Monday, March 14, 2011
This is exactly like the spring of 2007 except we haven't had our hearts ripped out by having Ryan Smyth traded. That club was better than this one but it too was ravaged by injuries. With Horcoff, Jacques and Brule (seriously?) all leaving Sunday's game the list of injuries has gotten just a little bit ridiculous. Colin Fraser is now the number two centre unless its Liam Reddox.
I'd say the first overall pick is in the bag especially with Ottawa winning now and then, Colorado having a slight cushion and the Islanders leaving the Oilers in their dust with one of the best records in the league since December. Indeed the Islanders look to have three players topping thirty goals. One of those was a first pick overall. One was a waiver wire pickup. Another was picked 263rd overall in 2003.
Which brings us to Teemu Hartikainen who has gotten the call to come up from OKC and make his debut in Edmonton this week. Hartikainen has been dynamite in the AHL since he found his footing. He is a big lad. He does good work along the boards and in front of the net and he scores a lot of those goals that Mike Babcock calls 'greasy'. He also seems to have those intangible qualities that hockey people love - the work ethic, the drive to succeed and all of that jazz.
He brings a lot of qualitites to the Oilers that they lack. And he is a sixth round pick.
In Gare Joyce's terrific book on scouting he does a little bit of math and determines something that is certainly not unheard of in these parts of the Internet (and elsewhere of course). He looks at the numbers and breaks down the chances of players to make the NHL based on where they are picked. What he finds surprises him. Once you get past the cream of the crop there is a pretty good dropoff (I don't have the book in front of me so cannot quote the numbers but its surprisingly steep). Also he finds that the chances of say, a second rounder making it, are pretty close to the chances of a third rounder making it. His idea is a straight forward one, if he were a GM he would play the percentages and do things like trade a low first round pick for a couple of seconds or a second for a couple of thirds.
As I said its hardly earth shattering stuff if you are aware of the numbers, which I was not when I read the book. Its certainly very interesting if its new to you.
We're going to be hearing a lot about the draft now. There's very little to talk about. The Oilers have drafted nicely over the past few years. A lot of prospects are tracking very well and hopefully we will see this come to fruition with the big club fairly soon.
And here's hoping that Teemu Hartikainen spends the next few weeks looking like he belongs because if he does then we're going to have another piece of the puzzle and most importantly, like Grabner and Moulson, it will be from the outer rim of what is usually possible.
There is never a guarantee with drafting eighteen year old kids (hello Gilbert Brule, what plague has stricken you now?) but Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi were all pretty good bets to make it when their names were called. The same can be said for that lottery pick this June and, if things work out and the Oilers move up, another top ten pick.
Its picking a star like Ales Hemsky at number thirteen or Jordan Eberle in the twenties where you really make your hay. And getting Petry and Peckham and Omark after round one, if they can continue their development, are even bigger coups.
Barring injury, Taylor Hall is going to be a star in the NHL but some of these higher picks are not going to pay off for whatever reason. Getting useful players like Marcinin and Hamilton in the second round would be golden. Getting a guy who can play in the sixth round would be absolutely beautiful.
Posted by Black Dog at 2:00 PM