A GAME YOU DIDN’T WANT TO CARE ABOUT

Oilers fans were hoping they could watch tonight Top Prospect game casually, however, due to another horrific NHL season fans will be watching closely to see which top prospect will help the Oilers the most.

Looking at the NHL standings, I suspect the Oilers will finish 28th-30th. I don’t see them catching the Panthers or Islanders, so unless a team that finishes 27th-17th wins the lottery, the Oilers will have a top-three pick this June.

If you are feeling a severe case of Deja Vu, don’t worry you aren’t alone. By now we all have experience dealing with the speculation, conjecture and predictions of top-three picks so no one should be caught off guard when someone debates the merits of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Samuel Bennett, Leon Draisaitl (Dry-Siddle), Nick Ritchie and Michael Dal Colle.

The mid-term rankings came out earlier this week and here is a glimpse of how some of them ranked the top-ten players.

NHL Central Scouting: Top-10 North American Skaters (The rest of the rankings are here)

Rank Player Team League Position Height Weight
1 BENNETT, SAMUEL KINGSTON OHL C 6′ 0.25" 178
2 DRAISAITL, LEON PRINCE ALBERT WHL C 6′ 1.75" 208
3 EKBLAD, AARON BARRIE OHL D 6′ 3.5" 216
4 REINHART, SAM KOOTENAY WHL C 6′ 0.75" 185
5 DAL COLLE, MICHAEL OSHAWA OHL C/LW 6′ 1.5" 179
6 FLEURY, HAYDN RED DEER WHL D 6′ 2.5" 198
7 RITCHIE, NICHOLAS PETERBOROUGH OHL LW 6′ 2.25" 231
8 PERLINI, BRENDAN NIAGARA OHL LW 6′ 2.5" 205
9 VIRTANEN, JAKE CALGARY WHL RW 6′ 0.75" 208
10 DEANGELO, ANTHONY SARNIA OHL D 5′ 10.75" 175

ISS released their top-30.… Here is their top-ten. They include European skaters as well, Central Scouting ranks them separately.

1 Ekblad, Aaron D 2/7/1996 R 6.03.5 216 Barrie OHL
2 Reinhart, Sam C 11/6/1995 R 6.00.75 185 Kootenay WHL
3 Bennett, Sam LW 6/20/1996 L 6.00.25 178 Kingston OHL
4 Dal Colle, Michael C 6/20/1996 L 6.01.5 179 Oshawa OHL
5 Nylander, Willie C 5/1/1996 R 5.11 169 Sodertalje SweAl
6 Perlini, Brendan LW 4/27/1996 L 6.02.5 205 Niagara OHL
7 Draisaitl, Leon C 10/27/1995 L 6.01.75 208 Prince Albert WHL
8 Fleury, Haydn LD 7/8/1996 L 6.02.5 198 Red Deer WHL
9 Virtanen, Jake LW 8/17/1996 R 6.00.75 208 Calgary WHL
10 Karlsson, Anton LW 8/3/1996 L 6.01.25 187 Mora SweAl

Hockey Prospect ranks them every month and here is their January rankings.

JAN
DEC
PLAYER
POS
TEAM
LEAGUE
HT
WT
1 2 EKBLAD, AARON RD BARRIE OHL 6’4" 213
2 1 REINHART, SAM RC KOOTENAY WHL 6’0" 182
3 3 DAL COLLE, MICHAEL LW OSHAWA OHL 6’2 171
4 5 RITCHIE, NICK LW PETERBOROUGH OHL 6’2" 216
5 8 BENNETT, SAM LC KINGSTON OHL 6’0" 168
6 4 DRAISATL, LEON LC PRINCE ALBERT WHL 6’1" 198
7 11 EHLERS, NIKOLAJ LW HALIFAX QMJHL 5’11" 163
8 9 NYLANDER, WILLIAM LW SODERTALJE SWE 5’11" 175
9 6 MCCANN, JARED LC SAULT STE. MARIE OHL 6’0" 174
10 23 PERLINI, BRENDAN LW NIAGARA OHL 6’2" 195

 QUICK HITS…

  • Ekblad is clearly the best defenceman in the draft, and if they want a D-man he is the easy choice.
     
  • For the past few months much of the focus revolved around Reinhart and Ekblad, but Reinhart is not a run away choice for centre. There are other options, and some who might fit the Oilers needs better. If Reinhart is clearly the best centre come June, then would take him, but after talking to scouts from across the country the past week, I don’t get the sense that he is.

    Many like Sam Bennett, and despite the differences in weight from one site to the next, he currently sits around 175-180. He will fill out according to everyone I spoke with, and he plays with a bit on an edge to go with his great offensive skills.

    Draisaitl is big and strong. His size and skill would fit perfectly in Edmonton and help counter the massive size and skill of the top teams in the Pacific Division.

    Scouting reports on Dal Colle point to him being skilled with an aggressive side as well. He plays both LW and C.

    The debate over which centre will be the best NHLer will be intense and intriguing over the next five months.
     

  • Here is a a quick look at their offensive numbers.

