Why I am bring up Musil is that he is the Oilers' professional scout in Europe, and Kent Nilsson (yes the great Flames' player and Robert's dad) is the amateur scout in Europe. I was reading Lowetide before the Garon trade, he has an insightful post about drafting and scouting Russians. Unfortunately no-one read this with all the excitement about a trade (I mean a real trading involving NHL players, well I mean one NHL player).
But the Oilers till have trouble drafting from Europe, why? The current Oilers have two Czech player (Smid and Hemsky), one Swede (Nilsson), one Slovak (Visnovasky), and one Russian (Grebeshkov). That is five out of twenty five players (including all the ones on IR). According to Mirtle, the NHL has 52% Canadian, 19.9% Americans, and 28.1% Europeans. Again for the record NHL has 28.1% Europeans, and the Oilers 20% Europeans. This might just be luck or the style of the team, but I think it demonstrates the Oilers' unwillingness to draft Europeans.
The Oilers have 8 amateur scouts, and 4 professional scouts: only one of each is a European scout scouting European leagues. That is 12.5% amateur scouts being European and 25% professional scouts being European.
I think we have discovered an untapped resource the Oilers are not fully exploring. Katz and his bags of money could be doing more, since in the post-lockout you are limit on what you can spend on players but not limited to what you can spend on procurement. I have four suggestions on novel ideas to increase our European procurement:
1) Buy a KHL team: Capitalize on the KHL losing money, buy a team, and funnel all the players of interest into and play them well untill their rights have no meaning and bring them over. It is like a European farm team, but you might be able to make money of it to. I doubt this would work 'cause the KHL or the NHL wouldn't be happy about a investment in a rival league.
2) Positional Scouting: Set up a system where each employee scouts by position rather then area: goalie scouts look at goalies, defensive forward specialist look at two way forwards, old super stars scout offensive players, etc . . . . This means more travel costs but might be more effective and is worth a try (maybe).
3) Shrink the Areas: Divide up Europe like they do in North America. Hire more scouts (n a full or part time basis) and give them a specific area to scout. You can divide this on nationality and languages spoken. For example, you hire a Fin to scout in the Finnish leagues (amateur and professional) because they have the contacts in their old stopping grounds, and have the language skills to talk to more people about each player: same goes with Russia, Sweden, and the Czech/Slovak republics.
4) Hire This man. His name is Hakan Andersson: he is the head of European scouting for the Detroit Red Wings. His record speaks for it self (including that bobble he is holding, Datsyuk in the 6th round at 171st overall, Zetterberg at 210th overall, and Holmstom at 257th overall). Laugh all you want, but Katz could simply wait till his contact is near expiring and send him a discreet message that the Oilers would like to give him a large pay raise. What is an extra $250,000 dollars a year to Katz (just less then 1/8 of Moreau's salary, peanuts in the world of professional sports)? Any smart individual, in a capitalist world, would at least listen, at worst it gives him leverage in his contract negotiations.
Now these ideas separate seem either illogical (such as buying a KHL team), a long shot (hiring Andersson), or not cost effective (such as positional scouting). But as always I have a better plan which is a combination of the middle two options:
1) If hiring Andersson can't be done, promote Musil to top European scout. He is in charge of the rest of the European scouts, and reports directly to Prendergast. He would remain the point man on all professional scouting, traveling across Europe focusing on men, not boys.
2) Make Nilsson the point guy on amateur scouting: this means he would travel across Europe watching players that he has reports on and as the final evaluator on the kids.
3) Get Help. Hire more European scouts and divide them by area rather then by amateur/professional scouting. Each scout would be a fluent speaker of the national language, and have worked in the country for a minimum of five years. Each of these scouts gives a report to Nilsson (on all amateur players saw) and a report to Musil (on all professional players): actually they give it to number 4 and he gives it to them, but more on that later.
- Russia: one full-time scout and one part-time scout. Each is in charge of a certain geographical area in Russia, but they work as a tandem with one of the scouts having an expertise on defensemen and the other on forwards. The full-timer being the one in charge of reporting. A special eye on the KHL.
- Sweden: Hire a full-time scout. He is in charge of evaluating all players in Sweden: I am assuming that Nilsson/Andersson can also do work in Sweden since he is based here and there are a lot of excellent players in the Swedish Elite League. These scouts would also look at Norway (but not necessary speak Norwegian)
- Finland: Hire one scout in this region. He should be an individual with special expertise in goalies: I know this boarders on racism, but man the Finns are good at producing 'tenders. This individual would be responsible on scouting professional and amateur player in Finland, as well as taking trips to see goaltenders high-lighted by other scouts.
- Czech/Slovak Republics and Germany: Hire one scout to roam around central Europe. The Czech league is pretty good, the Slovakian development program is improving, and there are some good players in the Professional German League. Again, I am assuming Musil would be helping out in this region since he is based here. The language requirement is complex here: German coaches and informants would likely speak English, so we would focus on getting Slovak or Czech speakers; either a bilingual speaker or a Slovakian speak since Musil is Czech.
4) Hire a office guy. His job would be to help Musil with the paper work, figure out budgets, and other odd jobs. Most importantly run statistical analysis on European players, using any stats the individuals leagues collected. This should provide another perspective on the players that the individual scouts could used to keep track of players between games they watch, and for Musil to use when giving his suggestions to the 'Brass' back home.
This would increase the Oilers European budget, and their staff, but the Red Wings have four European scouts (including Andersson) and we have two. I see this as a problem. The cost is partially prohibited, but really it is not that much: I am sure that the salaries of Russian scouts would not be excessive, while the Scandinavians most likely more (based on costs of living). It is a change from having 2 full-time scouts to 7.5 full-time staff: if each staff is getting $80,00 a year it is only $600,000 a year (or 1/3 Moreau's salary). With this increase in scouts, Andersson's crazy new salary, and their costs (flights, hotels etc . . . ) my rough guess is that it would cost just over a million dollars a year: or a Glenncross or Wanye Primeau (the only Oiler that has about the same salary, $1.3 million, is Cogs and I didn't want to make that comparison).
Some of these ideas might be considered crazy, but it is time to start thinking out side the box to improve the Oilers, even if it means spending a little more money on non-traditional ideas and process (I mean not throwing it at aging veterans, but using it to find the cream of the over-looked crop).