THE SWEET, MERCIFUL END OF DRAFT WALKABOUT

For many many years, really as long as I can remember, the Edmonton Oilers go walkabout during the middle rounds of the entry draft. Sometimes it’s the 3rd round or 4th, and some years it even starts in the second, but there are countless examples of the club drafting ‘outside normal’ during the top 100 selections. It’s a very big deal, because the odds of one team being smarter than the consensus as often as Edmonton goes walkabout is very low. I understand that by pick #40 or so there are more than three or four ‘possibles’ per selection, but a team should be selecting two recognizable names with their first selections and the third one should be at least vaguely familiar.

Imagine my delight with this year’s edition of the draft! The 2009 Oiler draft remains the cock of the walk walkabout draft:

  • 2009 Troy Hesketh selected #71 overall, unranked even by Central Scouting (the NA list in 2008 was 209 names deep!)
  • 2009 Cameron Abney selected #82 overall, unranked even by Central Scouting (the NA list in 2008 was 209 names deep!)
  • 2009 Kyle Bigos selected #99 overall, ranked #169 by Central Scouting

hesketh Troy Oiler camp Andy Devlin

(Troy Hesketh photo by Andy Devlin)

Over 20 draft picks taken after Hesketh have played in the NHL, including Cody Eakin, Craig Smith, Marcus Foligno, Roman Horak, Tomas Vincour, recently signed Marcus Kruger and Jordan Nolan. Now, it’s a crapshoot in the draft and we know it, but these selections were well outside the consensus and again history suggests taking a guy not ranked on any list at #71 is going to look like a mistake so be absolutely sure. Abney same thing, Bigos same thing although it was at #99 overall so it’s not a mortal sin. What’s a reasonable guess for one actual NHL success when choosing at #71, #82 and #99? 30%? I think we all knew it was going to end badly the day these three were taken. Among the comments on this blog:

  • doritogrande: I don’t like this pick at all. (Hesketh)
  • uni: Why waste a 3rd pick on an enforcer? Aren’t those guys available in numbers in the AHL?  (Abney)
  • Mark-Ryan: I don’t know these players, I can’t say much about them, but there are real players on the board.
  • Lowetide: The concern, as it was with the Coke Machines drafted 00-03, is that the Oilers are doing this extremely early. This fellow should have been available much later in this draft. (Abney)
  • Punjabi Oil: Taking him was just idiotic. Why not take a goalie here? Just idiotic. Words cannot describe how dumb this pick was. Just can’t.

These quotes are taken in the moments after the picks, and perhaps that’s unfair. However, there is no real math argument and again the consensus suggested that these guys (Hesketh and Abney for sure) were not value picks and would have been available at the end of the draft.

Chicago vs. Oklahoma City Barons 4-6-13

(Curtis Hamilton photo courtesy Rob Ferguson)

The 2010 draft boasted no major crimes (Jeremie Blain was taken #91 but had some nice things) and the 2011 entry draft was smooth sailing (biggest incident was Dillon Simpson a Bob McKenzie honorable mention). The 2011 walkabout picks–Gernat, Tuohimaa–were after #100 and long shots that worked to the point of pro contracts so that draft should be considered a success on several levels.

The 2012 draft featured the controversial Mitchell Moroz selection (#32, ranked #56 by McKenzie), but for me one ‘organizational’ pick in a few drafts can be forgiven if the club stays the course for the most part. There are also walkabout selections that appear inspired–Jujhar Khaira was #74NA and taken 63rd–and Erik Gustafsson was unranked and was taken by the club inside the top 100. Those selections appear to be on track, but once again the slipping and sliding of the first 100 picks made itself evident in the Oilers war room. Stay. the. course.

2013 AND CLOSE ENOUGH TO JAZZ!

JONES111

Well. This 2012 edition was a draft that moved the walkabout portion to the walkabout zone–#100 and beyond, where scouts are scouts and the bigwigs are playing Candy Crush Saga on their iphones and yawning. Music!

