SUN Hockey Pool

Draft picture changed for Oilers' MacGregor

Oilers head scout, Stu MacGregor, seen here in the stands during training camp last September, is...

Oilers head scout, Stu MacGregor, seen here in the stands during training camp last September, is in a similar environment in Hungary these days for the B-Pool U-18 championships. (QMI AGENCY)

Terry Jones, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:38 PM ET

Two years ago he was in Minsk, Belarus.

Last year he was in Dresden, Germany.

This year Stu MacGregor will be in Szekesefehervar, Hungary.

It’s always the middle of the night in some unlikely locale somewhere on the other side of the world when the bingo balls drop in the NHL offices in New York and when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly opens the big envelope containing the logo of the team which has won the NHL Draft Lottery in the TSN studios in Toronto.

The first year, the Edmonton Oilers head scout, called GM Steve Tambellini.

“That first year I got all excited and called him before it even happened. I got my time zones mixed up,” McGregor laughed.

“Steve answered his cell phone and said ‘I’m just walking to the TSN studios now!’

“Last year Tamby gave me a call before he cleared the studio.”

Those two moments turned into Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Szekesefehervar, Hungary may be Nail Yakupov. Or Ryan Murray. Or Mikhail Grigorenko. Or Filip Forsberg. Or …

This year the Oilers didn’t finish 30th overall. On the final day of the regular season, they ended up 29th.

“We could still end up picking No. 1,” said McGregor, on the phone from a game in the Czech Republic where he was about to watch Central Scouting’s No. 1 European ranked skater Filip Forsberg Monday night. He sounded excited about the 18.8% chance of becoming the first team since the 1989-90-91 (Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, Eric Lindros) Quebec Nordiques to do so.

When he was in Dresden and Minsk, there was a 48.2% chance of picking first and a 51.8% chance of picking second.

It’s interesting that no team finishing 29th has ever ended up moving up to pick No. 1 since the bingo ball process started in 1995.

This year, when he’s in Szekesefehervar, statistically there’s not only that 18.8% chance of picking first, but a 42% chance of selecting second and a 39.2% chance of going third.

“It’s been different than it’s been in previous years. We had to have had a bit wider swath for the No. 1 pick,” said MacGregor.

“For a while there it was looking like we could draft out of the four or five spot. But we’ve kinda suspected for the last little while we’d be in the top five.

“We’ve had enough viewings of the players we’ve had projected from one to 10.”

There might be those in the scouting business who would secretly wish not to be the guy picking first. It takes it out of your hands. Not your fault if the No. 1 guy turns out to be Patrik Stefan, Alexandre Daigle or Doug Wickenheiser.

MacGregor isn’t a shy guy. He wants the chance to fail with Nail or nail it with whoever he likes most.

“If you get the No. 1 pick, you get to pick exactly guy you want. That’s the way I look at it. If you bounce back to three, be prepared for that.

“This year might turn out to be a little different. It may become a positional-type decision,” he admits of what faces Tambellini in making a big picture decisions, depending on how the bingo balls drop.

Nail Yukupov of the Sarnia Sting, the wire-to-wire No. 1-ranked player by Central Scouting, is a right winger who suffered a knee injury following the world junior. He returned only to take a stick in the face just prior to the playoffs and miss a few more games.

Yakupov, who scored 31 goals and produced 69 points in 42 games for the Sting and added two goals and three assists in losing a six-game series to Saginaw in the OHL playoffs, has been well-scouted by the Oilers.

“We’ve had guys at every game he’s played in, saw him before he got hurt, saw him the day he got hurt, and made sure we had a scout at every playoff game,” said MacGregor.

There’s a belief out there that the Oilers could end up with him even selecting second, that Columbus, a team with a horrid history with Russians, might not be able to sell another one to their fan base and go with Forsberg from the European list first overall.

When contacted Monday, MacGregor hadn’t seen the final Central Scouting list just announced.

After the columnist read it to him, the Oilers head scout said “Wow, they’ve made a lot of changes.”

One of the changes was moving Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray up to second ahead of Mikhail Grigorenko, the Quebec Remparts centre.

“I think they hadn’t seen much of Murray for the mid-term,” said MacGregor.

