For Edmonton Oiler fans, this is going to be an unusual World Junior championships. Over the last several years Edmonton draft picks have been front and center at the annual prospect tournament, but this year there are only two—Russians Bogdan Yakimov (in photo) and Anton Slepyshev. Is there anything worth watching? Or course!


The Oilers did not draft Curtis Lazar (photo by Lisa McRichie via Kukla’s Korner) or Griffin Reinhart but they certainly wanted to, and one suspects both young men are still on club radar. Former Oil Kings have value to the organization, as reflected in the trade earlier this season to acquire Laurent Brossoit. My belief is the Oilers put a high degree of importance on character, and from what we know of these two young men they have that part of the equation in great amounts.


As mentioned, the two Russians drafted earlier this year should be major players for the Russians. There will be three chances to see these kids via tsn if you get both channels and I’ll be giving you updates throughout the tournament here at Oilers Nation through the holidays.

These two gents (Yakimov and Slepyshev) are important players for the Oilers, because it is extremely rare for the club to venture into the USSR (old timey reference) and success would probably mean more picks from that part of the world. There’s no doubting the quality of these players, but signability can be an issue as we all know.


Folks, they’re everywhere. Canada is represented by Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts), two players who are vying for number one overall. Also in the conversation are Germany’s Leon Draisaitl, who plays for the PA Raiders. He’s a very popular player among Oiler fans already, with Warren texting to tsn 1260 the other day that Edmonton should do the "death rattle for Draisaitl" ala Fail for Nail and Fall for Hall.

Other eligibles worth paying attention to are Kasperi Kapanen (yes, Sami’s son) who is a skill winger for Finland, and Russian center Ivan Barbashev. Another player to follow is Lucas Wallmark, who passed through the draft in the summer but has a fine season going in 2013-14.


Merry Christmas! I’ll be updating throughout the holidays on the World Juniors and following the progress of Yakimov and Slepyshev. Best of the season!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    would the Oilers consider trading their high 1st rounder to Ottawa in a deal to actually get Curtis Lazar? I wouldn’t be against that, and we’ll likely not have the 1st overall pick anyways, likely closer to #3 #4 #5. you think Ottawa would go for that?

    • 24% body fat

      The value in a top 5 pick is way higher than a third line center with no size who might at best become a two way second center. In the top ten there is a star center in Reinhart, Exceptional Dman who will be NHL ready on all accounts, two large centerman with scoring potential in Draisaitl and Barbeshev, as well as a scoring powerforward in Ritchie, but you would want Lazar?

      I dont mind taking oil kings in the later rounds but there is too much love there. Are the scouts that lazy they dont even want to leave Rexall?

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        ^I kind of see this every year…..the next year’s players at the next draft are all more valuable than the previous draft’s players. and, right, the Oilers scouts are “lazy” and show “too much love” to players playing on a winning team in our own back yard….and I don’t know what reports you’ve been reading about the d-men, but other than Ekblad, I haven’t read anywhere about any of the other top d-men in this draft being NHL ready! I doubt Nick Ritchie is on the Oiler radar, though I think he should be at his size. Lazar is out scoring Ritchie too.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            dal Colle appears to have more *scoring* potential than Lazar, though Lazar is a complete player who is finally showing the offensive abilities that scouts have always said he has. I don’t know how good dal Colle is defensively, but he would still be an excellent pick for the Oilers and would give us a great 1-2 punch at center down the road.

            Ekblad, Mckeown and Fleury would be great Oiler picks too, but none of these d-men are better d-men than Nurse from everything I have read.

            my original point was not a *straight up* trade of our 1st rounder for Lazar, but a package involving the two.

          • Manfly says Ekblad, Mckeown and Fleury would be great Oiler picks too, but none of these d-men are better d-men than Nurse from everything I have read.

            If That’s So , How does a 17 Year old Ekblad make Team Canada and an older Nurse is cut ?
            Ekblad is better than Seth Jones .Haydn Fleury is awesome too .
            Honestly I never thought the Oil would be the second worst team in the nhl half way through the season . I thought at worst same as last year ( 8 th worst ) . At 8 th worst I thaught Haydn Fleury would be a realistic draft pick but since Edmonton is playing so bad this year , Ekblad is within reach …
            So go for Ekblad !

