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.

  • Jason Gregor

    I live in Kingston and have had a chance to see Bennett play quite a bit this year. I forecast him as a 2nd line playmaking NHL centre. He plays more on the PK than I thought he would for his young age and he is deadly in the offensive zone. It’s funny how easily “plays with an edge” can be spun in the scouting world. The kid definitely has an attitude, pretty sure I would too if I was the best player on my team and slated to go to “the show;” but as far as being hard-nosed or hard-edged, I don’t see it. Good player but I am not sure how much more he gives you than Red Deer’s Conner Bleakley — who made the Oil Kings look silly in December.

    Imo, the Oilers should trade the pick and get that veteran D-man they need.

  • Bucknuck

    It’s weird that the idea of the Oilers picking in the to five doesn’t make me nearly as excited as it used to. Having said that, I would be very happy with another centre or a D-man with the pick. It certainly can’t hurt.

    • A-Mc

      Well-put. At this point, though top picks should still be good players long-run, I’m just not thrilled. What, so we can have more “potential”, and yet be unable to actually turn that into a solid season, much less run at the Cup?

      I’d rather see us trade the pick, and whatever else we need, to show significant, marked improvement by next season. I dont want “improvement”, I want finishing in at least top 20, if not top half, of the league

  • A-Mc

    I believe the Oilers should draft a centre this year. Either Draisaitl or Bennett would be fantastic. With them you know pretty well what you are getting. If the Oilers draft Ekblad, the potential time line until he has an impact on their NHL line up is unpredictable and longer. Furthermore, most of the undisputed #1 D men in the NHL were drafted further down the draft than one would expect.
    In any event, every player is an asset and at some point a very good forward can get you a very good D man.

  • A-Mc

    As far as i’m concerned there is really only 2 options, based almost entirely on size (assuming skill is so even up at the top anyway):

    Ekblad or Draisaitl. Either of the Sam’s could work out as well but when i think about taking one of them, i get the feeling that we’re missing out on something that we NEED more than more skill: Size. These kids are skilled, this we know. For my money, i’m picking one of the 2 big kids.

    It’s a pipe dream but i just had a short day dream where we traded Yakupov to Buffalo for the 2nd overall pick (Oilers pick 1st overall of course), and we snag BOTH Ekblad and Draisaitl #1/2. oooOoOOOoOOoooo

    *snaps out of his fantasy*

    • Randaman

      Would you trade Yak & Eberle for their pick? That is what it would take. If I was Murray, that would be bare minimum. I would make that deal. I would even add a second rounder in 2015. That is BOLD!!

    • Jason Gregor

      …I’m speechless…

      If the Oilers management agree with your thinking process then we will keep on sucking for a very long time.

      Seriously, this year that draft has already been considered as one of the weakest talent pool that we had in recent years. Drafting a D in early round has not been working out that well for most of the team. If you want size then it is better to just trade for some other team’s third line players instead of drafting unproven rookies.

  • Sorensenator

    I’m sorry but if the Oilers fail to grab Ekblad they didn’t do their job. I will be pissed if they draft another forward it’s time to take a page out of Nashville’s book.

  • Jason Gregor

    I believe MacT and his staff have decided this is a weak draft 2014 after maybe the top 10.

    I do believe that is why Oilers traded their 2nd and 3rd round picks.

    If it was my choice I would go after a big skilled Center. Oilers do have potential dept on defence.

  • Jason Gregor

    Playin’ bad for Ekblad!

    Seriously though, let’s say we get 1st overall pick this year…the 4th in a 5 year span. At what point do you stop drafting the “Best Player Overall” (ie: almost always a skilled forward) and take a positional need instead? If Bennett and Reinhart are available when the Oilers pick, and for conversation sake let’s say they’re ranked higher than Ekblad, would you take Ekblad anyways?

    A further thought for comparison is in the last 7-10 years, when have the Oilers been able to get an impact player in another way (ok, I guess they made a trade for Perron, and Penner was a RFA pickup)? Or will they be able to get their coveted Dman in another way?

    We’ve passed up Bogosian, Larsson, and Murray for Hall, Nuge and Yak. I’d take those same guys if I was there again, but now we’re in a different spot and we need a dman.

    • Jason Gregor

      Bogosian was drafted 3rd overall in 2008…Oilers didn’t pass on him. I assume you meant Gudbranson…

      If Ekblad is available when they pick, I’d be shocked if they didn’t take him…

      • A-Mc

        Yes, my bad…it seems our counterparts at Flamesnation feel the same way…

        I guess my point is more about the theory than the actual players. I’d take Edblad too, #1 overall. What if he’s gone though? If Flames continue to score less than a goal a game, they’ll take 1st overall.

        So let’s say Ekblad goes #1 and we pick #3. Do we take the next best dman or do we go for (yet another) skilled forward (these guys don’t seem any bigger than Hall, in fact maybe a bit smaller, not that Hall is small, just that he’s not big)?