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.
- CHL: 16 (fully half the list, led by Hall, RNH, Eberle)
- Sweden/Finland: 8 (4 each, highest picks being Swedes Paajarvi and Klefbom)
- BCJHL/USHS/NCAA: 5 (most famous Tyler Pitlick and Dillon Simpson)
- 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.
APPLYING IT TO THE COMBINE LIST
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.
OKAY, WHO MIGHT THEY BE LOOKING AT? (OHL EDITION)
- 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.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
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.
PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES
- TITANIC (Intro, April 6)
- OILERS WIN (Oilers scouts, Oilers draft trends, April 10)
- MATH SPEAKS OUT (NHLE’S, April 12)
- COMPLETING THE FAB FOUR (Murray versus Nail, April 23)
- FIRST BLUSH 2012 (Initial top 10 list, May 2)
- COMBINE LIST RELEASED (Invites, May 4)
- THE OILERS, THE DUB AND THE FUTURE (possible Oilers from the WHL, May 8)
- THEY COME FROM THE LAND OF ICE AND SNOW (possible Oilers from Swe/Fin, May 12)
- THE COMBINE (injuries, combine and its impact, May 24)
- THE TOUCH LIST (obscure picks who may surprise, May 27)
Up next: the Q and the Oilers.