Sunday, May 3, 2009

Damned Either Way

The Edmonton Oilers are screwed no matter what they do. On draft day they are going to be facing a no-win situation, at least when it comes to the critics (fans and the media) just waiting to pounce on them for making yet another draft day blunder.

Everyone, including GM Steve Tambellini, appears to be of the opinion that his team is too small to be competitive in the NHL. Tambellini has made it clear that its a priority for him to improve the size of his forwards, especially among the top 6, yet everyone knows that an impact power forward is incredibly hard to trade for and arguably harder to get on the free agent market.

So if you can't trade for one and you can't sign one then the only place to find a scoring forward with muscles to spare is by drafting him and waiting until he's NHL caliber.

Ah... so then that should be the plan come the 2009 NHL Entry Draft right?

The problem is that Edmonton, as it stands now, sits in the 10th spot which is outside the projected cutoff for the uber-elite vanguard out front of the pack of the class of '09. Without moving up, Edmonton's shot at the top power forwards is not good at all. There will still be some terrific players left but according to most projected lists, they'll either be smaller skilled forwards like 5'8 Jordan Schroeder, 6'0 Nazem Kadri or a 5'10 defenceman in Ryan Ellis.

It's expected that there will be a number of capable power forwards still to be had like Zack Kassian (6'3), Carter Ashton (6'2), Chris Kreider (6'2) seen here or Scott Glennie (6'1.5) but on most lists and mocks, those guys might be had between the 15-20 range.

Grabbing one of them might appear to some fans/critics as "Look, the Oilers passed over some smaller impact players just to get bigger... it's 2003 and Zach Parise all over again!!"

On the other hand, if Edmonton takes Best Player Available (BPA) and selects Schroeder, Kadri, Ellis (pictured) or a blueliner like John Moore, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Simon Despres then other fans/critics will chastise the scouting staff for not sticking to Tambellini's announced plan of getting bigger up front.

It's a catch-22 scenario; they're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't.

The only thing that will actually save them is that history eventually proves their choice was not a mistake. If they reach and take a big guy several picks before he's projected to go - he'd better turn out. Likewise if they go small - he'd better be the next Parise or Brian Rafalski.

As pivotal as the next coaching hire is to the GM, the 2009 Draft is for the scouting staff in Edmonton. They don't get to pick top-10 very often and they can't afford to make a mistake. Sam Gagner has proven they can get it right but they need to do it again.

The draft is still 8 weeks away and the projected draft rankings are bound to change more before then. No matter what ISS or Central Scouting project though, Edmonton's list is the only one that's going to matter to Oiler fans. At this point, who do YOU want them to take?

(photos courtesy: OHL and


kortti said...

Hope they trade their pick down to the Habs for Halak and their nmb 1 pick. Then choose Toni Rajala With that later 1 round pick.

Anonymous said...

When you continually suck at the draft table, you leave yourself open to criticism. Tambellini and Pendergast are big boys. When they claw their way out of the hole they have dug for themselves with the fans/critics, it will be because they prove themselves.

Jonathan Willis said...

Best Player Available. The Oilers grabbed Cogliano at the #25 spot in 2005; if they'd grabbed Ryan Stoa or James Neal (both of whom were projected power forwards taken a few picks later) it would have been a mistake then and the team would be paying for it now.

I'd like to see Ryan Ellis drafted.

Anonymous said...

I say they go with Dmitri Kulikov

Anonymous said...

Chris Kreider would be the option for me including trading down some spots and picking up another pick. In a dream they are able to package that pick (or another) with other pikcs (prospects/a player) and pick up Carter Ashton, too.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Stoa a mistake??? Possibly the greatest leader to don the maroon and gold of the Gophers. Came back from adversity to have one of the best seasons in the nation last year. He is big, strong, mean, nasty, skilled. 6 foot 3 and 215 with hands and a great shot who is good for 2-3 nasty hits a game. Plus, he will most likely get his last year back for injury reasons and may play a fifth year and be a 65-70 point guy if he gets his injury hardship appeal. How can you possibly qualify Stoa as a mistake if they would have drafted him?


doritogrande said...

Hockey drafts are a crapshoot anyways, so you may as well take BPA.

The team's stated need right now is to get bigger. Where we draft this year, there is no reason to believe our player will step into the NHL right away. This, IMO, means we do not need to draft size for the sake of getting bigger. The need to get bigger is up to Tambellini in the offseason with established players ready to play NHL hockey. Our draft pick won't see the NHL for at least another season, so why deny ourselves a small game-breaker for the prospect pool?

I've taken a semi-serious look at the prospects in the range for 10th overall, and I have to say that Kulikov is my favourite. We don't have any young defenders in the CHL anymore with Plante's graduation this season. It's time to re-stock the cupboards. If he's taken already, Shroeder, followed by Glennie is my course of action.

I also believe Ryan Ellis is going to be a hell of a player somewhere down the road. Where I differ from Jonathan is given the development curve he's sure to face, he'll be a difference-maker for his second or third NHL franchise. I wouldn't draft him.

Jeff Gaddess said...

I would like to see them actually trade up and draft either Kane, Schenn or MSP. Trade our first and one of our smaller fowards not named Gagner or Hemsky and Management might actually get praised by the media and Fans.

Anonymous said...

I agree.....why should they be praised? They got themselves into the 'can't make anyone happy' scenario.

Anonymous said...

They must take BPA no matter where that leads. Tambellini will be able to get some suitable size, just probably not on the top line.

Guy Flaming said...

Everybody is missing the point and maybe that's my fault.

YOUR BPA is going to be different than the BPA according to the person sitting next to you. It's also probably going to be different than the Oilers' eventually choice of BPA.

Fan A will argue that the BPA at #10 will be a small scoring forward like Schroeder, Fan B will insist that it's power forward Zack Kassian. Fan C will suggest that Ryan Ellis is better than any of those forwards and Fan D will argue that John Moore is better than Ellis.

The majority of fans will probably disagree with who the Oilers take simply because there will probably be no consensus at the #10 spot of who BPA is.

And when Fan A is mad, the complaint will be that they skipped over the 2009 Zach Parise.

Fan B will complain that the Oilers drafted small again.

And so on.

Look at how many different names have come up here just in the comments.

Does that make what I was trying to write... any clearer?

geowal said...

YOUR BPA is going to be different than the BPA according to the person sitting next to you. It's also probably going to be different than the Oilers' eventually choice of BPA.

While you're absolutely right, that everyone's BPA is different, the concept of it is a broad perception of what player is the most "valuable". That is, who will ultimately make the biggest difference for a generic franchise (not necessarily your franchise) or put another way who would fetch the most value in a trade.

If you're passing on the next Crosby because you think you're short of defensemen, you're clearly not taking the BPA.

Absolutely though, you can never please everybody. The problem/catch 22 you get at is due to the fact that there is little to no faith among the fan base/critics that the 'organization knows best'.
If there was a stronger belief that the organization knew what they were doing (personally I think they've done okay in the last 5 years or so), then there wouldn't be so much concern amongst critics when the organization's BPA differs from their own.