Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Look at me now

Today Lowetide illustrated out how good the Oilers scouting department has done since 2001 - the draft year of Ales Hemsky. While the 6 year window from 2001 to 2007 had its blemishes (ie Niinimaki and Pouliot) it was full of good picks. The point LT made isnt really news to me but it got me thinking once again about the Dustin Penner offer sheet. I've always struggled with assessing the value of the 12th overall pick the Oilers gave up to get Penner (acknowledging that, without Penner, it also would have been much better). Would it be closer to Hemsky or Niinimaki? Would it be better than Penner and in how many years? Either way, I doubt that the Penner move will ever look great for the Oilers. At best it probably looks like an OK move because it will be hard to cover both the salary and picks. In the past, I've defended the move as "ok or not being horrible" by applying the following context to the trade.

At the time of the Penner offer sheet, the Oilers had just traded Pronger and Smyth in "player for assets" moves. The Oilers had too many assets and not enough players and had just struck out on the UFA market. They needed a player like Penner to assist in the development of younger players. I'm of the belief you need to shelter young players as you develop them. The chances of Robert Nilsson succeeding on the first line would have been much less than where he was on the second line behind Dustin Penner. Penner had just played 2nd line LW on a Stanley Cup winner and would definitely have been capable of top 6 on a shallow looking Oilers roster.

When reading the post by LT, I thought of a new context that could be applied to the Penner move. I don’t think there is any chance we'd be throwing around compliments to the procurement department at this time last season.

1) Sam Gagner hadn’t played an NHL game
2) Andrew Cogliano hadn’t played and NHL game
3) Pouliot didn’t really look NHL ready
4) Schremp was looking suspect
5) Dubnyk was looking suspect
6) JDD was looking suspect
7) JFJ had no points in 41 NHL games
8) Many fans were trashing the scouts for not taking Cherpanov and taking Nash.
9) Brodziak looked NHL ready
10) Stortini looked like a bum who wasn’t near being an NHL enforcer

Could the Oilers have possibly valued the picks as highly as they would today? I'd say no. Fast forward a year and

1) Sam Gagner was an NHL top 5 rookie as an 18 year old
2) Andrew Cogliano was a top 10 NHL rookie
3) Pouliot looks ready to make the NHL
4) Schremp was top 10 in the AHL in points, NHL capable and a decent trade asset
5) Dubnyk is still unproven
6) JDD has a bounce-back season a one way contract
7) JFJ still has no points in 41 NHL games
8) Avoiding Cherepanov looks better and Nash looks to be a good pick
9) Brodziak was indeed NHL ready
10) Stortini looks to be effective in the 4th line agitator role and good value at 700k

The point of the post isnt to justify the Penner offer sheet. I don’t think it’s a good long term strategy in today’s NHL. But it’s quite amazing how quickly ones opinion on something can change.