The Edmonton Oilers walked away from the 2015 NHL Draft with fewer prospects than most expected after making a number of trades, but even so the team managed to add some depth to the organization, primarily on defence, with its later picks at the annual event.
Edmonton’s selections are as follow:
- No. 1 C Connor McDavid
- No. 117 D Caleb Jones
- No. 124 D Ethan Bear
- No. 154 D John Marino
- No. 208 G Miroslav Svoboda
- No. 209 D Ziyat Paigin
After McDavid, there’s a link tying together the Oilers’ defence picks beyond just their position. Jones, Bear, Marino and Paigin all have something in common: competitiveness. Aside from Paigin, none of these guys are terribly big, but all of them rate well in terms of engaging physically with their opponents.
Jones, the younger brother of Nashville’s famous Seth, stands just 6’, but gets top marks for his competitiveness. Asked after being selected whether he played like his brother, Jones said that he did but quipped “I’m a little more of a physical and aggressive player than he is.” International Scouting Services (ISS) identify those as his best qualities, while also acknowledging that the player possesses a range of skills.
Like Jones, Bear is a guy with a lot of good points to his game but no really outstanding areas, save for his work ethic. ISS pegs “Intensity level” as the greatest strength in his game and their regional scout Mike MacPherson says that he “stands out for his compete level” and “works especially hard on the d side of the puck.”
Marino is another defenceman who is good at a lot of things, but again the standout quality is the way he engages. ISS praises his work ethic and regional scout Ed Harding says that he “plays hard” and has “very good” intensity.
Paigin might be my favourite pick of the group. The 6’5” rearguard played in the KHL last year and plays what ISS describes as “an active, intense defensive game.” According to their write-up, the 20-year-old “thrives in physical play, likes to finish hits and mix it up along the wall.” The Oilers have gone back to Russia a fair bit in recent years, and appear to have done pretty well so far; it’s possible they landed a gem here.
Svoboda is the long non-defenceman of the group; he’s a big 20-year-old Czech goalie who showed well at the most recent World Juniors but is still very much a project.
Not all of these picks will turn out for the Oilers; in fact, given where they were taken it is entirely possible that none of them will. Still, they do give us good insight into what Peter Chiarelli’s philosophy for the team will be. Edmonton didn’t spend the draft looking for Coke Machines, big players with marginal abilities in other areas; instead they drafted players who do a lot of things well but whose standout skills are things like work ethic, physical engagement and competitiveness.
It’s probably not a stretch to expect Edmonton’s NHL acquisitions to follow a similar pattern.
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