Be Bad for Ekblad. Death Rattle for Draisaitl. The early draft chants for 2014 aren’t exactly poetry, and the sheer number of them tells us there’s no clear cut favorite for the top spot this time. The new year does bring us some clarity, and the top 5 seem to be surrounded. Here’s a guess about the current lay of the land for the 2014 NHL entry draft.

Since 2010, Edmonton Oiler fans have received an education with the entry draft. At this point, NHL teams could probably hire a group of people at any area Oodle Noodle and get an in-depth summary of how the draft works, the value of taking a defenseman in the lottery picks, and how well you can answer “Taylor versus Tyler” four years later.

Here are the 7 best prospects for this year’s Entry draft:

  1. D Aaron Ekblad, Barrie (OHL) 41, 18-23-41 -4. Despite a tough outing this week, Ekblad remains the top man on the list at this time. 6.04, 216 and sporting a mature frame, Ekblad might be the most able plug-and-play defenseman in some time. If he’s on the board when the  Oilers pick, expect a MacGregor sprint to the podium.
  2. C Sam Reinhart, Kootenay (WHL) 43, 27-49-76 +17. Reinhart is going to make this difficult if his offense continues to blossom. In his last 10 games, Reinhart is 11-15-26 and is rocking the dub. His NHL equivalency (82, 15-28-43) is clear of RNH’s in his draft year. Similar to Nuge in that he’s a cerebral player with a wide range of skills.
  3. C Sam Bennett, Kingston (OHL). 46, 29-50-79 +33. This player could end up jumping past Ekblad/Reinhart for a couple of reasons. His offense is on par with Reinhart, and his range of skills is also his equal. Bennett’s “kicker” is that he’s a physical center and that might tip the balance. The fact that he plays in superstar factory OHL may also benefit him. His equal strength goal totals and birthdate may also help.
  4. C Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert (WHL). 46, 22-44-66 -1. Big center with playmaking skill was a contender for #1 overall until a disappointing World Junior tournament. Draisaitl is sometimes called “the German Gretzky” because of his excellent skills and anticipation. Scouts love the tool box inside his 6’1″, 209-pound frame, but would like him to use his size more often.
  5. L Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa (OHL). 53, 32-44-76 +9. In his last 18 games, Dal Colle is 9-11-20, so he’s down slightly from the fast train start to his season. 6.02, 171 he’s a very good skater and has plus skills. NHL teams would love Dal Colle to play a more physical style, but his offense probably gets him inside the top 5 anyway.
  6. L Jake Virtanen, Calgary (WHL). 55, 33-18-51 +14. A terrfic skater with great hands and a late birthday, Virtanen is 6.01, 210. His 85pims and playing style suggest he may have a future as a power forward in the NHL, making him the most attractive option of that player-type in this year’s draft.
  7. C Ivan Barbashev, Moncton (QMJHL). 40, 21-35-56 -7. The young Russian is trending courtesy a terrific recent run. In his last 11 games, Barbashev is 8-11-19 and ripping up the Q. Bob McKenzie had him number 13 but this recent run should get him well inside the top 10.


Since 2008 (and Stu MacGregor’s hiring) the Oilers have been “risk averse” with their first round selections. There have been no Jesse Niinimaki’s, nary a trade down for Pouliot and not one Schremp in the boat. First round selections since 2008: Eberle, Paajarvi, Hall, Nuge, Klefbom, Yakupov and Nurse. Risk. Averse. In fact, the McKenzie list is now an excellent guide for Oiler fans, a far cry from “there’s no picture of Alexei Mikhnov in the Hockey news, no stats online and he appears to have no passport to get out of upper Balticica.”

I expect that the Oilers will select Ekblad if he’s there, but if Buffalo selects first and they take the defender, the Oilers will either trade out (a very real possibility) or grab one of Reinhart or Bennett. Would they draft Sam Reinhart and trade for Griffin Reinhart same day? They could.


This is going to be a tough draft to judge, because all of the prospects are so close. It’ll be years before we know, and the Oilers have a nice group to choose from if they keep their first round selection. Keep an eye on the defenseman.

We’ll look at this year’s class again before the end of the season, but this group of 7 has emerged from the pack.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Not going to try and predict what the Oilers will do at the draft but they HAVE to be in the top 4 to get the D or C they so desperately need. So while I will not be cheering for them to lose games after the break….when they do lose I will not be complaining as much.

    Please let them bring up 4 or 5 guys from OKC after the break.


