A Brief History of the 16th Overall Pick

When the Edmonton Oilers traded David Perron to Pittsburgh back in January in exchange for a first-round pick and Rob Klinkhammer, no one anticipated the Penguins late season free-fall and subsequent early ousting from the playoffs. What was expected to be a pick somewhere in the 20’s is now securely at number 16, and with this years’ draft class looking like a fairly deep talent pool, the Oilers could potentially get a really good player. While there has been some chatter that the Oilers could package the pick for a starting goalie or top pairing defenceman, the perception at the moment is that they plan to keep it, barring a promising trade proposal.

(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The NHL draft is an interesting beast, and no matter how many scouts there are and how much visibility the players get, it can still be somewhat of a crap-shoot. And of course, there are all the exceptions to the rules, like the eventual superstars who got passed over and taken in later rounds, and the first-rounders who end up being busts. Tyler Johnson has proved most recently that you don’t even need to be drafted to make it. In other words, there are no guarantees that the Oilers find an impact player at 16.

I decided to peruse through history and check up on recent 16th overall picks. The biggest takeaway from my research is that the Oilers shouldn’t be afraid to pick someone rated lower than 16. So without further ado, I present the classic “hindsight is 20/20” draft history.

  • 2014: Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets)
  • (It’s far too soon to declare Milano a good choice or not, as he has yet to play an NHL game, as do most of the players selected after him).
  • 2013: Nikita Zadorov (Buffalo Sabres) 67 NHL games
  • (As with Milano, it’s too soon to decide on Zadorov, or the players taken after him).
  • 2012: Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals) 149 NHL games
  • Notable players chosen after him: Tomas Hertl, Teuvo Teravaien, Olli Maatta.
  • 2011: Joel Armia (Buffalo Sabres) 1 NHL game
  • Notable players chosen after him: Nathan Beaulieu, Oscar Klefbom
  • 2010: Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) 179 NHL games
  • (I’d venture to say that he was the right choice).
  • 2009: Nick Leddy (Minnesota Wild) 336 NHL games.
  • Notable player taken after him: Chris Kreider
  • 2008: Joe Colborne (Boston Bruins) 160 NHL games
  • Notable Players taken after him: Jake Gardiner, Jordan Eberle, John Carlson
  • 2007: Colton Gilles (Minnesota Wild) 154 NHL games
  • Notable players taken after him: Max Pacioretty, David Perron, Mikael Backlund. *ouch*
  • 2006: Ty Wishart (San Jose Sharks) 26 NHL games
  • Notable players taken after him: Claude Giroux, Patrick Berglund, Semyon Varlamov. *ouch again*
  • 2005: Alex Bourret (Atlanta Thrashers) zero NHL games
  • Notable players taken after him: Tuukka Rask, T.J Oshie, Matt Niskanen, Andrew Cogliano. *this is painful*
  • 2004: Petteri Nokelainen (New York Islanders) 245 NHL games
  • Notable players taken after him: Travis Zajac, Cory Schneider, Mike Green.
  • 2003: Steve Bernier (San Jose Sharks) 609 NHL games
  • Notable players taken after him: Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry. *make it stop*

Alright, so let’s get some perspective here. Obviously, when the scouts rank a player at a certain number, that doesn’t mean he is the right choice, which is why you’ll tend to see very different rankings depending on who you ask. Craig Button has left winger Anthony Beauvillier in the 16th spot. Bob McKenzie has centerman Colin White. Central scouting has defenceman Thomas Chabot. Hockeyprospect.com has right winger Denis Gurianov. The Oilers might not choose any of those guys. But, whichever name they do call comes with a risk. And though it may just be a coincidence, the 16th overall pick has been historically bad. Let’s hope that changes this season.