Thursday, June 19, 2008

How I Learned To Appreciate Draught, Er, The Draft

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.


rickibear said...

Omarks my excited from last years draft.

Bruce said...
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Bruce said...
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Bruce said...

2005 includes Cogliano (45 points as a rookie), Chorney, Jean Vande Velde and Truhkno.

That would be Chris Vande Velde. Jean van de Velde is this guy:

Black Dog said...

I know Bruce - that's my nickname for him.

rickibear - yep, Omark is interesting too

Bruce said...

Oh ... sorry. I've been missing out on the joke (again).

Spent half the year trying to figure out who the hell is "Sugartits", and the other half trying to figure out why Schremp got saddled with a handle like that. A little less flattering than "the hockey jesus".

Knamely Lacked said...

Great run down BDHS.

I almost like the draft as much as draught, but Guinness usually is the tipping point.

MattM said...

The interesting thing about the draft is that the relative importance of good picks vs. home runs has been skewed. Used to be that one really good pick could be a part of your team at a reasonable rate for a long time. Now, with the increased roster churn, each individual pick probably has less impact, but the ability of an organization to draft well as a whole (ie the Wings' two players out of every draft idea) is critical.

Black Dog said...

mattm - ah, that is what I call hitting the nail on the head

interesting though - I wonder in five years or so how things will look - for teams who do have the wherewithal I think that there may be an ability to keep their teams together as long as they make the right choices - if your man is going to get 2 million bucks per wherever he signs then my guess is he will sign with his original club - the grass is not always greener

guess we will see

uni said...

That's the thing, if you draft players and keep them, at market or slightly below market value you're golden.

It's not just that Detroit drafts well, but all the guys that resigned with them. I think a guy like Cleary following up two damn fine 3rd line seasons with the 5 year contract he just signed as a prime example of good asset management. Also that contract they offered Kronwall looks damn good right now too no?

I have hope for the Leafs with Fletcher on board, but with that organization the rot starts at the top. Peddie and the Teacher's Pension Plan have got to go...either that or the GM has to have absolute power and freedom to do what he sees fit with no interference from above, well that and be a smart capable GM as well.

baroque said...

Detroit caught a lot of flak from some fans for the Kronwall contract at the time, though - the argument was why would you sign a player to such a long-term contract if he hasn't managed to stay healthy because of his freakish injuries? They saw why when he was healthy this playoffs and played as though he was finally in his element.

The Datsyuk contract also raised a lot of hackles because he hadn't proven himself a playoff performer yet. The team had Yzerman make the argument that the team was treating Pavel as it would a first-round pick because that was the role he had within the team and the level of play they expected from him - and he delivered as well.

I think it's easy for fans to get impatient with development of players, especially when they see other players delivering at 20 years old and one of their guys isn't playing that well even if he's the ripe old age of 23. The key is for the organization to not get impatient, I think, and realize that not every player will mature at the same rate - otherwise the draft would be dead easy if people were that predictable.

Black Dog said...

baroque - a great point and one I keep promising to post on

its the money of course - teams pay these kids a lot of it and they are, in a lot of cases, desperate, so they rush them into duty and then wonder why they fail

in the old days it was understood that a guy was not ready to play in the NHL for years

I remember when Pavel was signed what a lot of people said - hey, I amy have been one of them. The guy is probably one of the best five players in the league now I would say. And Kronvall is great.

Be like the Wings. Definitely not like the Leafs. Ron Wilson gets it but Fletcher moving a third for Mayers makes me think they still want it both ways. I understand Mayers is a great grinder to have but you can get that guy on the cheap as a UFA for no pick.