Thursday, April 16, 2009

Prendergast Not the Problem

Yesterday the Edmonton Oilers sacked head coach Craig MacTavish after the team failed to reach the NHL post season for a third consecutive year. Fans were vocal all season long expressing their outrage and demanding the head of various Oilers employees including the coach, the former GM, the former head scout and his staff, several players and even the in-rink DJ.

Will the firing of MacTavish be enough to slake the thirst of the fans or will they still demand that more heads roll? Was the coach’s neck the onlt one on GM Steve Tambellini’s chopping block or is he sharpening his axe as we speak?

The TEAM 1260 had extensive coverage of Wednesday’s events and while I’m sure the local rights holder / information station did as well, I listen to the 24-hour sports station for obvious reasons. When I tuned in, Bryn Griffiths was fielding calls and while most of the talk was centered around who would eventually become the new bench boss, some listeners expressed concern that the wrong man was let go.

Jason Gregor’s always-exceptional Just A Game started early and the coaching subject continued with a few other topics thrown in from the callers. (as an aside, Gregor did a bunch of number crunching a couple years ago to assess the drafting record of the Oilers and gave the club a very favorable grade).

Eventually yesterday someone got around to insisting that Kevin Prendergast should be the next to go followed closely by a number of scouts. It’s a sentiment I’ve seen pop up on various message boards and blogs as well so yesterday wasn’t the first time.

The blame for the team’s failures since the Stanley Cup run in ’06 should be shared by a lot of people in the organization including Prendergast but it would be a mistake, in my humble opinion, if the gun was indeed pointed his direction.

Let me explain.


“This team hasn’t drafted well for the last 3 decades” one caller insisted before Gregor left his argument looking like Al Pacino at the end of Scarface.

First of all, most Oiler fans recognize that the Lowe-Prendergast-Howson era of drafting truly began in 2001. The 2000 draft was a line blurred between Barry Fraser, the outgoing head of scouting, and Prendergast’s new regime. At that point in Fraser’s career, Prendergast was doing almost all of the coordinating duties that go along with being a head scout. The area scouts reported and sent all of their information to Prendergast who would then compile the information and send it to Fraser who was, as we all know, based in Mexico.

Alexei Mikhnov was Edmonton’s 1st round pick that year, a player only a couple of members of the scouting staff had actually seen play. It was Fraser’s last official pick, a token gesture made by Lowe to the retiring man who had drafted so many future superstars back in the glory days.

From then on it was KP’s draft although the staff had operated all year under Fraser’s organizational system. What that meant was that scouts from the east rarely, if ever, had seen the same players that those in the West had viewed and only a couple scouts on the entire staff even went overseas in those days.

Scouts will tell you that if you can eventually turn 2 of your picks from each draft into NHL players, you’re doing pretty well. 3 and you should be pretty proud of the job you did. More than that and you had a hell of a good year, and probably got a bit lucky at the same time.

In 2000 Edmonton selected 2 players who have gone on to have NHL careers in Brad Winchester (2nd round, 183 GP) and Matthew Lombardi (7th round, 366 GP).

The next year, I think everyone agrees, Edmonton hit a homerun when they took Ales Hemsky with the 13th overall pick. What the general public doesn’t know is that Kevin Prendergast wasn’t sure that Hemsky was the right choice. Now you’re probably asking yourself why I’m using the selection of Hemsky as a positive for KP then. The reason stems from what I said earlier about Barry Fraser.

When Prendergast took over full control of the scouting department he implemented several major changes. Prendergast outlined what they were when I interviewed him for Hockey’s Future back in 2003.

“Since I’ve come in I’ve basically tried to make sure that all of our scouts go over to Europe. I want the top 50 players on our list to be seen by everyone on our staff so that when we have a meeting it’s not just one or two person’s opinions that they’re voting on.”
If you’re still unsure of what I’m getting at, consider this quote in that same article from long time Oiler scout Chris McCarthy who compared doing the job under both Fraser and KP.

“It’s like comparing two different forms of government - Barry’s was more of a dictatorship and Kevin’s is more democratic. Everybody gets a fair vote and sometimes we even disagree with Kevin.”

The truth of the matter is that during the 2000-01 season, Prendergast saw Hemsky several times but never on a night when the import played well. Yet at the draft table he was able to set his own ego aside and instead put faith in the staff that he had assembled and subsequently made the right selection. Ales Hemsky would not be an Oiler today if not for Prendergast.

