The Oilers have enjoyed some recent success with their top picks as of late with three of their five earliest choices selected from 2003 to 2006 having seen some time on the big club.
Of the two that haven't, goaltenders generally take longer to develop and Devan Dubnyk
is poised to make the move as starter of the Springifeld Falcons next season. Defenceman Jeff Petry
made a big splash in his freshman year at Michigan State and is looking more like a surefire NHLer every day.JEFF PETRY – D (Video: 700K )Drafted in 2006, 45th overall
|Jeff Petry had 24 points during the 2007-08 season with Michigan State. |
In 2006, the Oilers made their first pick count even though it was made midway through the second round. Defenceman Jeff Petry
made a big splash in his freshman year at Michigan State being named to the All-Rookie Team.
"We consider him to be a blue chip prospect. He brings everything to the table. For a kid to step in as a freshman at Michigan State and play like he did and make the All-Rookie Team is incredible," Prendergast remarked.
Petry scored three goals and had 21 assists for 24 points in 42 games for the Spartans.
"He possesses all the qualities in today's defencemen. He's getting bigger. Now he's 190 pounds and we feel he's going to be 210, 215 when he's ready to play in the NHL."
The season before, Petry was the United States Junior player of the year with 18 goals and 45 points in 55 outings. That offensive ability has earned him a comparison with a current Oilers rearguard.
"A lot of similarities between him and Tom Gilbert which if he pans out like Tom Gilbert we're going to be very happy."ANDREW COGLIANO – C (Video: 700K )Drafted in 2005, 25th overall
|Andrew Cogliano scored plenty of clutch goals for the Oilers down the stretch this past season. |
2007-08 was a breakout year for the NHL's 2005 draft class with 17 of 27 players making their NHL debut. One of those 17 players was Andrew Cogliano. The Oilers pivot emerged from Michigan to play 82 NHL games in his first professional season.
"We knew what we had when we drafted him in that we had a player with speed and character but Andrew has taken it to the next level," stated Prendergast.
Prior to last season, Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar and Gilbert Brule were the only members of the 2005 draft who had played in the NHL. After one full season, Cogliano has more career points than all 30 first rounders with only two exceptions: Crosby and Kopitar.
"He came in with the attitude that he was goign to make the hockey club this year and did everything we expected him to do."
Cogliano found a home later in the season on a line with Sam Gagner
and Robert Nilsson. His performance culminated with an NHL record-setting three consecutive games with a game-winning goal in overtime.
"On that line, the three kids, their chemistry was just phenomenal. When you skate like Andrew does you certainly have a chance to play. You put pressure on the opposing teams."DEVAN DUBNYK – GDrafted in 2004, 14th overall
|Devan Dubnyk poses for a photo on draft day 2004 with Kevin Prendergast (left) and Bob Mancini (right) |
2004 was a draft class considered above average for goaltenders with four taken in the opening round. Of the four, only Marek Schwarz – selected 17th overall by St. Louis – has seen any action. Schwarz appeared in parts of two games for the Blues each of the past two seasons.
Oilers prospect Devan Dubnyk
, taken 14th overall, has not seen any NHL action as of yet but of course neither has Al Montoya despite being taken sixth.
In 2006-07, Dubnyk was the go-to guy for the Stockton Thunder (ECHL) and performed admirably with a 24-11-7 record, 2.56 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
Last season he graduated to the AHL and suited up for 33 games. He had a 3.12 goals-against average and a respectable .904 save percentage. He's slated for even more AHL action next season.
"Devan was the backup last year in Springfield but our situation (next season) with Deslauriers having to clear waivers to go back down I would think it's his job in Springfield this year," said Prendergast.
"He's got to come into training camp in September in better shape than he did last year. When we drafted him, we thought he was goign to be the goalie of the future. It's between him and Deslauriers which one is going to be a goalie of the future."ROB SCHREMP – C/WDrafted in 2004, 25th overall
|Rob Schremp led the Falcons with 75 points in 2007-08. |
One of the most talked-about Oilers prospects in a long time, Rob Schremp made considerable strides last season in AHL Springfield.
"75 points in the American League last year and (tied for) seventh in scoring in the league," Prendergast stated.
The point total was a marked improvement on the season before where he had 17 goals and 53 points in 69 games for Wilkes-Barre.
"I probably get more questions about Robbie than any other player in the organization," Prendergast continued. "He's worked hard, he's training in California and has been out there for four weeks now."
With a logjam of forwards, Schremp may be ticketed to start the season in Springfield once again but with a good camp, he just may force the Oilers' hand.
"He's got to get stronger in order to play at this level and his skating has to improve a little bit. The sky's the limit for Robbie but he has to take teh bull by the horns to get to the next level."MARC POULIOT – C (Video: 700K )Drafted in 2003 – 22nd overall
|Edmonton Oilers' Marc Pouliot, left, goes airborne over Calgary's Anders Eriksson. |
The 2003 NHL draft is considered a true bumper crop and one of the deepest drafts in NHL history. 41 of the players have played more than 100 games in the NHL already with several others coming close (including Oilers centre Kyle Brodziak taken in the seventh round) but one player still struggling to stick is Marc Pouliot.
"Last year was an up-and-down year for Marc," said Prendergast. "He started off up here, had a couple of bad games and ended up in the minors. He took over down in the minors, showed us what his character was and was their best player for three or four months."
Pouliot's performance at the end of the year was certainly a sign of things to come for the centre. In 15 games he had a goal and six assists for seven points but perhaps more importantly he had a strong +6 rating.
"At the end of the season when he came up and (head coach Craig MacTavish) put him in that role on the third line I think he responded very well."
Pouliot was -7 in nine games at the start of the season before getting sent down to Springfield. Pouliot had 21 goals and 47 points in 55 games in the AHL. Certainly, the Falcons would love to have Pouliot back but it looks like he might be in Edmonton to stay.
"This season the training for him is important but it's up to him. There's a job for him on this team and it's up to him to keep it or lose it."
Check back later today when we review and have comments from each player selected by the Oilers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.