You don’t want guesses from rank amateurs. Mock drafts? Pfft. You want THE LIST. You want to know what name will be on the tip of the tongue of Oilers GM Steve Tambellini when he steps to the podium in Montreal Friday with the 10th pick at the NHL Entry Draft.
I want THE LIST, too. But, as in years past when I covered the draft for The Journal and The Sun, none of the Oilers brass or scouting staff has slipped it to me on the down-low. Zero chance, Mr. Inside Guy.
As fans know, that’s never stopped me from asking questions, taking names or rummaging through Kevin Prendergast’s garbage, then offering my best projection as to how things will unfold.
Prendergast, chief scout Stu MacGregor and his staff have compiled a list ranking the top 150 prospects. While there might be some tweaking when the staff gathers in Montreal Tuesday, it’s pretty much set.
So, for those who recall my draft previews in those newspaper days, I’m going to take another swing rolling it out OilersNation style — and, yes, I did have Jordan Eberle on the WISH LIST in 2008.
As always, everything goes out the window if Tambellini deals and moves up in selection order — he’ll be pitching to get into the top seven — but I’m writing this with the assumption the Oilers stay where they are.
The wish list
John Tavares? Victor Hedman? Matt Duchene? Duh! They don’t count.
Obviously, Tambellini, Prendergast and MacGregor will sprint to the podium screaming like their hair is on fire if one of these three blue-chippers is available at 10th. They won’t be. So, let’s get a grip and stick with players who might be available in the first round.
MAGNUS PAAJARVI-SVENSSON, F, Timra (Sweden)
ISS Ranking (International Scouting Services): 4th
WHAT THEY SAY
Director of NHL Central Scouting E. J. McGuire: “Magnus perhaps is the stereotype of the skilled Swede coming over here in recent years – outside speed extraordinaire, ability to freeze defenders and make all his good moves work even more effectively. He was a good contributor to his team at the World Junior tournament and I think will be an essential member of any NHL team in years to come. He showed, at the World Junior championships, why the 1980 comparisons to Mats Naslund, Kent Nilsson and more recently a Peter Forsberg will follow him over to his NHL team. He’ll be a high draft pick and I’m sure he’s going to be a combination of the kind of offensive flare and skills that have made those other three predecessors great NHL players.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “He’s a great skater. He takes it to the net, drives to the net with speed. He’s one of those players who’s around the puck a lot. He’s not overly tall, but he’s a solid 198 pounds and he’s going to get bigger.”
THE SKINNY: The Oilers like his skill and compete-level. He’s also got some flair, having suggested Canadian players at the World Junior Championship would “shit their pants” if Sweden scored a couple quick goals. The buzz is some scouts are picking Paajarvi-Svensson to drop a notch or two, but as far as 10th? Not likely.
EVANDER KANE, C, Vancouver (WHL)
ISS Ranking: 5th
WHAT THEY SAY
NHL Central Scouting’s Blair MacDonald: “He has power forward qualities from the blue line in. He’s the type of player who doesn’t like being denied access to the net. You can almost see when he’s got the puck he’s going to the net and defying people to stop him. He’ll be a 200-pound forward in the NHL. He plays like he’s six-foot-two, six-foot-three, bigger than his size. He’s surprised a lot of people with his strength going to the net.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “He’s everything we could use. He’s an offensive player with a real physical edge. There’s just a real edge to his game. He competes extremely hard.”
THE SKINNY: To steal from Paajarvi-Svensson, the Oilers would “shit their pants” in unison if Kane was around at 10th. They’ve got no chance at getting him unless they move up to the 4th-7th picks. Take this to the bank: they like him enough to try.
JARED COWEN, D, Spokane (WHL)
ISS RANKING: 7th
WHAT THEY SAY
E.J. McGuire: “Cowen made his name last year as a Memorial Cup winning member of the Chiefs and the comparisons that were thrown around at that time were that of Zdeno Chara. Physically, he looks big, strong and rangy. Offensively he has that kind of contribution and if he, despite the pressure that we are putting on him, blossoms into half the player that Chara he is going to be a solid NHL player for years to come.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “He’s a shutdown-type defenceman. He’s got great reach. He loves the challenge of being matched up against the other team’s offensive players. He plays a simple, easy game with the puck. He isn’t punishing physically, but he uses his body effectively.”
