BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE, PLEASE

Robin Brownlee
May 28 2012 10:29AM

The question about drafting the best player available versus selecting based on organizational need isn't a tough one. The way I see it, there is no greater "organizational need" than drafting the best player available, especially when a team holds the first overall pick, as the Edmonton Oilers do.

That approach seems pretty obvious to me, and to you, too, based on all the response generated by what Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor told me May 14 when I asked him if he and his staff had come up with a clear No. 1 prospect on the team's draft list going into Pittsburgh June 22.

"We’re still working through that process," MacGregor said. "We haven’t really got to that point yet. I’m going to say it’s between a group of guys."

Really? A group of guys? (Nail) Yakupov, (Ryan) Murray and . . . Alex Galchenyuk . . . Morgan Rielly . . . Griffin Reinhart? Or is it just that you won’t tell me?

"That’s right,” MacGregor said. “But I think (GM) Steve Tambellini was pretty clear that, you know, maybe we do have to make an organizational decision . . ."

An organizational decision? Like to NOT take the BPA and instead draft based on what the roster might look like two, three or even four years from now? Say it isn't so, Stu. Say it isn't so.

IT ISN'T SO

My interpretation, and I wrote this in the comments of the May 14 item, is "organizational need" will only come into play if MacGregor and his staff have two prospects playing different positions, say Yakupov and Murray, rated too close to call based on what they've seen all season and what testing at the NHL combine in Toronto will reveal in the next few days.

That situation, a dead heat, doesn't happen very often, especially with teams holding the first pick. I do recall, however, two times over the course of the last decade when organizational need did sway who the Oilers selected with picks later in the first round. That would be 2002 and 2003. It went badly.

In 2002 after failing to move up in a bid to land defensemen Jay Bouwmeester, the Oilers moved down one spot, from 14th to 15th, and then went right off the board by taking Finn Jesse Niinimaki. Chief scout Kevin Prendergast explained the pick this way:

"He fit the bill for us as far as needing a big centreman. He's got all the tools to be there. We don't think he's that far away."

In 2003, after failing to move up in an effort to land defensemen Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn or Dion Phaneuf, the Oilers moved from 17th to 22nd by way of a trade with New Jersey rather than take Zack Parise. Edmonton opted for Marc Pouliot because, in part, organizational need had the Oilers looking for more size (they also got J.F. Jacques with the 68th pick).

"Parise would have given us another small centre," Prendergast said. "We felt we had to get a little bit bigger. Zach's skating is something that bothered us a little bit, too."

Did I mention this turned out badly?

HERE AND NOW

In both cases, organizational need – the desire to add size – influenced who the Oilers selected. And again, to be fair, the picture is not nearly as clear with mid to late picks in the first round like Pouliot and Niinimaki as it should be with the first overall pick.

If MacGregor and his staff have a dead heat atop their list in terms of the absolute BPA (I don't think they do), then position and size are fair ball as tie-breakers, just as interviews at the NHL combine can be IF they add insight or reveal character traits – for better or worse.

Outside the rare circumstance of too-close-to-call, however, weighting organizational need when selecting teenaged prospects who are years away from being a finished product and making an impact on a roster that will likely look drastically different is a sucker's game.

If Yakupov has graded out No. 1, take him. If Murray tops the chart, take him. Same for Galchenyuk or whoever sits in the top slot. Tambellini has to be able to trust his scouting staff and go with the consensus. If he can't, he needs different scouts. If he won't, he has to answer for the pick.

Take the best player available.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
Avatar
#51 Oiler Al
May 28 2012, 07:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Draft Yakapov, and trade Hemsky for a D man or a real NHL center man.You dont need Hemmer if you have Yakapov. If Hemsky stays, then you have to play guys out of their postions. Either way, Yak's the guy. PS> Need some speedy puck handling D men to feed these swift guys up front? Thats where you come in Tambelini.

Avatar
#52 Quicksilver ballet
May 28 2012, 07:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The term, BPA has long dissipated by the time clubs get beyond that 10th pick in the first round. Robby Shremp was the BPA when the Oilers selected him 22nd or 25th overall a few yrs ago.

Contrary to popular belief, anything outside of the top 8 is a crapshoot in the entry draft. Edmonton learned this the hard way over the span of the last 20 yrs.

Avatar
#53 Walter Sobchak
May 28 2012, 07:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ NateInEdmonton

Beside's Eberle and Hall who still might move to Center, where is this depth at wing you speak of?

Hemsky at 2 years left and a whopping 5 million per season on the down side of his career!! Even if the guy has an amazing year here, do you see the Oilers fishing out more dough for him in two years?

Or a player with upside and like numbers at 875 + bonus money for 3 years?

