a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 16 June 2012

06/16/12 Revisiting the 1994 Draft

The Edmonton Oilers selected Jason Bonsignore fourth overall in 1994. It wasn't the strongest of drafts, with Ryan Smyth having played the most games of any first rounder, but the Bonsignore pick hurt. Here are a few other hits and misses.

Bonsignore is a famous bust from the '94 draft, but the Oilers could easily have done worse in the first round. Six of the 26 players taken in round one played less than Bonsignore's 79 NHL games, including Brett Lindros, who was taken just five spots later. Eight players got into less than 100 NHL games. Jeff O'Neil, who went fifth overall to Hartford, ended up playing 821 games and scoring 496 points. His best season was a 41 goal, 67 point campaign in 2000-01. Also available in round one were Jeff Friesen (516 career points) and Mattias Ohlund.

The Oilers did very well in taking Ryan Smyth sixth overall, as his 1151 games played is not only the most of any first round player, but the most of any player taken in that draft class. Smyth's 806 points is third of those taken in 1994, behind only Daniel Alfredsson and Patrik Elias.

After Smyth the Oilers next picked 32nd overall, using the selection on left winger Mike Watt. Watt ended up playing just 157 games and only 14 of them in Edmonton. Twelve picks later, Jose Theodore would come off the board to Montreal. Mathieu Dandenault went 49th overall to Detroit, and some guy by the name of Patrik Elias was the 51st overall pick by New Jersey. Elias just finished a season in which he scored 78 points in 81 games as a 35 year old, and he has racked up a total of 894 points in his 1042 contests in the NHL.

With the first pick in the third round (53rd overall) the Oilers selected Corey Neilson, who never found his way to the NHL. A short time later at 60th overall the Oilers called the name Brad Symes, a defenseman from the Portland Winterhawks who also never played an NHL game. The 63rd overall pick that year was Jason Strudwick, who did eventually make his way to Edmonton. Number 64 was Fredrik Modin, who played 898 NHL games and scored 462 points. Sheldon Souray went 71st overall to New Jersey and Chris Clark was the 77th overall pick. But the real gem of the third round was Chris Drury, who played 892 games, scored 615 points, was rookie of the year in 1999 and won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001.

The Oilers had the first pick in round four as well, and used it to selected Adam Copeland. He never played an NHL game. Just eight picks later the Quebec Nordiques called the name Milan Hejduk. The 95th overall pick also belonged to Edmonton, and their choice, Jussi Tervainen, has - you guessed it - no NHL games under his belt.

Ditto for Jon Gaskins, who the Oilers picked 110th overall. Marty Turco, Bates Battaglia and Daniel Alfredsson were still available. The same goes for Terry Marchant, who the Oilers picked 136th. Bryce Salvador was still out there and so was Alexander Selivanov.

Edmonton had three picks in round seven. Guess how many NHL games they combined for? If you guessed zero, you win a mediocre hockey team! Shane Hnidy's 550 NHL games led the players taken in round seven.

After Mike Watt 32nd overall, the Oilers picked a whopping thirteen more players from rounds three to eleven. Ladislav Benysek (266th overall in round 11) was the only one to play even one NHL game, getting into 161 with Edmonton and Minnesota.

From round nine onward, Tim Thomas, Johan Hedberg, Evgeni Nabokov, Tomas Vokoun, Steve Sullivan, Eric Boulton, Richard Zednik, Sergei Berezin, Tomas Holmstrom, and Kim Johnsson were taken by various teams.

All told, the Oilers picked sixteen players in 1994 and only Ryan Smyth ended up being an NHL player. In fairness, only 27 players from the 1994 draft class have at least 200 points out of a total of 286 players. Ryan Smyth certainly softens the blow of this poor crop for Edmonton, but when armed with fifteen other selections a team should probably get more than 397 NHL games from three players. This draft was different than 2003, which was like shooting fish in a barrel for a lot of teams, but the Oilers still mostly failed to turn quantity into quality.

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