    Heres my 2 cents. The Oilers priority in this draft should be C over D because not only do we have a logjam of capable D in our future, but D are harder to predict. So Oilers go with options 1. Bennett 2. Reinhart. 3. Ekblad and if we dont pick in the top 3, if you can get value for the pick trade it, if not hopefully you can get value enough in trading down into the 8-10 range where you can safely draft Barbashev (not really sold on Draisatl (sp?)

    • DSF

      The point of D being hard to predict is exactly why you do need a flood of players in positions that are absolutely vital for a team like the Oilers in order to move forward. You carry at least 3, maybe 4 or 5 guys that project to be top pairing defencemen in hopes that at least 1 or preferably 2 of those guys actually turn out. Maybe 1 or 2 of the other potential prospects don’t quite cut it but turn into great 2nd pairing D men.

      This idea of “overstocking” the cupboards in a particular position with high potential prospects is exactly how teams like Nashville, Anaheim,& L.A. keep pumping out high level goaltending & defense.


    Oh and if we get Sam and trade for Griffin, why not see how much it would take to get Max from the Lames? Lol maybe some brotherly competition is just what Max needs to take it to the next level.

  • Serious Gord

    If Ekblad is of the board, I hope the go for Bennett. Seems a better fit for the roster.

    I don’t see how Griffin fits with the Oilers unless the plan is to trade Klefbom. The Oilers already have to many left defence prospects.

    Now, if the deal was Yakupov and Klefbom for Hamonic and one of Grabner or Clutterbuck I could see the Oilers doing it.

    Islanders defence takes a hit, but you give Tavares his Kurri.

    Oilers get a probable top pairing defender to keep Petry on second pair and a lesser RW replacement for Yakupov or a RW to play with Gordon.

  • Zarny

    Plan A should be to trade the pick.

    Not for Kyle Clifford or a package of players. That’s silly. The goal is to trade the pick for what Ekblad, Reinhart or Bennett will be in their prime.

    Never assume. Seguin was traded last year. Phi might consider a package for Couturier and Simmons. I would sweet talk Bowman about a succession plan for Seabrook and Keith. I’d talk to Bos about Lucic. I’d make David Poile specifically say the words “I won’t trade Shea Weber”. I’d anonymously mail Bergevin a video compilation of Subban acting like a spoiled brat with a CGI’d grill of gold $$$. You only need one yes. A lottery pick is something every GM is interested in.

    If MacT can’t trade the pick Ekblad or Bennett make the most sense. A bookend for Nurse or a second 1C.

    If the difference between prospects remains marginal trading down and getting Draisaitl or Dal Colle plus something useful might be the answer.

    • Holy Jebus!!
      We finally agree on something!!

      I particularly like the Couturier and Simmons package with a Colburn thrown in. Possible the 1st and….

      If a great trade doesn’t present I’m with both DSF and Rom on this, I take the big center before I take a defensemen(Sam Bennett).

      I’m really liking the 1st to Philly, both those players have length & term, this make’s a lot of sense.

  • Zarny

    There are a few things that come to mind with the draft coming up. First off the Oilers need to use this deadline in order to get back some picks in the upcoming draft. Also use it to plug a couple holes by getting a bigger player or two for the forward ranks.

    Gagner and Hemsky are the two biggest names out there as trade bait. I never liked the Clifford package from LA one bit. I think if we were going to send Gagner there then Brown should be on the way back. Either way I’d love to see the Oilers trade away Gagner for a roster player. Preferably a big bruising forward ala Dustin Brown. If we can somehow swing a deal for a top 4 defenseman then even better but to deal Gagner right now would be better for the Oilers to get a big forward for the top six.

    Hemsky as I have been saying all along gets you a higher draft pick. Some of the deals that come a long at the 11th hour are the ones that make the least sense. You’ll have Hemsky available at the final hour and some GM of a contending team will need that extra scoring help for the stretch drive. So with all of that being said the Oilers need to come out of this deadline with 1 big bruising forward for the top six 1 prospect and a high draft pick. At the draft you dangle your top five pick to a team thats willing to part with a number 2 defenseman and you use the free agency to sign a couple of veterans. Makes the most sense to me.

  • Zarny

    Sat down this Sunday afternoon to take in the Frontenacs/Sting game in Kingston and got a bird’s eye view of 5 players in the top 50 rankings: Bennett, D McKewon (KGN), F Goldobin (SRN), F Watson (KGN), and D DeAngelo (SRN).

