Keith Gretzky is the new assistant general manager of the
Edmonton Oilers. Prior to signing on in Edmonton, Gretzky was the scouting director
of the Boston Bruins and the Arizona Coyotes. It’s far too early to judge his
work with Boston, but in his time in Arizona he was a contemporary of Kevin
Prendergast and Stu MacGregor of the Edmonton Oilers.
How does Gretzky’s work compare to that of
MacGregor/Prendergast over the same period?
Gretzky ran the Arizona drafts from 2007-11, a five-year
span. That’s the period we’ll consider here.
First Round Picks
These comparisons are the toughest, since they’re heavily
influenced by exact draft position.
The Coyotes landed four good players with eight picks,
including one truly great one (Ekman-Larsson). Three of the eight picks have
yet to play 100 games in the NHL.
The Oilers landed four good players with seven picks (I’m
here excluding Nash and Paajarvi, though both of those players have topped the
100-game mark and are still in the league). Only one of the seven picks has failed
to play at least 100 NHL games.
Looking at the lists, I’m inclined to call Ekman-Larsson the
best pick of the lot, but also to favour Edmonton’s work overall. However, I’d
also suggest that the fairest comparison is further down the draft list.
Second Round Picks
Lindberg has injected some life into a list of Arizona picks
which looked about to go 0-for-8. Three of the eight selections have not played
in the NHL at all, and with the exception of Lindberg and perhaps Lessio it’s
difficult to find a player with much hope of substantially improving his
All of Edmonton’s players have appeared in at least one NHL
game, and only Hamilton would seem to have no chance to improve upon his
Marincin would be my choice at this juncture as the best of
these 13 selections, followed by Lindberg. Edmonton has got more out of its
five selections so far than Arizona has out of its eight.
Top 100 Picks
Barring the emergence of Dillon Simpson, which is still possible,
the most significant player on either list is Michael Stone, a homerun
hit by Arizona’s scouting staff.
The next-best guy on either list (based on work
so far) is Linus Omark.
Arizona’s work is pretty solid here with a low number of
picks. About Edmonton’s work, the less said the better. Picks like
the Abney and Hesketh selections were hard to defend on the day they were made,
and the overall record for these five years is not good at all.
Outside the Top 100
Arizona found two players with a dozen picks outside the
top-100 in this five-year span. Darling has been a solid backup for two years
in Chicago (after an absolutely bizarre career path) while Domingue’s ceiling
remains an unknown. For now he’s a backup but may end up as more than that.
Edmonton found seven players with 15 picks, but only three
of significance. Rieder and Davidson are both excellent young players, while
Hartikainen played 50-odd games before chasing after KHL money.
Again, I’d favour the Oilers work overall.
It will be up to each reader to judge for himself how to
factor in the number and quality of picks.
There’s a case to be made either way in the first round,
particularly if we ignore the first overalls and place a lot of emphasis on
Oliver Ekman-Larsson. With five picks outside the top-10, however, the Coyotes
landed one player of any real significance, while the Oilers added two NHL’ers
with only three picks.
Outside the first round, the results can be interpreted in
multiple ways. Arizona had a serious advantage in terms of second-round picks,
while the Oilers had more third, fourth and late-round selections.
The Coyotes landed Michael Stone, easily their best player.
Aside from him, Oscar Lindberg had an impressive rookie season last year in a
depth role, while Louis Domingue and Scott Darling are both at least backup goalies.
Edmonton got Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson and Tobias
Rieder. Mileage may vary (I’m not particularly bullish on either Lindberg or
Domingue), but to my eye that’s three of the four best players found be either
team outside of the first round over this period.
I’d say that the Coyotes under Gretzky were out-drafted by
the Oilers under Prendergast/MacGregor over the same time period.
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