The Oilers alternate logo in the early years of the 21st century was created by Todd McFarlane, part team owner better known as the guy who revolutionized the comic book industry with his rendition of Spiderman and creation of Spawn. The sweater became one of the best selling 3rd jerseys of all time (might still be) and although traditionalists didn't like the departure from the original, there was a lot of thought put into the details of the logo. When McFarlane and the rest of the previous owners sold the team to Darryl Katz, the jersey was retired.
1st Pick Last Year: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (10th overall) – Projected to go higher than 10th by just about everyone, the Oilers were practically skipping to the podium with the chance to draft the talented Swede. MPS impressed at the 2010 World Junior Championship finishing with 10 points. He ended the year on an even higher note leading Sweden in scoring at the Men’s World Championship in Germany where he compiled 9 points after being a late addition to the team. Signed and on his way to North America, fans will wait to see if he steps right into the NHL or starts on the farm. (Photo: Matt Manor IIHF Images)
The Good: Sam Gagner (6th overall, 2007) – While most expect Jordan Eberle to lay claim to this title once his NHL career begins, it’s the former London Knight that holds it right now. Only two players from the Class of 2007 have played more NHL games and only Patrick Kane has scored more points than Gagner. He’s been inconsistent and is not without his limitations but the second generation NHLer has lots of skill and hockey sense to make up for a slightly below average frame and just OK foot speed. Three straight 40-point NHL seasons before his 21st birthday is still pretty good though.
The Bad: Cameron Abney (82nd overall, 2009) – It's still extremely early to call this a blown pick but the selection of a tough guy with little offensive upside was panned by fans and media critics alike. At 6’4 and 192 lbs the power forward skates better than expected and can certainly fight and lay the big hit but he struggles to add much else to his repertoire.
The Unknown: Chris Vande Velde (97th overall, 2005) – Edmonton drafted Vande Velde out of high school, watched him play a year in the USHL and then four more at the University of North Dakota. As a senior, Vande Velde was a point per game player with the Fighting Sioux ending the year with 41 points. The big forward has leadership ability and is strong at taking faceoffs. He’s projected to be a power forward as a pro but his skating has some questioning whether he’ll play in the NHL or the AHL.
Coming Down the Pipe: Jordan Eberle is already a fan favorite in Edmonton because of his near-mythic performances for Canada at the World Junior Championship in 2009 and 2010 as well as his AHL success in Springfield. Cornell senior Riley Nash is still a player of interest although it remains to be seen how much of a future he has with the Oilers. Imports Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander, Linus Omark and Toni Rajala add a European flavour to the prospect pool that Edmonton hasn’t had in quite some time. Defencemen Theo Peckham and Jeff Petry lead the charge with Alex Plante, Troy Hesketh and Kyle Bigos further on the horizon. Devan Dubnyk and Olivier Roy are Edmonton’s two netminders with NHL potential. (Photo: Chris Rutsch via Springfield Falcons)
Draft Trends: You’d have to go all the way back to the 1988 selection of Francois Leroux to find the last time the Oilers took a defenceman in the 1st round that went on to play any significant NHL duty. Recent blueline selections include Alex Plante who was a mid-first rounder in 2007 and Jeff Petry who was Edmonton’s first choice (2nd round) in 2006. Edmonton hasn’t drafted out of the Czech Republic since 2003. Only 10 of their last 31 selections (2005-2009) have come from one of the three CHL leagues including import Slava Trukhno. Surprisingly, that’s the same number of European selections over the same time span.
2010 Prediction 1st overall:
Dean Millard: Tyler Seguin (Plymouth) - Seguin wins the Taylor/Tyler debate after tying Hall in scoring this year, his second in the OHL. Seguin was the OHL player of the year and is a natural centre and most scouts I’ve talked to project him to be the better player down the road. I wouldn't be surprised if the Oilers sent him back for a 3rd year of junior.
Guy Flaming: Tyler Seguin (Plymouth) – The talented middle man grabbed the attention of scouts at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August and didn’t let go all year. In his second OHL campaign he surpassed the 100-point plateau and scored 48 goals in 63 games with the Plymouth Whalers. Along the way he was named OHL Player of the Month twice, the OHL's Most Outstanding Player of the Year and the CHL’s Top Prospect. The charismatic playmaker has size, agility, ultra-hockey sense, leadership capabilities and can fill the net. Interestingly, as a self-proclaimed late bloomer, Seguin is still getting better.