I’ve been listening to old Tyler Wright interviews in hopes of getting a feel for what the DRW prioritized during his time in Motown. Most of the time it’s not terribly useful to transcribe post-draft interviews, mostly because it gets tiresome typing “we really had a passion for this player” 12 times.
Wright’s insight has more nuance than the average and does in fact offer some clues about his approach with the Red Wings. Here are some snippets.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: Oilers greatest areas of need for the 2020 draft
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Six bold (and not so bold) predictions as the Oilers prepare for the Blackhawks
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers facing a bonus penalty for 2020-21 but the news isn’t all bad
- Jonathan Willis: Multiple choice: What might an Oilers trade at the 2020 NHL Draft look like?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers return to play guide: How the NHL’s 24-team format impacts Edmonton
- Lowetide: Mike Green’s playoff role and possible future with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers’ most likely recalls from Bakersfield for the playoff run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We rallied and regrouped’: How the Oilers won the 1990 Stanley Cup
- Lowetide: Why Kailer Yamamoto represents ‘Money Puck’ value for NHL teams
- Lowetide: Exploring hidden-gem draft options for the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He set his place in history’: On Bill Ranford’s Conn Smythe run, 30 years later
- Jonathan Willis: Why NHL teams should gamble on defencemen over forwards later in the draft
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ offseason decisions will be influenced by 2021 Seattle expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland’s likely approach to the Oilers’ offseason goalie question
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland should shop for picks at the draft
- Lowetide: Exploring Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod’s possible NHL path
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ales Hemsky on his health, alumni games, tough opponents and the Oilers’ stars
- Lowetide: Swedish export Noel Gunler offers Oilers a worthy draft target
On the theme of the 2018 draft: “We tried to target defense going into this draft, but things kind of happened (Detroit didn’t take a defenseman until their fourth selection). We had Berggren really high on our list and we couldn’t pass up the skill.”
This is encouraging. If you have first-round value on the board, take it and fill for need later. Edmonton did it in 2010 (I just wrote about this for The Athletic) and chose Tyler Pitlick over Martin Marincin.
On Jared McIsaac: “A steady defenseman, hard-nosed player. Skates well, plays in all situations. He’s a good penalty killer, physical, plays against the best players.”
Generally speaking, drafting this player type in the third round makes oodles more sense than the first round. I had Dmitri Samorukov ranked in the fourth round, Edmonton took him in the third round and it looks good three years later. Even if it didn’t work out, the risk was not enormous. I had Berggren No. 27, McIsaac No. 43.
On speed: “You see how fast the game is played, when you look at Athanasiou and Larkin, they’re all skaters. We want to be fast, with speed, we want to get big, but at the end of the day skill was the theme going into this draft.”
If that’s the plan, then Oilers fans should be encouraged in a big way. It’s okay for teams to draft big players, but make them fast and skilled, please and thanks. Especially early in the draft, when the top junior leagues still have some meat on the bone.
Depth picks: “Once we get past the third round, we start relying on area scouts. My viewings go out the window, so our area guys started making picks and pounding on the table.”
You can take any draft season and identify when the quality evens out, when black and white become shades of grey. Most 2020 lists should have a lot in common through No. 20 and someone will list 25 of 31 picks in their first-round ranking. Maybe things stay tight through No. 40. As opposed to a year ago when the loud noises began right after the top-five overall.
On drafting two Swedish goalies late: “We have a goalie scout in Sweden as well, we all rely on him heavily. When you look back on goaltenders, it’s a crap shoot a lot of the time. We like these guys.”
Like catching lightning in a bottle. I’m in favor of drafting one goalie every year, as long as it’s not a first-rounder (and better if the pick goes after No. 90). Two goalies drafted in one year? I don’t think it is wise.
The 2019 draft
Let’s see if we can go back to the 2019 draft and if anything Wright said matches the proceedings under the direction of Ken Holland. Wright talked about skill early and then things opening up after round three. He also talked about speed and skill, and goalies. Here are the first three picks, their ranking and a few words from Red Line.
