enough for all, but let us hope that we aren’t finding the same storylines in the draft cohorts coming up.

  9. Gerta Rauss says:

    What’s her name..? Kitrich..? Susan Kitrich..?

    Hamilton and Pitlick have been the 2 biggest disappointments in recent drafts. I’m still cheering for them, but both are definitely down arrows.

    I think they’ll both get a push this year, but they are running out of runway.Another similar year from them and they won’t get a second pro contract.

  10. sliderule says:

    Hamilton had good wheels as a junior but played a soft game .

    His father was GM for Kelowna rockets and this could have been one of reasons Stu selected him.

    Another second round miss for the oil.

  11. blackdog says:

    The shitty thing for the Oilers is both guys were in the range, neither was a reach pick at all. Pitlick was projected as a late first rounder and I think Hamilton was picked right around where many had him.

    Some injury issues but I have seen OKC play a few times live and Hamilton did nothing. Pitlick otoh was actually impressive to me every time I saw him. Has all the tools but no bat it seems. I think he could still make it as a fourth liner. Last chance though.

  12. Lowetide says:

    blackdog:
    The shitty thing for the Oilers is both guys were in the range, neither was a reach pick at all. Pitlick was projected as a late first rounder and I think Hamilton was picked right around where many had him.

    Some injury issues but I have seen OKC play a few times live and Hamilton did nothing. Pitlick otoh was actually impressive to me every time I saw him. Has all the tools but no bat it seems. I think he could still make it as a fourth liner. Last chance though.

    agreed, Pat. I’ve talked to scouts who feel the same way about Pitlick, they are pretty strong on him as an NHL prospect (these are not Oiler scouts btw).

  13. wheatnoil says:

    RexLibris,

    You make a good point, maybe we need to look at draft by position / player type. The Oilers have done well in drafting D, but the forwards…

    In 2010, the Oilers drafted 6 forwards not named Taylor Hall.
    31) Pitlick (0.23 P/G, -7 in AHL last year)
    48) Hamilton (0.15 P/G, -10 in AHL last year)
    61) Martindale (0.34 P/G, -3 in AHL last year)
    166) Czerwonka (no longer in hockey)
    181) Pelss (0.35 P/G, +5 in limited AHL play last year)
    202) Jones (NCAA, yet to turn pro)

    Arguably, Pelss might have been the closest to bottom 6 NHL employment, despite his size, based on production and by eye in terms of how he played. (On a side note, I believe in the last post in the comments there was a link to a lovely article over at CoppernBlue about Pelss)

  14. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “That cost will impact the player and the team, and if too many of these fails occur in a short space of time, the minor league coach and the amateur procuring department.”

    “the minor league coach and the amateur procuring department”… will what?! what will they do, or what will happen to them?!

    C’mon LT, don’t leave me hanging here!!! What does it all mean?!

    ———-
    One piece of wisdom I’ve gleaned from thinking about the draft since I discovered hockey blogs is that when the Oilers have 3 picks in a single round, even if it’s an early round, you aren’t going to get more than one NHL player*

    1994 round 7
    160 Curtis Sheptak Canada D
    162 Dimitrius Sulba Russia RW
    179 Chris Wickenheiser Canada G
    (no nhl games)

    2002 round 4
    106 Ivan Koltsov Russia D
    111 Jonas Almtorp Sweden C
    123 Robin Kovar Czech Republic D
    (no nhl games)

    2007 round 1
    6 Sam Gagner Canada C 366 77 143 220 180
    15 Alex Plante Canada D 10 0 2 2 15
    21 Riley Nash Canada C 5
    (Gagner is the obvious win. Hockey Gords won’t let you have two winners in the same round, just won’t. Nash has an outside chance… only provided he’s not an Oiler)

    2010 round 2
    31 Tyler Pitlick United States C
    46 Martin Marincin Slovakia D
    48 Curtis Hamilton Canada LW
    (no nhl games, but Marincin projects to be a winner, the others flops. There can be only one!)

    The lesson here is clearly to never trade into a round where you already have two picks. Having a third pick in a round guarantees failure. The hockey Gords will extract a dear payment for the hubris of wanting to horde picks within a single round.

    *The lone exception (that proves the rule as it were) is 2002, round 2
    31 Jeff Deslauriers Canada G 62
    36 Jarret Stoll Canada C 593
    44 Matt Greene United States D 461
    (note, however, that Greene hit 200 games away from the Oil)

  15. Hammers says:

    sliderule:
    Hamilton had good wheels as a junior but played a soft game .

    His fatherwas GM for Kelowna rockets and this could have been one of reasons Stu selected him.

