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.

  • Chainsawz

    What are “lottery picks” anyway? I hear the term “lottery team” used by bloggers on this site and I’m not sure if they understand the changes to the draft lottery after the CBA was ratified. Every non-playoff team is a “lottery team” with a shot at first overall.

    • Rick Stroppel


      Google “NHL Draft Odds and History” and you will find an article that explains it quite nicely. EVERY team that misses the playoffs has a theoretical chance at first overall. Before 2013, a team could only move up a maximum of four spots, meaning only the bottom five teams had a chance at number one. Now, for instance, the team that finishes seventeenth overall, missing the playoffs by one place, has a 0.5 chance of picking first overall (one chance in 200).

      So every team that misses the playoffs is a “lottery team”.

  • DSF


    Francesco Acquilinni, the Canucks owner, met with the team last night after the Toronto game, to assure them that he believes the Canucks are on the right track under Gillis.

    This is usually the “Kiss of Death” for someone in the organization when the owner says this, when healthy the have a good defense but I don’t see the secondary scoring coming after the break either.
    The Sedin’s have been two of the best players in the league since the 05 lockout but to me it looks like their bodies are starting to breakdown from all the abuse, I don’t follow their prospects too closely, do they have a Calvary coming from their system?

    • DSF

      Who knows about how solid Gillis’ footing really is but I would imagine he’ll get cut some slack because of all the injuries.

      He actually has done some pretty good work in finding actual NHL players in unusual places.

      He picked up Ryan Stanton on waivers and he’s been really solid.

      He also picked up Mike Santorelli on waivers and he was having a pretty nice season (49GP 10G 18A 28P +9) but he’s out for the season.

      Gillis also picked up Yannik Webber and Rafael Diaz for spare parts but his D have been dropping like flies.

      All of Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler, Tanev, Stanton and Alberts have been injured since January so it’s not surprising they’ve been losing but those injuries certainly don’t explain why their goal scoring has dropped off the map.

      Burrows, for example has ZERO goals in 28 games.

      Daniel and Henrik were very good to start the season and then fell into an elevator shaft.

      Some pundits think it’s because Tortorella has played them too much and had them killing penalties and there may be something to that.

      Among forwards in TOI/G, Kesler is 1st in the league and the Sedins rank 5th and 6th.

      As for their prospects, their system looks quite a bit better than a couple of years ago with Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk (injured) Brendan Gaunce, Niklas Jensen and Frankie Corrado all playing either in junior or in the AHL.

      And one move that may pay off is the signing of C Dane Fox.

      He is an undrafted over ager who is tearing up the OHL (53GP 55G 35A 90P +36).

      Interestingly enough, Fox plays on a line with Calgary Flames 6th round pick Connor Brown who leads the OHL in scoring with 107P.

      Hard to read overagers…but that some serious offensive pop.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Gillis is a really interesting GM. He’s exceptional at finding bargain value. Really elite level.

        But, a lot of picks higher up the chart blow up in his face.

        His worst move might just be the coach shuffle. That team isn’t built for Torts’ style revolution. AV’s hard zone push makes a lot more sense… and worked a lot better.

        Burrows has a league worst PDO… luck couldn’t have picked a nicer guy to eff with 😉

        • DSF

          If anything takes Gillis down it will be all the no trade clauses he’s handed out.

          8 of them on an older team is just too many.

          I agree on the coaching shuffle…I think AV needed to go because it appeared his message was stale but Torts style doesn’t seem suited to the team.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            He’s had some FA trouble.

            The NMC/NTC hinder his movement, but for the most part that is all they do. Most players are happy to relent… it’s really just about limiting your options, not closing them off.

            I’d think buyers would show up for nearly all these guys:

            Burrows would be the hardest sell. But as I mentioned… worst PDO in the league. So, he’ll probably rebound… having that cage off will help.

            I think another coach would have been better than Torts, but the best option would have been to stick with AV IMO. I’m not really sure how much weight to put on “losing the room”… but I’d think it would have to be really bad to pull rank over results.

  • Spydyr

    I don’t think a team should draft for need at the top of the draft. That said, I think it would be easy to argue that EDM “needs” a C more than a D in their prospect pipeline.

    They don’t have many young RD coming through the system, but they do already have Petry and J.Schultz so they may not view that as an area of need.

    They do have a bunch of young D already, in Nurse, Marincin, and Klefbom, while they don’t have much for skilled F’s.

    I’m not as convinced as LT that they take Ekblad, if available, unless they see him as the clear BPA, which I’m not sure is the case based on the things I’ve read.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The most credible recent source we’ve had on Hemsky’s value is this:

    “Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish has been calling around to get a blueliner to replace D Ladislav Smid, who was dealt down the street to Calgary. The Oilers need help everywhere, however, teams are asking for young players in return. “They want to do something but they overrate their players which means the prices are high,” said a league executive. He should be able to get a top pick for UFA RW Ales Hemsky”

    I’m guessing “top pick” means late first round, which makes sense from a playoff push team.

