By the fourth round, NHL teams are drafting players with an 18.9% chance of playing 100 NHL games. Oilers fourth-round picks who have exceeded 100 games this century: Liam Reddox (100 NHL games), Chris VandeVelde (118 NHL games). The fourth is a weird round for Edmonton, from the legendary Robin Kovar to the emerging Tobias Rieder: Hilarity and heartbreak for Edmonton.
I’m hopeful we can have a rational conversation about the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round 2008-15. 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.
In order to do this, we absolutely have to agree on some things:
- We can’t judge a drafted player weeks after his selection.
- We can count arrows, and they are a good indicator.
- We cannot expect all of the picks to succeed, that isn’t reasonable.
- We have come to some kind of conclusion about a line in the sand and agree to it (the Cullen grades,18.9% chance for fourth-round selections)
OILERS FOURTH ROUND 2008-2015
- 2008: Johan Motin (Kevin Lowe)
- 2009: Kyle Bigos (Steve Tambellini)
- 2009: Toni Rajala (Steve Tambellini)
- 2010: Jeremie Blain (Steve Tambellini)
- 2011: Dillon Simpson (Steve Tambellini)
- 2011: Tobias Rieder (Steve Tambellini)
- 2012: Erik Gustafsson (Steve Tambellini)
- 2013: Jackson Houck (Craig MacTavish)
- 2013: Kyle Platzer (Craig MacTavish)
- 2013: Aidan Muir (Craig MacTavish)
- 2014: William Lagesson (Craig MacTavish)
- 2014: Zach Nagelvoort (Craig MacTavish)
- 2015: Caleb Jones (Peter Chiarelli)
The Oilers use the fourth round a lot, that’s 13 selections in eight draft years. The Tambellini era has some nice players, MacT has some trending prospects too and Caleb Jones is just getting started. It’s almost like the fever of the third round breaks, and Edmonton goes back to drafting their list. Seriously. I have no inside information but if you look at the 2011 draft Edmonton’s fourth rounders (Simpson, Rieder) were far better prospects on draft day than the third-round picks (Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk). The goalies, coke machines and stay-at-home defensemen clog the dynamo in the third round.
2015 SUMMER (NHL GAMES PLAYED)
- Tobias Rieder 72
- Johan Motin 1
Reider’s arrival in the NHL is bittersweet. Stu MacGregor was fired for not getting anything out of the depth rounds in the same season the first guy came off the production line. Timing is everything.
- Productive in Europe: Johan Motin, Toni Rajala
- “It’s Over” arrows: Kyle Bigos, Jeremie Blain, Jackson Houck
- Bad arrows:
- Lukewarm arrows: Aidan Muir, Zach Nagelvoort
- Good arrows: Dillon Simpson, Erik Gustafsson, Kyle Platzer, William Lagesson
- Very good arrows: Tobias Rieder
- New arrows: Caleb Jones
ONE BY ONE
- D Johan Motin: A big, stay-at-home defenseman who got into one NHL game before establishing himself in Sweden. One thing we sometimes do is overlook this type of player, or call him a draft bust. Motin, taken in the fourth round, is a productive pro player seven years later and I think it’s incorrect to call him a bust. 38 players chosen after Motin made the NHL, 17 of those players made it to 100 (or more) games.
- D Kyle Bigos: Big defenseman with speed issues, Oilers traded him right before losing his rights. As a pro, Bigos (who is a very big man) has played 8 AHL and 102 ECHL games. This is a draft bust, No. 99 overall and 33 players chosen after made the NHL (of that total, only nine have played 100 or more games).
- R Toni Rajala: Skilled Finn has scored everywhere they put him, including SM-Liiga, KHL and AHL. MacT released him from his contract, which was probably the humane thing, but I wonder why the organization was so quick to give up on him? The same numbers (33 and nine) for Rajala as Bigos.
- D Jeremie Blain: 45 AHL games and 113 ECHL games means he’s better than some but this is a disappointing result for a No. 91 overall pick in a pretty deep draft. A total of 30 players chosen after Blain have played in the NHL.
- D Dillon Simpson: A legit NHL prospect, he followed a strong college career with a full AHL season. He’ll need to build on that, and could spend another full year (or more) in the minors, but he has a real chance to be an NHL player. For a fourth-round pick, that’s good value. Of the players chosen after him, 23 have made it to the NHL so far.
- R Tobias Rieder: The star of the show among this group, Rieder looks like a player on his way to a long NHL career. He’s a versatile player, has terrific speed, can penalty kill (ask the Oilers!) and it’s a damn shame he isn’t an Oiler. 19 players taken after him have made the NHL, as has Rieder.
- D Erik Gustafsson: Two-way defender has been performing well in the SHL since Edmonton drafted him. The Chicago Blackhawks signed Gustafsson and there are some encouraging words from their GM about the possibility of Gustafsson playing in the NHL this coming season. There are nine players chosen after Gustafsson who have played in the NHL.
- R Jackson Houck: Big winger didn’t get a contract and is now a free agent. I get the feeling Edmonton wanted him to be a better offensive player, a more rugged player, or both. The Giants changed coaches like crazy while Houck was in Vancouver, I wonder if he recovers in pro. Three players chosen after Houck have played in the NHL.
- C Kyle Platzer: He’s probably the best prospect on this list. Two-way center with a good checking reputation, he blossomed offensively after he was drafted. Edmonton may have a useful NHL player in a couple of years if Platzer continues to develop. Three players taken after Platzer have been in the NHL.
- L Aidan Muir: It’s so hard to know if a player from an obscure US league is doing well, but the NCAA numbers this past season suggest we’re not looking at an NHL future. Early days, but that’s the arrow intel at this time. Two players have played in the NHL (and were taken after Muir).
- D William Lagesson: Green lights everywhere with this prospect, he appears to be a large, mobile defender with two-way ability. He’s off to college now and we’ll get a better view (as we did with Muir) on him.
- G Zach Nagelvoort: I refuse to talk about goalies year over year, it’s a riddle wrapped in a smelly glove. He didn’t have a strong season based on his own past, but we wait.
- D Caleb Jones: Lordy he looked good at the orientation camp. Mobile, smart, he’s a big man who can make things happen. I’m not sure of his offense, it’s downplayed by the scouting reports but he has a pretty big shot. We’ll see this year, as he plans to play in Portland with the Winterhawks (WHL).