Edmonton Oilers

Oilers part ways with Tyler Wright, hire Rick Pracey as Director of Amateur Scouting

The Edmonton Oilers announced Tuesday that they have mutually parted ways with Tyler Wright, who served as Director of Player Personnel and Amateur Scouting. Simultaneously, they’ve hired Rick Pracey as their new Director of Amateur Scouting.

Tyler Wright’s tenure

Wright has been the Oilers Director of Amateur Scouting since he joined in the organization in July 2019, adding Director of Player Personnel to his responsibilities over the past season. Before that, he served as Director of Amateur Scouting in Detroit under Ken Holland, after the two spent six seasons together as players. Prior to his time in Detroit, he occupied the same role with the Columbus Blue Jackets, having worked his way up from a Development Coach.

Wright oversaw four drafts for the Oilers from 2020 to 2023. Those drafts have yet to yield a full time NHLer, and may not reach that point again in this coming season (Dylan Holloway would be the most promising candidate at this point). Major decisions Wright would have been a part of include trading down to take Xavier Bourgault in 2021 with Jesper Wallstedt available, and the selections of Holloway in 2020 and Reid Schaefer in 2022. Some of his later picks have trended well for their draft slots, including 2020 picks Carter Savoie and Tyler Tullio; 2021 picks Jake Chiasson, Matvey Petrov, and Max Wanner; and 2022 pick Nikita Yevseyev.

Overall though, Wright’s draft record in Edmonton leaves a lot to be desired. This wasn’t an outlier, as Wright and Holland’s work with the Red Wings has left a lot of rebuilding to be done by Steve Yzerman and Co. since their departure. Part of this could be attributed to what Wright valued in prospects, as he had repeated his emphasis on drafting “big” and “athletic” bodies that could project into NHL lineups in the future, which could lead to letting some smaller, more skilled players fall through.

Here’s how the Oilers have drafted during Wright’s tenure:

Who is Rick Pracey?

Pracey has been working the NHL’s scouting circles since 2001-02, when he became a scout for the Colorado Avalanche. He rose up the ranks, becoming the club’s Director of Amateur Scouting in 2008-09, leaving the post in 2014-15. Under Pracey, the Avalanche seemed to draft well, highlighted by an outstanding 2009 draft that saw them draft Matt Duchene third overall, followed by Ryan O’Reilly at 33 and Tyson Barrie at 64. He also oversaw the selection of Nathan MacKinnon first overall and Gabriel Landeskog second overall, decisions that seems like a slam dunk in retrospect.

There are some signs of that same value on intangibles, as he was quoted: “We put a high amount of prominence on the character of a player”, after taking Connor Bleackley 23rd overall in 2014, who was not signed to an entry level contract and was returned to the draft.

Since departing the Avalanche, Pracey has been with Flyers, primarily scouting the OHL. During his tenure with the club, the Flyers have made numerous stand-out picks from the league. This includes Travis Konecny in 2015; Morgan Frost and Issac Ratfcliffe in 2017; Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom in 2020; and recently chose Oliver Bonk and Denver Barkey in the 2023 draft. Getting several quality NHL players in the group without using a high first round pick would be a win for the area scout, in this case Pracey covering the OHL.

There was very little noise about the move prior to the announcement, a sign that OEG may be tightening up their leaks as they enter into a new era under Jeff Jackson. With Ken Holland entering the final year of his contract, and with other front office staff’s futures uncertain, the move may just be the first as Jackson starts to put his imprint on the organization.

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