It was an interesting couple of draft days for the Oilers. I can't say I completely agree with all of Edmonton's selections, but like every draft, the picks begin to make more sense once you hear the rationale behind the decisions.
#10 - F Magnus Paajarvi Svensson:
I'm quite pleased with the choice of Paajarvi Svensson. There are some concerns, I suppose, with regards to the prospect's ability to finish, but it's hard to know what to make of that. His offensive numbers are fairly modest, but historically Swedish prospects don't generally have overwhelming totals as 18 year olds playing in the SEL, even the ones selected in the 1st round. Regularly playing in the SEL at 18 is pretty uncommon on its own. One promising sign was his production at tournaments within his age group.
I would have selected F Schroeder based on my list [and I kind of wonder about that having read Gare Joyce's comments in a thread on HF (comment #711)], but Paajarvi was 2nd on my list at that point so I'm not particularly disappointed with his selection. If one was picking using the THN draft preview top 100, the selection at 10 would also have been F Paajarvi, with Schroeder the 2nd highest prospect remaining on their list.
#40 - F Anton Lander:
At the time of the pick I was ambivalent, but I like the pick more as I hear and read more about Lander, which reminds me of the 2005 draft and Taylor Chorney. I am a fan of Lander, and in retrospect think I had him a bit low on my final list (he was #30 and #35 in two earlier versions). There were 2 players I consistently liked a little bit more, Werek and Morin. To be honest though I didn't really like anyone in this range significantly more than Lander, it was just one of those drafts where the guys in that range seemed, to me, like roughly equivalent prospects.
I'd have selected F Werek, and using the THN guide would have resulted in Edmonton drafting F Morin.
#71 - D Troy Hesketh:
I hadn't heard anything about this player before he was drafted. And to be honest, when he was drafted I mistakenly thought, for a minute or so, it was Seth Helgeson (THN #58) Edmonton had picked. My memory said, "Oh, a Matt Greene type", so I just figured they were looking for another Matt Greene-type prospect. It was only after I went to re-read his THN profile that I realized they had drafted a different player.
I actually like what I've read about Hesketh. It seems to have been a little bit early to select him, but they were worried other teams were interested and maybe they were. That said, I don't really like his projected timeline, which currently sits at one more year at Minnetonka, one year in the USHL, finally followed by starting college in 2011/12.
I'd have selected F Rajala in this spot, and the THN guide had G Roy as the BPA at this point. Interesting that both players were later selected by the Oilers anyways.
#82 - F Cameron Abney:
I really don't know what to make of this pick; the adage "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" comes to mind. On the surface it looks like a poor, at best, third round selection, given the other players available. They must see something in him to take him in the 3rd round, as it's hard to believe they'd take him this early if they project his upside as a 4th line fighter. Having read Guy Flaming's excellent Oilers draft review, it sounds like he's grown a bunch in the last couple of years, so they must anticipate huge improvement over the next 2 WHL seasons.
I would have selected F Alex Hutchings at 82, while following the THN draft guide would have seen Edmonton select a second goalie in Edward Pasquale. It may be pushing it to have a team pick a second goalie, but I'll do so for the purposes of this post. If the BPA were to be a goalie for any of THN's remaining picks, I'll skip him and take the next best available skater.
Abney's stat line: 48GP 1G 3A 4pts -17 (the team wasn't great, but this was still the seventh worst minus on the team)
Hutchings' stats: 63GP 34G 34A 68pts +27 (team leading, next highest player was +17)
Admittedly the two players are projected to have very different roles as pros, but it looks to me like Abney's got some serious ground to make up.
#99 - D Kyle Bigos:
I don't have a lot to say about Bigos, as I don't know much about him. I don't like his age or his projected timeline (similar to Hesketh, but Bigos has already played his 18 and 19 year old seasons), but he looks like a reasonable pick at this point due to his apparent late development. One advantage to selecting Bigos is the ability to stash him in the NCAA for a while and see what happens. Doesn't cost you any money to develop for the next couple of years or take up an AHL spot. His age at 20 is worrisome in the sense that if he pans out you're probably only going to get something like 4 years out of him before he's a UFA. Hopefully he'll turn out as well as the only other Oiler to be drafted in the 99 slot.
At this point the highest player left on my list was F Anton Burdasov, but I can't say with certainty I would have picked him. It depends if there was any indication he would prove to be signable going forward. That said, I'll say Burdasov (who actually went undrafted, which would seem to indicate there are signability concerns) would have been my pick at this point, while THN would have picked F Erik Haula.
#101 - F Toni Rajala:
Very happy with this pick, I think he was CLEARLY the BPA at this point in the draft. In fact, I think he was the BPA for at least a round by this point. I understand the size issues, and the concern over his willingness to go into traffic, but the reward is so much greater than most/all players at this point that I think the pick is a no-brainer. Very similar to the feel I got about Trukhno at the 2005 draft, in that I don't think Rajala necessarily fit what they were trying to do this draft but the potential upside was simply too great to pass on him at 101.
I would have already selected Rajala, so my pick at this point would have been D Tommi Kivisto. THN's pick would have been F David Gilbert.
#133 - G Olivier Roy:
I really like this pick, but I'm not sure I understand Tambellini when he said that part of the rationale for the Brodziak trade was their desire to draft Roy. I don't think that makes a lot of sense given that they could have selected Roy with the 4th round pick they acquired from MIN (Bigos) or their own 4th (Rajala). They liked him so much they took those two guys first and then waited a round to hope he was still there? I guess that's possible, but I think it's more likely that they liked a bunch of goalies fairly similarly, and wanted to take whichever one of them was highest on their list once they got to a certain point in the draft. And that turned out to be Olivier Roy.
I think the remaining goalies were pretty reasonable value at this point, Roy would have been my pick here as well. THN's next highest on their list was G Conz, who went undrafted, but already having two goalies using their list I'll skip him and move to the next available skater, which was F Burdasov.
F Paajarvi Svensson
Having read Gare Joyce's comment, I am tempering my enthusiasm for Schroeder just a little bit. That said, of the two I still prefer Schroeder at this time, but perhaps the margin is a bit smaller than before I saw that quote. I did see another article about Schroeder that suggests a lack of confidence won't be a problem for him, and while his "confidence" shines through it doesn't read quite the same way Joyce's comments do. I do wonder a little bit how much editorializing has gone on in each instance, not with Joyce necessarily but maybe how the information was passed along to Joyce, if he wasn't in the room for the interview.
Overall I'm quite pleased EDM was able to land Paajarvi, Lander, Rajala, and Roy. The others weren't players I would really have considered at the point they were drafted, but I am hoping they work out nonetheless. I think the two defenseman are more likely to pan out than the F, but I'll hope I'm wrong and all three become NHL contributors.