Troy Hesketh and Consequences

It's all smiles on draft day, but if things don't work out...

I'm a bit behind the news cycle on this, but Jim Matheson let us know a couple of days ago that the Oilers decided to part ways with 2009 third-round pick Troy Hesketh before the 2011 draft. Given Hesketh's (extreme) lack of progress, this was a very good decision. Drafting him, however, was probably a mistake from the day they did it (this was a reach pick). It takes a big man to recognize mistakes, and act quickly to correct them (Is there any reason at all that you didn't buy out Nikolai Khabibulin's contract, Steve?), but there are also consequences for these kinds of decisions, and not just for Hesketh.

If you miss enough times in the top 100, you end up out of the job (just ask Kevin Prendergast). Stu MacGregor doesn't have that problem at the moment, so both his employers and the fanbase will be quite content giving him a mulligan. But for area scouts, it can be a different story. Here's one of the things that Stu MacGregor had to say about Troy Hesketh after he was drafted:

He's a guy that (Oilers scout) Mike Peluso had extreme passion for, he's a solid defender and smart in his defending skills, his angles in taking away ice from the puck carrier.

Now, this might not have been the only pick that Mike Peluso "had extreme passion for", but I haven't found any other examples of Peluso having major influence on a pick. Further, it sounds to me Peluso really put his neck on the line when the Oilers drafted this kid. He was hired at the start of the 2007-08 season to cover mostly Minnesota high school hockey and the USHL. Since his hiring, the Oilers have spent exactly one draft pick in those areas. It was on Troy Hesketh.

There were probably other players that he saw play and had some influence on (Tyler Pitlick, for example, was drafted out of Minnesota St. Mankato, and played Minnesota high school hockey before that), but it's hard not to think that Troy Hesketh was a pretty important selection in his life as an amateur scout. And so it was with some interest that I read through the list of scouts that the Oilers published in June (with thanks to Lowetide for bringing it to my attention). Mike Peluso's name wasn't there. Now, for all I know the man is still with the organization, and they just didn't see fit to mention him, or maybe he needed to leave for family reasons, or, or, or...

But it also seems possible that the team cut Peluso loose because of performance. If they did, it's hard not to feel bad for the guy (he made one bad pick!), but at the same time, it speaks to accountability among the scouting staff, which after years of the Barry Fraser experience, is a great thing to see.

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