When the Chicago Blackhawks rolled through town this week it was written everywhere but in the sky that the Hawks formula for rebuilding is the one Edmonton should be following.
Chicago enjoyed several high end draft positions to get to where they are now, and if the Oilers indeed are in true rebuilding mode they will enjoy at least 2 years of the same thing.
From 2002-2007 Chicago selected the key pieces of their current puzzle. The round, followed by the overall selection are listed in brackets below.
Duncan Keith (2nd, 54th) in 2002
Brent Seabrook (1st, 14th) in 2003
Cam Barker (1st, 3rd) in 2004
David Bolland (2nd, 32nd) in 2004
Jonathan Toews (1st, 3rd) in 2006
Patrick Kane (1st, 1st) in 2007
Not on that list is Jack Skille who the Hawks grabbed 7th overall in 2005 and who is close to a point per game pace with Rockford of the AHL. Neither is Kyle Beach who was taken 11th overall in 2008 and currently has 234 points in 230 WHL games with 3 different clubs.
So how does the current Oilers system match up to that? Are the Oilers in year 3 or 4 of their rebuild process? Here's why they could be.
Jeff Petry (2nd, 45th) in 2006
Sam Gagner (1st, 6th) in 2007
Jordan Eberle (1st, 22nd) in 2008
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (1st, 10th) in 2009
Sam Gagner has 79 less points then Patrick Kane does, but just imagine for a second that the Oilers and Chicago had swapped draft positions in 2007, which almost did happen, would Kane be as dominant playing for the last 3 Oiler teams? Would Gagner be a 70 point player skating alongside Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook?
As for Petry, is it possible that he could turn out to be the Oilers version of Duncan Keith. Both were second round picks, both coming out of Michigan State (although Keith left for Kelowna 15 games into his sophomore season) and both are very mobile blueliners. When you compare numbers, Petry's freshman season with the Spartans was more impressive than Keith's. Chicago allowed Keith to season in the AHL for 2 full seasons, something Petry will hopefully start doing next year.
Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson don't have the draft pedigree of a Jonathan Toews, but when you average out the draft positions of Toews and Bolland, Eberle and MPS are pretty close. But what matters is what kind of players they become and only time will tell. Eberle has proven to be a clutch goal scorer in the World Junior Championship and is averaging a goal per game with Regina Pats while Paajarvi-Svensson has 24 points in 37 games against men in the Swedish Elite League this year.
What the Oilers still need to even come close to the Hawks rebuild blueprint is hitting home runs in the next 2 drafts. If management can resist the urge to try and put Humpty Dumpty back together again in one year, Edmonton could pick in the top 5 in back to back years. That should allow them to get a franchise forward and defenceman, and as long as the above pieces develop then it could be Edmonton that other cities talk about when referring to a proper rebuild.
One more thing about the Hawks, on Tuesday a long time NHL media member told me Chicago might not be that high on Cam Barker. He's on the 3rd pairing and there is concern with his mobility. Barker is making more than 3 million dollars a year and is a likely candidate to be dealt in the off season.