ENTRY DRAFT ’14: OILERS AND THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND

The Edmonton Oilers have been avoiding Finland the last couple of seasons. Their dual investment in goaltenders during the 2011 draft (Perhonen and Tuohimaa) are the last Finnish picks, and the club has chosen 17 players since then. It’s hard to imagine an Oilers organization with no Finns, but we’re close.

NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/FINISH PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL

  • 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 9 from Finland
  • 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 9 from Finland
  • 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 10 from Finland
  • 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 7 from Finland
  • 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 7 from Finland
  • 2008 NHL draft,  211 total players, 6 from Finland
  • FINAL TALLY: 1265 total players, 48 from Finland
  • PERCENTAGE: 3.8%

OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/FINLAND PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL

  • 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 0 from Finland
  • 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from Finland
  • 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 2 from Finland
  • 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 0 from Finland
  • 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from Finland
  • 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 1 from Finland
  • FINAL TALLY: 49 total players, 4 from Finland
  • PERCENTAGE: 8.2%

The Oilers have drafted a higher than average number of players from Finland over the last 5 years, 8% of their own total and 8% of all Finns. The problem? They’re picking the wrong guys, although Toni Rajala (cover photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved) was sent away far too early.

THE FOUR FINNS

  • Teemu Hartikainen had a fine year in Russia (NHLE: 82, 20-23-43). I have no idea if Toronto values him as a potential NHL player, but I think he could have a career in the league, given the right opportunity. He’ll play with Ufa (KHL) again this coming season.
  • Toni Rajala had an excellent year in Sweden (NHLE: 82, 22-30-52). He’ll play in Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk (KHL) next season.
  • Samu Perhonen struggled with the Indiana Ice this past season. I haven’t read anything about his future.
  • Frans Tuohimaa appears to be building a solid pro resume. He’s played in the SM-Liiga for a couple of years, but not well enough to earn a starting job. His quick glove was on display in Oklahoma territory for one game this season, and perhaps he’ll settle in as a minor leaguer in the Oilers system for a couple of years as he learns the pro game.

TOP PLAYERS FROM FINLAND, 2014 DRAFT

  1. R Kasperi Kapanen—Has a nice range of skills, average showing at U-18′s may hurt.
  2. G Ville Husso—My choice for Oilers draft pick at G this year. Stupid stupid numbers. He’ll be long gone.
  3. L Juho Lammikko—Intelligent two-way winger with size. I love his Elite Prospects scouting report.
  4. G Kaapo Kahkonen—A big Finnish goalie, numbers are solid.
  5. R Juuso Ikonen—Liked him a year ago, like him still. Small and skilled.
  6. D Eetu Sopanen—He’s massive, 6.05 225 pounds, just turned 18. Worth a pick, don’t know where.
  7. L Hannes Bjorninen—Nice numbers, nice size. Massive step up year over year.
  8. C Teemu Lamsa—6.03, 201 and a 1996 born, he’s a center and has some skill.
  9. D Ville Vainola—Lean defender with some skill and an awesome name.

I like them all, Finns are awesome. Husso would be a real nice get, and I like the sounds of Lammikko too.

THE TOUCH LIST

Years ago, Kevin Prendergast (I think it was him) mentioned a ‘touch list’ to Guy Flaming. It’s (apparently) a list kept by the scouting director of ‘guys we really like who may not be high on anyone’s list’—I would compare it directly to baseball’s ‘draft and follow’ players. They may not be enough to warrant a pick now, but maybe a year down the road. Like if the Oilers had chosen Edgars Kulda with the Evan Campbell selection a year ago, that kind of thing.

I have a few chapters to go in this exercise (USHL, Czech, NCAA) but wanted to create a ‘touch list’ of players I like who may never be drafted. Just for fun, to see if we can think along with NHL scouts. You’re welcome to add to the list, history tells us the commentors  (commenters? commentors? hell if i know) posters on this blog have been right many times.

  • R Juuso Ikonen—Liked him a year ago, like him still. Small and skilled.
  • L Leon Bristedt—Remarkable offensive prospect, small and one assumes hunchback since no one talks about him.
  • R Yegor Korshkov: Tall, lanky scoring winger who has played on some National teams.
  • D Alexey Sleptsov—Two-way Russian defenseman playing in Moose Jaw.
  • L Edgars Kulda—Sure, looks obvious now.
  • R Rourke Chartier—Don’t know a thing about him, but he scored in a strong league and that’s a crazy cool name.
  • D Matt Murphy—Nice boxcars, works with my theory that guys with pedestrian names have a harder time getting noticed.
  • R Hampus Olsson—He’s a monster.
  • D Nilita Tryamkin—He’s an even bigger monster.