2001 also saw the Oilers draft defenceman Doug Lynch, a bruising character defenceman whose promising career was derailed by a wrist injury, overage Finnish netminder Jussi Markkanen who began contributing the following season as well as a pair of overage European blueliners in Ales Pisa and Kari Haakana. The latter are not names that stand out now of course but at the time, the NHL club needed bodies on the farm who might be able to fill in immediately as injury replacements. Instead of drafting low-end juniors, the organization asked Prendergast (and staff) to deliver a couple low-end older guys who could act as band-aids until their prospects were ready. Pisa played 50 games as an Oiler over the following two seasons and Haakana dressed 13 times – both fulfilling the role they were drafted for.

Much has been made about the disastrous selection of Jesse Niinimaki in 2002 and rightfully so, it was a stunning move then and looks even worse in hindsight. While the first round that year was indefensibly horrible, it’s more than fair to argue that KP and his staff made up for it in the second round with 3 picks that have all reached the NHL.

Let me use a quick analogy here to simplify how the draft process generally works. Imagine that the GM says “I’m hungry” but he doesn’t look to the scouts and expect them to guess what he wants to eat. Instead, the GM says “I’m hungry, find me an apple” and so the scouts get him the apple they think will be the best, not a plum, not a burger but an apple.

The Oilers traded Jochen Hecht to Buffalo for a pair of 2nd rounders. With the first of those new picks Kevin Lowe asked Prendergast to get him a goalie and KP used it to select Jeff Deslauriers, one part of the expected NHL tandem next season. Next Lowe wanted ‘some character and grit’ and so KP delivered Jarret Stoll (pictured) and Matt Greene. Stoll has played 360 NHL games which is more than games that 26 of the 30 players taken in the first round that same year. Stoll was pegged by many Oiler fans as a sure-fire captain one day but has since been dealt to the L.A. Kings where Greene is in fact wearing a letter on his jersey. Greene has played 233 career games and is a bona fide NHL player.

The Oilers didn’t get any contributions from the rest of their 2002 draft class although it should be noted that Dwight Helminen, their 8th round pick, turned up with the Carolina Hurricanes this season and played a quarter of the year at the NHL level.

It’s fair to say the Oilers struck out in the first round of 2002 but, continuing the baseball analogy, they hit a pair of triples in Stoll and Greene and at least a single with Deslauriers who might eventually be able to steal his way to second before too long.

2003 is a painful draft for Oiler fans to look back at because their club traded down from their original spot and chose a player who has struggled while New Jersey used Edmonton’s pick to hit a homerun named Zach Parise. There is no getting around that and the fact that 2003 is considered one of the best draft classes of all time only makes it worse.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the Oilers didn’t trade Zach Parise to New Jersey, they traded the 17th overall pick. It’s a huge difference. The Oilers were not sold on drafting Parise because the upper management didn’t want to add a diminutive forward to a team that was already too small for the pre-lockout NHL. Hindsight tells us that was obviously a mistake but it was an organizational decision to get bigger, not a policy made by the scouting staff.

"Get me an apple... a big one." And they did, in every round that year.

When Lou Lamoriello called the Oiler table to ask if the 17th pick was available the Oilers, who had just crossed off ‘Robert Nilsson’ after he went to Long Island at 15, examined their target list to see if it made sense. Right or wrong, they had Parise neck-and-neck with a pair of other guys they had interest in who were still available. They examined the pros and cons and decided that the odds of getting one of those three targets was strong and adding a 2nd rounder in a fantastic draft outweighed the risk.

But the Devils grabbed Parise and then Eric Fehr was taken by Washington leaving the third player in their target group, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, for them to take at 22. By the way, Edmonton’s choice at the 22 slot was not only non-controversial at the time but applauded by the highly respected TSN panel including Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie:

Pouliot has not developed as they’d hoped but with 141 games under his belt now, he is at the very least a NHL player. He might not be on the roster of all 30 teams in the league but you could argue that he would make the roster on more than just two or three outside of Edmonton. The Oilers also drafted Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and J.F. Jacques in 2003, three more players who ended this past year at the NHL level. One could argue that a plethora of injuries prevented Mathieu Roy from being a useful depth player as well.

In a draft where a number of teams hit a homerun in the first round but struck out the rest of the way, Edmonton hit 4 singles and had a bunt (Roy) that just rolled foul. Not nearly as bad as most think but forgotten because of the optics invloved with the success New Jersey has enjoyed with Parise.

When Liam Reddox is the biggest contributor, it’s tough to say you had a good year at the draft table. 2004 isn’t looking like a banner year for the Oilers although Devan Dubnyk is still fermenting on the farm with some indication he’ll end up as wine rather than vinegar. Yet again though, it was upper management that deemed the organization needed to select a goaltender that year and Prendergast and his staff simply pointed to the one they felt was the best long-term prospect. Vancouver’s Cory Schneider (who The Pipeline Show is really high on) has had a stellar AHL career but has only appeared in 8 NHL games to date so it’s not like Dubnyk should be written off yet.