“Remember he was out for two months with a high ankle injury and only played one game before he went to camp with Team Canada.

“He’s a smart defenceman. He gets up the ice smart. He’s real solid. He skates extremely well. He’s great positionally. He played a shutdown roll at the world junior. And he’s taken his game to another level since then,” he said of the only draft-eligible player to make Team Canada this year.

“We had a scout at every game he played in the playoffs and somebody there for just about every game he played in the last three weeks of the season.”

The head scout also has been all over Mikhail Grigorenko, the 6-foot-2 191-pound centre of the Quebec Remparts who has had his desire questioned at times but produced a 40-goal, 85-point regular season and added two goals and eight points as Patrick Roy’s team has won all six playoff games in the QMJHL so far.

“I followed him just prior to the regular season ending and in Game 3-4 of the first round. We’ve had a guy at each game,” said MacGregor.

“This is when you really like to see a guy, when the games get harder. Do they rise to the occasion? Do they make the difference in the game? Do they bring it every night? Do they elevate their game? Do you see them improving areas they need to improve on?”

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba and Edmonton Oil Kings rear guard Griffin Reinhart are also getting good, long, hard looks.

MacGregor seem stunned that Dumba dropped to 11th and Reinhart fell to 10th.

“I’m a little surprised they’ve fallen that much. I guess they felt that others moved up.”

Dumba is one reason MacGregor is overseas.

“He’s a passionate, hard-working, give-it-what-he’s-got-every-night kid who is on Canada’s team at the U-18 world championships here,” said MacGregor.

“He’ll probably be captain. I think it’ll be interesting to see how he plays in this tournament.”

First, for MacGregor, who has already been to Sweden to watch a special 1994 birthdate vs. 1993 birthdate game of teams headed to the U17 and U18 events, there’s the B Pool U-18s in Szekesefehervar, Hungary.

It was at this event two years ago in Minsk where he watched Kristians Pelss play for Latvia.

“Bob Green was over there,” he said of the Oil Kings general manager.

“He liked him for his team. We liked him. So we drafted him in the seventh round. He was a bit of a longshot. Two years later, I like him a lot. I call him my Little Latvian Ball of Hate.”

After trying to find another Pelss at the B pool event, the U18 world championships follows in Brno, Znojmo and Breclav in the Czech Republic.

MacGregor had to look up his destination of Szekesefehervar. But chances are he’ll remember the name of the place if Tambellini calls him at about 3 or 4 a.m. over there Wednesday morning and says he has the first pick again.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

CENTRAL SCOUTING FINAL LIST

North American Skaters

1 Nail Yakupov, C, Sarnia

2 Ryan Murray, D, Everett

3 Makhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec

4 Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia

5 Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw

6 Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa

7 Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener

8 Ollie Maatta, D, London

9 Jacob Trouba, D, USA U-18

10 Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton

11 Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer

12 Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland

European Skaters

1 Filip Forsberg, C, Leksand, SWE

2 Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit, FIN

3 Sebastian Collberg, RW, Frolunda SWE

4 Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle Jr. SWE

5 Thomas Hertl, C, Slavia, CZE

6 Pontus Arberg, LW, Djurgarden, SWE

North American Goaltenders

1 Malcom Subban, Belleville

2 Brandon Whitney, Victoriaville

3 Jake Paterson, Saginaw

European Goaltenders

1 Andrei Vasilevski, Ufa2, RUS

2 Oscar Dansk, Brynas Jr., SWE

3 Joonas Korpisalo, Jokerit Jr. FIN

LOTTERY ODDS

1. Columbus

 

1st - 48.2%

2. Edmonton

1st – 18.8%

3. Montreal

1st – 14.2%

4. NY Islanders

1st - 10.7%

5. Toronto

1st – 8.1%

6. Anaheim

2nd – 6.2%

7. Minnesota

3rd – 4.7%

8. Carolina

4th - 3.6%

9. Winnipeg

5th - 2.7%

10. Tampa Bay

6th - 2.1%

11. Washington*

7th - 1.5%

12. Buffalo

8th - 1.1%

13. Dallas

9th - 0.8%

14. Calgary

10th – 0.5%

* Acquired from Colorado

NOTE: A team may only move up a maximum of four positions.

 

 


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