Oiler fans are fixated on timelines for Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, but the real story is behind them and involves names like Taylor Chorney, Alex Plante and Danny Syvret. If we take a photo of a draft cluster—let’s say 2004 through 2007—how many times did the Oilers miss in an area of the draft they should have hit?
THE BLUE, DRAFTS 2004 THROUGH 2007
- Roman Tesluik, 2nd rd (#44) 2004: Barely made it out of junior hockey played 24 ECHL games before disappearing into the ether.
- Taylor Chorney, 2nd rd (#36) 2005: Has played 61 NHL games and remains undersized for NHL defense. There was a small window after the lockout where NHL men were convinced smaller, quicker defensemen who lacked the physical elements would win the day. Actually, the jobs went to the larger, quicker defensemen and Chorney has been a minor leaguer as a pro (save the 61 games).
- Danny Syvret, 3rd rd (#81) 2005: He was a famous junior player and was older, perhaps thought to be closer to NHL ready. These long years later he’s played in 59 NHL games and is an AHL mainstay.
- Jeff Petry, 2nd rd (#45) 2006: The home run in the group, although the organization seems to be turning on him so he may end up being thrown down the Poti-Gilbert slide. Petry’s arrival in the NHL included NCAA development and some AHL time, which should be the template for these defensemen as they journey to the NHL.
- Theo Peckham, 3rd rd (#75) 2006: Another solid pick, he’s in trouble as a prospect now but someone will give him an NHL chance again. 160 NHL games with the Oilers, I’m surprised he didn’t establish himself with Edmonton and that’s a loss for the organization.
- Alex Plante, 1st rd (#15) 2007: This is the kill shot for the development team, the one that got Prendergast bumped out the door (well to a new position and then out) and caused the current scouting group. 10 NHL games from a defenseman in the middle of round one is not close to good enough, and I do know he had concussion problems. However, he was a project, had skating and mobility issues and there were cries at the time about this being a poor pick. And that’s not on the player, he didn’t ask to get picked at 15, that’s on the team.
That’s a first rounder, 3 second rounders and 2 third round selections in a four year draft cluster.
MACGREGOR 2009 THROUGH 2012
- Troy Hesketh, 3rd rd (#71) 2009: A poor pick, he’s the tall tree from Minnetonka who (as far as we know) still grows there.
- Martin Marincin, 2nd rd (#46) 2010: Made his NHL debut this week, tracking better than any of the 2004-07 group not named Petry/Peckham. The first of this cluster to make the NHL, taken about the same time as Tesluik and Petry.
- Oscar Klefbom, 1st rd (#19) 2011: Tracking well until this season, and the North American style seems to have thrown him a curve. The hype on Klefbom was so strong it’s hard to imagine there’s no player here, but we’re going to have to wait on him.
- David Musil, 2nd rd (#31) 2011: Picked around the same time as Taylor Chorney and there are about as many questions about Musil. He’s got size and a mean streak, but the skating issues may mean he’ll fall short of the goal.
That’s a first rounder, 2 second rounders and a third round selection in a four year cluster. I think MacGregor’s group did a much better job, and the Klefbom v Plante matchup could be a lopsided comp but then again Petry-Marincin could be just as lopsided the other way.
The point is this: When we talk about Stu MacGregor’s drafts, we should discuss the sins of 2004-07, and he was part of that scouting department so that’s fair. However, if we’re looking for Marincin and Klefbom to step in and play like they were 2007 drafts (the best D that year: Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, PK Subban) we’re pissing in the wind.
The 2009 draft (the Hesketh draft) hasn’t established itself yet, let alone 2010-2012. If the Edmonton Oilers are looking to get better on defense any time soon, it’ll be via trade or free agency. The kids are developing but aren’t going to help push the river for years.