Every year I follow the familiar path to the draft—Ivan Hlinka, long pause, NHL season opens, 10 days to 40 days, Oilers fall out of the playoff race, WJs and I promise not to write about the draft, denial, rage, sadness, and finally draft talk.
— All About the Jersey (@AATJerseyBlog) May 31, 2016
The math is what I like. Math makes the draft look fun, just as it does with baseball. I know lots of people who examine the draft—many who know me and vice versa—and every year I hope my team (your Edmonton Oilers) runs a math draft. You may ask, what would it look like? Well, how about this?
- No. 4 overall—C Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
- No. 32 overall—R Taylor Raddysh, Erie Otters (OHL)
- No. 62 overall—LD Lucas Johansen, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
- No. 85 overall (Florida pick)—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL)
- No. 87 overall (Pittsburgh pick)—C Kasper Bjorkqvist, Blues U20 (Jr. SML)
- No. 122 overall—C Brett McKenzie, North Bay (OHL)
- No. 148 overall (St. Louis pick)—R Steve Harland, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
- No. 152 overall—C Andrei Svetlakov, CSKA (KHL)
- No. 182 overall—C Dante Hannoun, Victoria Royals (WHL)
With few exceptions, I think the Oilers should draft out of the OHL, look for skill at D, C and W. Will they? History suggests the answer is no.
- First round selections have been terrific since 2010. Very little evidence the Oilers have been poor in this area, of course it helps to be drafting No. 1 overall. Some believe Nail was the wrong pick, that has never been the view of this blog (the handling afterward was a giant bus over an embankment, however). You could argue Nurse as unwise, but he was in the range and we still have miles to go. Klefbom was a dandy pick at No. 19 in 2011.
- Second round selections have been focused on filling specific needs. The Oilers draft for need in round two, or trade directly for immediate needs. Trading for help now is not a bad thing—I would trade second-round picks all day for NHL players—but it is blatantly obvious the Oilers use the second round for filling holes over taking BPA. Martin Marincin and David Musil were addressing defense (at the time, Alex Plante and others were not stepping in to expected roles), Mitch Moroz was the big, physical winger they always think they need. Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Marco Roy were two-way forwards who didn’t bring much offense with them to pro. That’s not as big a deal as you might think—every team has second-round picks who don’t end up being useful NHL players—but one of them has to cash or the scouting/development is going to be called into question. Pitlick, Hamilton and Roy lost their job to Iiro Pakarinen, procured by the Euro pro group (themselves unlikely to get a free ticket to the scouting Hall of Fame).
- Third-round picks are a far more interesting area for the Oilers. It seems the GMs lose interest and allow the hockey people to take over. Jujhar Khaira looks to have about as much offense as Tyler Pitlick, but is also a bull center who may end up filling a role for several years. Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev may not make it as NHL players, but these players at least have a chance to fill a role that could make a difference.
- Fourth-round picks seem to be Edmonton’s sweet spot. Seriously. Since 2011, the Oilers have procured Dillon Simpson, Tobias Rieder, Erik Gustafsson, Kyle Platzer, William Lagesson, Caleb Jones. I bet you that group plays more NHL games in the next decade than all of the second-round picks. Why is that? My guess is that the expensive suits are playing Mahjong back at the hotel by now.
- Fifth-round picks include Joey Laleggia and Ethan Bear. It would be so Oilers to get Ethan Bear at this point in the draft and not sign him, and we haven’t heard a thing in that area. Probably nothing, wonder if his agent is the same one employed by Rieder. I suspect the Oilers have a rep for being cheap with their depth picks.
- Sixth-round pick Brandon Davidson is a shining light for Edmonton scouts. As much as I like Ethan Bear’s future, Davidson is here and is a very useful actual NHL player. Gold. Absolute gold. John Marino is also from this round.
- Seventh-round picks Greg Chase and Ziyat Paigin have shown promise, but miles to go. The Russian appears to good too be true, let’s hope he can build on a sensational 2015-16 season.
No idea if the Oilers allow math into the room, and in no way am I suggesting scouts should be excluded—they found Brandon Davidson and Tobias Rieder. I will tell you this, though: Kasper Bjorkqvist is a splendid hockey prospect. I know it. I know it.