Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from new scouting director Richard Pracey?


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New Edmonton Oilers CEO Jeff Jackson reset the organization’s amateur scouting department last week.

Tyler Wright is out after four seasons and Richard Pracey is the new man for the Oilers.

Wright’s story will be told over the next few seasons as the draft picks matriculate to the NHL or European leagues.

For Pracey, the road is long. Edmonton owns a neglected pipeline due to traded picks and several higher bets that failed to develop.

What does the Pracey resume look like?

Pracey was an amateur scout for the Avalanche and would have had input into the 2002-2008 drafts in a depth role. Among the OHL talents drafted by Colorado in those years, Brad Richardson, Wojtek Wolski and Chris Stewart had success.

Pracey was part of that process (visual evidence exists) but the specifics of an individual scout’s impact on a draft is never known. NHL teams rarely attach a draft pick to a scout or scouts who might have been part of the process.

We are left to give the most vague credit imaginable. Pracey scouted in the OHL from 2001-2008, and Colorado drafted some good players.

Scouting director for the Avalanche

The prime years we can look at with regard to Pracey’s resume are 2009-2014, when he was scouting director in Denver.

It’s obvious the high picks (Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon) were top flight or elite talents. What about the later picks?

Draft year numbers are an indicator of pro success. Any forward who scores at or above 1.00 points per game is likely to have a pro career. Defencemen are impacted less by a lack of scoring, but puck movers and two-way types have to deliver.

The Avalanche draft picks from the CHL (OHL, WHL, QMJHL) during the Pracey years show an impressive adherence to the idea that offence is a must when drafting in the first three rounds and beyond. Here are draft year points per game totals and NHL games played.

Player Year (Pick) Pts-Game NHL GP

2013 (1)



2011 (2)



2009 (3)



2010 (17)



2014 (23)



2009 (33)



2012 (41)



2010 (71)



2014 (93)



2011 (11)



2009 (49)



2009 (64)



2014 (84)



The forwards are close to ideal drafting. Joey Hishon encountered injury and Connor Bleackley didn’t develop, but Ryan O’Reilly was a massive home run from the second round.

Defencemen drafted also showed offence as part of the overall package. Tyson Barrie specifically posted strong numbers and was a late third-round steal in 2009.

Most of the quality selections outside the first round came in 2009 and that was no doubt one of the reasons Colorado eventually moved on from Pracey.

When Pracey was fired by the Avalanche, many stories were critical for going off the board for Hishon in 2010. Hishon’s numbers in his draft season made him a wise choice where he was chosen. An injury that cost him almost two full seasons of play was the major culprit, but by October 2014 (when Pracey moved on from the scouting director role) Hishon’s lack of development was mentioned as a negative.

Assigning blame often changes the narrative in the interests of framing the issue.

The bottom line for Pracey as the scouting director with the Avalanche: Colorado drafted players who more than covered the bet through the early rounds of his drafts. Injuries and individual failures aside, the organization was well served by the scouting department in those years.

A comparison of Pracey’s work in Denver to what the Oilers were doing at the same time reveals some of the reasons why Edmonton’s rebuild was a mess. The team was looking in the wrong place for talent, wasting high selections on players who were never going to deliver enough offence.

Player Year (Pick) Pts-Game NHL GP

2010 (1)



2011 (1)



2012 (1)



2014 (3)



2012 (32)



2010 (48)



2013 (56)



2010 (61)



2011 (74)



2009 (82)



2012 (91)



2011 (114)



2013 (7)



2011 (31)



The early picks (Taylor Hall through Leon Draisaitl, plus defenceman Darnell Nurse) netted the Oilers most of the current heart of the order. Adding Connor McDavid in 2015 would cap a tremendous run of top-10 picks that should have resulted in at least one Stanley Cup by now.

Below the big names the heartaches begin. In turn, see why Pracey’s performance in Denver was superior to (then-scouting director) Stu MacGregor’s work in Edmonton.

After the first round, the scouting staff chose a baffling group of forwards who couldn’t deliver enough offence in junior to be considered strong NHL prospects. Mitch Moroz and Travis Ewanyk stand out, with Cameron Abney’s selection a truly baffling moment in draft history.

The one man who exceeded a point per game while being drafted outside the first round (Marco Roy) didn’t get an NHL contract from the team. It was a bewildering period for Edmonton.

Pracey’s Colorado work shines like a diamond in comparison.

Pracey quickly found work with the Flyers, and has been connected to many late picks and the OHL selections by the team since 2015. Here are the numbers for some of the OHL forwards during his time in Philadelphia:

Player Year (Pick) Pts-Game NHL GP

2020 (23)



2015 (24)



2017 (27)



2017 (35)



2020 (94)



2023 (95)



2017 (106)



Once again the trend holds. The offence is there in each name listed, with later selections like Matthew Strome posting solid numbers despite other areas of concern (speed). Even with those flaws, Strome had actual talent.

Pracey’s track record over 20 years as an NHL amateur scout shows an understanding of the importance of offence.

What to expect

The Oilers are badly behind most of the NHL in terms of actual prospects who could play a feature role in the NHL someday. The graduations of Dylan Holloway and Philip Broberg as prospects leaves Xavier Bourgault, Raphael Lavoie, Beau Akey and several kids in Russia at the front of the prospect line.

Pracey’s scouting team currently has the first- and second-round picks in the 2024 draft, as well as three late picks.

Chances are general manager Ken Holland will send away at least one of the two higher picks between now and the trade deadline.

Pracey may focus on the OHL as a possible free-agent option next spring and after the draft next summer.

The OHL annually produces the most draft talent, to the point overflow (undrafted players) is also high quality.

An example is Brady Stonehouse, who drove results for the Ottawa 67’s last season.

He is 19 now and will be eligible for the 2024 draft. The Oilers could target him in the draft, and if he slips through the cracks signing Stonehouse next July as a free agent is also an option.

A hopeful sign is the invitation extended (and accepted) by Stonehouse, who will attend Edmonton’s rookie camp before heading back to junior.

Brock Otten at OHL Prospects calls him “a tenacious player and his quickness, speed, and balance all showed great improvement this year, which is critical given his lack of ideal size.”

That’s the kind of player Edmonton needs to add over the next 12 months, with signings possible this fall. If the draft picks are all traded, signing players like Stonehouse would be a smart way to add talent to the pipeline.

Pracey’s way

Any look at a scout or scouting director for an NHL team has major flaws. We don’t know what we don’t know about Pracey’s role in drafting Wolski or Travis Konecny.

There are photos and anecdotal evidence.

Now that the hiring has occurred, there will be stories and lore added to his resume to backfill for the curious.

It’s an inefficient and unsatisfactory way to measure a scout.

All of that understood, Pracey’s work a decade ago in the scouting director’s role was superior to the Oilers’ mousetrap at the time.

Assuming he has added to his resume and adopted modern analytics as time marched on, it would appear the Oilers added a good one in Pracey.

We wait.

(Photo: AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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