  • Darnell Nurse at #7–Bob McKenzie #9
  • Marc-Olivier Roy at #56–Bob McKenzie #59
  • Bogdan Yakimov at #83–Pronman #73
  • Anton Slepyshev at #88–Pronman #45
  • Jackson Houck at #94–Pronman #91
  • Kyle Platzer at #96–Pronman #151 (reach)

From that list, only Platzer is a reach, and the Oilers grabbed 5 solid bets inside the top 100. Add that to a crazy grab late (Greg Chase) and the Blue moon’s blue moon (Aidain Muir) and it’s a draft that delivered impressive possibilities.

In the coming days, we’ll look at this year’s prospects but the reality is this: the Oilers made smart bets based on the odds and unless you’re Sam Pollock facing the Oakland Seals you do that all day. ALL day.

Every. Damn. Time.

Remember when Stu MacGregor talked about MacT’s draft emphasis?

MacGregor: “Well with Mac, skill is really important to him. That’s something that he’s looked for. Obviously the other intangibles of character, hard work, quality of people and players who are passionate to play the game are important, but he really has a high regard for skill.

Music. Poetry. Game. Set. Match.

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29 Responses to "THE SWEET, MERCIFUL END OF DRAFT WALKABOUT"

  1. dawgtoy says:

    LT. You’re on fire today buddy. Thanks for all the reading.

  2. Lowetide says:

    dawgtoy:
    LT. You’re on fire today buddy. Thanks for all the reading.

    I’ve actually been writing all this stuff since the draft but needed to finish it up. It’s been a crazy week.

  3. supernova says:

    LT,

    Couple things,

    In your opinion where is it safe to start taking walkabouts? After 100, or just say 5th round and later draft picks?

    In regards to Moroz we do know he went higher than BM and other projected lists but its fair to say that there was easily a few other teams that were also well prepared to take him before mid 2nd round. As the Oilers on the Oil Kings they can really get a good idea on how other teams view the OK’s players.
    Bob Green has commented a few times along these lines. So if the team really wanted a certain player and had more knowledge about where he might go, they essentially new he wouldn’t be there with there next pick. So the decision is more likely along the lines of we have Moroz higher than so and so, so do we take a better value player and risk he will be there, and / or do we discuss with a few other teams acquiring a pick in around 40.

    Hope this makes sense, but I am saying even though they spent a high pick, the scouting department had their guy knew he would be going soon thereafter 32, and didnt want to spend the bullets required to get back in to the following picks, because it likely would have cost them Khairi and a few others.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Supernova: Moroz is a funny item. I was at a golf course the week of that draft and a guy I know said ‘they’re going to take Moroz and they are NOT going to leave it too late.’ And me, I’m thinking ‘well that’s third round’ and said as much here

    F MITCH MOROZ. Oilers drafted Travis Ewanyk in the third round a year ago and Moroz is a similar player going down a similar path. Moroz is not a player who will (likely) find a home on a scoring line but Edmonton Oilers value “energy” on the 4th line and enforcer types. He is a little raw as a player but has enjoyed a nice run during the post-season.

    http://lowetide.ca/blog/2012/06/2012-entry-draft-day-two-stu-and-the-scouts.html

    I agree with everything I said (imagine!) but honestly was shocked they took him at #32. They wanted him, and badly. I’m not certain if this was payback for the scouts for drafting Yakupov (the rumor is that Katz stepped in and made the pick) but it happened just that way.

  5. Rondo says:

    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And say, “Do you want to make a deal?

  6. mustang says:

    LT, I guess it’s safe to say you approve of 2013 draft! I’m with you, I think the Oilers did a very good job placing there bets on the class of 2013. I know a lot of people were upset that the “BOLD” move didn’t happen, but I couldn’t be more happy with MacT so far. I like that he won the day on Belov, another smart bet on his part. I like the signing of Ference, I think his worth will go beyond the ice, hopefully teach these young guys what it takes to win, and he actually has alittle bit of game. Term is to long, but what can you do if you want the guy. I love the trade for Perron, this young man has a lot of talent and I can see him fitting in perfectly with the “Oiler way”, I hope he can stay healthy and make the Blues regret the day the traded him away. I just have a very good feeling about MacT running this club, good days on the horizon!

  7. sliderule says:

    There is lots wrong with oiler amateur scouting.

    The Musil and Simpson picks were driven by oiler connections.

    The Hesketh pick they fired the amateur scout

    The Abney pick was from WHL so Stu must have seen him a lot..I can’t see this pick unless upper management was putting the heat on for tough Lucic types.Familiar refrain?

