Thanks to a number of trades in the last 12 months, and one compensatory pick added on, the Edmonton Oilers entered the 2006 Entry Draft with six draft choices to make. As expected, the Oilers looked to address a need on the blue line and also selected a goaltender before the festivities concluded on June 24.
Here’s a look at the newest members of the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Jeff Petry, D
45th Overall – Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
6’2 176 lbs
D.O.B: Dec. 9, 1987
Having no first round draft pick of their own, the Oilers had to wait about four hours into the event before they could finally make their first selection of the day. With it they chose the top-rated blueliner from the USHL, Jeff Petry.
“He has all the basic tools; he’s an excellent skater and vision, he has great hands and a great shot, the kid moves the puck well so he’s a top offensive talent,” said Kevin Prendergast, Oiler VP of Hockey Operations and head scout.
“One of the things we felt we were missing in the organization was someone who could come in eventually and quarterback our power play,” he added. “He has a long way to go in that he’s only 176 pounds but he’s got a passion for the game. He stepped right into the USHL and contributed right away and he was the best defenseman in the playoffs for Des Moines.”
Petry will return to the Buccaneers for another year before he heads to college in his home state of Michigan. The Oilers know full well that Petry is a long-term project and are willing to wait three or four years to watch him develop. According to Prendergast, the club had Petry very high in the middle of the first round and were happy to see him still available in the second.
“We had Petry very high in our first round because of his potential,” he said. “We felt that with the amount of players in the organization right now that we had a lot of leeway to give ourselves an extra year or two to develop these players.”
Theo Peckham, D
75th Overall – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
6’1 216 lbs
D.O.B.: Nov. 10, 1987
With their second chance on draft day, Edmonton again opted for blue line depth by choosing Owen Sound’s Theo Peckham. The tough rearguard finished his sophomore year in the OHL with 15 points, up slightly from his debut campaign’s total of 10, while adding a whopping 236 minutes in penalties. It’s the balance of defensive responsibility and his willingness to be overtly physical that attracted the Oilers.
“We felt that with Greene, [Tom] Gilbert, Danny Syvret and [Taylor] Chorney, we’re going to have a lot of skill but we need someone back there who is going to protect these guys and Theo fits that bill,” Prendergast commented.
“He has a lot of Matt Greene in him — probably doesn’t handle the puck as well as Matt does and might not be a strong as Matt, but when he drops the gloves you better watch out because he’s coming after you,” described Prendergast.
“I’m kind of an intimidator, I like to look for the big hits once in a while but hopefully not too much,” Peckham said recently. “I fight when it’s needed. When the other team is running around I like to fight to settle things down or if the crowd’s not into the game or something I try to mix it up a little bit. I come to the rink every night and I’m ready to play.”
Peckham’s experience at the Top Prospects game came with mixed reviews; although he performed well in the skills competition, the same could not be said about the game itself. In the fast lap portion of the skills night, Peckham the defenseman at 216 lbs clocked in as the third fastest blueliner and was also speedier than many of the forwards including Claude Giroux, Codey Burki, Derick Brassard and Cory Emmerton.
“He had a bad prospect game but when we interviewed him he didn’t shy away from it but rather admitted that he tried to do too much,” Prendergast mentioned. “He said he probably learned more from that one game than any other that he’s ever played in that he knows that he has to stick within himself and his limitations for him to be a good player.”
“I don’t like to make excuses, they obviously know that I had a bad game so if I say that I played awesome then they’d think I was a liar,” Peckham explained. “There’s nothing I can do about it now so I just tell the truth and try to learn something from it.”
In order to make sure that they were in a position to draft Peckham, Edmonton swapped with Atlanta, giving up the 80th overall pick and their lone seventh rounder. The deal was done because there was a sense that the Philadelphia Flyers, who had traded to position themselves in the 79th spot, also had their sights set on Peckham.
