A Review Of Recent Edmonton Oilers First Round Draft Picks 2007-2012
Recent Edmonton Oilers Draft Picks Review
Over the year past six seasons, the Edmonton Oilers have been at the low end of the NHL, culminating in six straight years out of the playoffs, including drafting 1st overall three times in a row. Since the Oilers made the playoffs and Stanley Cup Final in 2006, there have been a lot of lean years and frusteration during these seasons. In that time the Oilers have a new owner in Daryl Katz, a different General Manager in Steve Tambellini from Kevin Lowe, and are working on their fourth head coach in that time. They have gone through Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and are now going forward with Ralph Krueger at the helm. The benefits of all of those losing season are getting the chance of drafting the best 18 year old hockey players in the world. As the Oilers cultivate the talent, the assumption is the Oilers will get better, and while that is true on the surface, there are still holes to fill and players to grow. In essence, there is still a lot of work to do. Here, we will have a look at those draft picks and how they have emerged as NHL players, creating the identity for the Oilers now and going forward. We'll also have a look at what I would have done with each pick and how it differs with the picks the Oilers chose. Some are the same, some are different but the end result would likely be the team having a different look to it.
Sam Gagner #6 Pick Of the Oilers 2007
In 2007, the Oilers chose to go with center Sam Gagner. Sam Gagner burst onto the NHL scene in his rookie season with 49 points, a point total he has yet to reach again in his 5 seasons with the Oilers. These days he plays the 2nd line pivot behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, looking to into the 50+ point range for the first time in his career. Gagner was initially brought in to be the focal point to build around but as the Oilers continue to gather high draft pick after high draft pick, better offensive players surround Gagner to the point where he either has to create a role for himself or eventually be pushed out.
Sam Gagner My Pick At #6 2007
In 2007, I also had the Oilers choosing Sam Gagner #6 and the reason being is the Oilers were in desperate need of a players with creative offensive ability and Sam Gagner put up 118 points in his draft year, fit the bill. Logan Couture was also still on the board at #9 but at the time I felt he was at best a 2nd line pivot. Couture is a two time 30+ goal scorer so far to this point but is still the 2nd line pivot behind Joe Thornton. A much better situation for Couture to be in. Jakub Voracek was also available at #7 but I felt the Oilers needed to enhance the offense from the center position, 1st line center at that. Gagner was supposed to be the focal point at the time, but as the losing continued, more dynamic talent started passing him on the depth chart.
Jordan Eberle #22 Pick Of The Oilers 2008
In 2008, Jordan Eberle was chosen #22 by the Oilers. In hindsight, it was a real steal, as he tallied 34 times last season for the Oilers, leading the Oilers in scoring. Eberle has been a shining star in some tough times for the Oilers. Eberle's sniping ability has been been a real weapon in the Oilers offense. The sky is the limit for this player. A real character player that should continue to improve his overall game regardless of what role he is put in.
John Carlson My Pick At #22 In 2008
In 2008, I had the Oilers choosing John Carlson. I hadn't seen a lot of Carlson in his draft year, but his scouting report about he was a point producing, strong defending, physical defenseman who was flying under the radar. I figured, who wouldn't want that. Carlson ended up going #27 to the Washington Capitals. In his time with the Capitals, he has had 37 and 32 point season but his first season he was +21, his second season ended with a -15. So, its been an up and down first couple of seasons, but still remains on target to become a top pairing defender. Since the Oilers looked to be reaching a point where the playoffs seemed unachievable, it would have been a good time to start stockpiling the defense as the cupboard was pretty bare in the backend at that time.
Magnus Paajarvi #10 Pick Of The Oilers 2009
In 2009, the Oilers took Magnus Paajarvi with the #10 pick. At this point, the Oilers were still looking for gifted offensive forwards and not entirely sure what they had in Jordan Eberle in this time. The Oilers lacked speed on the wings at the time and Paajarvi was the player that the Oilers had figured would go a long way to helping with that. Paajarvi has struggled to gain traction since arriving in North America. Put up 15 goals in his rookie season, but in his sophomore season he struggled offensively by tallying only twice in 41 games. Much like Sam Gagner, Paajarvi will have to redefine his game and play a more two-way style. As from here on, the Oilers started to finish lower in the standings meaning that even more dynamic talent was on the way.
