Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reactions to Hesketh at #71

As you know, the Edmonton Oilers used their 71st pick to take future Badger blueliner Troy Hesketh off-the-board (there wasn't a name card ready for him, and the next 2 picks had name cards posted before Hesketh). I'm pretty excited about Hesketh getting picked by the Oil, so I spent a little time looking to see what reactions I could find from the Oilogosphere and Edmonton's mainstream media.

Gandalf already linked the Stu MacGregor video (thanks, Gandalf!), so here's the rest of the stuff I found. I like the comments from Stu MacGregor and HF's Oilers Chick -- Hesketh seems to be a smart defenseman who has good positioning, sees the ice well, and makes good decisions.

Edmonton Sun: The skinny on the Oilers draft picks

Last season with Minnetonka (high school): 25 GP, 7 G, 14 A, 21 PTs, 42 PIMs

MacGregor: "Pretty excited about Hesketh.He's going to play high school again next year. He already has a verbal scholarship to Wisconsin. He's a player that has some long term potential. He's a guy that Mike Peluso had extreme passion for, the way he's a solid defender and smart in his defending skills, his angles in taking away ice on the puck carrier.
Edmonton Journal: Oilers picks
TROY HESKETH - Position: defence - Selected: third round, 71st overall - Summary: Six-foot-two, 185 pounds, shoots left. Schooled in game and textbooks at Minnetonka High School this past year. The stay-at-home defenceman has another year left with the Minnetonka Skippers, but has committed to the University of Wisconsin Badgers for 2011-12. - Quotes: "Mike Peluso, who lives in Minnesota, really had some passion for him," said MacGregor. "We think he has a real upside and he will get some significant training in Wisconsin. They've done a great job with defencemen." Wisconsin is the alma mater of Tom Gilbert, another native of Minnesota.

Lowetide: Oilers pick at 71
(Lowetide is one of the most well-respected Oilers bloggers. Oilers Chick covers the Oil for Hockey's Future.)
Not a lot of info on him. High school kids, going to Wisconsin, describes himself as a stay-at-home type. Listed at 6.02, 180.

From Madison (Wisc) Capital Times: Defenseman Troy Hesketh (Minnetonka, Minn.) is a UW recruit for 2011-12 who doesn’t show up in the rankings, but a recent growth spurt has him on the radar screen of multiple NHL clubs.

UPDATE: This later on Saturday (8PM) courtesy Oilers Chick at HF:

He has good size but is very lanky. He's about 6'2 and when I saw him this year, he looked to be around 165-170 lbs. He's an excellent skating two-way defenseman. What has really impressed me about watching Hesketh this year is his really smart positional play and the way he sees the ice. He's very good at being in the right place and having his stick in the right place to take away time and space.

Now keep in mind this is at the high school level, but as he progresses to the higher levels, this aspect of his game will serve him and his future teams exceedingly well. He reads plays well and makes good decisions not only with the puck, but also in defending in his own zone. While Hesketh is very competitive, I wouldn't necessarily say that he's of the tough guy variety.

He handles the puck well, has a good shot that should continue to get better with development, but could stand to shoot a little more. If anything, at times he looked to be too selfless with the puck - you know, the ol' pass-first-shoot-second way of thinking.

Like many of the Skippers, Hesketh has got good speed. At this point, I wouldn't say that he'll blossom into an offensive defenseman because even though Hesketh has proven he can score goals, he just doesn't fit the prototypical offensive defenseman mold.

Coming Down the Pipe: Edmonton Oilers 2009 Draft Review
(This blog is written by Guy Flaming, who does the Pipeline Show and covers the Oil for Hockey's Future)
Troy Hesketh (D) - Minnetonka Skippers (MN-USHS)
Minnetonka, Minnesota USA Shoots: Left
Height: 6'2 Weight: 178 lbs

The reaction from fans online was instant and venomous as their team dared select players they, as fans, had no familiarity with:

"What an absolutely atrocious pick with guys like Rajala and Roy still on the board. Massive fail." suggested a Hockey's Future Message Board member calling himself "doulos".

"Who the [heck] is Hesketh??" was the basic sentiment from several other fans.

Despite the non-ranking by Central Scouting, Edmonton's Stu MacGregor insists that his team wasn't the only one on the hunt for Hesketh in this draft.

"He was a player that after the draft was done, other guys were coming up to us and saying 'you guys snuck one here!'" said MacGregor. "New Jersey runs their own scouting combine and we knew that they'd had him in there and a number of other teams were on the radar for him right around that area so we knew we had to step in there and get him if we wanted him."

Hesketh has good size, put up 21 points from the back end in 25 games with the Skippers but is definitely considered a long term project because he's only just wrapped up his grade 11. He's still got another year of high school hockey ahead of him but is expected to then attend Wisconsin, one of the more respected NCAA hockey programs in the United States.

"Wisconsin has been recruiting some of the finest defencemen in college hockey over the last number of years now and they are extremely excited about him as a player," said MacGregor, "His brother and father are both much taller than he is so we think there is still some physical development to come."

He's a big 6'2 right now but could conceivable sprout up two or three more inches and get into that behemoth range.

"Mike Peluso, our scout in the Minnesota area, has an extreme passion for him," MacGregor said, "He's a projection player and we're really excited that a little over a year from now he'll be playing at Wisconsin and developing under their fine coaching staff there."

I have also seen reports that suggest Hesketh isn't due to arrive at Wisconsin until the 2011-12 season which would mean an extra year at a lower level.

Some fans will wonder about the fact that Central Scouting didn't have him ranked if in fact he's such a hotly sought after prospect. According to MacGregor, there have been "many" players over the years who have been drafted without being rated by CSS and it's not something the Oilers are worried about.

The last year that Edmonton drafted anyone directly out of the ranks of US high school was 2005 when they selected Robby Dee and Chris Vande Velde from Brock and Moorhead respectively. Taylor Chorney came out of prep school Shattuck St. Mary's that same year.
Gospel of Hockey: Edmonton Oilers Draft Review
Pick #71 - Troy Hesketh

If Lander was a bit of a reach, Hesketh is a big one. Hesketh is a defenceman who just finished his junior year for Minnetonka high school and has verbally committed to playing college at the University of Wisconsin, which is a good hockey school. Unfortunately, he still has his senior year of high school left to play so he won't be seeing real competition for at least one more year. Frankly, the most important numbers on his stats sheet are his age, weight and height since those are probably the biggest reasons he was drafted - 17 years, 11 months, 6'2 and 180 lbs (it's clear that the Oilers think he has some room to fill out). It's relevant that the boxcar numbers are good of course, but it's hard to glean much from them since the league he's playing in isn't very comparable to any of the Canadian junior leagues, the USHL, the NCAA or anything in Europe as far as difficulty. Gabriel Desjardins puts the NHL equivalency at somewhere between 0.073 and 0.052 for Minnesota high school which would give Hesketh numbers along the lines of 2-3-5 in an 82 game NHL season using the higher figure. His actual numbers do include some extensive PP time which means he's being used in all situations, so at least he'll have that experience.

To be honest, I was underwhelmed by this pick, especially because he'll be in high school for another year. I was hoping that they would draft one of the forwards that was left that may still have been able to make a high level impact. The guys that immediately came to mind here are Toni Rajala (more to come on this one), Alex Hutchings, Benjamin Casavant or Ryan Howse. Still, I can see the argument for drafting a big, young defender that you feel has been overlooked because of the league he plays in.