Since the ‘Katz’ rebuild got underway in 2010, Edmonton has been spending most of their top end picks in the CHL. This summer things will be business as usual, with a special focus on the Ontario League.

In the Stu MacGregor era, the Edmonton Oilers have been shopping close to home.

  1. CHL: 16 (fully half the list, led by  Hall, RNH, Eberle)
  2. Sweden/Finland: 8 (4 each, highest picks being Swedes Paajarvi and Klefbom)
  3. BCJHL/USHS/NCAA: 5 (most famous Tyler Pitlick and Dillon Simpson)
  4. Slovakia/Belarus: 3 (Marincin, Pelss, Gernat)

The breakdown of the CHL goes like this:

  • WHL 10: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, David Musil, Curtis Hamilton, Travis Ewanyk, Cameron Abney, Tyler Bunz, Brandon Davidson, Drew Czerwonka, JordanBendfeld.
  • OHL 3: Taylor Hall, Ryan Martindale, Tobias Rieder
  • QMJHL 3. Jeremie Blain, Phil Cornet, Olivier Roy

Based on what we already know there’s about a 100% chance the Oilers will select a player from the CHL with their first round selection this season. I took a quick look at a possible top 10 at the beginning of the month and the first seven names all play in the Canadian junior leagues.


The Ontario league has a plethora of draft eligible kids on this year’s list and we’re going to take a look at a few in a minute. Remember the olden days of Oilers drafting, when they would slip in a Jesse Niinimaki? That kind of "reach pick" at such an early point in the draft is no longer part of the Oilers template.

The mission statement now involves looking closely at the top 100 kids (the combine usually invites 100-110 prospects) and making sure not to overthink things. In 2011, Edmonton drank deep from the combine list:

  • 2011 (6): Travis Ewanyk, Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Samu Perhonen, Tobias Rieder

but still found a way to get a player inside their own top 35 (Martin Gernat) and a highly regard prospect with ties to the organization (Dillon Simpson).

I suspect the Oilers look at the combine list as a "pre-qualified" group that are bona fide prospects. Not exactly "can’t miss" but certainly worthy of considering for the top 3 selections in any draft.




  • Olli Maata: They kept talking about his offensive potential at the Memorial Cup, but I think he’ll make his living as an intelligent defender who can move the puck up effectively. Good skater, he has decent size for the NHL (6.02, 202) and will hopefully add to that before he turns pro. If he does emerge as a PP stalwart in the NHL that’s a bonus, but he appears to be an effective 2-way player at evens. I don’t know that he lasts until the 2nd round, but I’m putting him here in hopes he slides a little. If the Oilers walk away with Yakupov and Maata in the first two picks, Oilers fans should be thrilled. Trading up would be a worthwhile option.
  • Tom Wilson: Big (6.04, 205) power forward for Plymouth has all kinds of things the Oilers like. Big brain, skill and he can take and make a pass (years of watching JF Jacques tells us the value of catching a pass in flight has to a rush). What keeps him from being a clear top 50 selection? Foot speed. It’s an issue. I don’t like him for the Oilers in the first three rounds (the offense won’t be there) but if they could get him early in round 4 that would be good value.
  • Tanner Pearson: Turns 20 in August and has passed through the draft three times, but he has a wide range of skills. He might end up being a plug and play winger for some team, and could go much higher than projected (Corey Pronman has him #40 overall) but I think the Oilers would certainly consider him with their 2nd rd pick.
  • Brady Vail: Two way winger who made huge progress season over season and is described as being a very good shadow for some of the OHL’s best opponents. Add that to 22 goals and 52 points and he’s certainly worth 3rd round consideration by the Oilers.


It’s getting pretty exciting now, as we’re one month from the NHL draft. Anything can happen, and of course we’ll be focused on the top overall selection in the draft. However, the other picks matter and the new Oilers taken in the other rounds will impact the future too.


Up next: the Q and the Oilers.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    @ Mason Storm
    If I am correct it was a Barry Fraser draft. That would have to be the beginning of the end of bad drafts for the Oilers.

    See it wasn’t just Prendergast who had bad drafts.

  • Lowetide

    I am absolutely certain it was!! 🙂 I don’t want to further depress you about the 1990 draft, but have you seen the talent that was available? (weeps).

  • OutDoorRink

    I’m living in the Montreal area and I was listening to a radio show tonight, with special guest Eric Bélanger. He said he would like to play for the habs. Lets trade him there! I hate the habs!

  • Lowetide

    Lowetide let’s be serious regarding Tom Wilson he is projected as high first round pick… Not any chance he gets anywhere near the 4th round… With out success in the 3rd round recently a half a roll of tape would be more useful… If he is there at 32 jump all over him

      • 24% body fat

        His comparable Lucic stats and offence were not there either. IF Stu takes him at 31 than there should be nothing to worry about.

        His reports seem like he is a coach-able and develop-able player.

      • BlazeLazer

        A point a game in the playoffs seems like his offense may be a little underestimated or he was extremely lucky. Judging from his playoff season, would it not be fair to say that he is one of those guys that can get things done when space is at a premium. If hes there in the second round I think the Oil need to take a chance on this guy.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Looks like OHL is going to be represented early this draft with Yak likely going to the oil first. With their next pick, if Samuelsson is gone, maybe Brady Vail from Windsor. Big 2-way centre, can play it tough. Next years draft, assuming the oil don’t win the cup, will be a top 10 pick so maybe Kerby Rychel from Windsor also. Big and mean like his father.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Samuelsson’s play in the Mem Cup and last couple of rounds of playoffs must have bumped up his Final Central Scouting Ranking (75 in NA), no?

    Lowetide, what made him slip so much between Midterm and Final rankings?

    If Samuelsson and Wilson were still available at 32 (or more likely 31 as NJ will choose to sit in the corner this year vs next), my vote would be Samuelsson because though not as big, he is a natural center, has the pedigree, arguably more offensive flair than Wilson and is an absolute pr1ck to play against.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    i’d be happy if they traded to the mid to lower 1st round and took Olli Maata…it would be similar to last years draft when we took the BPA, then traded into the 1st round again and got Klefbom.

  • RexLibris

    Hey LT,

    If the Oilers could grab Maatta I’d be thrilled, but I’d probably rather they take Samuelsson if they are both available at 31 (assuming New Jersey forfeits this year’s pick).

    Maatta might be a duplicate of Klefbom, which given the way that defenseman develop and their attrition rate during the process isn’t a bad thing.

    Samuelsson is the player that I think the Oilers need more though. He should develop into a depth winger whose style of play will have the opposition thinking about him (and relieving him of some vital organs) rather than focusing on Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.

    Just as Marchand bought room for Krejci and the other Bruins, so Samuelsson could for the Oilers in good time.

    The question I have for your thoughts on the Oilers trading into the first round is: what could they offer? Would Curtis Hamilton and a 3rd round pick be worth Vancouver’s 26th overall? I doubt it, but how much more could the Oilers afford to give up given that many of our rebuilding assets are only now beginning to show the returns they might offer.

    • Lowetide

      Oilers could offer picks and prospects. They have enough to do a 2-for-1. 31st overall and a prospect could be enough to move up a little. Actually 31st and 62nd might be enough to move up.

  • RexLibris

    “I don’t like him for the Oilers in the first three rounds (the offense won’t be there) but if they could get him early in round 4 that would be good value.”

    Say if LA wins the cup. The Oilers get a second 3rd round pick, right? would you take Tom Wilson with that extra 3rd if he’s still there?