    In 2012 they picked Moroz way ahead and I am convinced that was Lowes call through his puppet Tambo.Lowe has dumped a lot of good players because they didn’t play to his standard of toughness.

    MacT is his own man and will resist Lowes ideas.This year they have mostly looked for value in their later picks so I give he and Stu credit.

    The amateur scouting requires boots on the ground to watch players and interview players and coaches to determine character which is what in most cases takes them to the next level.

    The oilers need more scouts for the Q,OHL and USHL .these are areas they are not giving proper coverage seeing the number of players drafted from there

  8. Lowetide says:

    Rondo:
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And say, “Do you want to make a deal?

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH how does it feel?????????????????

  9. 99thoilerfan says:

    Good evening LT!

    My Review of MacT YTD

    He has demonstrated that he is not afraid to “Change” the club. In all areas.

    MGT is now using Math ( in that Moneyball / MBA way ) in both selections of UFA and trade targets.
    Looking into the Euro market of Quality, Expanded D depth, and a strong draft. Pass

    He has worked hard at changing the club house, new Head Coach with a new vision, of coaching the players. Also the release of our UFA’s, and trades for older trench worn vets to give the room a new feel / culture with the strong additions via free agency. Pass

    My two cents? New Sheriff in town, and change is good. Pass

  10. Ducey says:

    sliderule:
    There is lots wrong with oiler amateur scouting.

    The Musil and Simpson picks were driven by oiler connections.

    The Hesketh pick they fired the amateur scout

    The Abney pick was from WHL so Stu must have seen him a lot..I can’t see this pick unless upper management was putting the heat on for tough Lucic types.Familiar refrain?

    In 2012 they picked Moroz way ahead and I am convinced that was Lowes call through his puppet Tambo.Lowe has dumped a lot of good players because they didn’t play to his standard of toughness.

    MacT is his own man and will resist Lowes ideas.This year they have mostly looked for value in their later picks so I give he and Stu credit.

    The amateur scouting requires boots on the ground to watch players and interview players and coaches to determine character which is what in most cases takes them to the next level.

    The oilers need more scouts for the Q,OHL and USHL .these are areas they are not giving proper coverage seeing the number of players drafted from there

    Lots of speculation there. Perhaps too much.

    I expect that the Oilers give the priority to the WHL as those kids are from western Canada, are used to winter, and are familiar with long travel. You have a better chance of them staying in EDM once they reach UFA status.

    You will note that MacT said he spent lots of time scouting including US college. I expect they scouted there plenty.

    This year they took 3 WHL guys, 2 OHL, 1 QMJHL, 2 Russians, and 2 guys going to college. They seemed to get around plenty.

  11. FastOil says:

    I have to agree that MacT has improved drafting. The draft has to be about skill, IQ, desire (character) and odds (reasonably projected to reach an NHL size or score 200 pts in junior).

    I’ll put this out – I think the OIlers are two significant trades away from being a playoff team that could do damage. This summer is a very unusual occurrence with regard to the cap. It will not likely occur again until the next CBA comes in. I believe there are deals to be made that will be less expensive than going forward because of cap pressure, similar to Perron.

    My thinking is

    Coburn, Couturier, Meszaros for D man, Lander, pick and/or prospect or along those lines. Holmgren wants to ditch Mesz and that would motivate him. Buy out Mesz or find a place for him if he’s not crippled after all of those injuries. Benefit to the Flyers is cap relief.

    Phaneuf, Kulemin for Hemsky (25% retained), D man, pick and/or prospect or along those lines. Benefit to the Leafs is also cap relief (about 2.05M) and changing players they don’t like for all of the wrong reasons.

    The Oilers will be right under the cap but injuries should ease some room back up. They have no great prospect forwards in the system and have given up picks, but for a year or two they don’t need them, they have graduated enough to the NHL. D prospects are deep so draft a lot of goalies for a while, time to deal high picks and get to the post season with a deep and balanced team.

