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MacGregor, Tambellini assess recent draft success

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle & Taylor Hall pose at the NHLPA's Rookie Showcast this past September.

St. Paul, Minnesota will be the site in June when the Edmonton Oilers step to the podium to make another series of selections, contributing to the evolution and long-term success of the organization.

Although the Oilers will announce several names throughout the two-day event, Edmonton is guaranteed to pick in the top two, with a 48.2-percent chance of retaining the first overall selection.

Even with the Oilers' 2010-11 regular season wrapping up in a matter of days, post-season action at the amateur level, including international tournaments will ultimately determine the decision day agenda.

It’s an opportunity for the organization to assess the talent already in the system, as well as develop a framework for the needs of the hockey club moving forward during this increasingly important stretch.

"We’ve obviously done a lot of work over the past few years," said Oilers Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor. "We’ve acquired lots of talent up front and we’re incredibly pleased with our prospects, especially those that have cracked the NHL this season."

With Sam Gagner being selected a year prior, the Oilers’ fortunes with advanced scouting and, as MacGregor believes, a touch of luck, continued into 2008 with Jordan Eberle being chosen by Edmonton 22nd overall.

"We were very pleased to get Jordan at the 22 spot," MacGregor said. "We had really coveted Jordan and had done some extensive background and interview work with him. He has proven well at the junior level and the professional level at this point. We’re thrilled with what we’ve seen so far."

"Jordan continues to impress me," added Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini. "He's a bright, intelligent man and his skill is sometimes sneaky quick. He's got the courage to handle big situations, to play against big people, to play speed games, to play intelligent games. He's been a very good addition to his hockey club."

Although one gem has already been discovered from the 2008 crop, another is now making his mark in his first professional season in North America. After spending most of the 2010-11 campaign with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, Teemu Hartikainen has made an impact only 10 games into his Oilers career.

His commanding physical presence, along with a slick scoring touch has turned heads as the 20-year-old rookie looks to earn a full-time spot on the roster. His early NHL performances have reminded MacGregor of why he was so eager to bring him aboard three years ago.

"He’s an extremely hard worker and we were naturally drawn to that. He’s a guy that plays with grit and plays to win."

"He needed to improve his foot-speed and he did that over the past few years as he played in the Finnish Elite League. He won Rookie of the Year there, too, so we were pretty encouraged when we saw him."

"In getting the opportunity to play up [in Edmonton], he’s proving that he's an excellent prospect and exactly the type of player we need to add to our skill group. He brings good hockey sense and some grind and we're incredibly excited about that. Teemu has been an excellent addition."

In 2009, Edmonton continued to bolster an already extensive arsenal of talented prospects. Magnus Paajarvi, expected by many to be selected very early, dropped to the Oilers’ spot at number 10 in a surprising opening round.

For the second consecutive season, a highly-coveted player had unexpectedly slipped down the chart; an opportunity that MacGregor and his team were pleased to receive.

"It was funny because Magnus fell down to us, similar to Jordan (Eberle). But we were pretty excited about him. He's got some size, great skating ability, heart, and a real high-speed tempo game. We liked how he took the puck to the net and got to the net."

"He plays in the hard areas, and these are the kind of players we want to incorporate moving forward."

Tambellini wholeheartedly agrees with MacGregor’s assessment.

"I'm proud of Magnus for the work he's done off the ice," he said. "[Magnus has] an incredible work ethic and even more impressive skill for a big man. If you look at where Magnus was in October to where he is now in his playing career, he's made an incredible step."

"He's going to be come back next year with that year of experience and that extra boost of confidence. I assume that he'll be playing be playing for Sweden at the World Championships and I'm looking forward to that as well."

Although Paajarvi was certainly the highlight of 2009, another potential star recently concluded his season in Sweden. Selected in the second round, 40th overall, Anton Lander is developing nicely and looks prepared to make his North American transition as soon as next season.

In 49 games with Timra IK this season, Lander accumulated 11 goals and 16 points, which shattered his 16-point total that was achieved during the 2009-10 campaign.

"Anton Lander is the type of player you want to add to your hockey team and to your organization," MacGregor said. "He's a great leader. He's a character guy, and he's an incredibly hard worker. He’s got very good puck skills and hockey sense. His intelligence and thinking of the game is fantastic."

Like any prospect, there are always areas in need of growth and seasoning. According to MacGregor, Lander has been able to identify his weaknesses and correct them through hard work and his overall dedication to succeed.

"He needed to improve his skating and he's been able to do that playing in the Swedish Elite League in the past two seasons. In addition to that, he’s proven to be a real leader on any team that’s been on having captained Timra and Team Sweden. We're thrilled to add those leadership qualities to our organization, and we're looking forward to having him come over next year."

Edmonton’s latest selection to crack the roster was Taylor Hall. The 19-year-old rookie had an incredible campaign that saw him score 22 goals and 42 points in only 65 games before being sidelined with a season-ending ankle injury.

"I don't think there are too many players at that age that have taken over hockey games like Taylor Hall has," said a smiling Tambellini. He’s walked into a Canadian city with an incredible history and delivered. When you think about the expectations that this young man has on him, he truly is a special person and a special hockey player."

The next chapter in this developing tale begins in only three short months.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |


Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 60 7 13 20 -3 72 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
mark arcobello
22 23 9 8 17 +3 2 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS (AHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 39 6 5 11 -10 24 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 57 6 13 19 +5 8 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 68 13 30 43 +9 78 kootenay ice (WHL)
Robby Dee   23 36 13 22 32 N/A 26 university of maine (h-east)
Jesse Gimblett * 26 43 13 9 22 +2 98 stockton thunder (echl)
Alexandre Giroux 
29 68 32 42 74 -2 63 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 62 26 56 82 +48 22 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen  *
20 66 17 25 42 -1 27 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 38 8 14 22 E 33 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 75 11 14 25 +2 33 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 49 11 15 26 -14 38 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 62 5 7 12 -10 20 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 65 34 49 83 +38 28 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Colin McDonald   26 77 36 14 50 -4 61 Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
Brad Moran   31 77 20 47 67 -2 40 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra *
23 53 2 20 22 +9 49 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark  *
24 26 14 17 31 +7 32 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 77 7 14 21 -7 70 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 63 14 19 33 +11 29 edmonton oil kings (WHL)
Tyler Pitlick   19 56 27 35 62 +4 31 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 44 9 13 22 -3 4 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox *
24 37 18 15 33 +14 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 71 6 10 16 -10 104 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris VandeVelde *
23 67 12 4 16 -17 45 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Jordan Bendfeld   22 35 2 4 6 +5 112 stockton thunder (echl)
Kyle Bigos   21 33 2 6 8 E 127 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 40 2 35 37 +17 48 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney *
23 46 3 13 16 E 22 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 72 8 43 51 -5 71 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 32 0 1 1 -12 32 sioux city musketeers (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 67 14 42 56 -12 65 prince george cougars (whl)
22 64 4 22 26 +6 42 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Johan Motin *
21 34 1 3 4 -7 30 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot
28 63 0 15 15 +12 46 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry *
23 41 7 17 24 -6 18 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante
21 70 2 14 16 +8 129 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Colten Teubert
21 56 4 13 17 +6 81 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 56 35 13 8 3 2.47 .919 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Jeff Deslauriers   26 33 15 13 4 0 2.93 .904 Oklahoma City Barons (AHL)
Martin Gerber
36 41 20 15 4 4 2.51 .914 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton *
22 34 18 10 4 0 2.90 .901 stockton thunder (echl)
Olivier Roy   19 45 29 13 2 2 2.79 .911 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)

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