On June 29, 2013, in the swamps of New Jersey, Edmonton will finally get back a player in the Andrew Cogliano trade. The 2013 entry draft could include a lottery selection, depending on if/when the season is played and the Oilers final position. Are there some worthwhile names to add to the cluster of selections that began in 2010 with Taylor Hall? Damn straight.
THE LOWETIDE "EARLY TOP 10"
I always do a final top 30 and now is about the time I get out the slide rule and begin ciphering. My list owes much to Gabriel Desjardins’ NHLE and always pushes those who possess a wide range of skills above one dimensional types. I usually have one or two players at the end of the season who are considered ‘wonky’ or ‘strange’ picks so would encourage you to pursue the Redline, ISS, Corey Pronman and Bob McKenzie lists for a more realistic view about how its all going to break down.
- D Seth Jones, Portland (WHL). 28, 7-17-24 +25 21pims. Crazy size for a teenager (6.04, 206) and he’s an outstanding defensive player at the junior level. The total package, size, can skate, exceptional defender with a wingspan that Boeing would envy. A little light on the offense early (NHLE: 82, 6-15-21) but his PP numbers (1-6-7) suggest the Winterhawks feel he has some ability there (Derrick Pouliot is the club’s top powerplay option on defense). He appears to be paired with Tyler Wotherspoon most often.
- C Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL). 28, 22-26-48 +27 33pims. The most famous prospect in this year’s draft, MacKinnon combines speed and skill along with what scouts have termed tremendous determination. His size (5.11, 179) is a little bit of a concern based on his style of play, and his NHLE (82, 18-21-39) is not the strongest number in the draft. Still, he’s clearly a 5-tool center with all kinds of good arrows based on scouting reports and could very well be a franchise player.
- C Sean Monahan, Ottawa (OHL). 24, 12-24-36 -3 8. I really like this player’s scouting report. Quoting the pre-season Button prose: Sean is a very well rounded player who has versatility in his game and can play multiple positions and situations and do it extremely well. His skills may not be flashy but they are very good with a mind that is exceptional. His skating is very good but what he does so well is change speeds and keep opponents off balance. He is quick and very difficult to knock away. He recognizes opportunities very quickly and is able to take full advantage of them. Call him ‘opportunistic’ if you will, but he finds a way to be productive. He has a very good touch around the net, his shot is accurate and he is deceptive in his approach. He can play on the wing and he can play a defensive role, but the beauty of Sean is that he understands what is required of the various positions and roles and doesn’t necessarily need to score to contribute to winning. A very balanced player who performs when it counts. That’s always going to be my favorite player, a guy with a range of skills. His size (6.02, 193) and NHLE (82, 12-25-37) make him an intriguing player when mulling MacKinnon.
- C Sasha Barkov, Tappara (SM-Liiga). 30, 14-14-28 +8 4. 6.02, 205 and a tremendous offensive talent (his NHLE: 20-21-41). Barkov is an interesting player for the Oilers–he has size, is a good skater and is very skilled–McKenzie compared him in style to Dale Hawerchuk. He looks like he has some power to his game, too.
- C Elias Lindholm, Brynas (SEL). 30, 5-13-18 -3 2. Center plays in a pro league and has a reputation for having a complete player’s skills. Craig Button: His game is founded on an intelligence and understanding that is exceptional. He’s capable of adapting to any situation with the ability to make the right play regardless of the challenge. They call these types of players ‘a coach’s dream.’ He is a very good skater who is quick and agile and combined with his IQ, it makes him a very difficult player to play against and try to get an advantage on.His NHLE (82, 11-27-38) is outstanding.
- L Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL). 22, 15-28-43 +20 14pims. Drouin is ripping up the draft lists, to the point were Redline Report has him #2 (and ahead of MacKinnon). His NHLE is the best of the top end skill guys (82, 16-29-45) and Redline gushed about him in November: has every conceivable elite offensive tool, has grown to an adequate 5-11, 182 pounds, and can elevate the play of those around him better than anyone else in this year’s class. Combine that with his advanced positional game, unreal hands and big-game mentality, and you have a pretty impressive package.
- L Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat (WHL). 28, 19-24-43 +3 12pims. A very slow start (12, 6-6-12) has given way to a strong performance in the last several weeks (16, 13-18-31) and his PP numbers (28, 6-10-16) tell us he’s doing very well at even strength. NHLE: 82, 17-21-38. The Scouting Report says "has the best set of hands in tight since Jordan Eberle roamed these parts" and Oiler fans know that’s high praise.
- D Ryan Pulock, Brandon (WHL). 25, 9-17-26 +13 12pims. Right handed defender with nice size (6.01, 211), Pulock has been turning heads for awhile now. His NHLE (82, 9-17-26) suggests his drafting team is going to get a solid powerplay performer (25, 4-9-13) with a booming shot from the point. The Scouting Report: Pulock is a reliable defender who is good in all 3 zones and a positionally sound player who seems to be continually refining his defensive tendencies to adjust to the game. His skills with the puck are solid and his NHL caliber slap shot is obviously a huge asset for him on the powerplay. While Pulock is not overly physical, he anticipates the play well and uses his body to separate the man from the puck at the right opportunities. As a solid defender with the offensive skills he possesses, Pulock has the type of top pairing potential NHL teams are looking for.
- R Anthony Mantha, Val D’or (QMJHL). 30, 25-20-45 +12 37 Big winger with terrific skill is trending. Redline: The big winger is just busting out all over the place. With good skating ability, plus great size and scoring touch, he’s one of our fastest risers. NHLE is 82, 19-15-34 and at 6.03, 200 in his last 20 games, he is 18-10-28.
- D Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert (WHL). 31, 8-16-24 +12 37. At 6.0, 185, Morrissey is just average in size but gets a lot of attention because he’s such an outstanding skater. Expert puck mover, quality passer, he’ll need to work on playing a more aggressive defensive style but the tools are there. Plays in all three disciplines, scored 4 goals at evens, 3 on the powerplay and 1 shorthanded so far this season. His PP totals (31, 3-10-13) should be ridiculous by season’s end.
A reminder, that’s my list and it favors more complete player types and forwards usually do better on my list than others. Its early, though, plenty of time for change.
WHO SHOULD THE OILERS TAKE?
Seth Jones! I can only imagine what the Oilers would look like 5 years from now if the club added a stud like Jones, but the chances of Edmonton finishing 29th or 30th are not good (stop laughing. Stop it!).
I really like Monahan, Barkov and Pulock on this list, and it appears to me this is tracking as a deeper draft than a year ago. Curtis Lazar remains a player of interest and appear to be finding the range recently.
Miles to go.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It’s early, but with the world juniors around the corner this is a good time to get familiar with these names. From here through spring, we’ll spend some time each week getting to know these talented young men. No matter the lockout, the business of hockey’s renewal continues with these 17-year olds working to become this year’s elite.