        • DSF

          I don’t think so.

          GM’s traditionally have overpaid at the trade deadline when they have a specific need and Pittsburgh desperately needs a scoring winger.

          Depres was the Penguins 30th overall pick in 2009 and, with the emergence of Olli Matta, and with Derek Pouliot in the pipeline, I think the Oilers could grab him.

          Pouliot BTW is ripping up the WHL with 52P in 42 GP

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Could be.

        I don’t know which MacT would prefer the pick of the player. I also don’t know enough about Depres to know if he matches the value of a late 1st.

        Ottawa always sounds like they are interested in Hemsky.

        I hope they re-sign him. But we’ll see.

        Now… watch him break a wrist in Sochi and it all falls apart.

  • DSF

    Another blog about the coming top draft pic?
    Indicative that this team sucks. Utterly sucks.
    While I am cautiously optimistic that the Oilers can achieve good things – as demonstrated by the past 5 or 6 games – I do believe that we need to get better yesterday and that our top pick must be dealt for D help now.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      The Oiler’s pipeline of d men isn’t that shabby either, they just need one or two better vets so the don’t have to rush Nurse or Klefbom.
      I am betting they trade the pick for help as well but not till the draft, wouldn’t it be funny if the Canucks keep free-falling and they pick before the Oilers, then Mr Gillis will get his walking papers, I can see them hiring DSF to replace him.

      • DSF

        Francesco Acquilinni, the Canucks owner, met with the team last night after the Toronto game, to assure them that he believes the Canucks are on the right track under Gillis.

        Article here if you’re interested:

        Certainly a Jekyll and Hyde story there.

        The Canucks went 10-1-2 in December and then the wheels fell off in January.

        Having as many as 4 of your top 6 D out at the same time as well as injuries to Burrows, Santorelli and now Henrik Sedin has no doubt taken a toll on the team but their almost total lack of goal scoring is very curious.

        If there is one team that might benefit from the Olympic break, I would have to think it is the Canucks but I expect they will still have some serious issues if they can’t get back to scoring at a more reasonable pace.

  • Word to the Bird

    If the oilers can stay in bottom so they pick in top three the draft has everything they want.
    Two elite centres who are scoring at same rate as MacKinnon and are defensively responsible and a big defenceman who is on pace to score more goals than any defenceman picked in top five in the past ten years.
    Now if they just don’t go on another meaningless win streak like they did last year it will be all good.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    We have clear problems at 2C, and 1/2 D.

    If we land in the bottom 4 we have a prospect that addresses a need, so we win.

    My preference,

    Reinhart – solidify centre for years, maybe a 1C

    Ekblad – seems you have to draft a 1/2 D, rare to get in a trade

    Bennett – bigger, skilled 2C seem a perfect fit for us

    Draisaitl – if we don’t get the top three….

  • Word to the Bird

    Allan I would be most interested in what you think Hemsky could fetch in a year where the talent pool is considered shallow?

    If guys like N. Schultz/Potter fetch a third rounder, then do you think a team picking in the latter part of the first round would offer a first round pick for Hemsky?

    The thinking is that these assets at the draft allow for real hockey deals to be made. Perhaps we could package this with a player to get a top two defenceman?

    • Lowetide

      I have NO connections, believe me. However, I have been told on-air and read on-line that Hemsky’s value on the open market is surprisingly low.

      That was in the past, and maybe had to do with injury. However, I do think that most people would be disappointed with the return.

      Example: I was told by a very credible Edmonton newspaper person that the best deadline offer for Hemsky before he signed last time was a second and a fourth.

      • Thanks Allan………..for what he would fetch I think it would be prudent on our part to keep him, he seems to be finally coming around. That is if we can can sign him to a “value contract”……..he may be motivated to stay for a two year deal ?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    If the Oilers trade with the Islanders I hope Okposo is the guy coming back, has a mean streak, puts up 20+ goals a year, and signed for 2 more yrs on the cheap.

    EDIT: unless of course Tavares asks for a trade.

    • Kodiak

      Yeah, shouldn’t be hard to get Okposo from the Islanders. He’s only 8th in scoring in the entire league with a cap hit of $2.8m for two more years. *facepalm*

  • Word to the Bird

    As much as this team needs a top Pairing D… I am just too leary of drafting a D man in the top 5. The 2C position is almost as glaring a need so I would like to see either Reinhart or Bennet drafted this year.

    I have a feeling that they are going to move up in the standings however and will be looking at the 5th pick by draft day. That being the case, I think a trade would be the right move.

