Oilers in position to build from draft: Ex scout

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 PM ET

Barry Fraser says if this were 30 years ago, and the Edmonton Oilers were in this position, he’d be all over GM Glen Sather to perform the miracle.

“I think it’s exciting as hell. I think there’s an opportunity to do something really phenomenal here. I’d want to be working like crazy to do a deal with Boston so that you got both of them,” said the legendary scout of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.

“If they get that next pick, too, then that’s a real good start. And they’ve got a lot to trade.”

At the same time he was talking, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli admitted on a conference call Monday that he talked to Oilers GM Steve Tambellini Saturday and that the top topic was Hall and Seguin.

While Chiarelli indicated he had little or no interest in trading the second pick in Friday’s draft obtained from Toronto in the deal for Phil Kessel, he did admit he expected further conversation in Los Angeles and both GM’s admit they have reason to talk which goes beyond Hall and Seguin.

The Bruins are a team at a different stage, willing to move draft choices (they also pick 15th and 32nd and have Toronto’s first pick next year plus their own), while the Oilers have Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Sheldon Souray, Ethan Moreau, Andrew Cogliano and assorted others to offer.

Fraser won’t be in Los Angeles. He’ll watch from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he’s lived for the last 14 years. But he admits he’ll be watching with an eye to wondering how close the Oilers can come to putting a great young team together like the franchise did back in the beginning.

With Sam Gagner and Linus Omark in 2007, Jordan Eberle and Teemu Hartikainen in 2008 and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Anton Lander in 2009, talent is certainly being assembled.

If Tambellini could possibly do the double with Hall and Seguin, these Oilers might, without the unfair advantage of having Wayne Gretzky already on board as a protected player from his WHA year here, be able to have lightning strike twice.

In his first draft, Fraser picked Kevin Lowe with his first pick, the last selection of the first round. With his next pick, in the third round, the Oilers chose Mark Messier. In the fourth round he picked Glenn Anderson.

The next year he selected Paul Coffey in the first round, Jari Kurri in the fourth and Andy Moog in the seventh.

The third draft, his first pick was Grant Fuhr.

That’s five Hall of Famers in three years.

Nobody is going to suggest that’s going to happen again.

“Circumstances were a lot different 30 years ago,” said Fraser. “Teams didn’t have as much scouting and definitely didn’t do as good a job in Europe as they do now.

“Messier had scored one goal in the WHA. We picked him in the third round and I thought we probably could have waited another round and still got him. I don’t think a single NHL amateur draft scout looked at the WHA.

“Anderson was a different case. I went to see him play at the University of Denver twice and he didn’t play either time because of his marks. I finally saw him in Calgary at the Olympic camp when I was trying to get Lorne Davis to join us as a scout. He told me to get down there and have a long hard look at him. I was there for a week and the only guy who showed up that I recognized was Glen Sonmor,” he said of NHL organization people looking in on the 1980 Olympic hockey team.

“When it came to Kurri we ran a bluff. We got the word out all over hockey that he was going to sign with the Finland National Team for two years like all the others. But he hadn’t.

“I take lots of pride in having five Hall of Famers out of those three years,” said Fraser, admitting there was a lot of good luck involved and a lot of bad luck and bad picks that followed.

“Three guys blew their knees out,” he said, including first picks Jim Playfair and Selmar Odelein.

“Another first round pick, Scott Allison had one of his parents commit suicide. Another, Jason Soules, almost made the team as an 18-year-old and became a fireman a year later.”

Then, of course, there was Jason Bonsignore and Steve Kelly, the two phenomenal flops of which you’re likely to read a lot about this week.

“Obviously, in retrospect, those were the two I’d most like to have back,” Fraser said.

Now he watches the draft and wonders which of today’s head scouts are picking future Hall of Famers and who is picking Bonsignores and Kellys.

“It’s pretty exciting to watch what is going to happen with Edmonton this draft,” he said. “I’ll definitely be watching.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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