With Brownlee and Gregor unleashing a torrent of material from their time at the draft, and Lowetide turning out his usual quality, I was given the opportunity to take the weekend off and enjoy the record levels of rainfall in British Columbia.
Still, I did want to take the time to reflect on what was a pretty good weekend for the Oilers.
I realize this is old news by now, but even so it’s such a positive development that it’s nice to reflect on it. Steve Tambellini was handed a wonderful opportunity to acquire a useful veteran who was only interested in playing for the Oilers, and he milked it for all it was worth – the Brule offer was delightful, and the departure of Colin Fraser and a seventh round pick instead is only slightly less excellent.
Once again, I’ll emphasize that Ryan Smyth adds a lot of things this team lacked – as it stands, he’s easily a top-six forward on merit, and he will bring a two-way conscience to the forward corps that can’t help but be a positive influence and example for the younger players (as well as contributing to a few more wins in the here and now).
Ignoring strategy and planning for a moment, this is a move that just feels right – Smyth is an Oiler, and he should finish his career in the city where it all began.
Draft Day Gems
While most of the focus was on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and to a lesser extent Oscar Klefbom, the Oilers added some interesting players a little later on in the day. Robin Brownlee has a nice piece up on former Oilers Frank Musil and his son David (who was a fine selection, for the record – there were one or two guys I liked better, but this wasn’t a reach pick by any stretch), but I’d like to focus on some of the players that went a little later in the day.
Samu Perhonen – I’m thrilled with this pick. I’m not a guy who believes in drafting goaltenders high, but Perhonen has it all – success in his draft year, great size, and glowing scouting reports. Finland has been a goaltending factory for years now, and Perhonen’s a superb prospect.
Travis Ewanyk – I thought this pick was a little bit of a reach, especially compared to some of the guys that got selected in the next few picks (particularly Logan Shaw), but there is a lot to like about him. It’s a depth selection, but Ewanyk’s got decent size, a willingness to play a rough-and-tumble game, and some scoring ability. The most interesting statistic for me is that Ewanyk scored four shorthanded goals this season.
Dillon Simpson – Another pick that felt like a bit of a reach, but again there are things to like here – like the fact that he was playing fairly regular minutes in North Dakota at the age of seventeen. If it weren’t for the history between Craig Simpson and the Oilers, this wouldn’t be a pick getting criticized.
Tobias Rieder – A very strong selection outside the top-100. I tend to think that European players in their first year of Major Junior hockey should be cut some slack when it comes to their scoring numbers, and Rieder’s play in various international tournaments and back in Germany suggest that he could very well be a player. Seventeen of his 23 goals came at even-strength, and two of them came shorthanded.
Martin Gernat – Wildcard picks tend to be the best options available late in the draft, and Gernat is one. He was a pretty good offensive defenseman in Slovakian junior, and he stands 6’5”, so while it remains to be seen how he’ll do against higher caliber competition those are two points in his favour.
Frans Tuohimaa – I’m actually a little surprised that Tuohimaa lasted as long as he did; he’s been a pretty decent goalie each of the last two seasons and this year certainly represented a breakout for him (his 0.931 SV% was the best number posted in Finnish junior hockey). Like Rieder and Gernat, Tuohimaa is the sort of selection that has an outside chance at a career that really matters, as opposed to a good chance at being a solid below-NHL professional.
My take – this was a solid group of players, arguably as strong a group as we’ve seen from Stu MacGregor after the end of the second round. There are a lot of positives to come away with from this weekend.