The Rob Schremp selection was initially deemed as a coup by most local media and Oiler fans many of who still hold out hope that the junior star can find his way to the NHL. He was taken 25th overall and is one of ten 2004 first rounders to have played fewer than 20 NHL games so the Oilers are far from alone in 2004 futility.

The Oilers didn’t have much luck in the Crosby lottery that followed the lockout but even with the 25th pick in the 2005 draft they managed to find a player who has contributed two seasons already in Andrew Cogliano. Edmonton’s first three selections that year have now all dressed in the NHL (Taylor Chorney just recently and Danny Syvret played 28 games as an Oiler) plus the organization likes what they see in collegian Chris Vande Velde.

When we start talking about 2006, 2007 and 2008 drafts it’s much tougher to gauge if they were successful or not because the majority of players from those years should not be expected to be contributing yet. However, Edmonton’s 3rd rounder from ’06, Theo Peckham, has impressed in his 16 NHL games and Sam Gagner’s 155 games played and 90 points are second only to Patrick Kane for NHL production from the class of 2007.

Drafting has not been THE problem for the Edmonton Oilers this decade. Could it be better? Sure, but there isn’t a team out there that wouldn’t say the same thing.

The Minnesota Wild made a combined 19 selections in 2004 and 2005 which has produced 3 NHL players including Benoit Pouliot taken 4th overall who has managed just 14 points. The Vancouver Canucks went 0 for 11 in 2002 and followed that up with Ryan Kesler and no one else in 2003. Dion Phaneuf was obviously a huge pick for Calgary in 2003 but their other 8 selections that year have all busted.

Inevitably two teams get held up as examples of stellar drafting; Detroit and New Jersey.

But look at what the Red Wings have done since 2001: Igor Grigorenko’s career was struck a blow when he was in a car accident so chalk that one up to misfortune but the rest of 2001 was a bust for the Wings. 2002 was a highlight year for Detroit as they mined 5 NHL players including Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann (WSH) and Valtteri Filppula. However, since 2002 though Detroit has made 43 selections and, outside of Johan Franzen, have had no one make significant contributions at the NHL level. They do still have solid prospects on the farm, like most teams do, but Detroit’s "incredible drafting reputation" was earned a long time ago.

As for New Jersey... talk about overrated! The Devils were absolutely dynamite in the ‘90’s and David Conte has been living off it ever since. Since and including the 2001 draft the Devils have made 66 selections and do you know how many of them have become honest to goodness NHL players?

TWO. And I bet you can name both of them off the top of your head.

Outside of Zach Parise (’03) and Travis Zajac (’04) the much-vaunted Devils have drafted pretty much zippo. Wait, they did find Cam Janssen in 2002 and he has managed to score 6 whole points and play in 163 games so I guess I should include him. And Aaron Voros (’01) managed to get to the NHL after a lengthy AHL career so he ups New Jersey’s draft performance a bit more. So that makes it 4 for 66still impressed?

I think the Devils will be happy with some of the prospects they have like Matt Halischuk and Patrice Cormier but every team has 4 or 5 guys in their system who should be considered legit prospects.

The bottom line for the Oilers scouting performance since 2001 is that they’ve had 8 first round picks (2 in 2004, none in 2006) with Hemsky, Cogliano and Gagner already success stories, Jordan Eberle still looking promising and Dubnyk, Pouliot and Schremp no worse than possible trade assets… only Niinimaki qualifies as a complete bust.

That’s just the drafting history but I can show other ways that Kevin Prendergast has contributed positively to the Oilers organization but that will be tomorrow. Is he without any blame or responsibility in the current state of the organization? Of course not but I’ll explain tomorrow where Prendergast has succeeded and where he’s failed (so far) and hopefully I’ll have proved my point that this isn’t a person the organization should be looking to cut loose any time soon.


Jonathan Willis said...

Completely agree with you on Edmonton's underrated drafting record, and that there probably isn't anybody who deserves to get sacked over it.

Development is another story. Springfield's been in shambles for two seasons now, and as I understand it, Kevin Prendergast was the architect of the roster.

Guy Flaming said...

Yup, and that's the black eye he's got on his record right now but as I'll explain tomorrow... he's been a bit handcuffed there too.

Jonathan Willis said...

I realize I didn't say this in my first post, and I really should have: amazing writeup, Guy. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Lowetide said...