Paajarvi and his consistent play?

Ryan Smyth? Belanger? Eager?

The ability to defend is a defensemen, the ability to play both ways is completely different. From everything I have read all the players mentioned play a really good two way game.

Only Galchenyuk played in all situations and then only as a 16 year old (he spent a half year on 2nd PK)

Beside’s needing defensemen, the Oilers need to score, they have no secondary scoring.

Edit: I still think the Oilers can get both Yakupov and Galchenyuk! Forever optimistic!!!

Avatar
#54 @NateInVegas
May 28 2012, 07:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Wes Mantooth - Team Yakupov

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. If your intention is to move Hall to C and draft Yakupov, trade Gagner and Hemsky that's fine. I'd prefer to draft the Center. Let Galchenyuk play another year in the OHL and play Gagner C2 this year to up his value.

Edmonton's drafting the player who can make the biggest impact next year in the NHL next year. (Yakupov) I'd prefer to draft the player that makes the Oilers good for the next 7-10 years.

The Oilers will lose 1 of RNH,Eberle,Hall,Yakupov because Russians don't take a home town discounts. Nail's lack of defense is a concern, so are his injuries.

Avatar
#55 Walter Sobchak
May 28 2012, 08:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
@NateInVegas wrote:

@ Wes Mantooth - Team Yakupov

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. If your intention is to move Hall to C and draft Yakupov, trade Gagner and Hemsky that's fine. I'd prefer to draft the Center. Let Galchenyuk play another year in the OHL and play Gagner C2 this year to up his value.

Edmonton's drafting the player who can make the biggest impact next year in the NHL next year. (Yakupov) I'd prefer to draft the player that makes the Oilers good for the next 7-10 years.

The Oilers will lose 1 of RNH,Eberle,Hall,Yakupov because Russians don't take a home town discounts. Nail's lack of defense is a concern, so are his injuries.

I appreciate what you saying, I like both players just about the same, we just seem to differ about long term. I see Yakupov with elite numbers as an Oiler over a period of time and that's what sells me along with his rugged tough play, little bit of cockiness.

Both players suffered injuries, in fact Galchenyuk had the worst of the injuries.

But It's deffinetly hard to disagree with you, like I said I want both!

Edit; Then trade Gagner and Hemsky for need!

Avatar
#56 count grishnack
May 28 2012, 08:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
@NateInVegas wrote:

@ Wes Mantooth - Team Yakupov

I agree with a lot of what you're saying. If your intention is to move Hall to C and draft Yakupov, trade Gagner and Hemsky that's fine. I'd prefer to draft the Center. Let Galchenyuk play another year in the OHL and play Gagner C2 this year to up his value.

Edmonton's drafting the player who can make the biggest impact next year in the NHL next year. (Yakupov) I'd prefer to draft the player that makes the Oilers good for the next 7-10 years.

The Oilers will lose 1 of RNH,Eberle,Hall,Yakupov because Russians don't take a home town discounts. Nail's lack of defense is a concern, so are his injuries.

Nate ,you are a moron.

Avatar
#57 etownman
May 28 2012, 09:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

count.....what's your point?

Avatar
#58 sizzler
May 28 2012, 10:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

My recommendation would be to draft the player who is number 1 on most creditable draft list. every list has yakapov as number 1, how do the oilers end up with a tie????

Avatar
#59 Devolution
May 28 2012, 11:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@sizzler

They don't end up with a tie, they certainly have their list by now but revealing it to the world limits what they could get in a possible trade scenario.

Imagine they want Galnchenyuk at #4. If Columbus really wants Yakupov and they know he will be available why would they offer the Oilers anything for their #1 pick?

Avatar
#60 Mutt Heatly
May 29 2012, 12:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Yakkety Yak wrote:

When the Oilers let KLowe and Tambi start thinking, we're all in trouble. Let Stu take over the entire organization and I think we'll start moving in the right direction.

Your idea isn't the worst I've ever heard. When Vassellini gets gassed, and he will, the only question is when, I wonder if Stu will be in the conversation. Or even if he would want to be. I also wonder if Ray Ferraro isn't a future magic man, a la Dale Tallon. The man knows hockey. . .

Avatar
#61 nunyour
May 29 2012, 09:47AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

i bet almost every team in the league would take a big top six centre over a small top six winger any day of the week,and i got my measurments from nhl draft .com,and it seems yours are off a bit.i would never take a defenceman with the first pick unless he was elite.edmonton tried to trade hemsky last season,how did that work out?

Avatar
#62 @NateInVegas
May 29 2012, 12:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
count grishnack wrote:

Nate ,you are a moron.

Tell me where I'm wrong and what your vision of the Oilers is.

Comments are closed for this article.