Dillon Simpson was drafted in 2011 and made his NHL debut in 2016-17. ‘Draft and college’ can be an effective way of handling graduation dates for prospects and the fourth round is a good spot to be doing it. 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: Tobias Rieder (234 NHL games) and college man Chris VandeVelde (278 NHL games).
The fourth round is the period where distant bells should be reasonable selections. The top three rounds (in most years) should house the quality CHL, NCAA, European league kids—and the exceptional players from tier two leagues (Jost, Fabbro, et cetera).
I’m hopeful we can have a rational conversation about the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round 2008-17. 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 a conclusion about a line in the sand and agree to it (the Cullen grades, 18.9% chance for fourth-round selections).
OILERS FOURTH ROUND 2008-17
- 2008: Johan Motin (Kevin Lowe) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2009: Kyle Bigos (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2009: Toni Rajala (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2010: Jeremie Blain (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2011: Dillon Simpson (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2011: Tobias Rieder (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2012: Erik Gustafsson (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2013: Jackson Houck (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2013: Kyle Platzer (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2013: Aidan Muir (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2014: William Lagesson (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2014: Zach Nagelvoort (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2015: Caleb Jones (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
- 2017: Ostap Safin (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
The Oilers’ scouts have in fact identified some useful players in this round, but the general managers have been unable to sign them. I think blame should be placed at the feet of management, although often you will see it deflected with comments suggesting the player refused to sign. A reasonable response is why? Why do these prospects refuse to sign? This is an area of importance for an organization badly in need of a flourishing system. Connor McDavid may change the weather in this area, and it should be noted the organization chose not to sign Erik Gustafsson.
2017 SUMMER (NHL CAREER GP)
- Tobias Rieder 234
- Erik Gustafsson 41
- Dillon Simpson 3
- Johan Motin 1
A very productive decade for the scouting department, they produced a legit NHL regular of some note and a fringe player in Erik Gustafsson. Dillon Simpson has had a cup of coffee in the NHL and could see more time in the coming year. Taken purely as an assessment of the scouting department, and considering Cullen’s 19 percent line in the sand, I think Rieder’s emergence along makes the fourth round a success.
- “It’s Over” arrows: Johan Motin, Kyle Bigos, Toni Rajala, Jeremie Blain, Jackson Houck, Zach Nagelvoort
- Bad arrows: Kyle Platzer
- Lukewarm arrows: Aidan Muir
- Good arrows: Dillon Simpson, William Lagesson
- Very good arrows: Erik Gustafsson, Caleb Jones
- Bona Fide: Tobias Rieder
By this point in the draft, we should assume a full boat in the “It’s Over” department. Edmonton has one home run in this round and some nice players coming along. I’d rank Jones as the most promising fourth rounder since Rieder, remember the Portland defender was chosen in a very deep draft (might have gone higher in another draft year). I think the Oilers have earned a passing grade in this round.
ONE BY ONE
- D Johan Motin: A big, stay-at-home defenseman who got into one NHL game before establishing himself in Sweden. He has been a regular in the SHL for six years now, that’s a good league.
- D Kyle Bigos: Big defenseman with speed issues, Oilers traded him right before losing his rights. He played just two ECHL games this season, eight AHL games for his career.
- R Toni Rajala: Skilled Finn has scored everywhere they put him, including SM-Liiga, SHL, AHL and most recently NLA. KHL was his only miss. I would rate him as a terrific pick despite not making the NHL.
- D Jeremie Blain: 61 AHL games in his career, played in the Austrian League in 16-17.
- D Dillon Simpson: He is now 181 games into his AHL career, and played in his first three NHL games in 2016-17. Likely plays a feature role in Bakersfield and in the mix for recall.
- R Tobias Rieder: He’s a versatile player, has terrific speed, can penalty kill and has skill. A very nice young NHL player. Whatever the reason he chose not to sign with the Oilers, one hopes it has been fixed.
- D Erik Gustafsson: Two-way defender established himself as a useful player in the SHL, signed with Chicago in time to play 41 NHL games 2015-16. Spent entire season in the AHL last year, re-signed with the Blackhawks recently.
- R Jackson Houck: Played in the ECHL, scoring 14 goals in 45 games for the Colorado Eagles. Scorers always get chances, interesting to see if he gets some AHL time this year.
- C Kyle Platzer: Has now played 103 AHL games and has 28 points. That’s not going to get you to the next level, disappointing because he did have some fine offensive campaigns in junior. Entering final year of entry-level deal.
- L Aidan Muir: 91gp, 10-34-44 so far in his NCAA career with one more year at Western Michigan to come. He has size and grit, hand injury set him back. No idea if the Oilers have plans to sign him, he could improve his chances with a strong senior year.
- D William Lagesson: Defensive defenseman with good size and mobility. Finished his college career after just two years and will play for Djurgadens (SHL) this coming season. He’ll be a defensive defender if he gets here, he has a chance. Curious to send him back to Sweden though, my guess is they liked the four new pro’s better and didn’t want a fifth AHL rookie. Can’t discount something we don’t know, though.
- G Zach Nagelvoort: Michigan goalie never, at any time, looked as good after the draft as he did on the day Edmonton picked him. Nagelvoort signed with Missouri (ECHL) and played a few games this spring, no word on his destination for the fall.
- D Caleb Jones: Posted a strong Draft+1 season, then another one. He turns pro this fall, and along with Ethan Bear is the most anticipated defender since Darnell Nurse.
- F Ostap Safin: The verbal is very strong, the math loved him (I had Safin second round). Let’s not get all excited, but this will be an interesting story to monitor.