  12. supernova says:

    Lowetide:
    Supernova: Moroz is a funny item. I was at a golf course the week of that draft and a guy I know said ‘they’re going to take Moroz and they are NOT going to leave it too late.’ And me, I’m thinking ‘well that’s third round’ and said as much here

    F MITCH MOROZ. Oilers drafted Travis Ewanyk in the third round a year ago and Moroz is a similar player going down a similar path. Moroz is not a player who will (likely) find a home on a scoring line but Edmonton Oilers value “energy” on the 4th line and enforcer types. He is a little raw as a player but has enjoyed a nice run during the post-season.

    http://lowetide.ca/blog/2012/06/2012-entry-draft-day-two-stu-and-the-scouts.html

    I agree with everything I said (imagine!) but honestly was shocked they took him at #32. They wanted him, and badly. I’m not certain if this was payback for the scouts for drafting Yakupov (the rumor is that Katz stepped in and made the pick) but it happened just that way.

    Love it!

    I have really started putting people ( fans, players, bloggers) in a couple of categories
    1) seen him love him
    2) fancy stats
    3) I think I love him but what do the fancy stats say on him

    I currently live in Medicine Hat the past few years but travel Alberta, and Saskatchewan frequently for work. I have also lived in Edmonton, Calgary, and close to Red deer. As a fan of hockey, I feel privileged to Watch NHL hockey when I have lived in Edmonton, and Calgary. As well as junior hockey in both these markets and the other ones as well. I have seen a lot of junior hockey games the last few years, and I tend to be in the third category ( I love the player but what do the fancy stats say)

    Moroz really fell into the category of the first one by the scouts. At most of the Medicine Hat games I attend I love being where the scouts are. It is a small barn, and it is an absolute privilege to chat with these people. Probably one of the pure joys I have had in watching sports. I have grown to have an appreciation of how hard their jobs are. I spent many a game right where the scouts are, and all i can say is the scouts loved Moroz, absolutely loved him. I am not just talking about one team, or one time. At games when Moroz wasn’t there, scouts would almost inevitably start talking about Moroz. Don’t get me wrong no one was touting him as a first round pick, but the western scouts loved him.

    This doesn’t excuse the high use of a pick on him, but if it wasn’t the oilers soon after it was going to be another team. Some might say it should have been another team, but I truly believe apart of management is listening to your scouts.

    Like you said this was probably management throwing the scouting staff a bone after the Katz pick of Yakupov, but there probably would have been at least a half dozen other teams stepping up and selecting him as well.

    All in all I think we agree on this, and it is great to exchange stories.

  13. cabbiesmacker says:

    Yay. A “real” hottie in an LT posting. Woot.

    About time ya bastidge.

    I believe she’s from Lashburn.

  14. sliderule says:

    Ducey,

    Some of it is speculation some of it is from close to the bone.

    The scouting staff only has one scout for Q with one OHL scout assisting.They have no full time scout for USHL .MacT admitted he had not seen Roy play so our second round pick probably didn’t have eyes on him other than the Q scout.Adding scouting staff is cheap compared to other team costs

    The Lowe stuff is from close to the bone

  15. supernova says:

    sliderule:
    Ducey,

    Some of it is speculation some of it is from close to the bone.

    The scouting staff only has one scout for Q with one OHL scout assisting.They have no full time scout for USHL .MacT admitted he had not seen Roy play so our second round pick probably didn’t have eyes on him other than the Q scout.Adding scouting staff is cheap compared to other team costs

    The Lowe stuff is from close to the bone

    sliderule,

    Have to agree with Ducey on the fact that one of the reasons they draft more from the WHL is because of sign ability, long and short term.

    It is relatively cheap to add scouts, I personally think the oilers could add a couple of scouts in Europe that can work on both the amateur and pro side.

  16. RexLibris says:

    Scouting is R&D. And an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to the draft.

    In terms of Hockey Operations I don’t believe it is necessarily the cheapest area of expenditure, but it can often be one of the first ones cut when budgets get tight.

    That MacTavish is bringing in the mathletes to help identify talent in both pro and amateur ranks is a product of someone confident enough in his own abilities to know his limitations and (hopefully) surround himself with intelligent people who can bring something else to the table.

  17. supernova says:

    RexLibris,

    Adding scouts is much cheaper then covering your mistakes in free agency.

    What would X drafted player cost as opposed to acquiring on the free agent market.

