The Edmonton Oilers scored big right after the 2006 Stanley run by drafting USHL defender Jeff Petry. Although the young defender paid off in a big way, the club has rarely returned to the American junior league.
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/USA PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 53 from USA.
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 57 from USA.
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 52 from USA.
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 51 from USA.
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 53 from USA.
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 42 from USA.
- FINAL TALLY: 1265 total players, 308 from USA
- PERCENTAGE: 24.3%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/USA PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 1 from USA
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 2 from USA
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 1 from USA
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 1 from USA
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from USA
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 0 from USA
- FINAL TALLY: 49 total players, 6 from USA
- PERCENTAGE: 12.2%
The Oiler use the USA about half as much as the other NHL teams, but have been more active in the last two seasons. I think you could make a very good case that they should be drafting more players out of the USHL, a league that (as you’ll see) is impacting the upper echelons of the draft.
- D Troy Hesketh—Never pissed a drop after his draft day. Scout Mike Peluso was the scout who had a passion for him. He’s gone.
- R Tyler Pitlick—Despite injury, he posted his most successful pro season. He may have a career after all, although how far he goes up the depth chart is an open question. Offense has not arrived with him in pro.
- D Dillon Simpson—A most promising defender just graduated from one of the top flight hockey programs.
- D Joey Laleggia—Undersized puck mover delivers offense consistently. One more year before turning pro.
- D John McCarron—Big forward with some offense, reminds me of Colin McDonald as a college player.
- L Aidan Muir—USHL winger, raw talent and years away. Ended the season well.
The Oilers saw their first NHL player from this group this season (Pitlick) and I’m betting Simpson won’t be far behind. Muir wasn’t drafted out of the USHL, but plays there now. As you’ll see, the Oilers ignore that league at their own peril. It’s a growing concern.
TOP PLAYERS FROM USA, 2014 DRAFT
- R Alex Tuch, USHL—Power forward with enough skill to play on a scoring line.
- L Sonny Milano, USHL—Skill winger who can make plays and score goals. Some defensive issues.
- L Dylan Larkin, USHL—Power forward impressed at the U-18 World Hockey Championships.
- C Nick Schmaltz, USHL—Creative center with quick hands.
- G Thatcher Demko, NCAA—A .935 save percentage is outstanding anywhere.
- D Josh Jacobs, USHL—Smooth two-way defenseman with size.
- R Austin Poganski, USHL—Intriguing scorer with size. Could surprise with draft number.
- D Jack Glover, USHL—Mobile two-way defender with size and passing ability.
- D Jack Dougherty, USHL—Defensive defenseman, good positional player. Good first pass.
- D Gavin Bayreuther, NCAA—Quality offensive defenseman, could be a sleeper pick.
- C Ryan Donato, USHS—Ted’s boy, intelligent skill F. Luedeke likes him.
- C Max Letunov, USHL—Impressive offensive player, tall and rail thin.
- D Ryan Collins, USHL—Huge defender, miles to go, but has talent. Impressive wingspan.
- D Ryan Mantha, USHL—Huge defenseman with some puck-handling ability. Work in progress.
- L Miles Gendron, USHS—Defender with size, some offensive touch. On his way to BCJHL.
- D Luc Snuggerud, USHS—Small two-way defender with skill.
- D Jonathan MacLeod, USHL—The new Scott Ferguson.
- C Shane Eiserman, USHL—Big, tough player who has power forward potential.
- C Anders Bjork, USHL—Two-way forward.
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 (BCJHL, Czech) 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 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.
- D Gavin Bayreuther—Interesting progression as a prospect.
- C Pavel Kraskovsky—Picked out for this list by Younger Oil in the comments section. YO: He’s a 6’4”, 187lb Russian center, and one of the most appealing things about him is that he is the youngest player in this year’s draft I believe. His birthday is September 11, 1996. The more I look at him, the more I see Yakimov, and I’m a huge Yakimov fan. Yakimov’s birthday is October 4, 1994, so he’s essentially 2 years older than Kraskovsky, while only being one draft year apart. Here is a comparison of their 17 year old MHL seasons:
A note about my slotting of prospects. I understand that Dillon Simpson is Canadian, but he plays in a USA league. So, for our purposes nationality is not the issue, where said player is doing his work takes precedent.