EDMONTON OILERS: LATER ROUND TALENT AND ETHAN BEAR | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours


Winning NHL franchises do one thing better than almost every other franchise — recognize talent in later rounds of the draft. The Edmonton Oilers have spent a near decade at the draft tables showing why they've been closer to the basement of the NHL than the penthouse. Outside of their top-tier, lottery draft picks, they've consistently missed on prospects after the second round.

Oilers Later Round Draft History

Since 2006, of the 59 draft selections made in round three or later by the Oilers, only Theo Peckham (drafted #75 in 2006), Linus Omark (drafted #97 in 2007), Teemu Hartikainen (drafted #163 in 2008), Brandon Davidson (drafted #162 in 2010) and Tobias Rieder (#114 in 2011), can be considered as prospects who've had more than a cup of coffee in the NHL. Statistically speaking, that's 8% of players drafted after round two, who've taken regular shifts in the NHL and arguably only three of those players (Peckham, Rieder and Davidson) will have made any sort of NHL impact.

NHL Average

Clearly, as draft picks get into the later rounds, the percentages of a player making it to the NHL go down. This is the case for any NHL club. An article done by Scott Cullen of TSN shows that on the low end of the scale, players drafted in the third round have a 29.3% chance of playing 100 games or more. From there, players in the fourth round have a 19.3% chance and players in the fifth round have a 16% chance and so on. Even at the bottom of the scale, players drafted after selection 211 in the draft still have a 12% chance. While my evaluation of players drafted by the Oilers may change from yours, it's pretty clear, Edmonton has done a lousy job at hitting these averages.

It's also unfair to judge the Oilers on draft selections made after the 2012-13 draft. There are plenty of prospects from Jordan Oesterle to Jujhar Khaira who were selected in recent drafts and still have a chance at hitting these averages. Since many of these players are still prospects in the system and some take longer than others to develop, we can't be too harsh the amateur scouting department between 2012 to now. In fact, before front office changes last week, the previous regime may have hit a later-round draft homerun when they selected right-handed defensman Ethan Bear.

Ethan Bear

Ethan Bear was taken in the fifth round, of the Oilers 2015 draft at #124 overall. A right-handed defenseman, Bear was drafted for his defensive awareness, but last year took a giant offensive leap forward for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He was signed to his entry-level deal this summer by the Oilers and to say the least, Edmonton is excited about his potential as a prospect.

While he was steadily progressing, 2015-16 was a coming out party of sorts for Bear who potted 19 goals and 46 assists for 65 points in 69 games. He had 24 more points than the next closest Thunderbird defenseman and he was clearly a go-to player on his team. In the playoffs, Bear continued his hot hand and finished with 22 points in 18 games. That was second on his entire team, not just from defensemen.

There is a great game scouting report on Bear from Ben Berland  who has had a chance to watch Bear and get to know him well. It's an interesting read in that Bear is considered an excellent shooter, passer, read and react player and does pretty much everything well. You read this report and you wonder why Bear fell all the way to #124.

Bear's NHL Chances

Here is the best part. While it won't be this year that Bear gets any significant time in the NHL, he's a player the Oilers badly need. A right-handed defenseman who can run a powerplay, shoot hard and on net and is sound in both zones. He's fast enough, he's physical enough and he's motivated enough to be a difference-maker in a game. On paper, he's everything the Oilers don't have in the NHL at that position.

If there's a flaw, it's Bear's size. At 5 foot and 11 inches and under 200 pounds he's not the biggest blueliner in the system. That said, if it is a flaw and/or the reason he dropped down the draft charts, he's already proven it was a mistake to write him off because of it. It won't be his size; or lack thereof, that stops him from NHL success. It sounds like he's the type of player who uses these kinds of obstacles as motivation.

If the Oilers have in fact had a lousy record in the later rounds of the draft, consider it only takes one player to change the way we view their draft history. Bear could be the type of player who takes Edmonton from a lousy amateur scouting team to one who found a gem near the bottom of the draft. It may be too soon to label Bear a defensive savior or the next great hope for the Oilers, but, it may be fair to suggest that even a blind squirrel can find a nut every once and a while. The Oilers being the squirrel and Ethan Bear being the nut.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.


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