The hope is to have a minor-league team that provides useful pieces in the years that follow a specific campaign. Edmonton’s first minor-league team, the 1979-80 Houston Apollos, produced Charlie Huddy, Tom Roulston and a few cups of coffee. That was a good year.
Ideally, an NHL team develops those kids, places them in a prominent role (Huddy played top-four D in Edmonton for a long time) and solves a problem. The Oilers have been a frustrating team to watch in this area, going back years.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: 8 unsigned free agents who could help the Oilers
- DNB: Rating the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- DNB: Oilers come under the microscope after passing on Jesper Wallstedt
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
DETROIT AND EDMONTON, 2010-11
Of the 19 players aged 19-24 on the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2010-11, 9 of them (47%) played in the NHL by 2014. More important, players like Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl provided the club with inside solutions to roster problems. That’s a massive advantage, a GM can look two or three years down the road and let veterans go on a team timeline. Internal solutions solving problems and staying for multiple seasons. Isn’t it better to solve a roster problem for five seasons via the farm system? Music! Here are the NHL GP for that group since 2010-11:
- Tomas Tatar 619 games (407 with Detroit)
- Gustav Nyqvist 570 games (481 with Detroit)
- Brendan Smith 526 games (291 with Detroit)
- Jakub Kindl 331 games (273 with Detroit)
- Joakim Anderson 205 games (all with Detroit)
- Cory Emmerton 139 games (all with Detroit)
- Brian Lashoff 136 games (all with Detroit)
- Jan Mursak 46 games (all with Detroit)
Two things strike me as interesting. Three men delivered in feature roles, and another played over 200 NHL games. What’s more, the large percentage of those games, especially from the two gems in the group, played a long time for the winged wheel. This is a major deal for an NHL team.
Of the 23 players aged 19-24 on the Oklahoma City Barons, 13 of them (56.5%) had played in the NHL four years later. That’s a slightly higher percentage than Detroit’s but that could be explained by losing teams turning over rosters more quickly in search of success and consistency. More important, and this is incredible, 11 of the 13 (84.6%) had either been cut loose from the club or chewed through the rope to secure their freedom. That’s an insane, insane number. Here are the Barons who made the NHL, notice the number of feature players compared to Detroit and the games spent with the Oilers.
- Jeff Petry 735 games (295 with Edmonton)
- Chris VandeVelde 278 games (28 with Edmonton)
- Taylor Chorney 166 games (59 with Edmonton)
- Colin McDonald 146 games (2 with Edmonton)
- Mark Arcobello 139 games (78 with Edmonton)
- Linus Omark 79 games (66 with Edmonton)
- Teemu Hartikainen 52 games (all with Edmonton)
- Colten Teubert 24 games (all with Edmonton)
The Petry numbers make one weep, but there’s more to this story. You know, Omark and Hartikainen were damn good players who have flourished in Europe, but the Oilers didn’t have the patience to allow them to find their way in North America. Look, VandeVelde played a long time but as a No. 4 center and you can find those guys in free agency every summer for not much cap. However, trading Petry and not giving Omark and Hartikainen a full shot means a reset. Edmonton received picks that turned into Caleb Jones and Jonas Siegenthaler for Petry, and Mark Fraser for Hartikainen. The two picks turned out, but Edmonton had no NHL presence to show for several years (although Siegenthaler was part of the 2015 deal for Cam Talbot).
Since arriving in Edmonton, Ken Holland has traded the futures of Gage Alexander, Jan Bednar, Brock Faber, Aatu Raty and a 2022 pick that belongs to Chicago. He also traded several young men who are NHL players: John Marino, Caleb Jones and the asset required to acquire Warren Foegele.
I understand it’s go time in Edmonton and the pressure is on Holland to build a winner in the short term. So, the conclusion we can draw is the DRW Model of draft and develop didn’t come from Motown to Edmonton because of the McDavid urgency. What does that mean? The next four years will be devoted to winning and the development system will have fewer prospects going through the system.
At some point over the length of Connor McDavid’s contract, Edmonton will either win the Stanley or exhaust itself trying. This model, the Oilers model, hasn’t really been about proper draft and developing for coming up on two decades now. Free agency is the main source of procurement, the draft has a beginning, no middle and a sudden end, and acquiring enough talent to find a “Huddy” for plug-and-play from the minors becomes more and more difficult.
The Oilers drafting is fine. The development coaching in Bakersfield is top drawer. This team needs to stop trading picks, in order to have inexpensive talent to feed the beast that is the NHL roster. I don’t see it happening until one of two things occur: Edmonton wins Stanley, or the McDavid era ends. I’m not saying it’s wrongheaded, but Edmonton needs to get more value from these trades or the entire thing will fold like a house of cards. I wrote at The Athletic about the low value placed on Caleb Jones recently, and those words could apply to Jeff Petry, Teemu Hartikainen and Linus Omark, as well as dozens of players along the way.
It’s a thing. I don’t know how an organization goes about re-thinking how to value its own assets properly. It seems to me that’s a fundamental process in team building. It’s baffling.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show today, with Darnell Nurse’s signing possible during or after. TSN1260, at 10 this morning. Darrin Bauming, creator of Bonfire Sports, will join us at 10:20 to talk CFL and Week One for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. At 11, Tom Gazzola from TSN1260 will talk Darnell Nurse and Oilers summer. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!