The Edmonton Oilers will get an outstanding prospect at No. 3 overall at this season’s draft. The top three (Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett) would all address major need, and the No. 4 guy is a ‘perfect fit’ big center if you believe the draft services like Red Line Report. What should the Oilers do?
What would it cost to trade up from No. 3 to No. 1? According to the Schuckers draft pick value chart the Oilers could deal No. 3 and No. 91 and it would be considered full value.Draft Chart
However, the actual cost may be greater—possibly a second round pick in next year’s deep draft, or a promising (but not yet established) prospect like Greg Chase or Marco Roy. In order for the deal to work in Edmonton’s favor, the club would have to be convinced that:
- The two best players in the draft are miles better than the third option
- Those two players would be selected 1 and 2.
I don’t believe that to be the case, but there are Oiler fans who are convinced Edmonton is going to take a poor option at No. 3 overall. I’m not sure HOW they’re reached the conclusion, but let’s leave that aside for now.
Based on what we know about the three centers, its difficult for me to argue the Oilers are going to move heaven and earth to get their choice of player. In fact, based on what we know, there’s every chance the center they value MOST (reportedly Leon Draisaitl) is the one who will definitely be available when they select No. 3 overall.
Now, if the Oilers are dealing up, it’s for Ekblad, Draisaitl should be there. If the Oilers are going to trade up for him, I’d imagine the club would be convinced he was absolutely the best talent available, by so much it warrants a sweetener to get them there. Edmonton can’t be happy with the actual idea of selecting first overall, good lord they’ve been there more often than any team in captivity.
EKBLAD EVEN STRENGTH
Aaron Ekblad is not Seth Jones’ offensive equal at even strength (in their respective draft seasons). Is he a better player overall at the discipline? Well, until now we only had anecdotal information and scouting words, but there is now GF-GA information available to us for even strength scoring. This allows us to compare players and their on-ice scoring records, while also keeping overall team metrics in mind. Let’s compare Jones and Ekblad and their teams.
- PORTLAND 2012-13 EVEN STRENGTH GF-GA: 239-126 (+113)
- SETH JONES PORTLAND ON-ICE GF-GA: 77-35 (+42)
- BARRIE 2013-14 EVEN STRENGTH GF-GA: 182-148 (+34)
- AARON EKBLAD BARRIE ON-ICE GF-GA: 69-61 (+8)
What does that tell us? Well, the Portland Winterhawks were an insane hockey team by anyone’s standards, scoring 113 more goals at even strength than their opponents did against them. Jones’ number is impressive, especially considering he was the go-to guy against the other team’s best opponent.
For Ekblad, it’s a different team story. The Barrie Colts were a good team this year, but not a great one. They scored 34 more goals during the entire season than their opponents, or .5 of a goal per game (68 games a season in the OHL).
Gus Katsaros of McKeen’s hockey did all the hard work in establishing the database, and has a neat way of posting the numbers. He calls it equal strength goal difference, and it’s a great way to put things on a straight line. Let’s compare each player to his team:
- Seth Jones 2.20 (77/35=2.20)
- Portland: 1.90 (239/126=1.8968)
That means, that despite (likely) playing tougher opponents, Jones actually outperformed his team. Now, we don’t have TOI totals so need to be careful on this, but given the information available we can safely assume Jones was exactly as he appeared—an impact junior on a historically brilliant team.
- Aaron Ekblad 1.13 (69/61=1.13)
- Barrie: 1.23 (182/148=1.23)
As you can see, Ekblad performed slightly worse than his team in goals for-against ON at even strength during this past season. It doesn’t mean he’s a poor prospect—hell, he’s clearly an outstanding one—but it does mean that while on the ice at even strength in their draft seasons Seth Jones had more good things happening, despite his team’s insane ability when he was off the ice.
A quick final note about GP. I did not adjust for games missed, and Jones played 61 of Portland’s 72 games (missing 11) while Ekblad played 58 of 68 Barrie games, missing 10. I’ll leave it to the superior math of pretty much everyone around me to figure out an answer to that problem.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
This is a new way of looking at things, and honestly will take some time to suss out. It appears to me as though the Oilers would be better off waiting for No. 3 and then taking a center.
- Sam Bennett was 1.78 on a team that was 1.28 (+.5)
- Sam Reinhart was 1.47 on a team that was 1.07 (+.4)
- Leon Draisaitl was 1.11 on a team that was .88 (+.23)