Re-Drafting the Edmonton Oilers Last Ten First Rounds

With the 2013 NHL Draft fast approaching, I decided to take a look at the Edmonton Oilers last ten first round picks and became Kevin Lowe and, gulp, Steve Tambellini for a little bit and re-draft. So, get in your DeLoreans and sit tight because we’re going back in time to re-draft the Edmonton Oilers last ten first rounders.

2002: Jiri Hudler

Actual Pick: Jesse Niinimaki

Jiri Hudler Red Wings

Jiri Hudler (middle) has returned home to the Czech Republic following the death of his father. (Icon SMI)

The Edmonton Oilers had the 15th pick in the 2002 NHL Draft and decided to use that pick for Jesse Niinimaki. Oops.

Niinimaki was a bust. A big one. Word is that Kevin Lowe wanted to trade the pick away due to worries that the draft pool was shallow. Well, Lowe was correct. The Oilers made a huge mistake in overvaluing the young Finn and took him with a big stretch at number 15.

Niinimaki never made it to the NHL, or even AHL for that matter. He bounced around in Europe for awhile and was last seen playing for Ilves in his native Finland.

Maybe Lowe should have traded the pick because, while the pool was shallow, there were some good value later on in the draft. In looking at the draft results, there was some good talent in the second round and that’s where the guy the Oilers should have taken was.

Jiri Hudler was selected in the second round by the Detroit Red Wings, 43 picks after the Oilers selection of Niinimaki. It wasn’t until 2006 when Hudler broke out started playing full seasons for the Wings. He was a solid player for the Red Wings, nothing spectacular but he made more of a lasting legacy in the NHL than Niinimaki ever did.

2003: Zach Parise

Zach Parise Devils

(Icon SMI)

Actual Pick: Marc-Antoine Pouliot

Zach Parise was actually chosen before the Oilers got to make a pick, but it didn’t have to be that way.

The Oilers had the 17th pick, but Edmonton traded the pick to the New Jersey Devils for the 22nd pick and the 68th pick. the New Jersey Devils drafted Zach Parise from North Dakota and later became the Devils captain before signing a lucrative deal with the Minnesota Wild.

The Oilers got an extra pick for falling down five places on the board, so, they were bound to find someone, right? Well, not so fast. The Oilers selected Marc-Antoine Pouliot with the 22nd pick and Jean-Francois Jacques with the 68th pick. Between Pouliot and Jacques, they have a combined career point total of 74. Parise’s career high season point total? 94.

Even worse, the Oilers could have taken Corey Perry or Mike Richards with the 22nd pick and they could have taken goon Daniel Carcillo with the 68th pick. I guess the saying is true, hindsight is 20/20.

2004: Cory Schneider

Corey Schneider Canucks

(Icon SMI)

Actual Pick: Devan Dubnyk

The Oilers pick in 2004 wasn’t a bad choice with selecting Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk is the starting goaltender in Edmonton and appears to be the future, but they could have selected a better goaltender later in the first.

12 picks after the Oilers selection of Dubnyk, the Vancouver Canucks took a New England high schooler in Cory Schneider. Schneider would hone is craft with the Boston College Eagles before joining the Vancouver Canucks. It wasn’t until 2010-11, when Schneider broke out and tried to usurp Roberto Luongo’s crown.

Schneider and Luongo would later form a two headed goaltending monster that is currently creating problems for the Canucks. Who to keep? Who to trade? Schneider’s talent, with an assist to Luongo’s horrid playoff play and inflated contract, is making problems for the Canucks front office. Schneider is a great goaltender and will have a chance to shine as a number one goalie.

Dubnyk isn’t a bad goaltender for the Oilers. At times he has shown flashes a brilliance, but at other times he just makes you shake your head. Dubnyk still has the talent and time on his side to improve.

2005: James Neal

Zach Boychuk (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Actual Pick: Andrew Cogliano

The Edmonton Oilers had the 25th pick in the 2005 NHL Draft and selected Andrew Cogliano from the OPJHL.

Cogliano joined the Oilers in 2007 after spending time with the Michigan Wolverines. Cogliano wasn’t a bad player, he just didn’t exactly play up to his first round caliber. His first two seasons in Edmonton, he scored 18 goals apiece, but hasn’t surpassed that total yet.

After four seasons in Alberta, the Oilers traded Cogliano to the Anaheim Ducks for a second round pick in this year’s draft.

Just eight picks later, the Dallas Stars took the Plymouth Whalers’ James Neal. Neal joined the Stars in 2008 and has been a 20 goal scored ever since. The Stars would later trade Neal to the Pittsburgh Penguins where he is becoming a star playing along the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

2006: No First Round Pick

No first rounder. Nothing to see here, move along.

2007: Logan Couture

Logan Couture Sharks

(Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

Actual Pick: Sam Gagner

You really can’t complain with the Oielrs selection of Sam Gagner. Gagner has become a good young player on this team and looks like he is going to be a part of their future.

However, just three picks later the San Jose Sharks selected Logan Couture of the Ottawa 67’s. Couture would play two more season with Brian Kilrea and the 67’s, but it wasn’t long before Couture developed into a 30 goal scorer and the future of Sharks hockey.

Like I said, Gagner is a good pick and is part of the future in Edmonton, but Couture is the better player in this one.