Excellent article, Guy. Thanks for the tip, Jonathan.

Guy, have you ever thought of taking your HF stuff over the years and publishing it on this site as an archive? I'd use it extensively.

Anonymous said...

When Ales Hemsky is the trophy pick for a guy it really makes one wonder what point you are making. He is skilled and able and with the minutes he gets, of course he will produce. But, he has also been lacking on MANY occasions when the Oilers needed him to step up and take a game over.

You are talking about Hemsky like he is a prize. He is sympomatic of exactly what the Oilers are. Fairly skilled, physically weak and non assertive. When I watch the Flames play tonite, it really becomes how weak the Oiler's 'heart and soul guys' are.

The Oilers have become weak and sad. Who is to blame for that? Is that not scouting?

Lowetide said...

Good job Anonymous. Way to man up and put your name on it.

Anonymous said...

Hemsky was picked @13 in 2001. Here are the next 10 picks from that year:

14. Chuck Kobasew
15. Igor Knayazev
16. R.J. Umberger
17. Carlo Colaiacovo
18. Jens Karlsson
19. Shaone Morrisonn
20. Marcel Goc
21. Colby Armstrong
22. Jiri Novotny

Perhaps the previous Anon. would like to tell us who is the obvious better choice. Hemsky has more points than Umberger (#2) and Kobasew (#3) combined.

Hemsky is a flawed gem and may not be the ideal choice to build a team around, but Prendergast did very well to pick him here.

Anonymous said...

I am not disputing that Hemsky is a pretty good player. What I am saying is that if he is evidence of excellence by Pendergast, then the bar isn't really high.

Anonymous said...

continued re: Hemsky/Pendergass

How many players in the NHL have had the opportunities for icetime that Hemsky got right away? Give any pure skilled guy that type of opportunity and I would guess they would get their .75 points a game.

jdrevenge said...

Anonymous... Hes also scored some of the biggest goals in recent memory.

He scored the playoff clinching goal against st louis in 06. He scored a couple of humongous goals against Detroit as well in rd 1.

The last couple years he dissapeared a bit during the last 20 or so games but who knows why that is. Coaching..... I have a feeling we'll find out next season.

jdrevenge said...

I bet if you got his icetime you'd be scoring at the same clip. Give your head a shake. I would guarantee that any team in the NHL would love to have this guy. To have taken him 13th is also on the unexpected side of things. Typically after the first five you'll have guys that take a while to get to the show... I could be wrong but i think he was with the team straight out of junior. Thats pretty special.

Our scouting staff is great its just that we're expecting these players to come straight to the team and produce right away because we need it. Thats just not realistic. If we had a contending team the number of prospects making their way to the team year after year would be minimal.

oilerdago said...

Guy, outstanding read.

Seems to me that the biggest complaints against KP keep coming back to 2003 (Parise/Pouliot) and the inability to un-earth a late (1st or any other) round gem.

You're coverage of the Parise situation needs nothing further so let me comment about late steals.

You have to ask how often this happens? Seriously, is there a Zetterberg every year? Every 5 years?

And even when there are solid picks late in the first round or second round, it goes back to the depth of the draft and need. We know 2003 was probably the best draft since 1979, 2008 could be another and they say now 2009 could be too. But these are not every year occurences.

And when you are not drafting BPA but for need, you tend to get myopic (as you've brilliantly pointed out).

Given this, to crucify the man for not being able to trap lightning in a bottle each is blatantly unfair.

For where the Oilers have drafted (this year will only be the 2nd time they've drafted in the top 10 of the 1st round) they've been solid (as you point out). Not spectacular, but solid. Getting someone of Hemsky's talent when they did is terrific.

The real crime is not being able to surround him with the right complimentary player through trades or free agency.

My question then is who's responsible for that - not to fire him but to get better input to make this piece better.

And in doing so, you have to decide what kind of team you are going to be - which is where the Oilers I think really got lost 2 years ago.

Gagner is going to be a great pick. Cogliano as well. Do you build a team around them or do you build a team around what you've been the last 15 years (grit)? Right now, we seem to be in between and that's not KP's fault.

Bottom line. I don't think the answer is firing KP but maybe putting him back into a full time position for what he's best suited - leading the scouting staff based on a clear vision - which Tambellini is responsible for providing.

Anonymous said...

Once again, my point is that Guy is using him as a reference point of Pendergast's success. My point is that Hemsky is not exactly a shining example of a great draft pick.

Maybe what plagues Hemsky is that he is not physically ready to succeed in a team as physically weak and unassertive as the currentr Oilers. Once again, would that not fall back on the drafts and scouting?

