The draft has come and gone with the Edmonton Oilers taking home eleven shiny new prospects. They also threw an old one to the Hurricanes, following my mother's age-old advice: "If you're not going to wear it, give it away!" That the propsect in question was Riley Nash probably has the Oilers management team wishing they could have given him over to a literal hurricane instead. At any rate, after the jump, Derek, Bruce, Ben and I will give our thoughts on that trade and the rest of the Oiler-related happenings from (mostly Day Two of) the Entry Draft.
Derek: I think that the scouting staff took the best player available with their first three picks - Hall, Pitlick and Marincin. After that I think Hamilton, Martindale and Blain were "best biggest player available", especially considering some of the outstanding players that were passed over. Later in the draft, the staff went back to their board.
Scott: I think the team is taking the guy that they think is the best player available. Is size a part of that? Yes, and it probably should be. Is it too big a part? It could be, I suppose, and it was in 2003 when the Oilers were plucking guys in the first three rounds way earlier than they were ranked. This year, though, if we look at the ISS rankings, the only guy they took "early" in the first three rounds is Curtis Hamilton who had significant injury problems that may have caused his ranking to fall. I wish that they had made some different picks, but I'm confident that they were trying to take the best guy.
Bruce: "Our mandate from Steve going in was to get bigger and get players with more character, and I think we did. We got size on the back end, and guys who will try hard up front." - Stu MacGregor
Ben: Of course the Oilers took some big players, but unlike in the heady days of Colin McDonald and Geoff Paukovich I don't think they took any big guys for the sake of their being big. The oft-cited Ryan Martindale, for example, is two inches shorter than Brad Winchester, very nearly a point-per-game scorer with Ottawa last season, and has had quite a successful OHL career in both ends of the rink. Out of the rest, only Curtis Hamilton is also of above-average size and Kristians Pelss is a full-blown midget.
Of all of the picks made after Tyler Pitlick (everyone together: Hooray!), which pick are you happiest with?
Derek: Brandon Davidson. I almost wrote a profile about him a few weeks ago, but I passed and wrote one on Ludvig Rensfeldt instead. I noticed him in December, when it became clear that he was keeping his head above water. He's intriguing because he led the Pats in +/-, far ahead of Jordan Eberle, and he was the only regular defenseman who was in the black for the season. I know the scouting reports say his skating is terrible, but he's a kid that didn't have access to AAA hockey and the coaching and training that comes with it, so the Oilers should leave him in Regina for three years and send him to Steve Serdachny as often as possible.
Scott: I'm also going to go with Brandon Davidson. Since the Oilers didn't go with the players I would have taken in the earlier rounds, this question becomes "which late pick has the best chance at a career" and it seems to me that Brandon Davidson runs away with it in that category. Derek already mentioned his relative effectiveness at outscoring with the Pats and that's a really nice place to start for any player. He's also got some offense (34 points in 59 games) and is big enough that size shouldn't be a concern if his other skills develop to the point that they're good enough for the NHL.
Bruce: I'm intrigued by Curtis Hamilton. He made the WHL as a full-time player at 15, and was tracking well until his most recent season was derailed by injury. I also like the Brandon Davidson selection.
Ben: I think Martindale is likely to be the best player, but there is an asterisk there because of some of the players left on the board; I'm not sure it would be fair to say I was "happy", as such. Brandon Davidson is probably my choice. He's an older player and a high-risk pick because he only came on this season after two seasons as a complete non-entity with the AJHL Olds Grizzlys. But he really did come on, and anybody who can do what he did at age 19 is worth at least a look. It's also tempting to draw conclusions from his being Jordan Eberle's teammate.
Are there any selections that were underwhelming?
Derek: I wasn't thrilled with the Ryan Martindale pick. I understood the Hamilton pick because if he's healthy and able to post some numbers, he probably threatens the top half of the second round. In my eyes, Martindale is from the Brad Winchester tree -- biggest best player available. He's big, he fights, he hits, but the rest of his game is terribly lacking. There were better players available.