2008: Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle

(John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE)

The Edmonton Oilers made the absolute right call on this one. Eberle was selected out of Regina Pats with the 22nd pick and it didn’t take long for the Oilers to realize they made the right call.

Eberle came from the Pats as a point machine, scoring 50 goals and 106 points in his final season with the Pats. Eberle has turned into a great offensive player for the Oilers and has become a vocal leader in the locker room. Eberle’s leadership skills is most likely going to get him the captain’s “C” on his sweater in the near future.

After Eberle’s selection, there wasn’t many players left that could fill Eberle’s point production and thus was a great selection by the Edmonton Oilers.

2009: Ryan O’Reilly

Ryan O'Reilly stats

Ryan O’Reilly. (Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE)

Actual Pick: Magnus Paajarvi

The Oilers selected Magnus Paajarvi with the 10th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft and has turned into a so-so player, not conducive of a 10th overall pick.

Paajarvi future with the Edmonton Oilers is in doubt and when you are a high draft pick just four years ago, you aren’t doing so well. Paajarvi point total is pedestrian and definitely now in line with someone who was taken number ten.

23 picks after Paajarvi the Colorado Avalanche selected Ryan O’Reilly from the Erie Otters. O’Reilly has turned into one of Colorado’s best players. O’Reilly led the Avalanche in goals, assists, and points in 2011-12 and looked to be a bright star for Colroado.

O’Reilly believed this as well and decided to holdout for a new contract. It was a messy situation with O’Reilly being shopped around for a bit before both sides agreed to a deal. O’Reilly is a part of the rebuilding period in Colorado and looks to be staying there for some time.

2010: Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is one of many first-round picks on the Oilers’ roster (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

The first of the Oilers three first overall picks, the Oilers select Taylor Hall from the Windsor Spitfires.

It was a toss-up for the Oilers on whether to select Hall or Tyler Seguin. It was basically 1A and 1B, you couldn’t really lose with either pick. So, Edmonton selected their 1A in Taylor Hall. Hall has become the face of the Edmonton Oilers and a star in the making.

His NHL career started a little slow with only 42 points in 62 games, but he later found his groove and became the Oilers newest star. Hall is a huge part of the Oilers young nucleus and will be a fixture in Edmonton for years to come.

As for 1B, he is doing quite well for himself, too. Tyler Seguin was selected by the Boston Bruins at number two overall thanks to the Phil Kessel trade. Seguin joined Boston in the 2010-11 season and was a big part of their Stanley Cup run and is part of another one this season.

Maybe Taylor Hall will finally get his chance at a Stanley Cup run soon enough.

2011: Ryan Nugent-HopkinsRyan Nugent-Hopkins, courtesy of USA Today

Another first overall pick for the Oilers and another good pick. It wasn’t so easy this time though.

I was tempted to pick Gabriel Landeskog, but eventually decided that Nugent-Hopkins was the better choice. Bith Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins need some work to do on offense, but they are still young. Nugent-Hopkins is known for his assisting more than his goal scoring anyway. Hey, someone has to be able to pass the puck proficiently.

Nugent-Hopkins came to the Edmonton Oilers by way of the Red Deer Rebels. During his time with the Rebels, he was an assist machine and in his last season he recorded 75 assists and that was too much for the Oilers to pass up.

If Nugent-Hopkins can stay healthy, he will eventually blossom into the player that the Oilers expect him to be.

2012: Nail Yakupov

The third and final first overall pick is Nail Yakupov of Russia.

Yakupov is the choice for one simple reason: he’s the only one to make an impact. The jury is still out on this crop if players and Yakupov as well.

Yakupov is an explosive player in the mold of Pavel Bure and has a flair for the dramatic.

There has been questions about Yakupov’s maturity and that could be a problem down the road, but with new coach Dallas Eakins in charge, I’m sure Yakupov will straighten up and fly right.

Yakupov had a great rookie campaign and should have been in the discussion for the Calder. Yakupov gives this Oiler team some life and some fun and he was a good selection for them, so far.


Agree or disagree with my selections? Comment below or send me a Tweet at @MarkWGraham

  • Jake Reed

    As a Bruins fan, I’d have to say that, at least right now, Hall wins the Tyler-Taylor debate. They’ve both been good, but Hall has been better. However, Jeff Skinner from Carolina has been as good as either of them. He should have been considered in this, in my opinion. As for 2011, I think cases could be made for Huberdeau and Saad as well as Landeskog, but it’s too early to tell with that draft class.

  • dazzer

    The one huge mistake the oil made was not picking Zach Parise. That was an oops of major proportions. The reason they didn’t choose the guy was that he was considered too small, and they liked the size and character of Pouliot. Pouliot was on a bad team with plenty of issues which he overcame to be a good scorer. They were hoping he would have developed into a great player, but we know what happened, he was a washout at the NHL level. And we know Parise is a strong star that carries his team, but a smaller winger. The oil wanted a center, but ignored the potential of Parise and embarrassed themselves with the pick.

    It could not have been more painful as hockey analysts if at the time didn’t laugh when the Edmonton scouting staff made their selection of Pouliot. Pierre McGuire said on the TSN broadcast then that this oversight would burn Edmonton, and it did. It was then some of us wondered if Edmonton had a clue with their scouting and some changes to the scouting staff were made later.