by Lisa Brown on 06/05/13 at 11:30 PM ET
The Edmonton Oilers have had luck on their side when it comes to their draft positions the last few years. You can’t deny that drafting first overall three years in a row and highly in each subsequent round has had huge implications to the team’s prospect stockpiles. But while the first overall picks have been relatively easy to select, it has been head amateur scout Stu MacGregor who is the main reason behind the Oilers drafting success in later picks.
However, that being said, MacGregor may now seem exceedingly shrewd when it comes to picks like Kristians Pelss (#181 overall, 7th round 2010), and perhaps questionable when it comes to picks like Mitch Moroz (#32 overall, 2nd round 2012). Otherwise, Stu’s picks have been solid since he was named head amateur scout October of 2007. Still, there have been busts, and most recently the goaltending prospects have become worthy of mention.
Olivier Roy (#133 2009) and Tyler Bunz (#121 2010) were selected in very similar positions, just one year apart. Roy was a member of the silver medal winning Canadian World Juniors team in 2011 and in 2012 Bunz was the final goaltender cut from the team (despite a strong camp where Bunz clearly shone). Basically, the two have a lot in common and are currently happily playing in the system.
Tyler Bunz, center at Oilers 2012 Team Canada World Juniors camp in Calgary
Other goaltending draft picks however, are another story. The Edmonton Oilers decided to pass on Finnish netminder Samu Perhonen, but quietly signed fellow countryman Frans Tuohimaa this spring. Both were selected in the 2011 NHL entry draft, but Perhonen was selected 62nd overall (3rd round) and Tuohimaa was selected 182nd (7th round) overall. Both have been playing in Finnland, both are relatively under the radar, but Tuohimaa is 21 and GAA of 2.29 and a SV% of 0.912, impressive stats, but with a mere 13 games played those stats just don’t carry the same weight.
We all know that goaltenders are a different breed. We know that some can hit the ground running, some need years of seasoning and even more just never make that next step. So what is Stu to do? It seems the answer was bringing in some help.
This week, the Oilers announced that they have hired a new goaltending consultant, Sylvain Rodrigue, to work under goaltending coach Freddy Chabot. Rodrigue is going to aid in the development, coaching and ultimately scouting of goaltenders. With the naming coming the same month of the draft, you have to bet that Rodrigue is pouring over video because the Oilers are looking to add another goaltender to their lists.
But when it comes to the players the team already has, it’s interesting that Roy started the year in Oklahoma City in the AHL, and then was moved down to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. According to Tyler Bunz in a video for the Stockton Thunder, the Oilers told Bunz that they would like him to play a good 50 games in the ECHL, and he was clearly excited for the opportunity.
Bunz quite simply didn’t have his career year, not even close.
The one game that Bunz played in the AHL was a disaster, 5 goals allowed, 10 saved and only 28 minutes played in relief during a particularly painful OKC Barons loss.
But with Stockton, Bunz played well enough to help his team to the playoffs, where Olivier Roy took the reins and shone up until his injury during the team’s run for the Kelly Cup.
Both netminders gained valuable playoff experience and experienced the gruelling challenge that is a deep playoff run, something that every Oiler fan hopes they can experience once they reach the big club.
MacGregor may be better known for picking Jordan Eberle than goaltenders, but Roy and Bunz are inching closer to the opportunity to make a name for themselves in the AHL, and ultimately, hopefully, maybe the NHL. The best news for Bunz is that there is plenty of room for improvement, and with his competitive nature and work ethic, look for Bunz to have a training intensive offseason and look to get back to his old puck handing form. While Bunz was the leading the in WHL for assists from a goaltender with 5, 2 years in a row, in his first season with Stockton Bunz only notched 2 assists, something Bunz would surely like to see improve in his stats chart as well.
What is Stu to do? Stu and his staff are still likely to pick players to fill in holes in the farm system, but don’t be surprised to see another goaltender named.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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