Monday, May 31, 2010

Oilers combine interviews

Oilers head scout Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor will be doing this a couple of times on June 26th.

I’d like to take some time today and see if I can’t outline a couple of tendencies we should be expecting at this year’s draft. The Oilers website released a plethora of interviews from Saturday’s draft combine. For the full line-up, here’s the website, please excuse the lack of formatting (I is not internets smart).

The list in and of itself can give us some clues into where the Oilers might be going for their high (first and second, possibly third) round picks. Let’s take a look at who they’ve decided to interview, first sorted by position:

Forwards (15):
Victor Ohman LW 6’1 187 Sweden Div1
Riley Sheehan F 6’2 200 NCAA
Vladimir Tarasenko F 6’0 192 KHL
Tyler Seguin C 6’1 186 OHL
Kirill Kabanov F 6’3 176 QMJHL
Alexander Burmistrov F 6’0 170 OHL
Nick Bjugstad F 6’4 188 USHS
Jordan Weal F 5’9 165 WHL
Taylor Hall F 6’0 185 OHL
John McFarland F 6’0 192 OHL
Nino Niederreiter F 6’2 203 WHL
Emerson Etem F 6’0 194 WHL
Mikael Granlund F 5’10 176 SM-Liiga
Tyler Toffoli RW 6’0 181 OHL
Jeff Skinner C 5’10 182 OHL

Defense (11):
Martin Marincin D 6’4 187 Slovak junior
Troy Rutkowski D 6’1 205 WHL (Edmonton native)
Dylan Mcilrath D 6’5 215 WHL
Matt MacKenzie D 6’2 198 WHL
Brock Beukeboom D 6’1 196 OHL
Brandon Gormley D 6’1 175 QMJHL
Mark Pysyk D 6’2 178 WHL
Jon Merrill D 6’3 205 NTDP
Cam Fowler D 6’2 190 OHL
Mark Alt* D 6’5 *** USHS (NCAA next year)
Jarred Tinordi D 6’4 204 NTDP

Goalie (4):
Cam Lanigan G 6’3 183 WHL
Calvin Pickard G 6’0 202 WHL
Jack Campbell G 6’1 171 NTDP (OHL next year)
Kent Simpson G 6’2 182 WHL (Edmonton native)

Assuming Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin is the first player called to save Steve Tambellini’s bacon, and he’d have to be on some kind of acid trip to screw that up (possibly why we got rid of Denis Grebeshkov?) what can the player types tell us about who we call on day two of the draft?
Stu Macgregor (that magnificent bastard, he) has been calling the shots for two years now, and some tendencies are starting to show.

- Preferences for skill in the first round
- Forward and defence taken with about equal measure (1 goalie, 4 defensemen, 7 forwards taken over two years)
- No fear of drafting from Scandinavia
- The WHL is the preferred target area in Canada

Over the last couple of seasons, the Oilers as an organization have come to be known for a couple of tendencies as well.

- There’s going to be a reach pick somewhere
- If there’s a big hulking defenseman available, the Oilers want him
- There will be a premium placed on size

So, with that in mind, what can this list of players tell us?

Well, if we break down the list a little further to display interview tendencies, we can see that:
- 12 of 15 forwards are 6’0 or over
- They didn’t talk to any defenseman smaller than 6’1
- We’re still looking for the next Sean Burke
- 10 players were interviewed from the WHL, followed by 8 from the OHL

It’s quite an extensive list of interview prospects, but a couple of names jump out at me for the wrong reasons. It should be noted that many of these names were chosen for interview by people riding the short bus (also known as the message boards), but it makes no sense that anyone from the Oilers organization should be interviewing players like Mark Pysyk, Brandon Gormley, Cam Fowler, Jack Campbell, Emerson Etem or Nino Niederreiter as they’re sure to be first round picks, and as such unavailable when the 31st pick comes up.

There are two notable defensemen missing who did not apparently merit interviews. Derek Forbort of the NTDP and Alex Petrovic of the WHL are two defensemen I've got my eye on for the second round, and would have loved to get more information from them on what kind of player they think they could be at the NHL-level. Both are big, heavy hitting defensemen I thought the Oilers would have been more enamored with.

There’s also the curious case of Mark Alt, the American High School Quarterback Defenseman. The website article gives more time and space for the 84th ranked player by ISS than they do for Tyler Seguin. He’s big, he’s a defenseman, and the Oilers are high on him. This sounds exactly like Troy Hesketh/Kyle Bigos of last year’s draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him taken with our 3rd round pick.

If a goalie is picked this year, and given the high rankings of the ones they decided to interview it might happen, don’t be surprised if he’s taken with the Nashville pick. Jack Campbell will surely be gone, and the younger Pickard (I used to work with his sister actually) has a chance to be a first round pick. The other two are likely to be available on day two, and since big goalies in the first two rounds seem to be our thing (Deslauriers, Dubnyk), that’s where our “reach” pick might come from.

I’m happy to see the names of Jon Merrill, Tyler Toffoli and Riley Sheehan are in the Oilers scouts minds as well. I’ll be doing some more in-depth posting about these three closer to the draft as they’re among my favourite picks for pick #31 this year.

I'm of the belief they attempt to shore up the blueline with the 31st overall pick, unless one of Campbell or Pickard are still available. I'd prefer Sheehan, but would be happy with Merrill, Tinordi or MacKenzie. Dylan Mcilrath I'm afraid won't make it past the 15th overall pick.

As always, it’s important to stress that the draft is a crapshoot. We’re going to get a franchise player in the first round and after that, we’ll have to place our trust in the same Hockey Gods who keep letting Matt Cooke off with warnings.


  1. I think it's interesting to consider the possibility that the attention paid to guys who are all going to be gone between 3-15 suggests that the Oilers may aggressively pursue trading up into that region if they decide they really like one of these kids. Assuming the cost is reasonable, that might be a good plan, although if they are looking at doing that I'm disappointed not to see Ryan Johansen on the list. Trading up and getting both him and Hall struck me as a nice solution to the Hall as BPA, Seguin as organizational need idea.

  2. MattM:

    I think the organizational need is on defense, but wouldn't mind to see us move up and grab someone in the 15th range. That said, if we're in the 15-slot, I'd take Jack Campbell, because I've got him in my pre-draft top-10.