    Another second round miss for the oil.

    That’s a bit unfair as I think 82 points in his last year made up there minds . Has he failed ? . Yes miserable but his pick # sort of goes with the points he got .Basically a bust . To far to come back but Pitlick has a chance but only if Nelson pushes him .

  16. Ribs says:

    Lowetide: Yes. Yes there were. they went at #59 and #147.

    So the tiny defenseman and the even tinier forward. I think it’d be a tough sell for the scouting staff even if they were wanting to get either guy.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Ribs: So the tiny defenseman and the even tinier forward. I think it’d be a tough sell for the scouting staff even if they were wanting to get either guy.

    Zucker and Gallager. We’re talking 2010, right?

  18. Ribs says:

    Lowetide: Zucker and Gallager. We’re talking 2010, right?

    Zucker would be the Oilers smallest defenseman and Gallagher is shorter than Rajala.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Ribs: Zucker would be the Oilers smallest defenseman and Gallagher is shorter than Rajala.

    Zucker’s a forward, though. Looks like a player.

  20. sliderule says:

    Hammers,

    He was drafted in 2010.

    He broke his collarbone and played 26 games and got 16 points.

    Definitely one of LTs walkabout picks.

  21. Ribs says:

    Lowetide: Zucker’s a forward, though. Looks like a player.

    Ah…haha. Damn. Yes, of course he is. Not sure who I was thinking of there.

  22. gcw_rocks says:

    In his draft plus one season Hamilton looked like the complete package and his play at the world juniors was inspiring. I, too, can’t understand how all of his offence got left behind. If this kid had kept going, the Oilers would be in a much better place right now. Sigh. Because Oilers…

  23. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    sliderule:
    Hammers,

    He was drafted in 2010.

    He broke his collarbone andplayed 26 games and got 16points.

    Definitely one of LTs walkabout picks.

    Drafted 48th. Ranked 57th.

    http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=7323

    Using Alice I believe walkabout would be to pick him 38 or higher.

  24. Lowetide says:

    Rom Yes. Not a walkabout. Injury history suggested a Mash-about though (sorry).

  25. spoiler says:

    Hamilton was a worthy bet. We’ve all seen other players recover from an injury-filled draft season. Rielly is a recent well-known example. It does add to risk as there is no way to know which players will be affected by injury or which players will be chronically hurt. But this risk can come with great reward. With three picks in the round, I have no troubles with the team taking a bit of a gamble.

    But after the flop, this hand doesn’t look a winner.

    Pitlick might have a small career. He looked like he was swingin on the Stoll tree in his draft year and year + 1. Scouts love his tools. He just can’t seem to put it together to make the dance. He’s a player though where the light might go on and he finds the beat.

  26. spoiler says:

    Pronman had Hamilton 47th and Pitlick at 68.

  27. Young Oil says:

    I don’t mean to sound like too much of a homer, but I don’t think we should totally write off players like Pitlick, Hamilton, and Martindale just yet. The odds are definitely against them, but in theory they should get a bit more playing time this year, and it’s possible that one of them may emerge as a potential NHLer. Rajala essentially came out of nowhere this past year, and not many people expected him to have success. Some of them have had problems with injuries, which made the learning curve for playing with men so much steeper, which has attributed to their struggles. Hopefully one of them can surprise this year in the AHL and earn a second contract.

  28. Captain Smarmy says:

    Had season tickets his last three seasons with the Blades. He was a real good hockey player that worked hard and went to the areas of ice that you score goals. He’d take hits to make plays. Kind of meh shot and passing but I thought there was a player there. I’d have to see what his game looks like in Oklahoma to see if he is doing the same things and it’s just not working at a higher level or his game went to shit.

  29. spoiler says:

    spoiler: Pronman had Hamilton 47th and Pitlick at 68.

    He had Martindale higher than both at 37.

  30. TheOtherJohn says:

    Someone said we are league average in drafting goaltenders. We have drafted a single NHL starting goaltender over the last decade. That seems low.

    Repeatedly Oilers fans talk about how strong our D prospects are. Excepting Marincin and Davidson they have not yet played against men in professional hockey. Put another way: they are exactly where Hamilton and Pitlick were before going to play in OKC. They were “promising” then too. Even quite promising. And at the AHL level you are playing bigger, faster, stronger players at a faster pace. Hamilton,Pitlick & Martindale have all struggled against men

    Maybe Klefbom, Musil, Gernat, Simpson will all flourish with the faster pace against men at the AHL level. Or they’ll struggle. But until we see what they do against men it is kinda hard to reserve NHL roster spots in 14/15 or 15/16 forbthem just yet.

