Thursday, June 19, 2008
If you frequent the Oilogosphere then you have seen the work that LT has done this week leading up to the draft. He is truly a machine when it comes to this stuff and he has all you need to know, including some terrific links, if you are interested in the goings on tomorrow night.
I used to be a bigger draft guy then I am now; kids and work have made perusing draft previews secondary to having a pint at my local whenever I have free time. Last year I was up in Goulais for a reunion and didn't even know the draft started on the Friday night. Returned to where we were staying good and drunk (we McLeans know the importance of throwing a party) and said Gagner over Jakub? WTF!? And who is this Nash kid?
This year, however, I am going to probably be in front of the TV checking it out. The success of the Wings has convinced me that the Oilers have to make hay this weekend and likely in each draft over the next four or five years if they want to join Detroit as a leading franchise in this league. Someone heard an interview with a Red Wing exec (might have been Jim Nill) and posted some of the comments earlier this week - I think it was a thread on LT's site. Nill or whoever it was stated that their goal was to have two NHL players coming out of every draft. If they have that success rate then they will be a winning franchise. Checking out the Wings' enviable draft record you can see that they are second to none and that is why they have been on such an extraordinary run.
For perspective take a look at YKOils unbelievable work on the Oilers' draft history. In their first three drafts the Oilers picked Messier, Lowe, Anderson (out of six total picks in 1979!), Coffey, Kurri, Moog and Walt Poddubny in 1980 and Fuhr, Steve Smith and Mark Habscheid in 1981. I believe LT referred to this run as out and out buggery of the remainder of the league.
Then check out the shit that passed for drafts in the following decade. It was that bad and there were a lot of mediocre years in the 90s as well. This team struggled financially but in a lot of ways they had nobody to blame but themselves for the franchise's fall from grace.
Since 2000 things have gotten better, a lot better. 2001 brought Hemsky and Jussi. 2002 had Stoll, Greene and one more who might still make it in Deslauriers. 2003 has Brodziak, Stortini, Pouliot, Roy, Jacques, Hrabel and McDonald. No stars and the last three may not make it (although I think Hrabel may be this year's surprise out of camp) but there are at least four NHL players here. Nobody has made it from 2004 yet but there are Schremp, Reddox and Dubnyk as well as a couple of possible dark horses.
Now here is where I start to get an exceptional boner. 2005 includes Cogliano (45 points as a rookie), Chorney, Jean Vande Velde and Truhkno. 2006 has Petry, Wild, Peckham and Pitton (out of only five picks) and 2007 has Gagner as well as Plante and Nash.
Now, a lot of these guys who are still prospects are never going to make it but the arrows for many of them are pointing in the right direction and as a result the same can be said for the franchise. There is a lot of skill and a lot of guys are starting to come out of later rounds. This bodes well for the club.
So what can we expect this year? Well there will be some action but not as much as the hype machine leads us to believe. The draft is deep and I think the Oilers are going to get a very good prospect at 22. I don't see them trading up really.
I could see them dropping down a couple of spots in order to garner a later pick. I could see a vet or two get moved (Stoll, Torres, Smid, Greene??) as they try to get more picks. Remember the goal - two players at least. Presently they haven't a second or a third rounder.
Tom Benjamin, who does terrific work, has said that since the lockout the draft has become less important. I see his point but I believe the opposite to be true. As a franchise you need a stream of cheap young players coming in constantly to take over as you move veterans along. The arrival of Gagner, Cogliano, Pouliot and Brodziak means that Marty Reasoner will likely be out of a job and Jarret Stoll's days may be numbered unless he gets it together. I like both of those players and I recognize that they, as veterans, can do things that the kids cannot do as of yet but three years from now when the Oilers are hopefully contenders once again I'm thinking a 26 year old Marc Pouliot as my fourth line centre might be a better bet then Marty Reasoner. Using a sledgehammer to kill that mosquito here I know with that example but I think its a moot point anyways. Draft schmaft gets you the Leafs. The Oilers do not want to be the Leafs.
The Oilers' drafting has become quite good. If it continues to do so then this team is going to be in the upper echelon of the league very soon.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:52 PM