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

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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

11/07/12 Defense and the 2006 Entry Draft

Twelve defensemen were selected in the 2006 draft before Jeff Petry heard his name called by the Edmonton Oilers. 25 were picked before Theo Peckham. Now, some six years later, they may emerge as two of the best.

Of all the defensemen picked in 2006 (there were 66), only five have played more NHL games than Petry. That's actually a pretty damning indictment of the draft class, because Petry is only entering his third professional season. Still, the combination of tools that he possesses has some observers believing he has top-pairing potential, which is more than can be said of plenty of rearguards from 2006.

One of the defenders who has played more games than Petry is Theo Peckham. Only Erik Johnson, Andrew MacDonald and Jamie McBain have played more games from the back end. He took a step back in 2011-12, but is only one year removed from a strong 2010-11 season.

Erik Johnson was the first overall pick that year, so it's only natural that he would have played the most games of any defenseman of the class. He still has the potential to be the best of the bunch as well, but he has since been traded by the Blues to Colorado, and his stat line of 298, 27-100-127, minus-28 leaves something to be desired for a first overall pick.

This class wasn't exactly stacked with blueliners, but the Oilers managed to pluck some good ones. They missed with their other three picks (Pitton, Wild, Bumagin), which makes those first two selections even more important. It's all the more impressive because the Oilers lacked a first round pick. Nine defensemen were picked in the first round and so far only Johnson has played at least 100 games. Only two of them have played at least 30, and three have never played an NHL game.

Teams never win with all their picks in a particular year, but if Petry and Peckham simply manage to be NHL players then the Oilers will have done extremely well. If Petry finds his way to a top pairing he's a brilliant pick.

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