This week saw all kinds of news breaking around the 2011 Entry Draft. New Jersey won the lottery (Lou must have found the Crossroads shortly after Robert Johnson, buddy’s had a horseshoe implanted since the 80’s) and the Edmonton Oilers won too. The town team will select first overall. Or will they?
One of the stories coming out of the draft lottery (Darren Dreger had the story April 13: here) is the Oilers willingness to hear offers for the first overall pick. This didn’t happen a year ago, and implies that the Oilers may value one or more players at the same level. Tambellini mentioned there were 6 players of interest to his scouts and we can probably guess the six names and be pretty close (RNH, Larsson, Landeskog, Couturier, Huberdeau, Hamilton).
My best guess is that the Oilers like someone aside from RNH and Larsson just as much as those two players and feel the guy they like might slip a little. If they can acquire a valuable piece for the future while also acquiring their target player, doesn’t that make sense?
HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW?
I don’t know, that’s why I said "my guess" is that there’s some disagreement about the number one player. When we look at each player’s season in the clear light of day it’s clear ALL of the top prospects this year have some things that both recommend them and suggest the Oilers may not look their way on the draft floor.
- Ryan Nugent Hopkins: Elite level passing ability and a ridiculous sixth sense in regard to the highest percentage opportunities, he’s the one guy I can see the Oilers walking up to the podium and selecting number one overall. Why wouldn’t they? RNH is not an elite level even strength player in the WHL, and his skill set is (somewhat) duplicated on the Oilers current roster. Other than that, all arrows point to him.
- Adam Larsson: When you’re choosing first overall, it’s generally viewed as being a wise decision to take an offensive force. Larsson isn’t that player, and more than that there’s a long list of evidence that suggests this player type has an extremely hard time covering the bet when selected in lottery territory. Jason Gregor wrote about the defense versus forwards discussion here.
- Gabriel Lansdeskog: Rugged winger with solid scoring skills is a perfect fit for the young Oilers. If they had the first three selections the club could address all of their needs but that’s not going to happen and the argument against Landeskog is similar to the argument against Larsson: not enough offense for a franchise player.
- Sean Couturier: The argument for Couturier has to do with his boxcars (58gp, 36-60-96) and his size: 6.04, 195. The toughest thing for the Oilers organization at the draft table is to pass on this kid. Why? Anyone who has followed this organization for the last 20 years knows that a center with size has been sought after over and over again. Hell, Jason Arnott was drafted almost 20 years ago and he’s still going. What if Couturer is Arnott? Would that be good enough? The downside is "what if he’s Doug Wickenheiser?" and answering that question makes certain the Oilers scouts will be earning their keep this spring. Couturier had a hand in 38% of his team’s offense (96 points for SC, 251 goals for Drummondville) despite missing 10 contests.
- Jonathan Huberdeau: This year’s Tyler Seguin in that he’s closing late and could end up going in the top 3. He’s a 2-way talent who can play center or wing and has dynamic and obvious offensive skills. The downside is that he’s not much bigger than RNH and he plays on a loaded Saint John’s team. Five Sea Dogs scored more than 30 goals this season, and their 324 goals were 47 ahead of the second place team. How much of that offense is Huberdeau and how much of it is the residue of the other Sea Dogs? Huberdeau took part in 32% of his team’s offense (105 points on a team that scored 324 goals).
- Dougie Hamilton: I think he’s closing the gap on Larsson. Hamilton enjoyed an excellent regular season and appears to be going super nova (9gp, 3-11-14) in the post-season. Hamilton has size, mobility and can move the puck and impact the powerplay.
Nation Radio hits the airwaves today at noon. Scheduled to appear:
- Kirk Luedeke from Bruins Draft Watch. We’ll talk about the American kids in the draft, the U18’s going on right now and his opinions on the best player available at number one.
- Craig Button from NHL on the Fly and tsn: Button’s mock draft after the lottery selection was a very interesting item and we’ll discuss that and his family connection to the Central Scouting bureau.
- Guy Flaming from the Pipeline Show. Guy has a good handle on the NCAA kids and can talk to us about the youngest General Manager in hockey. He’s probably younger than you!
- Matt Bugg from McKeen’s and Dobber Hockey. We’ll look at the top of the draft and go deep too. Bugg is a very astute follower of each year’s entry draft.
- Cassie McLellan from Raw Charge dot com. We’ll talk about the wisdom behind selecting Hedman before Kane and ask if taking a defenseman that high looks good a couple of years later.
- Tim Currell from Blackhawkup.com is making life miserable for Canucks fans. So we like him. 🙂
- Gregg Drinnan from Taking Note! the best source for WHL news.
We won’t be at the Pint today, but will be back next week and have some big items on the way and especially as we move toward the entry draft. You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and thanks for all the great questions.
NOTE: The OKC Barons game will be live on Team 1260 starting at 2pm today. Take your "pocket radio" with you and keep it on 1260.