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22 Responses to "ENTRY DRAFT ’14: OILERS AND THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND"

  1. Lowetide says:

    Paul Almeida ‏@AzorcanGlobal 57s

    On @SportsExtra1260 this today at noon with @Lowetide_ & @connorhalley on @TSN1260 we have a great show for you! #NHLDraft2014 #FifaWorldCup

  2. Henry says:

    What I’ve said in previous years is still true. I can’t thank you enough for your draft analysis LT. I haven’t lived near junior hockey for a lot of years. While the draft experts like RLR and Pronmann are nice, I think I look at the kids more like you and other less official experts here do. It’s great to know a bit about who the guys are when the names come up next month.

  3. Henry says:

    Lammikko looks like a good reason to have or get a 3rd round selection.

  4. justDOit says:

    Today I learned: Virtanen isn’t a Finn.

    Also, this is somewhat puzzling:

    Follow

    Mike Prisuta
    ‏@DVEMike
    According to multiple sources, Pierre McGuire has been telling associates he’ll be in Pittsburgh today/tonight for 2nd GM interview w/Pens

  5. thejonrmcleod says:

    I saw Matt Murphy in Halifax this season. He showed lots of improvement over the previous season. He doesn’t do anything at an amazing level, but he’s solid. I’m afraid to speak too highly of him because I might be biased since he plays for Halifax and is from Fredericton (my home town).

  6. thejonrmcleod says:

    justDOit,

    I hear that McGuire is awesome in the interview room, able to outwit, out-know, and out-monster all other candidates.

    http://articles.courant.com/1994-05-21/sports/9405210429_1_pierre-mcguire-whalers-general-manager-paul-holmgren

  7. justDOit says:

    thejonrmcleod,

    Thanks for that link – I didn’t know/remember he coached the Whalers.

    A small quote from that article:

    Once when he was an assistant coach, McGuire bragged about his strategy to shut down Mario Lemieux. This was after a 7-3 loss and four goals by Kevin Stevens.

    On the bench, players said McGuire would taunt the other team, saying he couldn’t believe the opposing coach was allowing him certain line matchups. This braggadocio led Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr to mock McGuire in December. McGuire got Jagr for an illegal stick, and after Jagr jumped out of the penalty box, he scored on a breakaway. Although he had scored big goals in two Stanley Cup championships, Jagr called this overtime goal the biggest of his life because he humbled “that know-it-all.”

  8. Lowetide says:

    thejonrmcleod:
    Crickets.

    Oilers fans don’t love the Finns anymore.

  9. spoiler says:

    In a weaker draft, a guy like Chartier could well go in the later rounds. They’re expecting more over-agers to be picked this year, so I don’t see why a pretty average draft year guy can’t get selected.

    Because of the weakness of this draft, I wonder if the trading-Gagner-for-picks option would be better served by sending him out for 2015 picks?

  10. theres oil in virginia says:

    Lowetide: Oilers fans don’t love the Finns anymore.

    We love them so much, we just…just don’t know what to say…all choked up…dusty in here?

  11. spoiler says:

    Speaking of Finnish, I wonder if Buffalo are still Bullish on Joel Armia?

    His goals-assists ratio kind of flipped on its head in his first year playing for Rochester. Averaged .5 points per game as a 20 year old (turned 21 today). He was an absolute Corsi machine in Finland, crazy shot totals for a kid playing against men.

    He could be suffering from a bit of an adjustment period, or perhaps less TOI. I liked him in his draft year and he’s had two pretty good years out of three since then. With a bit of a down arrow this year, I wonder if Buff would be interested in Gagner for Armia?

    More Finns!

  12. Jordan says:

    thejonrmcleod:
    Crickets.

    Yeah, there’s the rub alright.

    More excitement when the Oilers get some better Fins.

    Joel Arnia might be a reasonable target.

    I can’t help but wonder though about what’s going on in Buffalo. Clearly they have some nice picks this year, but its a weak year, and no matter who they draft, they still need A LOT on their NHL Roster. Not sure Gagner is a piece they’d be interested in, but I suppose it’s possible.

    Don’t much like the theory of trading NHLers for Futures though – there would need to be a lot more than just Arnia coming back to make that reasonable from an Oilers perspective.

  13. spoiler says:

    Jordan: there would need to be a lot more than just Arnia coming back to make that reasonable from an Oilers perspective.

    I think we have to resign ourselves to a disappointing outcome. As Lowetide has discussed, the likely outcome is a couple of picks replacing the missing ones in this draft. Myself, I’d rather get a guy like Armia who is a little older than whomever we get from the picks. And he’s a Finn. The picks might not be, lol.

    I’d be okay with someone like Adam Larsson too. That sort of player. Someone with good pedigree from a recent draft that might be under-valued by their parent club.

    Ideally I’d rather have an actual NHL player too. I don’t know why the Isles would want Gagner, but Brock Nelson would be high on my list. I like LT’s NHL guy from yesterday, Colin Wilson, better than draft picks or prospects. And if we’re really blue-skying, Chris Stewart or Roman Josi. But I think it very unlikely those deals are going to happen.

  14. bendelson says:

    spoiler: I think we have to resign ourselves to a disappointing outcome.As Lowetide has discussed, the likely outcome is a couple of picks replacing the missing ones in this draft.Myself, I’d rather get a guy like Armia who is a little older than whomever we get from the picks. And he’s a Finn. The picks might not be, lol.