Scott: Plenty. The first two selections went as the Copper and Blue had scripted so I'm certainly not going to complain about that, but after those two picks, I found the rest of the second and third round pretty underwhelming. After getting an extra pick in the Riley Nash trade, I likely would've taken Kirill Kabanov at #46, Jordan Weal at #48 and then Matt MacKenzie at #61. Then again, all three of those guys were available at #61, so maybe I'm just a dummy. Beyond that, I can say with confidence that a goalie at #121 doesn't bug me but Tyler Bunz at #121 did. I would have much preferred Fredrik Pettersson-Wentzel who went seven picks later and was more highly rated coming in. Finally, I wish they had gone with Derek's Swedish Tree instead of the tiny Latvian in the seventh just in case that big Swede can play hockey. There just aren't that many guys who are 6'9'' that can skate and it's not like you're giving up a whole lot if he doesn't work out in the seventh round.
Bruce: Can't say I was blown away with the Jeremie Blain pick, but at that point (#91) I'm a fan looking at a handful of recognizable names, not a master scout with a long checklist. I'm prepared to wait and see on Blain just like all the others.
Ben: Kristians Pelss is nobody and nothing. He's a poor man's Evgeni Muratov. I know it was the seventh round but people were still giving up future picks to get into those positions and drafting the likes of Pelss is just wasting an asset. Drew Czerwonka was another disappointment, as it's hard to imagine where he could fit into an NHL roster even if everything breaks right, but the biggest letdown was Tyler Bunz. The Oilers drafted him twelve spots before they dracfted Bryan Pitton in 2006 and that makes sense because Bunz is exactly that type of goaltender. He's shown no inclination that he has what it takes to star in the WHL, never mind make it to the NHL someday. Goaltenders are mysteries, it is true, but then why waste the pick on him at all?
Who do you regret missing out on?
Derek: I regret missing out on Brock Beukeboom, Kirill Kabanov, Jordan Weal, Matt MacKenzie and Stanislav Galiev in the third round when they the Oilers went with Ryan Martindale instead. Each of the aforementioned players have something to hang their hats on besides "big" and "hits" and have a real chance to build their games into something NHL-worthy. I'm also a bit stunned that Teemu Pulkkinen lasted until the Red Wings' pick in the fourth round. The kid has his shortcomings (size and injury history), but he's a scorer no matter the level he's playing. He's the much talked about "one-shot scorer" and "sniper" that Kevin Lowe so desperately wants and I'm amazed that the Oilers passed on him for Blaine, the defenseman from the Q.
Scott: In descending of how much I liked the guy I picked better than the guy the Oilers picked: Pettersson-Wentzel, Kabanov, Weal, Svedberg and MacKenzie.
Bruce: I was hoping the Oilers would take a shot at Jordan "Steal" Weal, and targeted that #61 slot as being the point at which I would take him for sure if he was still there. (Note: caveat in last comment.) I saw him good when I went to see the Pats in March: very creative and industrious little guy, and some history with Eberle for what that's worth. L.A. subsequently stole Weal at #70. I like his chances of covering that bet and having a career.
Ben: I regret that the Oilers couldn't pull off a trade to get back into the first round for one of Fowler, Pysyk, or Etem, but I'm not sure that counts. Beyond that, Teemu Pulkkinen instead of Jeremie Blain at #91 would have made me happy enough that I probably would have knocked an entire thing of Sierra Mist onto Greg Wyshynski, but that's the only really glaring miss to me.
Where does this leave Andrew Cogliano and what is his real trade value?