Magnus Paajarvi My Pick At #10 In 2009
In 2009, I also had the Oilers taking Magnus Paajarvi with the #10. I had Paajarvi going in the top 5 that year due to his speed and his ability to create on the rush. The future would show us that a new, improved model in Taylor Hall was in the offing, but Paajarvi represented that at the time. The other thing that intrigued me about Paajarvi was his responsible play which if the Oilers did plunge into the tank and fall into that dynamic talent that comes with those top first round picks, then Paajarvi would be able to play up and down the lineup and still be able to produce offense from the bottom end of the order. Paajarvi, in my eyes is still a very solid prospect even if some Oilers faithful seem to be down on him after his sophomore slump. I must admit, I was awfully intrigued by Ryan Ellis with this pick at who went to the Nashville Predators with the #11 pick.
Taylor Hall #1 Pick Of The Oilers In 2010
In 2010, the Oilers started their first of the three, first overall draft picks. Here they chose Taylor Hall. And while Hall has had injury issues in short time with the Oilers, Hall has come as advertised. Offense in a can. Fire it up, nuke it, and voila, instant offense. Hall has tallied 22 and 27 goals in his first two campaigns. The Oilers will have to monitor Hall closely as his career forges on. On one hand, you can't stop his kamikaze style that is a big facet of his game, but on the other hand, he isn't going to be of much use sitting on the IR. It's a vicarious position for the Oilers to be in, but if all works out well, he's going to look spectacular.
Taylor Hall My Pick At #1 In 2010
In 2010, I also had the Oilers taking Taylor Hall with the #1 pick. Hall is instant offense and a matchup breaker in a lot of ways. His speed keeps the other team wary of when he is on the ice, and its that trait that opens things up for other players on his team. It's that type of players the Oilers needed. The Oilers have their centerpiece and now they can build around that piece going forward. It's rare to see a player that oozes such confidence and leadership in his own game. It will only get better with time, barring injury of course. Tyler Seguin was a much talked about option as well, as he went #2 to the Boston Bruins, but I feel the Oilers needed Taylor Hall to create their identity.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #1 Pick Of The Oilers 2011
In 2011, the Oilers took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the #1 pick. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins enjoyed a fine rookie season with the Oilers, immediately establishing himself as the top line pivot as an 18 year old and finishing runner up for the Calder Trophy. To say, Nugent-Hopkins burst onto the scene is understatemate. He had a real impact with the Oilers and was a big part of the Oilers offense. He too, also had injury issues, missing 19 games with a bad shoulder. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has vision on the ice that is unmatched by many NHL players and should continue to be a real offensive weapon for the Oilers going forward
Sean Couturier My Pick At #1 In 2012
In 2011, I had the Oilers taking Sean Couturier with the #1 pick. This is where my philosophy starts to differ with what the Oilers are trying to create. Sean Couturier is a bigger, more balanced version of a center and better complement to Hall, Paajarvi and Eberle. Couturier still has an offensive game, although its much different and limited compared to what Ryan Nugent-Hopkins brings, but what Couturier brings is matchup buster. A player you can play in any situation, at any time in the game. Something that is crucial, especially around playoff time. Couturier is still growing into his game like Nugent-Hopkins is, but I feel that Couturier would have been a better complement to the young forwards of the Oilers. Couturier ended up going #8 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Nail Yakupov #1 Pick Of The Oilers In 2012
In 2012, the Oilers chose Nail Yakupov with the #1 pick. Yakupov was the best dynamic, offensive talent in the draft, to really fill their cupboards with dynamic, offensive talent. Yakupov will be added to the likes of Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle to form a young, highly offensive quartet of game breakers once the NHL lockout ceases. It will interesting to see how Yakupov fits in with the Oilers and if one of the young quartet sees a decline in their offense. Is there enough ice and pucks to go around for the four of them?
Ryan Murray My Pick At #1 In 2012
In 2012, I had the Oilers taking Ryan Murray with the #1 pick. Murray is a smooth skating, cerebral defensemen. I felt this was a good time to address the defense with best ready-made NHL defender they could draft, and that would have been Ryan Murray. I had figured with Ryan Murray and new acquisition Justin Schultz, it would have taken the Oilers defense from a position of weakness to a position of strength. At that point they would have been able to enforce there puck control style with those two controlling the play with their decision making and crisp passing styles.
Looking Into The Oilers Future
All in all, some players were the same, some were different. What the difference is between the two philosophies is the Oilers look to be going with a quick strike, go for the gusto type offensive team, while I would have hoped for a more balanced approach and winning matchups with a matchup type team. I must admit, the current Oiler team will be a very entertaining team, night in and night out, but will it have the lasting power to become a juggernaut? I guess time will tell. There will be a lot of growing between now and then.