Sunday, January 10, 2016

Proposed Draft Changes and The Oilers

Whenever you hear anything about the NHL draft, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Edmonton Oilers of course! Why is this? Because season after season, draft after draft, the Edmonton Oilers take either first overall or a Top 5 pick. Does it ever seem to help them in any way? No. Year after year they still wind up on the bottom. This will be discussed in more detail later on.

When one team consistently gets Top Pick or Top 5 Picks, it leaves the other teams without. This hardly seems like the right way to operate a draft, not by any intentional fault of the NHL, or any league, but it does leave one to wonder if there is a better way to setup a draft? In any conversation where draft comes up, there is a lot of talk about reformation. The most commonly proposed reforms would be in the amount of Top 5 Picks one team should be allowed to receive within a 5 or 10 year span. Limiting these picks would spread out the wealth and prevent one team from consistently receiving and ruining prospects. Which leads to the proposed draft changes, and this can be applied to any league or level of hockey.

Proposition: No single team should be allowed to receive more than 2 First Overall Draft Picks within a 5 year span, and a maximum of 3 in a ten year span. Never in back-to-back years. Secondly, no single team should receive more than 3 top 5 picks within a 5 year span with a maximum of 5 in a ten year period.

These changes would allow for teams to still be in the bottom consistently, get their picks, but prevent teams from abusing the system. It also prevents teams who have a tendency to destroy prospects from hindering growth of players within the NHL or any league. In theory, a team who gets Top 5 Picks should be able to turn their team around within a 3 year period. For example we could look at Pittsburg and Crosby, Washington and Ovechkin, Chicago and Toews, Florida and Ekblad, Los Angeles and Doughty. These teams have all managed to turn into Cup winners or Cup contenders just by drafting high. They did not wallow in the bottom. Which is exactly what the draft order was supposed to do for these teams, give them a shot at winning through rebuilding.

Which brings me to the topic of the Edmonton Oilers. Once again, we see them in the bottom. They have moments of brightness, followed by moments of sheer disaster. Granted they have McDavid injured, but with all the Top Picks on that team they should be able to fill the gap. Are they capable of recouping their season? Yes, but sadly they are incapable of doing so without McDavid. So what is the issue? The issue is the culture of losing they have developed. Once this culture has been developed, it becomes a part of them, difficult to overcome. They stop believing they can score, connect the pass, make the save, prevent a player from getting position. Once it gets in their head, its stuck. Success can't be had by those who believe it can't be had. It takes a good coach, with a lot of player shuffling to drive this culture from a team, and transform them into a winning contender.

Edmonton needs to stop relying on the thought of what the next Top Pick will get them, and focus on what they can do with the picks they already have in their system. Who can they shuffle around to develop and bring in a winning culture. Which players they need to design another rebuild around. Draisaitl, Hall, and Nurse would be great choices for this. Which veterans can they trade a younger prospect for to bring in leadership. Trade Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakapov, suck up your losses and move on. Young people need leadership, not just from their coach, or GM, but from the ice level as well. This is something Edmonton has been sorely lacking, a good leader. The main problem with having so much star power on one team is that they all want, and rightly so, the limelight. As a result they don't mesh, and don't play well together.

They also need to quit taking a player just because he is ranked high. Think of the team's needs. If you need a defenseman, pick one in the draft, don't take the forward because he is ranked one higher. If you need a goalie, draft one, or give something decent up for a decent acquisition. Quit throwing goalies under the bus and blaming losses on them. Get the team to play in front of them, without offensive and defensive support, a goalie will find it very difficult to save a game.

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