The Oilers have been bad at drafting, too

The Oilers have been very good at being bad. Drafting has been another component of the operation that has been very good at being bad.

In a year where bottoming out might be the quickest way to the top, the Edmonton Oilers remain a cautionary tale that sometimes the only thing at the bottom is the ground. With Connor McDavid, Jake Eichel and Noah Hanifin enticing teams to weigh the rewards of a lost season, the Oilers find themselves buried by the weight of a lost decade.

Eight years removed from the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final, Edmonton is four years into a rebuild that started eight years ago. Failing to qualify for the playoffs since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the final game of the 2006 season, the Oilers have developed one of the most successful rates of failure in the NHL. The result has been a treasure trove of high draft picks, which includes an astonishing string of luck that brought the No. 1 overall selection to Edmonton in three consecutive years from 2010-12.

Viewed as the foundational parts of a rocket that was supposed to carry the franchise to heights not seen since the 1980s, those same draft picks have been consumed by the blackhole of despair that Edmonton has become.

The thing about the No. 1 draft pick is, it’s only one pick. While the shiny new toy at the top of the pile might be the most attractive, there are well over 200 other toys that make up the drafting process in a given year. In the case of the Oilers, the 2010 and 2011 draft classes not only meant getting the first pick, but also the 31st pick. And the 61st pick. And the 91st pick. And so on.

Edmonton’s roster only has two players on it — forward Tyler Pitlick (2010) and defenseman Jeff Petry (2006) — that were selected by the Oilers after the first round (both players were taken in Round 2). There are six other players on the roster that were selected by Edmonton and they were all taken in the first round.

By comparison, the Boston Bruins have eight “home grown” players on their roster, the Chicago Blackhawks have 13 and the Detroit Red Wings have 15.

Here’s where those players were selected in their given draft years:

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7
Edmonton Oilers 6 2
Boston Bruins 2 3 1 1 1
Chicago Blackhawks 3 4 2 1 2 1
Detroit Red Wings 4 4 2 2 2 1 2*

* Jonathan Ericsson was taken in the ninth round of the 2002 NHL Draft

This speaks to one of the (many) problems in Edmonton: The people in charge of the Oilers don’t know how to evaluate talent. Beyond balancing out a chart, successful drafting gives the organization depth to make trades so impact moves aren’t limited to only trading core players. Or, you know, gives the organization players that they can develop to eventually plug into their own lineup.

Considering where the Oilers have been drafting over the last several years, more of these players should exist.

The team entered this weekend on an 11-game winless streak (0-7-4) that began in November and has continued into December. The Oilers sit in dead last in the entire NHL and have yet to defeat a Western Conference opponent, amassing an amazing 0-12-4 record in such instances.

Despite expectations that this was the year that Edmonton would end its playoff drought, the franchise once again finds itself in the hunt for the No. 1 pick. And while teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers entered this year with the intention of bottoming out, the Oilers have once again wandered into it.

December 7, 2014 by : Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

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