This isn't about whether Hemsky has scored big goals or whether he is a great talent. What it comes down to is the fact that the Oilers are currently a weak and unassertive team that doesn't battle hard enough. And, despite some talent and sweet skills, the game is about much more than skills competitions and pretty goals.

Linus, Ales, Sam, Andrew, Robbie and the boys make for really nice skills competitions. How do they do when they are picking composite fibres out of their gums?

Face facts - the Oilers have drafted poorly. Guys like Winchester and Pouliot are a dime a dozen and could have been found anywhere.

The team is full of highly skilled smurfs and guys who fold when things get tough. Why? Because they just aren't physically ready. MacT did nothing wrong. To win 36 games with this group is a small miracle.

This organization needs a complete overhaul. Lowe stays and everyone else goes.

Get Ales some support and trade the young smurfs to some teams that can fortify them and they will be fine. But the collective group won't win anywhere.

PS - your comments on whether I could put up as many points as Hemsky is ridiculous. Let's stick to hockey and issues.

Anonymous said...


If you go to one of the online sites (Internet Hockey Database) and look through the past drafts you can get a feel for how many guys after the second round have gone on to have significant careers.

In 1999 Detroit drafted the following:

120. Jari Tolsa
143. Andrei Maximenko
181. Kent McDonell
210. Henrik Zetterberg
238. Anton Borodkin
266. Ken Davis

At the time, the Red Wings were the only team picking up late bloomers out of secondary Swedish leagues - like Zetterberg. If they are so smart, how come they did not scoop up Zetterberg @120? Why wait until 210 for a talent like that? Clearly, they did not know either.

This late in the draft success like this is more than likely luck not skill.

oilerdago said...

To anonymous: Let me add one thing here.

You may say guys like Winchester and Pouliot are a dime a dozen, but in a league where there is a cap, it is even more important to be able to round "role" players beyond the the first round. Without it, you have no depth to withstand injuries or free agency (particularly if your GM feels he has to overpay to get people to come to Edmonton).

In this regard (as Guy points out), I think the Oilers of the KP draft years have been above average. Peckham (I'd argue) is the best prospect in the system, Petry's a good one (don't be fooled, MSU was awful this year and he was the best on the team) and Omark has a lot of people intrigued (if we can just get him here). Haartkinen looked good this season as has Cornet.

Maybe we do have too many smurfs. Fine, package them in such a way as to get what you need (moving up in the draft or getting another team's players).

But part of this too was the 1 year philosophy of going for skill that now we seem to be changing again. So I guess my point here too is that there needs to be a consistent vision about what kind of team you're going to have so that you can draft for the long-term.

Rod said...

Anon, your continued bashing of the Hemsky pick continues to overlook the only relevant question: What better player should have been selected instead? Hindsight clearly shows that Hemsky was the best player available, by a landslide.

Hemsky @13 was a great pick, and if the Oilers had bypassed him, you'd be harping on them for their obvious error.

Then again, I shouldn't be surprised at your ridiculous conclusion over the Hemsky pick. You also think everyone but Lowe should be replaced. Concluding that Lowe has performed well is to deny obvious facts. Which is exactly what you're doing with Hemsky.

Jonathan Willis said...

How many players in the NHL have had the opportunities for icetime that Hemsky got right away? Give any pure skilled guy that type of opportunity and I would guess they would get their .75 points a game.Just for the record, Ales Hemsky started his Oilers career on the fourth line.

Guy, have you ever thought of taking your HF stuff over the years and publishing it on this site as an archive? I'd use it extensively.Seconded. I do use the archives over at Hockey's Future, but I'd love to see them presented a little more front and centre here.

Anonymous said...

Anon cont....

Hemsky got quality minutes relatively early in his career. As for comparisons with who was better in that draft, that really is not my point. My point is that if Ales Hemsky is the badge of success for an organization, then the scouting hasn't been great. Have a look at Nashville - Weber, Tootoo, Hamhuis. Look at Calgary - Phaneuf. Now that is a first rounder. Look at Anaheim. Corey Perry as a second rounder. Zajac and Wolski as late second rounders are elite picks. Those are guys to brag about. They are competitors and they are guys you build a culture around. Paul Stasny at 44 or Russell at 67 is something to brag about. 07 is a wreck. Nash and Plante are questionable to ever play at the NHL level. Nash refuses to compete on many nights and Plante is at best a project. And now I will head into hallowed ground. Eberle is not even close to being able to skate at the NHL level and he is physically feeble. He is not quick. He has great hands and great vision. But he is still a huge question mark. So that makes Nash, Eberle and Plante who all have major question marks. When is the last time the Oilers actually pulled off a coup. Some say Hemsky. I say he is not a coup. And these drafts are certainly not enough to keep Pendergast around. Once again, keep him around. But there has to be more to it than productivity because I see a long list of question marks.