    It was McKewon and Bennett I was paying close attention to, for Oilers sake. And I was somewhat disappointed. I have yet to “see Bennett good” this year. Yesterday, his line was outplayed by the Goldobin line for stretches and Bennett looked overworked and tired. When he loses a battle he likes to lay on the ice, picking himself up slowly, and he is almost always the last man back into the defensive zone. Don’t get me wrong, he has a gamebreaking skillset, and I admit that his job isn’t on the defensive side of things but Sam Reinhart and Michael Dal Colle are more complete players at this point in time. Hands down.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    with all due respect to those who want the 1st rounder traded for immediate help, the top 5 is just too deep to be trading it and the Oilers should just make the pick.

  • Zarny

    Many Oiler fans are getting impatient for improvement by the team. Many of the same fans are advocating for the Oilers to draft Ekblad yet it is a known fact that Dmen are less predictable and take longer to develop.

    Given the foregoing, it makes good sense to draft a 2C rather than a D man. From my perspective Bennett appears to be a very good candidate. He can score, plays 200 feet and plays fairly tough from a physical perspective if you look at his PIMs.

    If you look at Cup winning teams almost every one has had two very good Centres. Those teams that never get into contention for a cup lack this one two punch. I would prefer to see the Oilers draft a top 1C or 2C candidate this June.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I would explore trading next years 1st round pick and a 4th or prospect to Calgary or Florida for this years first round, then grab 2 centres, and develope them in OKC next year, Sammy gets the 2014-15 season to redeem himself, perhaps as high quality trade bait or 3rd line C. Nurse is going to be our #1 D in 2 years and G will be taken care of via free agency.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ain’t gonna happen! Flames and Panthers aren’t going to wait ’till next year to make a pick when both are likely going to be in the deep top 5 picks this year. an extra 4th rounder isn’t going to do it. ideally though, if it were to happen, the Oilers could end up with 2 of Ekblad, a top end d-man they need and either Bennett or Reinhart, top centers they need or Leon Draisaitl or Dal Colle, power forwards they need.

    • pkam

      First, why would Calgary or Florida trades their 1st rounder and 4th or prospect this year for their 1st rounder next year? If the table is turned, would you make that trade?

      Second, we cannot assign the players that are drafted this year to OKC. The earlier we may do it is 2015-15 depending on their birthday.

      We already have RNH as our 1C and Gordon as our 3C, not sure why we want to draft 2 more centers with our top 5 picks. And why would we would we want to trade Gagner for yet another 3C?

      Nurse is not going to be our #1D in 2 years, more like 3-5 years, and only if he pans out, which is too early to tell at this moment.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^i see what you mean and it’s tempting, but in the real world though, the Flames, Isles or Panthers won’t do this. McDavid i can understand about wanting, but the team that did this would have a fan mutiny on it’s hands. also, what happens if the Oilers pick next year is pick #12 or some such thing because they have figured out how to win more games? then you traded a high pick in 2014 for a mid round pick in 2015.

  • DSF

    TSN Power Ratings now rate Oilers at 26th and Flames dropping to 28th at Olympic break . If we finish in 26th or higher there may be a good chance our first round pick might be up for trade .

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^looked at the standings the other day and we are within arms length of not just the Flames, but now the Panthers and Isles, so there’s always a chance we could be drafting as low as 5th.

  • Rdubb

    why is it that we ALWAYS hear that it takes 3-6yrs for a drafted defense men to become NHL quality and that forwards tend to be able to jump in and make an impact a lot more quickly?
    If so, why draft another D when we drafted Nurse last yr and have more than a few young D in the wings ready to make the jump such as; MM, Fedun, Klefbom & Gernat.
    I feel Edmonton would be much better off to draft a big physical C, such as Sam Bennett, he’d fill every criteria that Edmonton is looking for in the top 6, and, it is also much easier to allow other teams develop the young D-men and then trade for them when they are perhaps 6 months to a yr from making the jump, or from trading for an NHL quality D-man or to sign one as a FA? This is where the scouts would make their money, not in drafting within the top 5 year in and year out!
    You draft good young forwards near the top of the draft and d-men and goalies more towards the middle and bottom of the draft & keep your fingers crossed that you catch a flyer, a guy who’ll end up playing in the NHL or even perhaps fill some gaps on the farm…
    Wouldn’t have a big C looked better in an Oiler silk via Yak? Don’t get me wrong, Yak will be a good player should he learn to play better defense, but I’d much have rather taken that Barkov kid that FLA took, or even Galyenchuk (you know who I mean) who MTL took, especially when our need was @ C, not on the wing…unless MacT can turn Yak over for a big skilled C?
    Just my thoughts on how the Oilers should approach the draft and coming FA frenzy..Peck