#1 Overall Still a Mystery

The NHL Entry draft is still 3 months away. For Edmonton Oiler scouts, that’s a good thing.

The race for #1 overall is heating up. The second season is bringing out the best of this year’s elite talent. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is sublime in the WHL series and Adam Larsson is back and having a major impact on the SEL playoffs. Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton are all making a difference. Here’s a look at the candidates for #1 overall and how they’re doing this spring.


We discussed Larsson’s first round at length here and the young man continues to play heavy minutes when healthy. In Skelleftea’s second round series he was injured and missed one of the games. Here are the results so far:

  • Game 1: 13:32 TOI Even 2 hits (and an injury)
  • Game 2: DID NOT PLAY
  • Game 3: 26:47 TOI +1 1 assist (on an OT goal) and 1 hit
  • Game 4: Today

So far this spring, Larsson is 9gp, 0-3-3 -1 with 6pims and 14 shots on goal during the playoffs. He’s averaging 22:41 per game overall, but is clearly a staple on the Skelleftea backline.


Dominant in his first game with the Rebels in their series against the Edmonton Oil Kings, he scored again last night and had plenty of chances. A wonderful playmaker, his compete level is very high and he’s a tremendous passer. RNH has very good speed and is exceptionally elusive. I’m less worried about his slender build now than before I’d seen him play in this tough playoff series. RNH’s totals are 2gp, 3-2-5 +1.


The theme in regard to Landeskog has been the same all season: scouts and onlookers alike are astonished at his maturity in all areas and his NHL readiness. Landeskog plays a gritty game and is considered by many the best player available in this year’s draft. He’s had an impact on this year’s playoffs, and that’s to be expected since this time of year lends itself to his style. 2gp, 2-1-3 +2 early in the post-season


A couple of weeks ago I spoke to Niagra’s coach/GM Marty Williamson about the Ice Dogs and their surprising season. Williamson: "We thought our team was built for next year but  our two young guys Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Strome have had phenomenal seasons. It’s amazing what Dougie does for us: he quarterbacks the PP, he kills penalties and plays against top lines, his icetime is always up there." Hamilton is 1gp, 1-1-2 +2 going into game 2 today.



Williamson: "He’s been a game breaker, dangerous on the powerplay. But to be able to score 5×5 at his age that’s a real compliment to him. He’s also been a very consistent player all year." Strome plays on the 1PP but the Ice Dogs rotate two units so the offensive stats are not overblown ala Robbie Schremp. Again Williamson: "He’s not killing penalties for me, we wanted to keep him rested for even strength and the powerplay."  He is 1gp, 0-0-0 -1 so far in the playoffs.


The big man just keeps on rolling. He’s 2gp, 1-2-3 +3 with 2pims so far this playoffs. He is about 60% in the faceoff circle so far this post-season and did score 6 hits according to the scoresheet, but that lack of physical play continues to dog him (along with the concerns about foot speed).


I think it’s down to three players: Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog. One thing is certain: the decision has yet to be made, and playoff performances will have a major impact (as they did a year ago).

  • Chris.

    So Couturier put in 2 straight seasons of 96 pts in the Q. This year in fewer games, and whilst allegedly battling mono.
    Pretty good numbers, no? Footspeed is for the dogs. The numbers don’t lie, do they LT?
    Best numbers in the draft, best player in the draft.
    Note, I am not a professional scout, this is simply my opinion.

    • Lowetide

      He’s still my choice, but there aren’t many people who believe he’ll go number one. I don’t have an answer except to say the scouts must have seen something.

  • Chris.

    Couturier has gone 60% in the faceoff circle so far in the playoffs? Is that correct?
    Well, we certainly have very little need for that kind of skill, or size, at 6’4″. And 96 pts in 58 games this year with mono? Forget it. I hope Stu sees things my way.
    Size, faceoffs, centerman, most points. Pretty easy choice, Couturier was the consensus choice earlier this year until the ISS started getting ansy.

  • Chris.

    what will be the average age on this team next year? like 16,17 lol.is there any vets in sight to come here,make some trades,get som exp players or keep sucking every year.5 more years of this bs rexal will start being very empty!

  • Skidplate

    With Kopitar going down with a broken ankle and Justin Williams out the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder, LA may end up around the 18th pick. So the 18th and a player or the 18th and 31st should get some interest.

    • NamelessNed

      Now that we are stating such things, wouldn’t it suck if Penner went on a scoring rampage leading the playoffs in points and leading the KINGS to a Stanley cup just to spite the oilers pick….I know its a long shot, but now I’m strangely hungry for a Donair..

  • OilFan

    Sad people care about draft picks, since we cheer for a brutal team and have nothing better to do then hope our over hyped picks make it. You think this seasons team sucks wait till next season yikes

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      I really can not agree we will almost make the playoffs next year or just squeak in. I really do not expect a sophomore jinx on Hall he just wont let it happen. Harsky is going to surprise a lot of people including me. The biggest lack Is more size at center and a D man.

  • Skidplate

    So, Landeskog doesnt have the points, and too many unknowns with Larsson. So its down to RNH vs Couturier for the draft. That looks good for the Oilers, who need a franchise center badly, and even if we lose the lottery, we will still have a stud centerman for Hallsy next year.
    It could be the old Sean vs Ryan debate, kind of like last year. Consensus pedigree vs the late bloomer.

