On day two of the draft the Oilers went after big forwards with skill, and then took a few 20-year-olds late in the draft. I knew the Oilers really liked Mitch Moroz, and I think it is fair to say they grabbed him earlier than people expected. He would have been snatched up before their 3rd round pick. Winnipeg, Carolina, Philly and Anaheim liked him, so the Oilers rolled the dice and drafted the rugged forward 32nd overall.
Was it a risk? Sure, but was is it an awful one, I don’t think so. The Oilers have enough legitimate skill, but they have few players with a combination of size and skill. If you honestly think they would be able to acquire forwards who can play in their top-six or top-nine that are rugged, tough and skilled then you likely think being a GM in NHL 2012 is the same as being one in the NHL.
You need to draft those players and then ensure you do a good job developing them.
It is virtually impossible to predict which of the 181 day-two picks will pan out, but I asked Stu MacGregor his thoughts on the six the Oilers took.
JG: Explain the thought process of taking Moroz at 32?
SM: You always have to step up if there was a player you like. We liked him, we followed him and his developmental curve is on the way up. He provides some toughness, but not just toughness, he’s a good hockey player. He takes the puck to the net real hard and he shows a little bit of touch around the net. He’s only played one year of junior and I think he’s got an opportunity, with continuous development and drive, to be a good player for us.
It looks like the mandate was to get bigger and not necessarily draft best player available, why?
SM: We have to get a little bigger, and that is what we are trying to do. We wanted to add some size to our forwards, so that you can be strong in front of the net. The game seems to be played within that ten foot area and we have lots of skill, so let’s surround them with some guys that are going to be able to compete and help them get the puck and open up space for them.
JG: Jujhar Khaira (63rd overall) just had his rights traded to Everett in the WHL. He mentioned he’s committed to Michigan Tech but is going to talk to the Oilers about what is best for him. What do you think would be best for his development?
SM: I don’t think it is going to matter, because he’s going to need a couple years (to develop) no matter what. I don’t think he’s even grown into his body yet so he’ll continue to develop physically. I’m always of the belief that if you’ve chosen a path, take that path. Don’t waver back and forth unless that path you’ve tried isn’t working. We’ll have some conversation with him, but I just believe you should continue in the phase that you are looking at, because that is where your best interests are and that’s what you believe in. I would suggest continue what you are doing.
Zharkov (91st overall) came across as a very confident and charasmatic guy. Did you sense that and what do you like about him?
SM: Those Russians are outgoing guys (laughs). Here’s another young man who has come over here and extended himself. He was was in Tri City in the USHL the previous year, and in Belleville this year. I really think it is a credit to these young guys to be able come over here and just plant yourself in North America, cause you want to play here. They’ve shown they want to play here, and to me that is a great checkmark beside their name.
He told us in our interview that he loves playing in Canada and I want to play where it is important. I like guys that have that passion.
He said he wants to be as good or better than Yakupov, what do you think about that?
SM: Well it’s good to have that confidence. I’m not sure why he slid (was ranked 2nd rounder), we’ve liked him from the start. He did get hurt at the beginning of the year, I believe it was his collarbone, so he sat out some time, but his last part of the year was outstanding, and he was very good at the under-18 World Championships.
JG: What do you like about Laleggia (123rd overall)?
SM: He’s not a big guy, but he skates well, moves the puck intelligently, smart guy, quick pass guy, gets the puck up the ice and he has really good hockey sense.
JG: McCarron (153rd overall)?
SM: He’s a big body, had good hands. He’s a right winger, very strong on the puck, takes it to the net, has a good shot and he’s strong around the net. A couple years in college and hopefully we can look forward to him making a challenge with our team.
JG: Gustafsson (93rd overall)?
SM: Gustafsson is an offensive, skilled D-man who played with Djurgardens in the Swedish Elite league. He’s a solid puck mover that hopefully we can fit in with the rest of our group to give us more puck movers with some size.
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
There were 211 draft picks this year, and here’s a breakdown of the draft selections by birthplace:
United States 56
Czech Republic 6
United Kingdom 1
I would have liked the Oilers to draft Alex Galchenyuk first, but it is hard to critique taking Yakupov. He’s a dynamic player and he’ll likely jump right into the NHL next year.
The rest of the picks were interesting.
If Moroz continues to develop he could be fill a huge void on this team, but we likely won’t see him for at least three years. I like that they addressed a need, even though he went earlier than expected.
The Red Line Report had Khaira as their top sleeper pick of the draft. It will be years before we see him in the NHL, but sometimes a sleeper pick pans out.
I love skill, so I like the Zharkov pick. The kid was quite funny at his post-draft presser, and he has lots of confidence. The Oilers need some big guys with skill, so he fits that bill. It will be interesting to watch his progress in Belleville next year.
Gustafsson, Laleggia and McCarron are all long shots of course, but for their sake I hope being drafted gives them even more incentive to work hard and fulfill their dream.
Getting drafted is a huge honour and nice reward for years of hard work, but if any of these day-two picks want to become regulars in the NHL they will have to work even harder the next few years.
Interesting how rankings change and just a guideline…Earlier this year Zharkov was ranked 19th by Central Scouting. Drafting and rankings are a crap shoot at times.