As we wind down our draft coverage (almost done, promise), I wanted to make note of a few quotes that have cropped up leading up to, during and after the draft. I think we can learn about the Oilers thought process by combining their words and actions.
- Jim Matheson: Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish has told the scouts to pick more talented guys later, rather than guys to slot into role positions as bangers on a third or fourth line, hoping for a home run or a ground-rule double in the later rounds. Like taking Greg Chase from the Calgary Hitmen in the seventh round last year; he’s going to the summer world junior team evaluation camp after doing a nice job in OKC as a junior call-up late in the AHL season. (Source)
In theory, we can verbalize this into MacT saying “no more damn Abney’s and no more tall tree’s Lou leaks he loves. Dammit people, we can get 6’s and 7’s and 9’s at the five and dime, let’s stretch out these late picks and draft Gernats and Chase’s.”
Problem. I get the Greg Chase reference, not to toot our own horn here but we identified Chase BEFORE he was drafted (source) in 2013.
- #51–C Greg Chase: Nice combination of skill and grit.
With due respect, there seems about 500 miles on foot from Greg Chase to Liam Coughlin, 150 from Chase to Vesel, 600 from Chase to Evan Campbell, 450 from Chase to Aidan Muir, and yes 200 from Chase to Kyle Platzer. I think there’s a friggin’ in the riggin’, and disconnect of the party line, a failure to communicate. It’s like that Seinfeld line at the car rental place. The Oilers can TAKE the reservation, but they can’t HOLD the reservation.
Which suggests to me that, at some level, the Oilers are still more ‘saw him good’ than ‘scouts identified these nine men, analytics confirms four of them, that’s our list, gents’ and maybe that’s too much to hope for at this point in time. I am unable to see the math that would recommend Liam Coughlin, and although there are things about Vesel that analytics (the ones I know) likes, I find it hard to believe the numbers couldn’t find bettermen.
I’m completely aware of the limitations one has viewing numbers from their basement, and there may well be strong reason for the Oilers to select Coughlin over Kulda (as an example). I’d like to hear their reasoning.
LIKE WHO, SMARTASS?
I’m fully aware that scouts know more about this than me. I’m wondering though, if the Oilers are putting the right things in their equations. Example: I spoke to player agent Tom Lynn yesterday, and he expressed surprise about some of the players being chosen and their (older) age. He mentioned Money Ball, and said it looked like NHL teams were drafting older players because they had more track to look at when selecting the player (and then four more years, potentially, in college). I mentioned an AHL player (here) who had been drafted, a fairly rare item. He agreed the NHL is a moving target these days, including some eastern seaboard junior leagues that change with the wind and lack the consistency of the CHL and USHL.
The thing is, all of the analytics people I speak to discuss age as a positive for YOUNGER players. Even a few months advantage, like Sam Bennett to Leon Draisaitl, are offered up as a positive. Is this wrong? Have NHL teams discovered that older players, more on the resume, a more mature man, is the better bet? In a future post, I’ll look for examples but until then I’m skeptical. I’d like my team to go the other way, look for August 1996’s who are perhaps caught behind top-level talent. How far is this guy from this guy? Is the answer Liam Coughlin? We’ll find out. Or, as Tom Lynn suggested yesterday, am I asking the wrong question?
I want to know about this age thing. I also want insight into what they see in specific cases, like Coughlin over Dancs and the distance between Matteson Iacopelli and Tyler Vesel. I get that they wanted big skill in Coughlin, but what made him a similar prospect in value to Richard Nejezchleb? Did they consider Ryan Foss? What about Stephen Harper? Jake Marchment?
Answer: Probably, but the value wasn’t enough for them to sacrifice extra evaluation time.
- Stu MacGregor: “We also took players entering college which gives us a longer look at them, two to four years before you have to decide whether to sign them or not.”
I can’t help but think an August 1996 kid is going to be a better bet than Liam Coughlin. Am I wrong here? I’d love to have a one hour chat with Stu MacGregor about this, suspect the Oilers (and some other NHL teams) are going the wrong way on this thing. The Kings drafted Spencer Watson No. 209. I bet he plays more in the NHL than a lot of these ‘draft and college’ kids. In the meantime, NHL teams get miles and miles of time to watch these men emerge or not, and that makes sense in one way for sure. I just don’t think it’s a good prospect bet. Jmo.
- Stu MacGregor on passing on Oil Kings Mayo, Irving, Kulda and Baddock: “Just circumstances. We were making sure we had some goaltending prospects.”
I’ve thought about this quote a lot since reading it, and there’s only one way to make sense of it. The Oilers evaluation of these men was such that they were deemed of less value than the prospects named at their turn. Call me crazy, but if the Oilers wanted Mayo and Kulda they could have called out their names in later rounds. There’s no mystery here, the evaluation process found them wanting. That’s my take, anyway.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Friday edition! Fluid show, TSN 1260 at 10 this morning. Steve Lansky from Loudmouth Sports, Eric Rodgers to discuss the Oklahoma City Barons and Dean Millard to chat about the British Open and the Eskimos/Bombers. I’ve extended a couple of other invites, so there’ll likely be an addition or two as the morning rolls.
See you on the radio! @Lowetide_ on twitter, 10-1260 text.