LHD Philip Broberg No. 8 overall. Red Line No. 12. “Huge, smooth skating defenceman has a terrific combination of great size and obvious skills. Terrific poise and has a calm presence. Still learning nuances of the defensive game, wants to impact the game at both ends.” Corey Pronman from The Athletic said “he’s a 6-foot-3 defenseman who is an elite skater. That combination alone is scary.”
I would have chosen Arthur Kaliyev, most would have chosen Trevor Zegras, but Holland grabbed the big, fast defenseman. I don’t see him developing into a 40-point defenseman but said the exact thing about Oscar Klefbom. Dreamy is averaging 34 points per 82 games in the NHL. Miles to go with Broberg.
RW Raphael Lavoie, No. 38 overall. Red Line No. 16. “Polarizing prospect is a boom or bust player. Tremendous natural sniper who buries his chances – deadly from the circles in. Gets great wrist snap on a lightning fast release around the slot– needs almost no time or space to get dangerous shots away. Tremendously accurate too, picking corners at will. Combined with his great size and knack for sliding into open ice at the right moment, he’ll be a scorer at every level. Outstanding hands for receiving and controlling pucks. Uses wide base to protect puck and buy time and space to make plays. More of a shooter but can also generate chances for linemates down low. Needs to compete much harder, much more consistently.”
This is the second skill selection, Red Line ranked him just four spots behind Broberg. Now that Kailer Yamamoto is in the NHL, Lavoie is the most promising offensive forward in the system. A great pick. Oilers probably got a little lucky that he was available in the second round.
G Ilya Konovalov, No. 85 overall. Red Line 123. “Classic late-bloomer was a dominant force in the KHL and blossomed into the league’s top rookie. Extreme battler who will stop pucks with any body part and refuses to lose. Lacks ideal NHL size, but is athletic, flexible, well balanced, and smart.”
Fascinating selection, he didn’t make a lot of lists (Red Line is just excellent boys and girls). I really like the bet, but it’s not a slam dunk. I’d love to know if this was a Holland pick and it does rhyme with what Wright mentioned above.
RW Matej Blumel, No. 100. Red Line No. 81. “Second-year eligible is a versatile playmaking winger who’s effective in all areas of the game. Explosive skater with the ability to fill lanes and get up the ice quickly. More than the sum of his parts -works his ass off every shift, never stops moving his feet, and outhustles defenders for loose pucks. Plays with lots of speed and jump and creates chances.”
That’s a helluva scouting report. I don’t know that Blumel is going to play in the NHL, and it’s likely to be in a bottom-six role (he has a nice range of skills). He scored four goals in the Czech league last year but would need to spike in 2020-21 to establish a trajectory that eventually lands him an NHL job on a skill line.
The final two picks in the 2019 draft (Tomas Mazura and Maxim Denezhkin) are exactly the kind of pick an area scout might be hammering on the table about late in the draft when the coffee is burned so badly the aroma offends your sense of smell. I could see that.
Skill pick LHD Philip Broberg played 13:59 in the SHL during 2019-20, age 18. He scored 1-7-8 in 45 games, 13:19 at even strength making him No. 6 on the even strength depth chart. He was 23-23 on-ice goal differential in the discipline. He had an 8.7 NHLE. At the same age, same league, Klefbom played 12:04 a night and had an NHLE of 3.0. Miles to go.
Darcy will join me today to explain the latest Puck IQ innovation and it’s already a valuable one. Why? Among other things it gives us another bullet in the chamber in finding out which players the coach values in specific situations. For years, we could evaluate defensemen using time on ice (most minutes=best defensemen) then possession stats (behind the net through natural stat trick) helped light the way.
Puck IQ gave us public binning, representing a major step forward in that we can know Ethan Bear played enormous minutes against elites as a rookie. The new shift start stat (Darcy will be on at 10:20) tells us that ‘on the fly’ shifts are a massive part of the game, and could reflect how much (or little) a coach trusts his third pair. It’s very cool to be in on this from a fan point of view, we’ll drill down and see what else Darcy found with this cool new tool.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Bring your brain. Darcy McLeod from Because Oilers will join us to talk about the latest Puck IQ innovation ‘shift starts’ and what we can learn from them. At 11, Frank Seravalli from TSN gives us a lay of the land in the NHL after a frantic week. Jeff Krushell from Krush Performance will give me one good reason not to hate mlb more than I already do at 11:25. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!