Anonymous said...

Anon cont...

Zajac and Wolski late 1st mistake.

Guy Flaming said...

@ Anonymous

"Once again, my point is that Guy is using him as a reference point of Pendergast's success.Actually you're missing the point of why I think that selection was important. It's not the player, it's the fact that if Barry Fraser was still calling the shots and he'd seen Hemsky only as KP did (on bad nights) then the Oilers wouldn't have taken him.

The fact that KP operates on a different philosophy than Fraser is the point. The scouting is better because of it, Hemsky is evidence of that.

and seriously, man-up and sign your name to what you're commenting.

@ L.T. and J.Willis

It's never been asked of me in the past, to lisst a bunch of my HF stuff for quick access. I'll consult with my co-host and see if that's something we want to do.

We kind of want to keep TPS seperate from my HF Oilers stuff because we really don't want TPS to become "an Oiler" site. We talk a lot of Oilers stuff simply because of where we're located but our focus is CHL, NCAA and minor pro... ya know?

Anonymous said...

anon cont....

Your argument is circular. You are saying that Pendergast is a good scout because he was talked into taking a guy who he didn't like when he saw him on several occasions. Who says that Hemsky hasn't been at the heart of the Oilers' woes? Are you saying that when Lowe and MacT and those guys talk about a weak culture and guys not competing that Hemsky is not one of the people who fall into that category? There is a lot more to hockey than scoring points. you guys talk about Hemsky like he is a great first rounder. He is fine because he is skilled and yes he has scored some big goals and done some great things. But there are games when he flat out floats around. Are you telling me that a guy who floats is a great pick? The only reason I am mentioning Hemsky is because he was used as a pretty big part of Guy's argument on why Pendergast should remain and everyone on here seems to be koombayahing because Pendergast picked him despite not liking him. Is that a positive? Maybe there was a reason he didn't like him. The Oilers are grossly outstaffed. Who is responsible for that? If you think drafting Hemsky innoculates KP, then I am excited about Hemsky's 500 points over the next 4 years. Because that is the type of draft pick that innoculates you against paying the price for an AWFUL Oilers team.

Jonathan Willis said...

Guy: Gotcha.

Anon: You're rambling... besides, Gagner and Cogliano were both good picks, so don't act like Hemsky's the only guy this team has come up with. But I suppose you'll see what you want to see.

Anonymous said...

anon. cont.

I didn't expect that personal attacks and negativity would enter into the debate.

As for 'manning up' with my name.....I will flip that one back at you Guy. Is there an option to post anonymously or not? Yes there is. If you choose to change that, then let me know. As blog owner, why are you grieving me for exercising an option that you provide?

Back to hockey. We have all made points. I believe Lowe deserves another chance. I do not believe Tambellini or Pendergast should get much more than one more year of non playoff hockey.

Finally, I love the the blog Guy and must say it is the best I have seen. I am in awe of your abilities and your research.

Have a great day guys.

jdrevenge said...

Anon is your real name Daryl Katz or something. I dont really see the need to post as anonymous if all we're doing is having a hockey talk. This isnt Russia. We're not going to track you down and cut of your typing fingers.

More to the point I dont realy see how you can say that the Oilers havent drafted well. Compare compare compare. What the Oilers havent done in recent years is build a balanced team that incorporates their draft picks.

Also playing them in backwards roles this year with the big club and tanking the farm doesnt really help with the procurement of youth.

Rod said...

Get over yourself Anon. Trollish type posts (Hemsky a bad pick; turf Tambellini but retain Lowe...unreal) combined with stubbornly staying "anonymous" is just childish. Yeah, anonymous posts are allowed. So what? Guy asked you to leave a name.

Besides, if you want to carry on a conversation, do the right thing and leave a name of some sort. Why? Well, one problem with posting anonymously already came up in this thread: Anonymous response to Anonymous. Needlessly confusing. It's not like there's an onerous registration to complete. Just click "Name/Url", and then type a name. Simple. Easy. I'm almost positive you can do it. Almost.

On the other hand, continue thumbing your nose at Guy if you want your opinion to be ignored. Keep abusing the privilege, and don't be surprised when it's gone.

Scott Kennedy said...


Is there any chance that Prendergast is under the gun for pro scouting?