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            Nugent-Hopkins was also cut as a 17 year old, so I guess he sucks then, right? I only heard part of a radio interview with a guy who was involved with the selection process who said that Nurse wasn’t the “type” of player they were looking for…but wasn’t able to hear the reason why. don’t read too much into whether or not junior age players can make Team Canada or not, I have found, with Nuge being a great example of this, that in the long run, not being selected doesn’t mean jack when it comes to being a good NHL player in the future. my only concern is that MacT has already made it known that our 1st rounder is already in play. if it’s a top 5 pick, maybe he just needs to keep it and pick? this team still needs to continue to build it’s developmental system.

        • 24% body fat

          the lazy comment was a joke

          Picking a bunch of kids from a team that is stacked with overagers in junior and saying they will be good in the nhl because they win in the whl is not a reason to put all your eggs in one basket

          the dman i am referring to that is nhl ready is Ekblad, did not mention any other one as being ready

          more often than not a top 5 player in any draft will be better than the 17th in the previous draft no matter how deep it is

          lazar should not be on the oilers radar because we want a number two center with size, trading gagner in for a younger same sized player just sets the rebuild back

          Other than Ekblad, and exceptional Dman with size, a defensive game, an offensive game, a mean side who could be a number one dman, the oilers have options to fill the center position with a number two C with size or a powerforward winger with size.

          But you would rather trade this pick for a player who is a year older that the oilers all ready have an abundance of. Unless your plan is to tank for McDavid than this makes no sense.

        • All of the forwards in the top 10 ’14 draft are more better snipers than Lazar and Ekblad and Fleury are two awesome D that the Oilers need .
          Lazar is a good player , but there is better talent in this year’s draft ..
          Oilers don’t need to make any trades .
          We will get better slowly ..

      • misfit

        Is “younger than Lazar” really a trait we should be looking for?

        I also think once you get past Dal Colle, Bennett, Reinhart, Draisaitl, and Barbashev, the “better than Lazar” starts to come into question in the forward group in this year’s draft as well. But I’m a pretty big Lazar fan, so my bias is probably a factor here.

  • gr8one

    Question for all of you people that are vastly more informed than me.

    What are you’re thoughts on this Michael DalColle kid?

    Based on the following profile and his position(C), skillset and size, to my eye there’s not a better fit for the Oilers and he’s projected to go iin the range of where we’ll likely be choosing, yet I haven’t really heard anything about him or anyone lobbying for him as a choice.


  • Lofty

    The daredevil donkey in the Santa suit taking a jagged shard of plastic table leg up the chute . . . now, that’s funny.

    Is it un-Christmas-like to laugh out loud at this knucklehead? I did. Repeatedly.

    • Aaron Ekblad is just as good or better than Seth Jones from last year . If Ekblad ends up wearing Oiler Blue , than multiple Stanley Cups are guarenteed !!!
      We don’t need no trade . Just one more bad year and we have a chanch at Ekblad and a dynasty …

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Well that would be a great pick for us BUT we could fit two full rosters of defensemen prospects. Dillon Simpson, Taylor Fedun, Martin Marincin, Marty Gernat, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom,David Musil, and Brandon Davidson just to name the “notable” ones. I although would really find Ekblad a great pick. The one thing though is we lack a true #2(or #1) centre

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Most of us probably caught a glimpse of Draisaitl at the last WJC when he was often paired with former Oiler prospect Tobias Rieder — who.. Tambo will be shocked to discover brought his offence with him to the pros:


    Those two made a lot of magic together and Leon was basically still a child.

    Matty has the Oilers eyes on Draisaitl:


    And for good reason. He’s a center, has size and hands. Him and Reinhart are the peaches of the draft this year IMO and I really hope the MacT follows up on his X-mas declaration to scout the WJC and draft eligibles hard:


    Ivan Barbashev is my Lazar pick this year. The player I target if we move down to 10-15 spot in the draft. Another center with size and hands. There’s a very strong chance he breaks into the top ten by the time the draft hits, however.

    Speaking of former Oil kings… LT do you think they would target Pysyk at all? I don’t know if BUF would put him on the table… but he’d be a nice add to the prospect list and may fit MacT’s recent talk of interest in D on their ELC or still RFA.


    I wonder if this year’s first+ gets you Ehrhoff and Pysyk.


  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Oh, and a merry merry to all the Nations’ faithful.

    Keep your Oiler jersey in the closet and wear your national jersey with pride as we enjoy the kids sacrifice their holidays and chase WJC glory.

    Go Canada Go!

  • A-Mc

    Ekblad or a trade are the only 2 options for this year’s draft imo (1st round).