  • TayLordBalls

    Griffin Reinhart plays angry and with an edge:

    “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”


    …almost a Pronger

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see you rate Barbashev so high.

    I’m big on him too. If we were picking in the 8-12 range he’d be my target for sure.

    With him there might be some concern about how true a center he is.

    I still favor Draisaitl to the others. I don’t do D in the first 10-15 picks and of the Cs available, he strikes me as the best fit for the Oil.

    I think Oiler fans would sour on him pretty quick though. Not enough dickishness in him.

  • Word to the Bird

    I could see the Oilers passing the Flames with a late season push if they continue their strong play as of late. If that were to happen, would Calgary pick up Ekblad ahead of us just like Monahan last year?

  • Randaman

    I see Buffalo selecting either Reinhart or Bennett as they are loaded on defence. Maybe they work a deal with someone for a top tier forward/centre and draft Ekblad?
    Personally I think Bennett is our best option. Comparison is Doug Gilmour, his G.M by the way. Not to shabby if you ask me. We need a gritty skilled centre more than Ekblad with what we have coming up. Nurse, Klefbom, Gernat, etc. the cupboards are pretty bare at the centre position.
    Maybe Monohan becomes available if Ekblad is still on the board when the time comes. That is if we pick before Calgary which I think will not be the case.
    Lots of scenarios will be in play before then so who really knows.
    If Ekblad is who we pick, I am fine with the twin towers anchoring our defence for many years.
    Maybe they trade the pick for a #2 centre + ?

  • Starving Student

    Death Rattle? Suck Bile for Draisaitl!

    Is there no interest in Nick Ritchie? What are your thoughts on Brendan Lemieux in the 2nd? We could use a little of what he brings if he plays anything like his pops.

  • DSF

    Assuming Buffalo picks 1st, I think it highly unlikely they’ll take a D with so many blue chip D prospects already in their system.

    Tyler Meyers – 24

    Brayden McNabb -23

    Mark Pysyk -22

    Rasmus Ristolainen – 19

    Nikita Zadorov -18

    Having said that, I think they’ll jump on the best available C.

    And, of course they may have another top 5 pick if the NYI decide to let them take it this year.

    They could also end up with a couple more late first rounders if or when they trade Miller and Moulson.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I think you need to put the two thoughts together.

      I was thinking no way BUF takes Ekblad because of all the young D too until I realized how many top picks they may have.

      It really depends on where the other picks fall and if they want a D from that range or a F… who knows how their scouting team ranks these players.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I just don’t think we can know.

          As DSF notes the chain of D in Buf is really strong… but who knows.

          Everyone thought the AVS would for sure take Jones (who looks greatly superior to Ekblad) because they had so many Fs, esp Cs, not to mention the emotionalism of it all… and look what happened.

      • DSF

        Given Buffalo’s loaded D pipeline I would be surprised if they took a D in the first round.

        Last season, Columbus had 3 first round picks (albeit no #1 overall) and picked 2 C’s and a LW.

        I would imagine Buffalo will follow the same strategy although they might take a D if they end up with 4 first round picks.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I think there’s a good chance. But there’s really no way to know.

          At any rate, most of the Fs in the top are Cs and there’s not a lot of separation. If this continues, it will come down to scouting preferences.

  • Oilers need to draft a goalie this year, in the top 5 rounds. We pretty much have only two G prospects in the whole system, Bunz and Brossoit, and I don’t think Bunz is going to pan out. If we can trade Smyth for a second rounder and we draft a really good G prospect, I think that would be best.

  • DSF

    Draft Reinheart and then trade for both Reinhearts would make for such a ridiculous media fueled story that I can almost see it happening. Lowe would probably try to equate it to having all the Staal brothers or something because he’s a winner.

    • Lowetide

      Islanders need to recover this coming season, expectations are higher as they ready for the move to Brooklyn. I think Griffin Reinhart could be had, suspect a more established player would be the ask.

      So, that’s what I’m thinking. Griffin Reinhart for an NHL player.

      • Randaman

        Interesting possibility. Does Gagner + a second rounder next year get that done? I have my doubts but with Snow in charge who knows.
        Headline: Snow trades for Snow Pants. LOL

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Lowetide, why would we trade for Griffin Reinhart, a 3/4 defensemam at the next level. G Reinhart reminds me of Luke Schenn. We have too many of those type of D man. (Kleffboom, Mauricin, Petry,) What a wasted trade. We need to trade for Dman that young, established in the NHL, can play 1/2 minutes with term on there contract.

      • Randaman

        Ugh. Can the Oilers really afford to trade any more NHL players for prospects and rookies. If this trade happens and it could just because Oil Kings. Doesn’t that mean the Oilers starting lineup next year may have 4 rookie defenseman and a rookie 2C in Reinhart. 🙁 blah