One of the things we should probably spend more time on—and in case you haven’t noticed there’s a long rain delay going on in this ballgame—is when picks occur, and what happened around them. Take as an example the 2010 entry draft’s second round. It’s interesting because the sheer number of picks gave Edmonton an enormous chance to add multiple players to their young cluster, to the rebuild. After four seasons, here’s how things are going:
- No. 31: R Tyler Pitlick, Edmonton. 39GP, 8-14-22 AHL plus 10 NHL games. Injuries! Has a chance to make it.
- No. 32: R Jared Knight, Boston. 58GP, 5-14-19 AHL, has not appeared in the NHL. Injuries have had an impact.
- No. 33: L John McFarland, Florida. 45GP, 10-14-24 AHL, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 34: L Dalton Smith, Columbus. 69GP, 6-6-12 AHL, no NHL. Was traded this season.
- No. 35: L Ludvig Rensfeldt, Chicago. 47GP, 7-7-14 Swe-1, no NHL. Massive season in 12-13, down arrow this year.
- No. 36: D Alex Petrovic, Florida. 43GP, 2-11-13 AHL plus 7 games (13 total now) in the NHL. About where Pitlick is imo.
- No. 37: D Justin Faulk, Carolina. 76GP, 5-27-32 NHL, at 180 NHL games and counting. A home run selection.
- No. 38: D Jon Merrill, New Jersey. 52GP, 2-9-11 NHL, at 52 NHL games and counting. Rookie seems to be on his way.
- No. 39: R Brett Bulmer, Minnesota. 43GP, 11-8-19 AHL, plus 5 games (14 total now) in the NHL. About where Pitlick is imo.
- No. 40: R Christian Thomas, New York. 55GP, 11-16-27 AHL, plus 2 games (3 total now) in the NHL. About where Pitlick is imo.
I think that’s fair. In the first 10 picks of the second round, we have a clear hit (Faulk), an emerging player (Merrill) and then four guys who are fringe NHL players with a chance to have a career: Pitlick, Petrovic, Bulmer, Thomas. I don’t think it’s fair to discount Knight and the rest, there’s one season to go before the five year rule kicks in, and injuries have impacted them to this point.
- No. 41: D Patrik Nemeth, Dallas. 37GP, 3-7-10 plus 8 NHL games. Played his first NHL games this season.
- No. 42: L Devante Smith-Pelly, Anaheim. 55GP, 27-16-43 AHL, plus 19 (now 75) games in the NHL. He’s going to have an NHL career.
- No. 43: L Brad Ross, Toronto. 53GP, 6-4-10 AHL, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 44: R Sebastian Wannstrom, St. Louis. 37GP, 5-5-10, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 45: R Ryan Spooner, Boston. 49GP, 11-35-46, 23 (now 27) games in the NHL. Has a solid shot at an NHL career.
- No. 46: D Martin Marincin, Edmonton. 24GP, 3-4-7 and 44 NHL games this year. Rookie seems to be on his way.
- No. 47: R Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles. 62GP, 12-17-29, at 72 NHL games and counting. This is an NHL player.
- No. 48: L Curtis Hamilton, Edmonton. 43GP, 8-8-16, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 49 G Calvin Pickard, Colorado. 43GP, 2.85 .906 in the AHL, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 50 L Connor Brickley, Florida. 35GP, 5-10-15 in the NCAA, he played 8 AHL games. Pro career just underway.
The second set of ten offers three emerging players: Smith-Pelly, Marincin and Toffoli. Edmonton gets in on the fun with their second pick in the round, but their third pick of the round is one of the ‘off the pace’ selections in the group (Curtis Hamilton). Among the first 20 selections in this round, which is now four years old, 11 have played at least one NHL game.
- No. 51 C Calle Jarnkrok, Detroit. 57GP, 13-23-36, and 12 NHL games. Has a solid shot at a career, in Nashville now.
- No. 52 R Phil Lane, Phoenix. 39GP, 3-3-6, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 53 D Mark Alt, Carolina. 75GP, 4-22-26, has not appeared in an NHL game. Shows some promise.
- No. 54 D Justin Holl, Chicago. 39GP, 1-12-13 in NCAA, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 55 R Petr Straka, Columbus. 60GP, 9-18-27 AHL, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 56 R Johan Larsson, Minnesota. 51GP, 15-26-41 AHL and 29 NHL games. Rookie seems to be on his way, now in Buffalo.
- No. 57 C Oscar Lindberg, Phoenix. 75GP, 18-26-44 AHL, has not appeared in an NHL game.