    I do expect Klefbom to flourish at the AHL level

  31. Lowetide says:

    Klefbom has played three seasons in the SEL, widely considered a league of men.

  32. Jordan says:

    Look guys – this isn’t rocket surgery.

    Pitlick, Hamilton & Martindale we all very good picks. Period. Based on the information we had at the time, and the scouts had at the time, the all had some combination of great selling features:

    Shot, Size, skill, speed, hitting. All of them scored at or near PPG in junior. Good bets.

    They were and are exactly what this team needs in its support players.

    Maybe none of them pan out.

    But that doesn’t change the fact they were all very reasonable bets.

    I listed out some of the shit picks this team has taken in over the last 10+ years here a couple days ago. Guys who didn’t have the numbers, the pedigree, the scouting rankings.

    You want to question the drafting? Fine. But don’t go and crap all over the smart bets because they aren’t turning out.

    There’s way worse picks to crap on the scouting staff/management about – ones who actually deserve crapping on.

    Now, if you want to start to question the development, there might be an issue there. But it sure seemed like MP, Harski, Rajala,and Marincin have done a lot with their time there, while Plante, Teubert, Hamilton, Pitlick and Martindale haven’t.

    I remember Eakins saying the most important thing he does is learn his players so he can motivate them individually. If Nelson can learn how to do that from Eakins, I think that might do a lot to push the right buttons on some of those picks who can’t seem to put it all together. It would really do a lot for our development pipeline if some of those big forwards could turn things around.

  33. supernova says:

    I would say this might indicate more of a development flaw.

    Who has the AHL team really sent to the NHL or is close to sending since Todd Nelson took over.
    He has had above average success but I think it’s at the cost of development.

    He has rode on the back of the cheechoo’s, the green’s, the helmer’s, the Danis’.

    But has yet to reasonably develop a single player. His closest are Harti and Rajala. Harti look like he sincerely lacked either motivation or teaching, and Rajala seems like an outlier. Like he is progressing despite everything.

    Not saying Pitlick and Hamilton would have or will make it, but there is serious developmental issues in OKC.

  34. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    supernova,

    I think we’ve gone on the record as giving Nelson credit for Schultz (34 AHL games)*, Petry (43 AHL games), Lander (61 AHL games) and Magnus (72 AHL games)… (to add to your list).

    We should probably also add Marincin, Arco and Fedun as guys who learned some under Nelson.

    *he’s a weird situation, I know… at the end of the day, they all are.

  35. spoiler says:

    TheOtherJohn: Someone said we are league average in drafting goaltenders. We have drafted a single NHL starting goaltender over the last decade. That seems low.

    In the 23 years since drafting Marty Brodeur, the Devils have yet to find another starter. They had to trade a good pick for one. That’s likely the smarter bet. The lore around here for the past few years says that drafting goalies early is a fool’s game. Because they’re such a crapshoot. Mason, Fleury…

  36. DeadmanWaking says:

    supernova: since Todd Nelson took over

    Hall, Eberle, RNH, and JS all came out of OKC looking good. Yakupov, however, was beyond his reach. What other team graduated half their salary cap since 2010-11?

    When MacT trades our 1st for two 2nds in the same draft, Nelson is going to think it’s xmas. I wonder what kind of pick is sous-vide supreme: guaranteed to soak at the farm for a couple of years, to a guaranteed rare, tender perfection. Wait, that’s not quite what I meant. The diehard sousviders finish their thick prime rib morsels with a butane kitchen torch. Magnus, watch out.

    In any case, probably not a goalie. What your farm-coach wants for his resume trophy case is a Smid on speed.

  37. edwards_daddy says:

    Looking at the four forwards taken after Pitlick, ie in the same range, you could argue he is trending better than any of them. Of the four taken after Hamilton, only Jankrok looks a better bet at this moment. Massive season coming up for all these guys.

  38. Dominoiler says:

    I dunno.. I don’t see anything special about Hamilton’s whl stats that suggest he could cover the bet in the nhl.. only his overage season, please correct me if im wrong, was decent (good considering he was coming injury) but why take him based on the injured year and those prior?!.. bust.. pitlick, bust.. one more year to prove that wrong before getting flushed.. (internet commenters can be so harsh, as I am now so heartlessly being.. like LT says, ill cheer like hell for em.. but my reasonable expectation is they get the mighty flush..)

