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Oilers 2009 Draft in Review

by Kristi Hennessy / Edmonton Oilers
We rewound the draft clock to review the Edmonton Oilers selections from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Three of the last six Oilers draft picks are Europe-born players. First and second round are linemates from the Swedish Elite League and one is a Finnish player who recently joined the Western Hockey League.

We had a chance to talk to the Oilers Director of Player Development, Mike Sillinger about each of the last six draft selections from 2009 to see what his thoughts were.

Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson - LW/RW
Drafted 2009 (1st round, 10th overall)

MANNHEIM, GERMANY - MAY 11: Magnus Paajarvi Svensson of Sweden tries to score against goalkeeper Eddy Ferhi of France during the IIHF World Championship group C match between Sweden and France at SAP Arena on May 11, 2010 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is coming off of a busy and very successful season. The 6’1”, 201-pound native of Norrkoping, Sweden, has spent the last three seasons playing with the Timra Red Eagles of the Swedish Elite League (SEL) finishing last season with 29 points (12G, 17A) in 49 appearances.

“This kid has ‘Pavel Bure’ speed,” said Oilers Director of Player Development Mike Sillinger. “He’s so fast and hits the holes at the right time and has a great shot. I think this guy is a game-breaker. His best asset is definitely his speed.”

Paajarvi-Svensson suited up for Team Sweden at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Saskachewan last year where he was a key factor to Sweden’s success. The tournament marked Paajarvi-Svensson’s second World Junior appearance. He picked up 10 points (3G, 7A) in the six games played for Team Sweden, helping lift his country to a Bronze Medal.

Last May, Paajarvi-Svensson was able to suit up again for his country, this time representing Team Sweden at the World Championships in Germany. Paajarvi-Svensson led Sweden in scoring by putting up nine points (5G, 4A) in as many games and finished in third place in tournament scoring behind Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk and USA's Brandon Dubinsky. He was also named to the tournament all-star team.

Anton Lander - C
Drafted 2009 (2nd round, 40th overall)

Anton Lander scores for Sweden against Switzerland in the semifinals at the 2009 World Junior Championships (photo: Getty Images)
The Oilers didn’t look too far when choosing their second-round draft pick. Swedish centre, Anton Lander is a linemate of the Oilers first round pick, Magnus Paarvi-Svensson playing with the Timra Red Eagles of the SEL.

The 6-foot, 194-pound pivot is known to be a very smart, two-way hockey player as well as having strong leadership skills. Since Lander is an 18-year-old, he is still eligible to play a season with a junior team in North America.

“My dream has always been to play in North America,” explained Lander. “So if I get the chance and I feel that I’m ready, I will go there,” said Lander. “I think the size of the rinks is the biggest difference. It makes North American hockey more intense which is something I prefer.”

Lander was able to get a quick glimpse of North American hockey during his appearance at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan joining his teammate Paajarvi-Svensson. Lander captained Team Sweden and helped lead his team to a Bronze medal with his eight points (5G, 3A) in six games in the tournament.

“Anton is a really solid two-way player,” Sillinger said. “He is really responsible in his defensive zone. I would consider him more of a play-maker than a shooter. He gets points for his hard work and for being so smart positionally.”

Troy Hesketh - D
Drafted 2009 (3rd round, 71st overall)

Troy Hesketh (front) celebrates a goal with Minnetonka (photo: Minnetonka Skippers)
Troy Hesketh is a strong defenceman who just wrapped up his senior year of high school hockey with the Minnetonka Skippers, which is arguably one of the top programs in Minnesota. Wearing the “C” for the Skippers, Hesketh recorded 17 points in 24 games along with an impressive +37 rating. He led his team to a second-place finish in the state championships.

Hesketh’s style of play has been described as a stay at home defenceman with really big potential. He does a good job of not only taking away lanes but time and ice from puck carriers as well.

“His biggest thing is his size,” said Sillinger. “He’s got really good size and he’s a mobile defenceman, he’s got good feet. He’s a big strong guy who plays his position well.”

The Oilers drafted Hesketh in the 3rd round in hopes that this young defender will grow into his size and continue to develop into a solid NHL defenceman. Hesketh has signed a contract with the University of Wisconsin that begins next fall.

“My coach would describe me as a great team leader, a hard-to-beat work ethic and easily coached. A player who plays 'heads up hockey' and knows what to do with the puck before they get it. I have a great stick and manoeuvre well for my size with a good stride. He would also add that I play with an edge and passion for the game.”

Cameron Abney- F
Drafted 2009 (3rd round, 82nd overall)

Oilers prospect and Edmonton Oil King Cameron Abney is a tough two-way player (photo: Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oil Kings)
The Oilers have more than enough smaller players on their current roster and in the system so they figured it was time to draft some strength and size.