  • NamelessNed

    was it this year that RNH had a one month long goal scoring drought?(I honestly cant recall) numbers are good now though…I’m sure he was still getting points but if he woulda had say 10 goals that month it would sure make him more appealing yeah? either way, its going to be a long few months complaining in forums till we know the Oil will do…or not do

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Hopefully this uncertainty about who should go first will work to the advantage of the Oil. The Isles need a stud defenceman. Colorado just picked up a stud Dman but need wingers, especially a bruising winger, to play with Duchesne. I would hazard to guess the Sens could use a Dman more than anything else at this point, but their needs are many with the rebuild just starting. If we could trade down and get an extra goody while still getting our guy, that would rock. Hard to pull off though because you need to know how everyone else will pick to make sure you still get your guy. For instance, in 2005, we traded down because we didn’t want Parise. We already had Comrie and didn’t want another small, skilled player. So we traded down hoping to land one of the more physical players later. This list included Getzlaf. Well, we missed out on Getzlaf, and wound up with Pouliot. While Pouliot was alright at the time, Getzlaf was the kid that was higher on the radar. You all know the rest.

    • Peterborough

      Ottawa is loaded on D.

      Ottawa has:

      Gonchar 2 years
      Kuba 1 year
      Phillips 3 years
      Karlsson 1 year9(RFA)
      Lee 1 year (RFA)
      Carkner 1 year

      Add to that an impressive group on kids on the cusp:

      1.David Rundblad
      2.Jared Cowen
      3.Patrick Wiercioch

      These guys are very close I definately don’t see why you get more D when you can’t score and don’t have much in the system comming.

      Where they are in need is finding the legit #2C and top 6 wingers a RNH or Strome would be a nice 1-2 punch with Spezza. As would a Landeskog be nice to play with Alfie and Spezza.

      • Clyde Frog

        I love that you included Lee in that list, they couldn’t give him away for free in a waiver move this year…

        Oiler fans were up in arms at the very thought of sacrificing our precious time with Strudwick at even giving him a chance.

  • When CHI won in 2010, they had Toews who they drafted themselves 3rd overall in 2006. 4 of 8 centers listed on their roster were drafted in-house.

    When PIT won in 2009, they had Crosby (#1 in 2005), Malkin (#2 in 2004), and Staal (#2 in 2006). Every center on their roster except one was drafted in-house by Pittsburgh.

    When DET won in 2008, they had Datsyuk (171st in 1998), and Franzen (97th in 2004). Every center on their roster was drafted in-house except Draper.

    When ANA won in 2007 they had Getzlaf (19th in 2003) and Macdonald drafted in-house. Marchant, Neidermeyer, Pahlsson, were not. 3 of 8 centers on their cup-winning roster were drafted in-house.

    When CAR won in 2006 they had Staal (#2 in 2003). Weight and Brind’amour were among those not drafted in-house. 5/9 centers listed on their roster were drafted in-house.

    When TB won in 2004 they had Lecavalier (#1 in 1998), Richards (64th in 1998) and Svitov (#3 in 2001). All except one of the centers listed on their roster were drafted in-house.

    Draft a center, then draft another center. For the love of god, draft a center!

  • Clyde Frog

    Someone made a good point above that Stanley Cup teams draft their own top line centers. 100% agree.
    I believe a top defenseman can be acquired easier than someone’s top line center.
    We need a center named Ryan or Sean in this draft I’m afraid.
    Roman Hamrlik, former #1 overall. Somehow we traded for him, and Montreal got him for nothing. Good defenseman, but I wouldnt want him #1 overall, or even top 5.

  • Lyxdeslic

    Alright lets be serious here, Oilers are in great shape, and the draft this year is just going to help out even more. We have 3 picks in the top 32 of the draft including the number 1 or if we lose the lottery the number 2 pick. Regardless if you loose the lottery, you still take Larsson (if RNH goes 1st) and there is a number of quality centres (phillips, Zibanejad, jenner, Rask, Mcneill, Scheifel) just to name a few that fall into our LA pick. I do think that we need to take RNH if possible, but regardless Larsson, Landeskog or even couturier will all improve our club tremendously. If we do end up drafting Landeskog, lets make him a center. Id hate to see Hall get converted to center with his speed down the wing.
    I will accept Larsson to be drafted if we get the #2 pick, but truth be told we need a Centre and RNH is that guy.

  • NamelessNed

    Does anyone know of a site that would give a list of players that dropped on draft day?
    Just wondering about guys like Fowler and Gormley who dropped from their projected draft positions and look to be players that will outperform their actual draft number.
    Ultimately, I’m wondering, do the NHL scouts get it right more often than central scouting or vice-versa (at least when it comes to these guys who fell in the draft).
    Furthermore, how about the opposite – when a kid gets picked way ahead of his projected draft day position by a team that goes off the board, what are the odd that he will outperform his actual draft day position?

  • NamelessNed

    So I watched RNH play game 3 against the OK. You definitely noticed him out there, slick puckhandler and play maker. Not sure if he’s superstar calibre. He also doesnt look 6 feet tall. 5’10 or 5’11 by my eye. Maybe his teammates were all giants, but thats how it looked.