THE SKINNY: While Cowen might not develop into a first pairing defenceman in terms of offence, he’s got the size and skill set that makes him a sure-fire NHLer as no worse than a second-pairing guy.
The Oilers select…
Don’t expect the Oilers to have a Jesse Niinimaki flashback and go off the board if Tambellini can’t make a move up from 10th pick.
MacGregor refused to discuss the Oilers list of rankings in relation to those of Central Scouting or ISS, but I’d be surprised if anybody utters WTF?, as was the case with Niinimaki, when Tambellini leans into the microphone.
NAZEM KADRI, C, London (OHL)
ISS RANKING: 8th
WHAT THEY SAY
E.J. McGuire: “He’s big, lanky and skilled. He uses his size to accentuate his puck skills. Size, reach, stick handling ability, those long kinds of stick movements that Mario (Lemieux) used to make, like (Vincent) Lecavalier makes.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “Sure, we like him. He’s very good with the puck and he uses his size to his advantage.”
THE SKINNY: Can he be an elite centre one day? The jury is out on that. The consensus seems to be that Kadri’s got the tools that project to him being no worse than a second-line centre.
DMITRY KULIKOV, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)
ISS RANKING: 10th
WHAT THEY SAY
Central Scouting’s Chris Bordeleau: “In his first year, he’s been an all-around good player. He’s a great skater; he can carry the puck and shoot the puck well. He’s strong too, he can take big hits and they don’t seem to bother him. What we saw this year is likely what we are going to see from Kulikov in the future; he’s going to play the same way in the NHL. He knows when to join the rush, he plays defence first, but recognizes the holes. He can shoot the puck well on the power play and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played in the NHL next year.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “He’s an excellent two way defenceman with some offensive upside. He’s a guy who is going to give you a lot of minutes as develops.”
THE SKINNY: Everything about Kulikov’s resume — he was defenceman of the year and rookie of the year in the QMJHL and voted best pro prospect — screams blue-chipper.
SCOTT GLENNIE, RW, Brandon (WHL)
ISS RANKING: 19th
WHAT THEY SAY
E.J. McGuire: “Glennie was mislabelled earlier in the year as perhaps being only a finisher for linemate Brayden Schenn. Yet Scott took matters into his own hands with an equal number of goals and assists and contributed greatly this season with a power forward type attitude. Glennie might remind the fan of NHL players with power forward abilities coming off the wall like Jonathan Cheechoo and Jonathan Toews — that kind of offensive ability.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “He has some real athletic aspects to him. When Schenn was out early in the year, he still played at a high tempo. He’s a guy who really has untapped potential at this point.”
THE SKINNY: While the scouting staff won’t admit it, I have a sneaking suspicion — nobody’s tipped me off, I’m reading between the lines — they’re almost as ga-ga about Glennie as they are over Kane.
Taking a Flyer
Looking for a darkhorse pick if the WISH LIST is picked clean and Glennie, Kulikov and Kadri are gone?
DAVID RUNDBLAD, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
ISS RANKING: 22nd
WHAT THEY SAY
CS Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb: “He has a very good shot. He is a right-handed shot and he is used on the power play, even in the (Elite) League despite being a young player. He is a very smart player. He could be a little more physical in his game, but that is something that he is learning.”
MACGREGOR SAYS: “Good size. He needs to improve his skating and speed a little bit, but he’s got real good patience and calmness with the puck. He has a unique offensive vision and ability to move the puck.”
THE SKINNY: The Oilers like Rundblad a lot more than ISS and CS do.
Adam Kimelmen of NHL.com had the Oilers taking Carter Ashton 10th in his mock draft, but that won’t happen… The Oilers like Zack Kassian (20th ISS), but not enough to take him ahead of Kadri, Kulikov or Glennie because he projects to a third-line player in the estimation of the scouting staff… Diminutive defenceman Ryan Ellis (13th ISS) and pint-sized right winger Jordan Schroeder (14th ISS) are pegged by some as possibilities for the Oilers, but MacGregor and his staff have other players ranked higher, so it’s not in the cards.
Now, you know.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.