Derek: I feel bad for Cogliano at this point. He's been out on a trade limb for two consecutive summers and knows his time is not long in this organization. Hockey is first and foremost a business, as Edmonton fans are well-aware, but it's got to be tough to know that you're not wanted. I guess you can try to do the mental acrobatics and consider yourself a valued asset by management, but it's not easy to convince yourself when you're getting the boot. His trade value at this point is "the piece that gets the Sheldon Souray trade done" or he'll bring in a young prospect. No team is going to take Cogliano for an established player unless the Oilers are taking back a terrible contract. He might be enough to bring in a deadline rental at some point.
Scott: Given that the rumour out of TSN was that he was offered to Florida for #15, that Tambellini sure looked like this rumour was true and that Florida later traded #15 for #19 and #59, we can be pretty confident that he's worth less than that on the trade market right now. Now, there's no shame in being worth less than a 1st and 2nd round pick. Not many guys are and I daresay that if Cogliano got an offer sheet with that kind of compensation the Oilers wouldn't need to think long about having him hit the road. His actual value? Probably a similarly experienced young player in the NHL or a late first round pick, something like 25th overall. Personally, I like Cogliano and hope they keep him if he's signable under $2M.
Bruce: Cogliano was prominent by his absence from the "meet the Oilers" group at the draft party. Sure enough, his name came up in the broadcast as possible trade bait on another failed deal. Hard not to feel sorry for the kid having this happen, and leak out, AGAIN. At this point one would think he would welcome a deal for a fresh start somewhere else, but his value appears to be diminishing. Given how Andrew finished the season (15 GP, 4-8-12, +5) a team doing its homework might get a steal here.
Ben: Andrew Cogliano has been a part of every really solid Oilers trade rumour for the last calendar year. Those whole Dany Heatley shenanigans, this Florida mess, as well as everything that leaks through the cracks here or there at some point or another. Some of it, of course, is just fans and reporters blue-skying, but once in a while one comes through with some legs and there's Cogliano's name. The Oilers once pimped the hell out of Andrew Cogliano like he was the future of the team, and now he's out there with Liam Reddox and Fernando Pisani in Forgotten Plug-Ville. I think that Cogliano's value is a lot lower than fans or the Oilers want to think, and I think that the Oilers are going to work even harder to move him before the potential return diminishes even more. (I also think this is a good thing.)
Riley Nash leaves the organization after three long years of frustration. Is this Nash's fault, the Oilers' fault, or both?
Derek: This one is on the organization. The Oilers knew the kid was going to Cornell when they drafted him, so why did the fact that he was playing at Cornell and refusing to leave early become such a huge issue?
Scott: I don't know who's fault it is that he's leaving or if that language is even helpful from Nash's standpoint (is there a compelling reason for him to want to stay?), but the return is unimpressive for sure. To me, Nash was the best of the potential middle six centers the Oilers have in the pipeline (the other prominent fellows being Lander, Vande Velde and maybe Kytnar) so I'm disappointed that they traded him to draft a much lesser prospect who's much further away from helping in the NHL 46th overall, considering their down-side risk was taking the 51st overall pick in 2011 and the upside was mending fences with a guy who might be good.
Bruce: I'll say both. I'm probably more ticked off at the team though, just because they traded up to get him... when you, in effect, double the bet by spending two draft choices on one player, you bloody well better have a real good idea of not just what kind of prospect the kid is, but the inside scoop on his career path, intentions, etc. I don't feel due diligence was done here, and the Oilers paid a heavy price, effectively trading a #30 and #36 for a single #46 three years down the road. Ooops.
Ben: Well, it's the Oilers' fault for trading up to draft a sub-elite player from a way-sub-elite league and expecting him to cover the bet. It's Nash's fault for yanking the Oilers around for the past three seasons and seemingly getting comfortable treading water in Cornell rather than developing into a hockey player. Listen, all you kids out there, going to school and getting a degree is a very good idea except when you've got people offering you multi-million-dollar deals not to. Skating around in a bad NCAA league with a bad team and not getting any better, Nash's potential career earnings are just falling and falling and I'm glad the Oilers cut bait on this joker.