  39. Lowetide says:

    Dominoiler:
    I dunno.. I don’t see anything special about Hamilton’s whl stats that suggest he could cover the bet in the nhl.. only his overage season, please correct me if im wrong, was decent (good considering he was coming injury) but why take him based on the injured year and those prior?!.. bust.. pitlick, bust.. one more year to prove that wrong before getting flushed.. (internet commenters can be so harsh, as I am now so heartlessly being.. like LT says, ill cheer like hell for em.. but my reasonable expectation is they get the mighty flush..)

    Actually, Hamilton was still 19 when he began play in the AHL. He didn’t have a 20-year old season in the WHL.

  40. Dominoiler says:

    Thanks for the correction.. I misunderstood the chart showing a 2010-2011 season, calling it an overage year just cus it was after the 2010 draft (that would have been the next season).. I still tend to think his pre-draft numbers werent that hot..

    Possible he was rushed from junior, because farm team depth (and pisani-like depth) was so low?!.. cus his post injury year is the one that stands out, imo..

  41. supernova says:

    DeadmanWaking,

    How can Nelson get credit for hall, ebs, RNH, and Schultz?

    Hall and Eberle had two seasons of the NHL, and were just playing down there to get busy. RNH was good, and Schultz dominated but also showed signs of being significantly overplayed down there.

    I am not expecting the farm team coach to develop top 6 talent, but we should expect farm team to produce bottom 6 players, solid defenceman and goalies. Maybe he hasn’t had long enough to develop the goalies of D, but he certainly has for the grinder forwards.

  42. supernova says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:
    supernova,

    I think we’ve gone on the record as giving Nelson credit for Schultz (34 AHL games)*, Petry (43 AHL games), Lander (61 AHL games) and Magnus (72 AHL games)… (to add to your list).

    We should probably also add Marincin, Arco and Fedun as guys who learned some under Nelson.

    *he’s a weird situation, I know… at the end of the day, they all are.

    I am not sure I agree with the record.

    I can’t have Schultz on the list, if there wasn’t a lockout he wouldn’t have seen OKC.

    I can agree with Petry..

    Lander has still yet to be proven, I could see an arguement that Renney and Tambo mucked that up, and Nelson has fixed him.

    Magnus is a bit of a different situation. Like you said they all are. The only thing I can see that helped in development for Magnus was more playing time. He wanted to go down there and work on his game. To me this is a player with a great attitude realizing he needs help. Not sure Nelson gets any credit Here because he didnt really develop in any one area, but I can see where you can also give Nelson credit for helping Maggie through a difficult spot.

    I expect bottom 6 players to come from the farm, followed by defence man, then maybe a goalie.

    If these players aren’t coming through the system then we have to trade picks for them ( Smithson, Brown). I feel Nelson has had more than enough time, players and High enough picks that we should have expected more players to be in the system, pushing out the Jones’ and Smyth’s.

    If I was MacT I would have given a significant warning to the pro scouts and to the development system. Most of the hardest spots to fill on a team have been filled, with the exception of a pure #1 defenceman. I am not expecting Nelson to have developed that but I am expecting the bullets in the chamber to come from development to acquire that.

    It is sad to me that at this point a #2 pick in next years draft probably holds more value than almost anyone he has had for more than 50 games.

  43. TheOtherJohn says:

    Lowetide:
    Klefbom has played three seasons in the SEL, widely considered a league of men.

    Klefbom played 67 games in the SEL over 3 season against men. That is slightly more than a single season and over that time period had 7 points. Not sure being injured twice with greatly reduced number of games constitutes full seasons.

  44. Lowetide says:

    TOJ: Quoting your original post: Excepting Marincin and Davidson they have not yet played against men in professional hockey.

    I do not agree. Klefbom played in the SEL, a league of men. As you state, he has played 67 games in the SEL. A league of men.

    Giving Klefbom too much credit for those games is not the right thing to do, but giving him none at all seems equally unfair.

  45. TheOtherJohn says:

    We are both picking our facts.

    You have him playing 3 years in the SEL.. Me 1 year and a bit, albeit most definitely against men. Biggest possitive of the 20 third pairing D men MacT assembled (ok maybe its only 5 or 6) is we can safely park Klefbom in OKC for 4 months. Play him 28 minutes a night– PP, PK. He will be a player at NHL level. . Do not see though, based off of his history, how people see any offense out of him. Ekman Larsson draft +1 9 goals and 28 pts in SEL. OK: 33 games 2 pts draft +1

    I stand by my comments re: our prospect D they are right where Hamilton/Pitlick/Martindale were before playing in minors— promising players. Now they have to step up a level and excell. I think most interesting prospect to watch this year will be to see if Musil can overcome his skating

  46. TheOtherJohn says:

    .Very Interesting.

    I was wrong OEL’s stats were Swe-1 and not the noticeably tougher SEL

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