“For a really big guy, his legs just haven’t caught up to him yet,” said Sillinger. “But he has the real potential to become a real power forward. His biggest thing is that he needs to get stronger. He needs more leg power. He just hasn’t filled out his body yet.”

Abney, an Aldergrove, BC native, began his major junior career with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League late in the 2007-08 season. Abney is well known for his huge frame and his ability to fight. He racked up 103 penalty minutes in his first full season with the Silvertips yet finished with a minus-17 rating.

Abney attended the Oilers development camp last summer and knows that he has a reputation to live up to and a long way to go to complete his game.

“The game is so fast today,” said Abney. “You have to be able to skate and make plays and keep the puck out of your own end. So as well as keeping up my physical aspect, I also need to work on the other side of my game.”

Last season, Abney dressed in 34 games with the Silvertips before being traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings where he played another 34. He combined for 123 penalty minutes between the two teams.

The 6’4”, 192-pound tough-guy still has some work to do on his offensive game as well as improving his foot speed moving forward to next season.

Kyle Bigos- D
Drafted 2009 (4th round, 99th overall)

As a freshman, Kyle Bigos tied for first among all defencemen in goals at Merrimack College with four. (photo: Andy Devlin)
With their fourth round pick, 99th overall the Oilers selected defenceman Kyle Bigos, a big 6'5" blueliner from the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL.

Bigos had a solid year for the Vipers, catchng the Oilers' attention with his physical play plus eight goals and 33 assists plus 126 penalty minutes in 58 games.

This past season, the defenceman moved on to Merrimack College in the NCAA where he had four goals and 11 points plus 94 penalty minutes in 36 games.

Bigos came into college with some decent hardware in his trophy case. His Vipers won the RBC Cup as the top team in Canadian Junior A hockey and he was named the tournament MVP. In addition to his big bruising defensive style, Bigos ranked second in tournament points with nine points in six games played.

"It was a great experience. Playing Junior A was really good," said Bigos. "The hockey there was unbelievable. It was like playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that's the only thing I can compare to that."

Although he has shown the offensive flair in junior, he sees himself as more of a stay-at-home defenceman.

"I've got the size for it, might as well use it," Bigos laughed.

Toni Rajala- F
Drafted 2009- (4th round, 101st overall)

Toni Rajala stands for the anthem before a Wheat Kings game (photo: Dylan Lynch / Edmonton Oil Kings)
The 5’10”, 163-pound right-winger from Parkano, Finland, got off to a slow start last season. The 2009-10 season marked Rajala’s first season of playing North American hockey when he joined the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. He quickly turned things around and came on strong in the later part of the year to finish with a very impressive season.

“His biggest thing is his hockey sense,” explained Sillinger. “He’s got great vision and skates really well. I call him a “sneaky” player because he goes into the corners and doesn’t bang and crash or punish anyone but he always finds a way to be around the puck.”

Rajala turned pro with Ilves Tampere in 2008-09 after playing two years on their junior team. He registered five points in 21 games during his professional rookie season in the SM-Liiga (Finnish Elite League).

The Finnish forward was selected by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He was then taken by the Brandon Wheat Kings with the 14th overall selection of the 2009 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

He posted 63 points (26G, 37A) in 60 games with the Wheat Kings last season and found that his speed and experience on the larger European ice helped significantly.

Brandon also played host to the Memorial Cup Championships in which they advanced to the finals. Rajala was strong in both the playoffs and the Memorial Cup tournament posting seven points in 15 games in the playoffs and seven points in five games at the Memorial Cup.

Rajala has had the opportunity to suit up for Team Finland on four separate occasions throughout his career with the most recent being the 2010 World Junior Championships which were held in Saskatchewan, Canada. The Finnish forward posted three points (1G, 2A) in six games in the tournament.

Olivier Roy- G
Drafted 2009 (5th round, 133rd overall)

Oilers goaltending prospect Olivier Roy poses for a photo after being drafted by Edmonton. (photo: Getty Images)
Olivier Roy was selected by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League back in 2007. In Roy’s rookie season in the QMJHL, he recorded four shutouts and took home the rookie of the year.

“Roy is a pretty solid goalie,” commented Sillinger. “He is a really big competitor and really takes pride in his conditioning and wants to better himself everyday.”

The 6-foot, 179-pound native of Amqui, Quebec was ranked as the second-best North American goaltender that was available going into the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He was selected in the fifth round, (133rd overall) by the Edmonton Oilers.

Last season he continued his development with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles going 32-21-3 and earned five shutouts and a .908 save percentage. Roy was called up to the Oilers AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons for three games.
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