Earth to Lowe!

So they announced the Hart Trophy finalists the other day and something stood out to me. Russians. Young Russians. Ovechkin and Malkin make up two of the three finalists, and if one should win it will be the first time since Federov in 1994 and only second time ever. Apparently the Motherland has started churning out a very creamy crop of competitors (Alliteration!). Though it is rare to see Russians amongst the finalists of this award it will undoubtedly be a continuing trend. Three of the top four point getters in the NHL were Russian, and thats not including guys like Kovalchuk, Kovalev, and younger stars like Zherdev and Radulov. Players like these bring finesse and skill to a team and even more importantly: Goal Scoring.

This is where Stu MacGregor and Kevin Prendergast come in. This team is in dire need of a one shot goal scorer not seen in these parts since the first 20 games of Petr Sykora. This team is lacking and as Lowetide put it, there is one clear reason, "Russia is Death Valley for the Oilers at the draft table". The draft list of Russians for this team is nothing short of pitiful. The list since the 2000 Draft:

Not a single NHL player on that list. Trukhno is the only one who might break that curse but even he is not a sure thing. That is eight Russians selected of the 77 picks the Oilers have used in these drafts(10%). In the last three years the Draft average is 5.4% so we are drafting Russian born players at a high clip and have nothing to show for it. We can point the gun at Kent Nilsson and Frank Musil who were both brought in as European scouts by Kevin Lowe. This team is clearly not doing enough to bring in European and specifically Russian talent. Now I understand Ovechkin and Malkin went 1-2 at the 2004 draft but Oilers have had ample opportunity to draft skilled Russians high. Taking Plante over Cherapanov at last years draft was as much about Cherry being Russian as it was about them deciding to take a defenceman no matter what. The scouting staff needs a serious wake up call and hopefully that call answers our scoring needs.

Ovechkin for the Hart.


Jon G said...

I think that the main reason that Cherry (as you have nicknamed him, didnt know you were that tight) was the there is no deal between the RSL and the NHL which he was under contract with. I think teams were scared to pick him due to a lengthy legal battle that could ensue. Either way, the Oiler organization made a mistake in not picking the best available player at the time

Sean said...

As you mentioned, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin or Malkin were basically no brainer picks. Sure we need to do a better job, but I'd rather we used late round flyer picks on Russians than first rounders. Even players like Kostytin are rumored to be getting large offers from the RSL and getting them to contracts is going to be tough. I'm with you on the Cherepanov call though. Plante was just as big of a risk but Cherepanov was a bigger need IMO. Our scouting is much improved in he last couple years. If we had to increase our scouting investment in one area, I'd prefer NCAA.

Backhand said...

I'll agree taking Russians early is a big risk, but its risk you take if you don't want to be bitching year after year about having no skilled scorers.

Sean: the NCAA is for college aged players so you won't find alot of draft eligible players. These guys come from the Junior A ranks often. What the NCAA is good for is undrafted free agents who just need a few more years to bloom (Penner, Rafalski, Conklin, etc etc)

Black Dog said...

Other thing to note is that Truhkno was drafted out of the Q, right?

So even the one possible success came out of Canadian juniors, same as Hemsky

The Euro amateur scouting is the suck

Jonathan said...

If you want to pick a Russian to grill them over, I'd pick taking Dubnyk over Radulov at the 2004 Draft as being more significant, because given that Radulov was already in North America, there wouldn't have been signing issues.