    I’d be okay with someone like Adam Larsson too.That sort of player.Someone with good pedigree from a recent draft that might be under-valued by their parent club.

    Ideally I’d rather have an actual NHL player too. I don’t know why the Isles would want Gagner, but Brock Nelson would be high on my list. I like LT’s NHL guy from yesterday, Colin Wilson, better than draft picks or prospects.

    Adam Larsson, Brock Nelson or the more established Colin Wilson would be wonderfully surprising. As you say, actual NHL hockey players.

    Staying with the same teams, more realistic might be an Anders Lee or an Austin Watson type plus a 3rd/4th rd pick. I’d place similiar value on Armia.

    Not wonderful value given they haven’t established anything in the NHL but… if the decision is made to move Gagner period – then we get what we get.

  15. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide: Oilers fans don’t love the Finns anymore.

    Only the dumb ones.

  16. Barcs says:

    Adam Larsson would be the ideal return we can expect for Gagner, I think. Larsson risk/reward versus Gagner being more established with what he is, with possibly some room to grow. Oilers could very well win that trade going away if Larsson finds his game. I doubt Lou would make a deal like that, though.

    I would be quite happy with Colin Wilson, and it looks like a good fit. Gagner has way more offense, but Wilson has some more size and solid defensive acumen. It’s a safer trade in that we more or less know what we’re getting.

    I’m hoping for one of these, but am prepared to be underwhelmed.

  17. spoiler says:

    If we were to consider the scenario where Gagner is going to be traded for picks, and there’s some strong arguments for that happening, then the Oil must have a plan in place for 2C.

    That plan has limited options:
    1. Arcobello
    2. Have a trade in place for a 2C prior to moving Gagner

    If they are planning, actually planning… they couldn’t possibly be relying on signing a UFA, after already trading 89.

    Then they are risking the uncertainty of the market–whether or not they can actually sign someone who fits, over other competing teams. They can’t risk coming away from UFA Frenzy with no valid 2nd line centre, can they? They’re also risking their target’s agent using their weak bargaining position to bend them over. These things don’t seem like the kind of things one actually plans to do.

    Now if a UFA is the target and you have one in mind and believe you have a good chance of signing him, don’t you need to find out before trading Gagner and send a 7th out for their rights? Which would come under #2 above.

    That deal would have to happen pretty soon. If it doesn’t, I can’t see targeting an upcoming UFA player as their plan. If it doesn’t, then we have to believe that the 3rd overall pick is heavily in play.

    Or they’re not trading Gagner at the draft. The two deals, Gagner for picks and replacing him with a UFA signing, seem mutually exclusive to me.

    Trading the 3rd overall fits with trying to acquire more picks. It also makes sense that if you are ever going to give up a top 10 pick, you do it in a weak draft. But it’s still a 3rd overall.

    I found that Philly rumour the other day very believable (maybe the Oil have to add a prospect dman or something). Because it fits with trading 89 at the draft. Now that Hextall is GM though, maybe the alleged deal is off and if that’s the case, they will have to hang onto Gagner till a replacement is found. And maybe we get an actual NHL player in return.

  18. RISTOOOOO SILTANEN!!!! says:

    Long time reader (5/6 years?) first time poster.

    We’d be playing road hockey and whenever we’d wind up with a monster (it looked that way to us anyway) slapshot, we’d all yell “RISTOOOOO SILTANEN!!!!”. Nine times out of ten it’d go wide and whoever made the shot would have to go chase the ball. It was ALWAYS worth it.

    Given the blog post, this seemed as good as time as any to finally register. I probably won’t post much, but when I do, I’ll probably miss the net as often as my shots did.

  19. Lowetide says:

    RISTOOOOO SILTANEN!!!!:
    Long time reader (5/6 years?) first time poster.

    We’d be playing road hockey and whenever we’d wind up with a monster (it looked that way to us anyway) slapshot, we’d all yell “RISTOOOOO SILTANEN!!!!”. Nine times out of ten it’d go wide and whoever made the shot would have to go chase the ball. It was ALWAYS worth it.

    Given the blog post, this seemed as good as time as any to finally register. I probably won’t post much, but when I do, I’ll probably miss the net as often as my shots did.

    Awesome introduction. I loved Risto Siltanen, used to go to the Oiler games mostly just to hear that “sound” he’d make when missing the net but punishing the boards. Hell, he wasn’t very tall but good lord the man could shoot the puck.

  20. RISTOOOOO SILTANEN!!!! says:

    Lowetide,

    Thanks LT for that and the blog. I have always enjoyed the thinking, commentary and community here. It’s a little piece of Edmonton to hang onto while in Calgary.

    I vaguely remember the booming of the shot. Could be memory playing tricks on me. We just had players we thought were awesome …couldn’t tell you why, just thought they were. Now I’m getting a better understanding of the game.

    I’ll be watching close for the next Edmonton nostalgia thread.

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