ekblad capture

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:

  1. The two best players in the draft are miles better than the third option
  2. 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. 

matty draft

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. 



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)
  • BARRIE 2013-14 EVEN STRENGTH GF-GA: 182-148 (+34)

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.


pelican cam

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)

Mr. Katsaros player reporting document is here, and I thank him so much for making it public.

    • Mason Storm

      This happens every year in Edmonton. We over analyze all the top 5 prospects cause they are dead last and have nothing to talk about except players faults.

    • 2004Z06

      So you are showing that Nurse (taken at #8) had better stats that Eckblad (projected to go #1)?

      What more evidence do you need to know this is not a good draft year.

      Trade the pick for NHL help.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      After reviewing the videos of top 5 again , I’ve come to the conclusion that Draisaitl or Virtanen are the two best for us . Both carry the play , have good shots and instincts and should best able to handle the physicality of NHL with little problem . Virtanen is the fastest skater and youngest . Draisaitl also looks like the real deal and his speed should not hamper him as well . Toss up on my top 2 .

      Hard to get a good read on Ekblad as most only show his offensive hilites . Bennett I rate 4th behind Reinhart . Not sold on Bennett . Not sure where to pencil in Ekblad , but probably in the 3-5 area .

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Does it matter who they pick? Guarantee they still suck next year no matter what 18 year old they pick this year. I’m pretty sure this “rebuild” will never get any traction with its current management. Team building is not somthing they do well

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      It’s amazing how fast fans forget about Darnell Nurse! Stud d-man, give this young man a chance to come on line & establish himself, people will not be disappointed!

    • Sorensenator

      Would you trade the #3 to buffalo for nyi 2015 and a second rounder

      We give up the three but a significant chance we get as good a playernext year plus a bonus 2nd rounder. Buffalo gets two of the top three nice to get the prospects earlier in a rebuild to reduce the development time

    • Lowetide

      Will the Oilers trade to get an additional early first round pick say to Isles or perhaps Vanc. ? The Youngest and Best skating of top ten is actually Virtanen . He is also very physical and plays all ends of ice well . Virtanen is my sleeper pick in top 5 . Wonder how well he’ll do next year ?

    • Lowetide

      Honestly this free agency Oilers have to overpay for some defensemen,centres, or size. Stastny,Ott,Kulimen,Robidas,Mezaros,Orpik,Callahan,Niskanen, and Markov are all players that could help this team. I get overpaying is bad but wasting valuable cap space on AHL players just because of the fact they know someone in the organization isn’t any better. We could use that one million we used on Joensuu(should be in the minors) to overpay for a need

    • Lowetide

      Many ways to look at these numbers, one way is if i’m playing Prince Albert
      I only have to watch 1 player, because this is where the offence goes through

    • Zarny

      One thing the math guys haven’t done is come up with a formula for the difference in birth dates for draftees.
      Seth Jones has an older birth date which if he had been born three weeks earlier would have put him in 2012 draft were he might not have cracked the top 15 considering he played in USHL.
      Ekblad has a Feb birthdate which puts him in middle age group of draftees.He also had a huge playoff when only 16 for Barrie in 2012 when the lost in OHL finals .
      Then you have Draisaitl and Reinhart with the older Oct and Nov birth dates.
      How do their older birthdates compare with Bennett’s late June birthdate.
      When you look at the improvement year to year in point totals for junior hockey players age has to be a factor .

      • Lowetide

        You can factor it into the conversation, though. I mean, one of Bennett’s key advantages is that extra six months. So, if we acknowledge it, then we should be able to use the stats as a tool as well.

    • Dan 1919

      Trading up when no one amongst the top three…er…four has separated themselves is not wise, especially when whatever centre they choose would fill as great a need as the D (in the medium term).

      If Ekblad is available at three, I pick him, but otherwise, I will be happy with a centre. My preference is Bennett. Skillwise, Reinhart and Draisaitl are similar to Nugent-Hopkins…i.e. they are playmakers. I want another guy willing to drive the danger areas like Hall, and that is Bennett. And Bennett, according to scouting reports, is already strong both ways. Reinhart is my 2nd choice, the right shot to balance out Nugent-Hopkins left, and then Draisaitl.

    • paul wodehouse

      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.

      Because they are the Oilers.

          • Lowetide

            That’s part the issue, absolutely. LD was playing with an inferior team and lesser linemates, and pushing the river. Does that make him better? I honestly don’t know. Helluva player though.

            • Lowetide

              I think it does, especially when you also account for LD’s limited North American level experience. Obviously only time will tell but I believe Draisaitl is what the Oilers need most.

              Hall-Draisaitl almost reeks of Crosby-Malkin potential. Maybe I’m off the mark but I don’t see how you can lose by picking this guy. Picking another SMALL center however could really be disastrous.

    • Dan 1919

      At this point the build through the draft coolaid has gone somewhat stale. I realistcally expect either the C or the Dman to be at least a depth centre at 3C or a depth Dman at 3-5D slot. Either of these draft choices with high upside possibility is much welcomed here in the City of Champions.

      What we really need this offseason is acquisitions of NHL Dmen and a few forwards, overpay in free agency for a few of the veteran dmen. Appear somewhat reckless if you have to. But get this team to a point of at least 9/10 in the standings so theses kids come in to compete on a real NHL team. No more of this waiting for another 18/19 year old to come in and save the rebuild.

      The idea is BUILD through the draft, not splash around in a puddle of bile drafting top three until we magically win the cup.

    • BlazingSaitls

      Whoever they pick, even Eklad, I hope the Oilers keep them in the minors. Stop the madness of rushing these kids into a losing environment expecting them to be a difference-maker.

      Rushing another young player into the NHL wont get the Oilers into the playoffs but it will, most assuredly, get them more lottery balls for the Mcdavid Sweepstakes.