- No. 58 G Kent Simpson, Chicago. 31GP, 3.64 .891 and 1 NHL game. Had a wobbly season.
- No. 59 L Jason Zucker, Minnesota. 22GP 8-5-13 AHL and 47 NHL games. Seems to be on his way.
- No. 60 D Stephen Johns, Chicago. 40GP, 8-12-20 NCAA and 8 AHL games. Pro career just underway.
The third set offers another emerging player (Zucker) and three more who have at least played in the NHL during the four years after they were draft. It’s interesting to see that a few of these young men have just begun their pro careers.
2010 NHL DRAFT, SECOND ROUND, BY NHL GAME PLAYED
- Justin Faulk 180
- Devante Smith-Pelly 75
- Tyler Toffoli 72
- Jon Merrill 52
- Jason Zucker 47
- Martin Marincin 44
- Johan Larsson 29
- Ryan Spooner 27
- Brett Bulmer 14
- Alex Petrovic 13
- Calle Jarnkrok 12
- Tyler Pitlick 10
- Patrick Nemeth 8
- Christian Thomas 3
- Kent Simpson 1
Half of this round has played at least one game, six have played more than half of a regular season, and Justin Faulk has played over 2 full seasons in the NHL. Interesting players here, and some of the assets have been moved to help their teams push into the playoffs.
The fifteen players who have not played in the NHL fall into three categories:
- Players who are still progressing but have not arrived yet (Calvin Pickard, Mark Alt, Oscar Lindberg).
- Players who are not progressing (Jared Knight, John McFarland, Dalton Smith, Ludvig Rensfeldt, Brad Ross, Sebastian Wannstrom, Curtis Hamilton, Phil Lane, Petr Straka)
- Players who are just starting their pro careers (Connor Brickley, Justin Holl, Stephen Johns)
THE BOB MCKENZIE LIST AFTER ROUND ONE (WHAT WAS LEFT)
In order to find fault with the Oilers draft (imo) you’d need to see the team draft a Jesse Niinimaki—someone so far out of range it would be ridiculous. There was still a lot of draft value on the board in round two. I like to use Bob McKenzie’s rankings for these back pages glances, they are consensus and from the industry. Here are the leftovers after round one:
- No. 22 Jon Merrill went to NJD at 38. Great value pick, and it paid off.
- No. 25 Tyler Pitlick went to EDM at 31. Value, it has not paid off to this point.
- No. 27 Tyler Toffoli went to LAK at 47. Fabulous value pick, it has paid off.
- No. 28 John McFarland went to FLA at 33. Value pick, it has not paid off to this point.
- No. 30 Justin Faulk went to CAR at 37. Value pick, paid off in a home run.
There are a couple of points to be made here. First, the Oilers were risk averse in the first pick of round two, but it didn’t pay off. I’d rather see a team fail that way than the Niinimaki route. We don’t often blame development after draft, because it’s a tough thing to prove, but the early grad to pro, the injuries and the sparse playing time early in the AHL retarded progress. I would say, looking back, that Pitlick’s offense (NHLE: 82gp, 11-6-17) should have been (and was) a concern. Here’s what I wrote the November after his draft:
- Desjardins NHLE’s in the range among Oiler prospects who played in the CHL as 18-year olds: Toni Rajala (11-15-26), Phil Cornet (11-17-28) and Jordan Eberle (14-16-30). Pitlick still has time and he is definitely improving (in his last 7 games, Pitlick is 7-4-11, +5) but I’m not certain that his offense last season was mostly due to lack of playing time.
I still think there’s a player there, and what’s more important coach Dallas Eakins was impressed enough to notice him in training camp.
The 2008 draft gave Edmonton Jordan Eberle, and the lack of a second or third round selection meant only one name was added to the cluster. 2009 has contributed, with an asset leaving as part of an exchange for a legit top 6F, and Anton Lander may also help. Neither draft year will be one we’re talking about 15 years from now because it moved the needle in multiple areas.
We’re a year away from the five year mark on the 2010 draft, and with due respect to Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Bunz, Brandon Davidson and the others, I think we have the NHLers surrounded. The 2010 draft has given Edmonton a franchise player in Taylor Hall, an emerging young defenseman in Martin Marincin and Tyler Pitlick. I don’t think it’s vital that the young man emerge as an NHL role player to save this draft—Hall and Marincin can do that all by their lonesome—it’s also important that the organization draft and development value contracts to go with the impact players.
The Oilers may have grabbed a King and a Jack in 2010, now they need a 9. That’s Tyler Pitlick.