    I believe NHL teams are turning to this way of thinking as the free agent market has less and less players Hitting it every year. Draft and develop your own, trade for what you don’t have, sign a free agent that might put you over the top.

    Spending an extra 300k on a couple of scouts and expenses, will likely save you a couple of million a few years down the road.

  18. Henry says:

    To me the Slepyshev pick shows the balls in the org and their direction. At #88 it is a crapshoot and they took the guy who has real promise to be a Bondra. The challenge is to convince him to come and learn the North American game, it will be fun to see if they can do it. Especially after Omark’s experience. New regime though.

  19. commonfan14 says:

    I really want the Flyers to sign Penner just so I can read about 1,000 comments on what we might be able to send Philly to get both him and Couturier.

  20. Young Oil says:

    Lowetide,

    Thanks for all the great reading, especially when you are so busy! If there ever is a time when you aren’t busy (which is probably never, I know!), it would be really neat to see your opinion on what Oiler prospects you think could potentially make WJC teams this year! Nurse? Roy? Khaira? Slepyshev and Yakimov? Chase or Moroz as bottom 6 players? Oiler representation at the WJC was pretty sparse last year, and the WJC is by far my favorite tournament, and it’s even more interesting when there are Oiler prospects there. Keep up the great work though!

  21. Oilanderp says:

    I feel uncomfortable.

  22. Ducey says:

    http://blogs.buffalonews.com/sabres/2013/07/darcy-speaks.html

    As with every chat with Regier, the topic of Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek came up again and the response was much the same. Asked if he’s getting resigned to the fact he may have both of them at training camp, Regier said, “I think that’s fair. The nature of this business is that as we move through July lineups get more and more settled, there’s less movement. Once training camp starts, things begin to change some again.”

    Regier said most conversations he’s had with other GMs involve taking in money, a clear reference to the fact the Sabres aren’t likely to be able to move the entire contract of either Vanek or Miller in a year the salary cap is shrinking to $64.3 million.

    Regier said there’s been no negotiations with Miller, Vanek or fellow 2014 UFA Steve Ott. “Talking to my counterparts around the league, that’s not unusual right now,” he said. “For whatever reason, there’s not a lot of activity on players that are going to become unrestricted in ’14.”

    Sounds like there is not a lot going on.

  23. Ryan says:

    99thoilerfan,

    Yeah, one of the funniest things about Tyler’s blog (over the past several years) is that it sort of reminded me of a SETI project, except that he was looking for signs of intelligent life within the Oilers management.

    This year, the Oilers seemed to have realized that the Gagner line was a black hole of puck possession and what do they do? They go out and trade for Perron who just happens to have great puck possession stats to play on that line.

    As for Mact, no wonder he covets skill. If you played NHL hockey for a Mact coached hockey team and you had high-end skill, your name is Ales Hemsky. That’s pretty much it.

  24. sliderule says:

    Young Oil,

    The summer camp tryout list is out and only oiler to make the camp is Nurse.

    Unless Roy or others knock your socks off in first couple of months that’s it for Canada.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Young Oil:
    Lowetide,

    Thanks for all the great reading, especially when you are so busy! If there ever is a time when you aren’t busy (which is probably never, I know!), it would be really neat to see your opinion on what Oiler prospects you think could potentially make WJC teams this year! Nurse? Roy? Khaira? Slepyshev and Yakimov? Chase or Moroz as bottom 6 players?Oiler representation at the WJC was pretty sparse last year, and the WJC is by far my favorite tournament, and it’s even more interesting when there are Oiler prospects there. Keep up the great work though!

    Well, Nurse was a big part of the U17 so I’d guess he’ll get a chance to make the team. He’s the only Oilers on the summer invite list
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=675599

  26. Lowetide says:

    And Sliderule beats me to it!

  27. gcw_rocks says:

    Dreaming in technicolour. Zykov is going to get more points in his NHL career than the 5 guys the Oilers got for him combined.

  28. skidplate says:

    gcw_rocks:
    Dreaming in technicolour.Zykov is going to get more points in his NHL career than the 5 guys the Oilers got for him combined.

    Thanks for that GCW. Can you let me know who wins the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup next year? I would really like to get my debt taken care of.

    Thanks in advance.

    Oh ya, you forgot to say Book It.

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