    Reinhart November 6th, 1995              
    Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/- 
    2011-12  Kootenay Ice  WHL  67 28 34 62 2 16
    2012-13  Kootenay Ice  WHL  72 35 50 85 22 8
    2013-14  Kootenay Ice  WHL  34 18 35 53 2 7
                     
    Dal Colle June 20th, 1996              
    Season  Team  Lge  GP  G  A  Pts  PIM  +/- 
    2012-13  Oshawa Generals  OHL  63 15 33 48 18 19
    2013-14  Oshawa Generals  OHL  43 27 37 64 30 9
                     
    Bennett June 20th, 1996              
    2012-13  Kingston Frontenacs  OHL  60 18 22 40 87 -2
    2013-14  Kingston Frontenacs  OHL  40 26 40 66 85 26
                     
    Draisaitl October 27th, 1995              
    2012-13  Prince Albert Raiders  WHL  64 21 37 58 22 22
    2013-14  Prince Albert Raiders  WHL  35 19 35 54 18 2

That isn’t a typo; Dal Colle and Bennett were born on the same day.

Their point totals are pretty even when you look at points per game this year.

Bennett: 1.65
Reinhart: 1.55
Draisailt: 1.54
Dal Colle: 1.48

Points are only one aspect of their game. They all have different styles.

Here is how the Scouting Report sees them:

Reinhart…
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound centre is an excellent two-way forward who has really elevated his offensive game in the early going of the 2013-14 season. Reinhart shows an ability to produce in all situations and his excellent vision and offensive awareness bode well when projecting what type of offensive impact he can have in the NHL.

Bennett:
Bennett is a true 200-foot player and is capable of playing on the powerplay, penalty kill, and is never one to cheat his defensive responsibilities to initiate something at the other end of the ice. That’s not to downplay his offensive game, however, as Bennett is a very crafty player who has a deceptive shot release and underrated playmaking ability.

Draisaitl:
With pro size, Draisaitl plays brings a consistently high compete level and has excellent hands and offensive talent. More of a playmaker than a scorer, Draisaitl has shown that he can be an offensive catalyst night in, night out, and should wind up having a good opportunity to make the jump to the NHL next year.

Dal Colle:
The 6-foot-2 forward is capable of playing both centre and the wing and possesses impressive puck protection skills and offensive zone creativity that project well on his ability to be a big-time producer at the next level. Dal Colle’s top-end speed is an area of continued improvement, but his elusiveness, stickhandling ability, and long reach create matchup problems for any OHL defenseman.

WRAP UP…

Keep in mind that the above scouting report is just one example. Not every scouting bureau will see players the same way; just like Oilers fans don’t see every player the same way.

We hope this is the final time we have to start previewing draft selections in January, but until the Oilers become more competitive, we have no choice but to discuss draft picks in January.

I’ll be watching tonight’s game closely. Here are the projected lineups…

TEAM ORR…
 

21 Lemieux – 92 Draisaitl – 96 Watson

11 Perlini – 19 McCann – 66 Ho-Sang
61 Bishop – 72 Point – 18 Virtanen
91 Clarke – 10 Cornel – 24 Ehlers
 
2 Peters – 5 Ekblad
4 Marrtin – 6 Honka
28 Haydon – 27 Thomas
 
MacDonald (starting)
Billia
 
TEAM CHERRY
 
71 Dal Colle23 Reinhart – 66 Barbashev
20 Ritchie – 72 MacInnis – 91 Bleackley
22 Mistele – 19 Fabbri – 90 Goldobin
28 Audette – 9 De Leo -27 Scherbak
 
4 Fleury – 24 Irving
7 DeAngelo – 21 Middleton
3 Vanier – 2 McKeown
 
Edmonds (starting)
Nedeljkovic
Bennett is not playing unfortunately due to an injury, so you will have to watch his OHL games on line if you want to see him in action. He was replaced by Point.
The next few months decide if the Oilers finish 28th, or if the wheels completely fall off and they manage to finish below Calgary and/or Buffalo.

  • Truth

    There’s no doubt they take Ekblad if they have the opportunity to. To those that say the Oilers shouldn’t because they have depth on defense, please realize the depth you speak of is prospect depth. There is no problem at all having 2-3 potential top pairing defensemen as prospects, as they currently only have one top four defenseman playing in the NHL in Petry.

    I don’t think anyone will tell you that too many good defensemen are a bad thing either.

    Unrelated, but it would be fun to watch an Ekblad – Nurse top D pairing in the WJC next year, especially both as Oilers prospects.

    • Truth

      I won’t object to taking Ekblad, but I was not impressed with his decision making at times at the World Junior. Maybe he was partnered with the wrong guy in Pouliot. They both seemed to be offensively minded.

      I like Draisaitl. If Draisaitl and Ekblad are seen as equal, i think its more important to get that big centre to compete in the west especially since we have Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin, and Gernat. We currently have no high end centre prospects. None.

  • Truth

    One more thing, and sorry to clutter the comments section, but have a look at the Oilers first overall’s draft -1 year numbers:

    Hall – 63 gp – 90 pts

    RNH – 67 gp – 65 pts

    Yakupov – 65 gp – 101 pts

    Reinhart scored 62 points in 67 games in his WHL rookie campaign and is the only one even close to any of the Oilers top picks. The other forwards would most likely be outside the top 10 if last years and this years draft class were combined. Ugly draft year.

  • Truth

    @ Gregor

    How do the scouts project how big these kids get? I thought Dal Colle looked good last night, has a great shot. At 6’2″ I imagine he could be a bigger skilled winger. Although he is only 170 lbs but 17.