The offer sheet at Vanek would have worked out if Buffalo had refused to match (although sacrificing the picks is another issue). I suspect they tried at Parise only to have him say 'no thanks'. But we wound up with Dustin Penner, three less picks in a deep draft and 4.25M less to spend for five years.

If Katz wants a head to roll over Penner, how much accountability does Prendergast have on that one? Is he the pro scout that made those recommendations or did Lowe just find a table of player stats and sort for LW RFAs (I'm kidding of course)?

Penner + 08-09 Springfield Falcons is reason for concern. But I'll agree that the drafting is above average in this league, maybe even top ten.

Scott Kennedy said...

I meant to add on, in the pro scouting regard...

Nilsson/O'Marra/1st as the return for Smyth almost certainly had the influence of the scouts, and I'm not sure that was the best option.

Pitkanen was a guy that the scouts really wanted, too, and didn't work out here (but maybe he gets a pass based on Pits asking to be traded).

And, finally, how much influence did Kevin Prendergast have on accepting Lupul and Smid as good chips in the package that sent Pronger to Anaheim?

Scott Kennedy said...

I keep forgetting to make a complete post, just forgot one last thing:

Nice writeup, Guy.
I'm looking forward to the next one re: the Falcons.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownAsAnonymous said...

Are you happy now? You can refer to me as former if you would like. Perhaps I will incorporate a symbol. LOL

I hardly think it is trolling to share opinions on players, GM's and scouts when the actual thread is about that.

I am not trying to troll. I am trying to discuss hockey. As for thumbing my nose - not at all. Just figuring the lay of the land.

old hippy said...

Anonymous: Yours are the posts that are negative. You really haven't been able to back any of your assertions. Hemsky was the best pick possible. Period. There can be no debating this fact. In the nineties all of Frasers picks were big guys without skill. Muckler left because of it. I can't remember the exact quote but Muckler was pretty disgusted that Edmonton kept drafting size over talent. Getting rid of Fraser and his attitude was a positive step for the Oilers. And you want to compare Phaneuf as a better first rounder than Hemsky? Give your touque a spin. He was a great first year player and had a good second year, but his play this year has been marginal at best. Sure he hits everything in sight, but he has not been able to step up and be a leader this spring with Regehr out of the line-up. His shortcomings were hidden playing on the second pairing. No, I would still prefer Hemsky. He just needs the right linemates. There is no question he has great puck handling skills great speed and vision.

Hopefully Katz can find a way to attract players to Edmonton. We need a big first line center to skate and protect Hemsky. Again with Hemsky lets not forget the abuse he has taken the last two years. With Pronger here, players were less likely to run Hemsky. It would be great if he had the size to protect himself, but he doesn't

oilerdago said...


//Is there any chance that Prendergast is under the gun for pro scouting?//

That would be my sense there, but I actually think KP is above average their too.

You point out the Symth deal with NYI and iirc, the Oil really wanted Okposo who they refused to give up and so we wound up with Nilsson/Omara/pick (Plante).

But why does KLowe wait for the last second here and not make 1 or 2 other calls? Several teams were interested in Symth (and expressed dissapointment about not being contacted afterwards).

But instead, we backed ourselves into a corner and went with two talented but flawed prospects. It was well known that Nilsson had issues of bringing it every night but we took a gamble regardless because we were out of time.

In regards to second tier FA signings and other trades, we've been hitting better than .300 when you look at some of what's been done since the Pronger deal:

- Hejda from Buffalo for a 7th round pick.

- Grebeshkov from NYI for Bergeron

- Garon FA signing (1 good year, 1 wasted)

- Glencross from Columbus for Tarnstrom.

These have all been very good procurements.

Where we've missed is when you are forced to trade a star and in what I think is the org's philosophical tug of war right now - go for singles and doubles or go for a home run (super stars).

If this is the case, I just wonder if part of the problem is that KP's not on the same page as the org and perhaps that's why a finger is being pointed in his direction?

Sure puts things on a different plane if you ask me.

oilerdago said...

Two other comments (and I apologize for taking up so much space).

Trades that are neutral to negative:

- Brule for Torres.

At this point it's been a negative but that was a forced salary dump. It remains to be seen if this does not work - either by trading Brule (in a package) or seeing if the light finally goes on. But I don't know that this is the fault of KP as the org made a decision and he got the best deal possible (cheap talent that was under-utilized).

- Potulny for Syvret.

Seems like this one has worked for both - 2 under-performing assets not doing well in new situations. Potulny looked good in his brief call-up, but the Oil problably have too many smurfs and may need to package him as well when it's all said & done.

George B said...

