If there’s one thing the Edmonton Oilers were guilty of in the final portion of last decade, it was wasting third-round picks. In 2009, while Cody Eakin (who is a perfect-fit option for the team at C today) was waiting to be drafted, Edmonton selected a tall tree from Minnetonka’s high school program and a WHL fighter-on-skates. If there was ever a team that needed to learn the lesson of ‘third-round walkabout’ drafting it was these Edmonton Oilers. And, I’m happy to say, they did in fact learn their lesson.
I’m hopeful we can have a rational conversation about the Edmonton Oilers in the third round 2008-13. No grand statements on either side, no claims of victory, just an honest assessment of the way things are, the good and bad arrows, and a discussion in regard to useful players coming out of this area of the draft.
I propose we adopt a line in the sand, we can call it the “Cullen line” after Scott Cullen of TSN. He estimated the success rate (100 NHL games or more) to be 23.5% back in 2009. Let’s adopt 25% as the “line” because it’s easier to remember, and let’s make “100″ closer to two seasons and use 150 games. That way, for our purposes, a player like Theo Peckham (who is not in the study) can be claimed as a victory by the pro side. Fair? I’d love your input here, because the idea is to be fair, not bend over backwards to be fair but “I’m tuning my ’53 flathead Ford engine and need top dead center” fair.
OILERS THIRD ROUND 2008-2013
That set, let’s move on to the Oilers during the MacGregor era (2008-2013). We’re looking at one in four being a success (average) and anything more than that above average. The Oilers have selected nine players in Round 3 during the MacGregor era:
- 2009: Troy Hesketh
- 2009: Cameron Abney
- 2010: Ryan Martindale
- 2011: Samu Perhonen
- 2011: Travis Ewanyk
- 2012: Jujhar Khaira
- 2012: Daniil Zharkov
- 2013: Bogdan Yakimov
- 2013: Anton Slepyshev
No player in the group of 7 has reached the NHL leve, let alone 150 games. And 25% of nine players is two NHL players of 150 games or more from this group, that’s the expectation for an “average” team in the third round.
Since we have no one in the NHL (and frankly, the promising players on this list are just about to play their first AHL games, so this could take awhile) this is not going to be a list that promises immediate results.
- No longer a prospect: Troy Hesketh, Cameron Abney
- Very bad arrows: Ryan Martindale, Samu Perhonen
- Bad arrows: Travis Ewanyk, Daniil Zharkov
- Lukewarm arrows: Anton Slepyshev
- Good arrows: Jujhar Khaira, Bogdan Yakimov
- Very good arrows:
Let’s go over this list one by one:
- D Troy Hesketh—The most frustrating pick of the MacGregor era because there was still real value on the board.
- R Cameron Abney—The second most frustrating pick, there was no way this was going to bring value from the moment the selection was made.
- C Ryan Martindale—Signed a two-way NHL deal today, still has a chance but it isn’t a good one.
- G Samu Perhonen—He wasn’t good enough for the Oilers to sign. The OILERS, a team in dire need of goalie prospects, passed on him.
- C Travis Ewanyk—Learning the checking game in the AHL, will need to score as his AHL time increases.
- L Daniil Zharkov—Very disappointing KHL season, he does have some offensive talent but didn’t play much.
- L Anton Slepyshev—He looked brilliant at WJ’s, isn’t playing enough in the KHL. EDM may want to bring him over fall 2015.
- C Jujhar Khaira—One of two promising picks from this group, he lack offensive ability but is big and strong and can play hockey.
- C Bogdan Yakimov—The best player in the group, he’s going to take time to adjust but is a promising player.
Yakimov (in photo) and his fellow Russian Slepyshev combine with Jujhar Khaira to offer some hope for this area of the Oilers draft under Stu MacGregor. However, there are two items we need to address at this point in our conversation:
- The Oilers drafted some absolute duds based on something other than projection. Cameron Abney and Troy Hesketh were selected at a time when finding an enforcer was a key item, and size was on the front burner. The galling thing about these picks is that they are predictable and so are the results: The Oilers have done this BEFORE and it. does. not. work. They aren’t smarter than the other guy, just aren’t. Fortunately, the last ‘walkabout’ pick in the group (Jujhar Khaira) appears to be one of the best in the third round 2008-13. It’s still a bad idea.
- I’d really like to know the decision process around the selection of goalies. Do they have them on a list with the skaters? Or do they randomly throw them out there, guessing as to what other teams are thinking. The reason I ask is Stu MacGregor’s statement after the draft that he had a discussion with Craig MacTavish about selecting Keven Bouchard with their last pick. Seems strange, wouldn’t you just select the next guy up? If it’s true Edmonton just slots people in, then I’m going to object to the selection of Perhonen in this group, despite his not being a large walkabout selection (Bob McKenzie had him No. 51, Perhonen went No. 62).
The Oilers drafted nine players in the third round 2008-13, and the expectation of average is 2 NHL players of 150 or more big-league games. They are (in my estimation) down to Yakimov, Khaira and Slepyshev as meaningful prospects, and only two of those players are trending. The Oilers probably get one player from this group, is that fair? That’s not a passing grade, and the culprit is saw him good, passion for a player, we heard New Jersey liked him, goalies in the mist, and size.
There is good news. That 2013 draft, the first one Craig MacTavish had a direct hand in, gave them two of their three hopefuls. If Khaira and Yakimov work out, the Oilers will be average in this round. Choosing Cody Eakin would have been a pretty damn good idea.