Bryan Pitton, G
133rd Overall – Brampton Battalion (OHL)
6’1 168 lbs
D.O.B.: Jan. 26, 1988
With just a trio of prospect goaltenders in the system, two of which are now at the pro level, the need was there for Edmonton to restock the shelves with a netminder. To do so they looked to Brampton Battalion rookie Bryan Pitton who made just 25 appearances behind starter Daren Machesney (WAS). Pitton had an impressive 16-4 record with a 3.43 goals against average and a respectable .904 save percentage.
“He didn’t play a lot this year but all our scouts who did see him play were very, very high on him,” said the head scout. “Mechanically he’s very sound. He’s a big kid, moves very well. Our goalie scout John Stevenson went in there and spent a couple of days with him and came out raving about him saying that mentally he’s very strong.”
Pitton hopes to be the starter next year but will face competition from newly-acquired 19-year-old Aaron Rock who spent 2005-06 in the USHL with Tri City. On draft day the well-spoken goalie says he purposely ignored the coverage of the event on the advice of his older brother, Jason Pitton (NYI).
“Me, my dad and my brother went out fishing that day to try and take my mind off the draft,” he said. “We got a 28-inch pickerel.”
The Oilers are hoping the best catch that day turns out to be Pitton himself.
Cody Wild, D
140th Overall – Providence Friars (NCAA)
6’1 183 lbs
D.O.B.: June 5, 1987
It’s not very common for a freshman to lead his NCAA squad in scoring amongst blueliners, but that is something that Cody Wild did last year in Providence. His 21 points was fifth highest on the entire team and six better than the next closest rearguard. For his efforts this year, Wild was named to Hockey East’s All-Rookie Team.
“Well, we drafted him because of his name!” kidded Prendergast during a recent interview on TEAM 1260’s The Pipeline Show. “We were lucky in that on top of [area scout] Chris McCarthy we also had [Assistant GM] Scott Howson and [Development Coach] Geoff Ward had also been in there to see Colin McDonald play and they came away with the impression that this kid’s got a lot of potential.
“He likes to jump into the play, he has a good shot and he sort of flew under the radar all year in the various ratings and when we got into our meetings, the way the game is now if you can skate and handle the puck and do something on the power play, then you have a great chance to play.”
It has been said that Providence Head Coach Tim Army is very high on Wild, so it’s fair to expect that the new Oiler draftee will receive ample opportunity on the power play and will get the green light to further develop his offensive talents.
Alexander Bumagin, RW
170th Overall – Lada Togliatti (RUS)
6’0 180 lbs
D.O.B.: Mar. 1, 1987
Let’s clear one thing up right away: it’s pronounced Boo-MAH-Gin, and not BUM-Again which might be more fitting to the hordes of failed Russian draft picks the Oilers made in years gone by. The fact that the Oilers actually considered a Russian this year is fairly momentous and a clear sign that in this particular case, Bumagin was simply by far the best player on their list at the time.
“[Oiler scouts] Frank Musil, Kenta Nilsson and myself saw him play in a couple international tournaments and we think he’s highly skilled,” said Prendergast. “He’s your typical Russian in that he plays when he wants to, but when he wants to play he’s one of those guys that can really bury the puck because he’s got great hands, great acceleration and great offensive talents.”
Make no mistake about it, drafting Bumagin with their final pick is definitely a case of a team taking a flyer on a player. As a 19-year-old the smallish winger notched 23 points in 40 games, and impressive feat in a defensively tough league. Many pundits feel Bumagin would have been drafted in 2005 if not for the lack of a transfer agreement, but now that that is out of the way, the Oilers feel they have a potential sleeper in the talented Russian.
“In the seventh round you’re looking at players and from our situation with the new agreement, being able to get him out in the next couple of years is something we’re not too worried about,” confirmed Prendergast. “If he continues to develop over the next couple of years the way he has been, and in talking with his agent, he’s going to want to come over to the NHL.”
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