    If Ekblad is good, big and strong, I can’t see how we pass him up; even knowing full well that it’ll be years before he makes the NHL lineup regularly.

    • John Chambers

      I’m with you, but if they could hedge the bet by obtaining a top Dman they need now along with a C with size i say get ‘er done.

      Like imagine years ago if you had the choice between selecting Gudbrandson or getting over a long payoff absence. In hindsight you would clearly pick the latter.

  • CMG30

    As a general rule I hate trading away first round picks but this year I wouldn’t mind assuming the return was a top paring D-man ready for primetime. But I’m under no illusions that a deal like that may not be out there right now.

    If we keep the pick then a big skilled centerman sounds good!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Twas the night before christmas
    and down at the rink
    mr katz got his head out his ass and started to think
    with ganger doing nothing
    and ebs licking balls
    my god Id better build this team around st.
    with no goaltending
    no-one st stop the puck
    my god this team is starting to suck!
    with no defence,no one with a care
    ferrence skating around like a ballerina thats fair!
    with no forcheck or someone to grind
    the turnovers keep happening like everyones blind!
    merry christmas and best wishes to all
    mr katz relized how screwed we would be without st hall!

  • Concur

    LT, do you have a bead on any high goalie prospects? MacT mentioned how he wanted to stock the cupboards in that area and we have nothing in the NHL caliber next year, so you can bet on a trade or FA signing to replace Bryz.

    • Lowetide

      Not yet, no. I follow Pronman, he’s a beast on prospects and has things coming out this holiday season. I’ll know more (God help me) this time next month.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Got my Hockey News WJHC magazine primer. Looking forward to watching Sam Rheinhart and Ekblad. Got the PVR set up to record. These 5 am games are hard on a 48 year old post Christmas body.

    Lowetide what is up with the Isles. Its not like they are playing in a overly difficult division. Goodness they are just awful. They have taken a monster step backwards.

    Comparatively the Oilers get to play a murderers row of top teams night in night out. You need only look at the top 6 teams in the Western Conference to see how the Oilers current plight has come about.

    I know that we are not a playoff bound team. But what I hope for post Christmas break is a team that comes to play hard every night. Even if they get shutout 6-0 by the likes f the Blues. I want to see effort.

    BTW. My favorite Oiler moment this year was twofold by the same player. The first was Yaks celly after he scored the winning goal against LA. The other was Yak in the Penalty Box with Gazdic looking like the cat that ate the mouse. Loved that moment of bonding.

    Should have Favorite Oiler Moment for 2013 article.

  • The Oilers should seriously consider trading their top pick unless they can get Ekblad. I do not want to suffer through another years with an atrocious D core. We need to beef up on the blueline and add at last two more junkyard dog forwards to the top 3 lines through trades and free agency. It will be hard to accomplish all that but prepare for another year of pain without major upgrades.

  • misfit

    Very excited to see the Russians play. I was somewhat familiar with Slepyshev from past WJCs, but Yakimov is much more of a mystery to me. I’ve read a fair bit about him, but have never watched him play.

    I don’t doubt the Oilers are very interested in Lazar, but I just don’t see what sort of opportunity might come up where they would be in a position to trade for him. High skill, high character, toughness and versatility…very little chance Ottawa moves him. Also, MacT is trying to move prospects/picks for players, no? Surely it would take a real player to get Lazar.

    I thought I heard that Kapanen was injured and unlikely to play in this tournament. Even so, there’s still a lot of 2014 draft eligibles to watch, and (sadly) a very real chance we could end up with our pick of all of them come draft day, or at least the runner up.

  • Spydyr

    I suspect MacT will move the first round pick for some proven assets if only to avoid the humiliation of being one of the 5 GMs onTSNs draft show. Either that, or KSlow should faced the camera with some smirk on his face; like it’s all going according to plan .

  • I think the Oilers will play the balance of the season in strong form ( there will be no real pressure anymore) and pull off a bunch of wins. This means we will not be in the top five, if I’m correct when it comes to drafting.

    I hope that somehow we end up with another first round draft choice through a trade prior to the trade deadline. If we can have multiple draft picks, that gives us a chance to draft Ekblad and really cement our defence.

    Having another second round (to cover for the loss due to the Perron trade) would also give us some options. It seems to me that having good draft choices is the only real currency left for GM’s as trades seem to be going extinct.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Ekblad and McDavid will look good in OIlers silks. I have a hard time believing the Oilers won’t be in contention to draft both. I hope I’m wrong but I doubt it.