#SAVEUSPRONGER (Recapping NHL Drafts from Pronger’s Departure – 2007 Edition)
Written By Ken Moorhouse (RHBDKEN)
The 2006-07 season for the Edmonton Oilers can be categorized as a slow moving disaster as the realization of the fact that we were now nowhere close to the same team we were just the previous season. After the last draft the Oilers in very desperate moves tried to fill in the voids that were left by Pronger with developing 2nd line winger Joffrey Lupul, Defenseman Ladislav Smid and several draft picks. Still however it was a quite summer for Kevin Lowe as the only major move he made was picking up Jan Hejda from the Buffalo Sabers who proved to be a very good depth defenseman in the NHL.
Once the season started the Oilers floated with a .500 record that lasted until the NHL Trade Deadline where the second biggest face of the franchise player was traded due to a contract dispute. Ryan Smyth was shipped off to the Islanders for forwards Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and the Islanders 1st round pick 15th Overall in the 2007 NHL Draft.
Right after this major trade the Oilers play on the ice sharply declined as we fell from just below the playoff line to 6th last in the NHL in a matter of two months. This then prepared Kevin Lowe for a very important draft decision. The question was if the Oilers should rebuild or challenge again. The oilers chose the prior option and hence the 2007 NHL Draft plan was set in motion.
NHL 1st Round
Now here is something interesting to wrap your head around. If the Oilers lost to the Calgary Flames on the last game of the season, more than likely we would have ended up with the 1st overall selection who would become NHL Superstar Patrick Kane, however we moved to 6th Overall with the last game win, and the Blackhawks move to 5th spot and win the Lottery. However going in the draft, there were tons of players in the 1st round who would have very good careers suck as Jakub Voracek, Patrick Kane, James Van Reimsdyk, Lars Eller, Kevin Shattenkirk, Max Pacioretty to name a few. The Oilers also made a swamp with the Phoenix Coyotes to move up to the 21st spot from the 30th pick provided to us by the Anaheim Ducks. So we enter the draft with three 1st round picks.
With the 6th overall pick the Edmonton Oilers choose Patrick Kane line mate Sam Gagner who had a very good season with the London Knights. The only issue I have with this pick is the fact that we have a habit of picking up the star player’s line mate as we did with Marc-Antoine Pouliot when he played with Sidney Crosby (Racki’s note: Pouliot was drafted by the Oilers before Crosby even played with the Oceanic (this one is a common misconception out there). Gagner I think is still a pretty good pick as he is a consistent 45pt player in the league however to say there is better players later on would be an understatement. Gagner also lacks toughness and strength with the puck, which has shown this year especially to be a big hurting factor on his game. The next pick after Gagner was Jakub Voracek who is now a valuable 2nd line winger on the Philadelphia Flyers and a consistent 50-60pt player who is tall and tough to knock off the puck.
The Oilers were back on the clock again with the 15th overall pick in the 2007 draft, and with this selection they take big slow defenseman Alex Plante. Alex has a ton of potential only due to his big size, however this big size also prevented him from being a NHL defenseman due to his ability to move a bit faster than a pylon After 6 years of trying to develop the big lug, the oilers have cut the ties with him and now he plays in the Austrian Hockey League. The next selection in the draft was Colton Gillies who while he is a 13th forward on his current team, brings nothing to the table that average sandpaper can bring.
Hopefully the Oilers can rebound with a better pick at the 21st overall spot, and they take university project Riley Nash. I commend Riley for focusing his life on schooling before he became a pro hockey player, however that hurt the oilers faith in him as they traded him alter on for the draft pick that would become Martin Marincin. Riley is just starting his NHL career as a good energy center with defensive skills. The next pick in the draft was Max Pacioretty who is a very good power forward with the Montreal Canadians and a consistent 60pt scorer, yet another player the Oilers would love to have on today’s roster.
Overall this was not a very good 1st round for the Oilers with all the picks we had and ended up with one 2nd/3rd line center, and two organizational busts.
First Round Grade: C
NHL 2nd Round
No drafting done in this round for the Edmonton Oilers, they unfortunately traded this pick and the 30rd pick for the draft choice that became Riley Nash. What we lost out on was Nick Ross and Joel Gistedt who both have never seen the day of light in the NHL.
Final Round Grade: N/A
NHL 3rd Round
Once again there is no drafting for the Edmonton organization as we are still paying for the trade to acquire Dwayne Roloson. The draft pick we did trade away, was then sent to the Atlanta Thrashers for the Career AHL player Spencer Machacek, who did have a bunch of games in the NHL but is just not good enough for the top league.
Final Round Grade: N/A
NHL 4th Round
Finally after waiting what seemed for an eternity the Oilers are back on the clock, this time selecting the enigma and Team 1260’s favorite superstar Linus Omark. Omark is a pretty good discovery this late in the game however he doesn’t have the heart or defensive skill to become a regular NHL player. When he tries he can stickhandle and dangle through the hearts of thousands of fans, but that only happens once every thirty to forty games. He has been then traded, and walked away from the NHL due to not willing to play in a development system. The next pick after Omark was German goaltender Sebastian Stefaniszin who has made a decent career in the Austrian hockey league.
Final Round Grade: B-
NHL 5th Round
127th Overall Milan Kytnar
I want to do note in this round that at the 129th spot was Dallas Stars superstar Jamie Benn who is an incredible steal on this late of the draft. Racki’s note: why couldn’t the Oilers go “Coke Machine” on this pick?? Hindsight though.. Benn is just one example of many steals you’ll find in every draft.
Final Round Grade: C-
NHL 6th Round
157th Overall William Quist
Final Round Grade: D
NHL 7th Round
No selection in this round. Pick was traded for Jan Hejda
Stay tuned as I review the 2008 NHL draft very soon, another one where the oilers trade important cupboard pieces to get big forward Dustin Penner.
Draft Overall Ranking: C-
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