As far as the piling on of anon goes, I don't think that it is incumbent on someone to leave a name. Whether anonymous or Thecrazyoilman posts a comment is irrelevant.

Not only that, I will hop over to the minority with Anon, and say that the metric for success being subjective is why Guy's article paints the Oil in the positive.

It hasn't been positive. Using the utilization of marginal NHLers in a high number of games does not prove or disprove the success of the Oilers scouting staff.

Pouliot played X games in the NHL so he was an OK pick. Roy played some games, so he is OK. Marginal players getting ice to me isn't success.

You want to use Stoll, Greene, Cogliano, Gagner and Hemsky as success....go for it. Take your Reddox, Pouliot, Roy, and any other guy that fills the roster spot unproductively and forget about it.

Hemsky is a great player, so Anon is off base there, but the theory is correct....kind of like when you are expecting straight A's from your teenager, and they show you straight Ds and then say..."But I still passed."

Anonymous said...

Jason Gregor’s always-exceptional Just A Game started early and the coaching subject continued with a few other topics thrown in from the callers. (as an aside, Gregor did a bunch of number crunching a couple years ago to assess the drafting record of the Oilers and gave the club a very favorable grade).I don't expect you to shit on a guy who works at your radio station and I actually think that Gregor does some decent interviews, but he's garbage as an analyst. He frequently doesn't understand what he's talking about (see last week's salary cap fiasco) and that thing where he assessed the Oilers drafting was a piece of garbage analysis too. Kind of like the time he proved the sophomore slump was bullshit by looking at the sophomore seasons of guys who ended up in the top 50 in scoring 07-08. He might occasionally arrive at the right result - the Oilers drafted Ryan Smyth between 1984 and 2001 - but the process sucks. I cannot believe that you actually think that that's a good piece of analysis.

Anonymous said...

You should edit your article to include Kyle Quincey for Detroit. They lost him to LA due to depth, but he racked up 39 pts on the blueline for the Kings.

Don said...

Sorry, I disagree with you Guy. Pendergast has not been part of the solution, so I lump him in as part of the problem. I'd rather hit a couple home runs like Jersey did with Parise than a bunch of bunt singles like Winchester and MAP. You can always fill the rest in with UFA's and collegians. The fact that KP did NOT want to draft Hemsky is damnable and an indictment on his ability to judge talent. The fact that he was willing to bend to the wishes of everyone else on his staff who disagreed with him is laudable, but his own initial judgement is questionable.
Using Detroit as not having many drafts in the NHL lately should be looked at realistically too. With a veteran, talented team like that, it would be difficult for these guys to break into the lineup. With a team like the Oilers, perhaps 2 or 3 of them would have been given a break and would be playing now.
Bottom line, the Oilers dismal record speaks for itself. To this point, other than Hemsky (and his leadership record is questionable, as well as his meagre goal and point totals relative to his apparant "superlative" talent), this team has not drafted anything close to an impact player for years. I only wish Kevin Lowe could walk the plank with him.

Don said...

Guy said" Actually you're missing the point of why I think that selection was important. It's not the player, it's the fact that if Barry Fraser was still calling the shots and he'd seen Hemsky only as KP did (on bad nights) then the Oilers wouldn't have taken him.

The fact that KP operates on a different philosophy than Fraser is the point. The scouting is better because of it, Hemsky is evidence of that."

Guy, I can't believe you're actually comparing ANYONE'S scouting record against Barry Frasers last years. My 10 year old daughter may have done a better job than Fraser. Just because KP has done better than some guy sitting on his keister in Mexico living off picks from 15 years before is not a ringing endorsemnt IMO.

Gy also said,"and seriously, man-up and sign your name to what you're commenting."

If there's an option for anon, why are people not allowed to use it? If he puts his name as "Jim", how does that make his points any less or more valid?

PosterFormerlyKnownAsAnonymous said...

re: home run

I agree with your comment about not hitting a home run. That is my whole point. The original article used Hemsky as a reference point for Pendergast's positives and why he should remain (or a big part of it).

I have never disagreed that hemsky is a good player. I have only pointed to the fact that he is not a 'home run.'

Surely, when a team is in complete disarray and its farm system has struggled and the depth is so far down, it makes one wonder why a writer would support the hands on man responsible for all of the aformenetioned areas.

If you want to keep Pendergast for continuity, or because he is getting better, or because he brings things to the table - that is fine. If you want to keep him around because you just think he is a damn great guy - then whatever. Everyone has a right to want to see someone succeed and to hope they get a chance to continue on in their role.

But making a case for the job he has done baffles me. The Oilers are a mess and he has been a huge part of it.