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

Welcome to Oil Acumen. All Oilers, all the time... Occasionally other stuff.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

12/06/14 It's All The Scout's Fault!

Except it isn't the scout's fault.

There's been a lot of finger pointing in the direction of the Oilers' amateur scouting lately. The lack of depth has to be somebody's fault, right? I don't buy it. Scouting has been an issue for the Oilers before, but this staff has done fine. Here's why:

A while back, Jason Gregor wrote an article about the value of a draft pick, and how likely it is that a player from the draft makes the NHL. As you would expect, the deeper you go into the draft, the less likely it is. After looking at ten years of drafts, he found that there's roughly a 60% chance of finding a decent player in the first round, ~25% in the second round, ~16% in the third round, and about an 8% chance of finding a decent player in every round after that.

So how do the Oilers stack up to the average?

Since Stu MacGregor took over as head scout, he's been on the job for seven drafts. He has had seven second-round picks, nine third-round picks, and 31 picks in the fourth round and beyond. Based on Gregor's work, we would expect about 2 of the second rounders to work out, along with 1.5 third rounders, and 2.5 from the rest of the draft. Obviously you can't have half a player, but you get the idea.

One problem we'll run into is the amount of time that has passed since these drafts, because we don't know how most of these picks are going to turn out. But are we on track?

Martin Marincin seems to be a good bet to be a second rounder that turned into a decent player. One of Lander, Pitlick, Hamilton, Musil, Moroz and Marc-Olivier Roy will need to join him.

Former 2013 third-rounder Bogdan Yakimov has already played a game in the NHL. Jujhar Khaira and Daniil Zharkov were also third round picks, as was Travis Ewanyk. Steve Pinizzotto was acquired for former third-rounder Ryan Martindale.

As for the rest of the draft, the best bets are Brandon Davidson, Martin Gernat, Tobias Rieder and Greg Chase, along with Teemu Hartikainen. Rieder and Chase in particular look promising, even though one has since been traded.

And it's often said that we need five years or so to judge a draft pick. If that's the case, we should be judging the Oilers' scouts on only the 2008 and 2009 drafts, in which they had just twelve picks. In Jason Gregor's article, he found that only about 16% of draft picks in any round turn into NHL players. Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi count among that group, which is right on target. Anything else is gravy.

There's no doubt that whiffing on two of three first round picks in 2007 has hurt this team, not to mention trading sixth overall pick Sam Gagner for a winger that won't be here if the team ever gets good. But even Petry, Cogliano, Dubnyk and Brodziak came from the drafts of 2003-2006, which is four of 35 picks that worked out (11%).

This team is simply bad at finding a supporting cast, and under Tambellini especially they have had a bad habit of trading their most useful draftees. Jeff Petry is surely not long for this organization, and his name will be added to the list.

So if we want to find out the reason for the Oilers' lack of depth, it's management, not scouting.

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