I believe you can have success as small player in the NHL, just ask Martin St. Louis. The problem for the Oilers is they don’t have one skilled line they can use to battle the rather large top lines in the league. Lines like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner who average about 6″4″ and 230lbs. Battling these guys night in and night out does not only take its tole on a player during the game but how about as the season moves on and the games start to become more and more important?
So I looked back at the Oilers first round draft picks since 2001 and something was apparent to me…the Oilers draft small. But do they draft smaller then everyone else?
So here it is. The Oilers biggest first round forward that has been drafted in the last ten years and is still somewhere in the Oilers system, are you ready for this? Taylor Hall at 6’1″ and 194lbs on draft day which is a pretty good size for a NHLer. But the Oilers have nine, yes nine other forwards with the big club that are smaller as of today. I know the Oilers have many players in the system that are bigger but the first round is where you get most of the talent.
Here are the Oilers other first round forwards drafted by and currently playing with them: Ales Hemsky at 6’0″ and 185lbs. Jordan Eberle was 6’0″ and 180lbs draft day and somehow is 5’11″ and 180lbs now. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was 6’0 and 171lbs at the draft and is now 6’1″ and 180lbs…maybe needs to add another 20lbs. Sam Gagner is 5’11″ 202lbs and Nail Yakupov is 5’11″ and 185lbs. I am going to add undrafted Mark Arcobello in here. He plays much bigger then the 5’8″ 166lbs forward he is and much bigger them most of the Oilers forwards but how much longer can he play like this and be effective in the NHL?
Now there is a ton of talent here there is no doubt about that. These guys are young and will gain strength over the years but a bit of size and talent right now would help give them a break from getting smothered by 6’4″, 240lb D-men.
It is clear to me who has been in charge of this team in almost all of these drafts in one way or another and for some reason Oilers ownership cannot see that Kevin Lowe is almost fully responsible for the position that the Oilers are currently in. Even if the future is bright. Which I completely disagree with since the OKC Barron’s are currently ranked 28th in their league. Showing use the depth of the Oilers system. Of course because the Oilers have been the worst team in the league since their 2006 playoff run there is no place to go but up.
I wonder if other Oilers fans are as frustrated as me when you have these much larger teams sitting on top of the NHL standings and the Oilers are struggling night after night for consistency. David Perron has been a great addition to the Oilers team but he is also a six foot tall sub 200lbs forward who is going to take a pounding night after night. How long can he keep it up? Our first line does not have to be as big as the guys in Anaheim, but wouldn’t that be nice?
I checked out eight other NHL teams to see what they have done for the decade. Ducks, Leafs, Bruins, Hawks, Avs, Preds, Canucks and the Sens have all seen recent success and over the last decade plus have drafted a total of 59 first round forwards. Out of those 59 forwards there were only 8 players under 6 foot tall. (Matt Duchene and Patrick Kane were two of these eight) and the Leafs, Ducks and Preds drafted no one under 6 foot tall.
Maybe the Oilers are in the frame of mind that they need to draft the best player available at that time instead of drafting the player that would best suit their team. It would be amazing to see the Oilers trade down in a draft to allow them to pick a a more suitable player for their roster instead another Nail Yakupov.
I took most of this from I had done earlier in the year that asked the question “Does Size Matter?” I figured that this needed to be shared again as the Oilers are playing better but sometimes looked worn down late in games.