The Edmonton Oilers will get a ticket in the lottery April 30, and with their considerable ability to win lotteries, we should probably start at the top when discussing possible draft targets. This year, the top option is a 6.02, 194-pound forward who is described as an elite offensive talent. If the Edmonton Oilers win the lottery, and draft Auston Matthews, what will it mean? I think we are talking an earthquake of biblical proportions.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) March 28, 2016
No matter what team you cheer for, it is very obvious winning the lottery in 2016 has high value. How high? One way we can begin to look at the issue is through NHL Equivalencies. Gabriel Desjardins fine work on the subject was groundbreaking, and with the exception of tweaks in how much air to let out of the tires, remains the industry standard. Desjardins in his own words is here.
For our purposes, I am using Christian Roatis’ calculator, and it is here.
Here are the NHL equivalencies for the last six No. 1 overall selections in their draft year, with Matthews slotted in. Numbers are total points per 82gp, which is the universal way of stating NHLE.
- Connor McDavid 2015 (66.99 points)
- Taylor Hall 2010 (48.7 points)
- Nail Yakupov 2012 (43.1 points)
- Auston Matthews 2016 (41.91 points)
- Nathan MacKinnon 2013 (36.34 points)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011 (34.0 points)
- Aaron Ekblad 2014 (23.98 points)
A couple of points. First, Matthews is playing in a pro league, making the comparisons more difficult. Connor McDavid played in a junior league where he would probably play more—more time-on-ice, more power-play time—so we should asterisk the Matthews line and make sure to keep that in mind. That said, this is an impressive total, and Matthews overall scouting reports suggest a can’t-miss prospect along the lines of Jack Eichel.
ICYMI: A comparison b/w Auston Matthews & Jack Eichel. Scouts, players, analysts offer their opinions. https://t.co/iYNn11bNQo
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) March 29, 2016
Auston Matthews (from the link above) on his style compared to Jack Eichel: “We’re both pretty big guys and we like to have the puck on our stick;
we’re both power forwards. I think the style of
our game might be a little bit different. Jack is obviously an
unbelievable skater. I’ve never seen somebody skate like him. He has a
great shot and is really powerful. I kind of am a little bit quicker in
the corners and stuff with my hands. I try to use my hands and vision a
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) March 24, 2016
Elite Prospects: A high octane dynamo that thrives under the microscope, Auston Matthews
is a complete offensive forward who consistently boasts quick hands,
feet, and thinking at both ends of the ice. Naturally nimble skater that
accelerates to top speed very quickly. An unwavering focus on fine
tuning elements of his own game facilitates confidence and competence in
his young, but mature, mind. Prolific goal scoring ability and doesn’t
wait for opportunities to show themselves. He makes his own luck, so to
speak, maximizing the use of his body and stick to gain leverage against
the toughest of opponents. All-in-all, a generational talent that has
the potential to develop into a top flight franchise center. (Curtis
Joe, EP 2016) Source
Dan Marr, Central Scouting Director: “He would have been right at the
top of that mix. We would have had a healthy discussion and debate as
who they would want as No. 1. Just talent wise, Connor has the cleverness, creativeness and
finesse to his game where I would say Auston has more the power forward
game where he’s really driven on the play but his puck skills are just
as good.” Source
Craig Button, TSN: Watching Matthews, I see a player capable of impacting the game in
multiple ways. The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder is an excellent skater who can
beat opponents with speed or quickness and is capable of executing plays
at high speed. His passing skills are precise and he has the ability to
score off the rush, off the cycle, from a distance, from in close. He
has the intelligence of high-end players and exudes an uncommon
confidence. He swats away obstacles as though they are merely irritating
Dennis Schellenberg, Hockey Prospectus: Although he is listed at 6-2 and 194, he is an agile skater who can move
around on the ice without losing speed. He is able to make fast turns
and does not get outskated. His skating balance is good which makes it
hard for opponents to knock him off the puck with a quiet check.
Matthews’ top speed is decent and helps him to start rushes in his own
zone through the neutral zone without getting outskated. His first
strides are powerful and he hits full speed within 3-4 strides. Although
he has a good skating balance and leg strength, he isn’t an extremely
explosive skater but can get rid of opponents in the corners with a few
quick turns. He doesn’t have the “burner tag” though, but that could
also be because of his size which does not allow him to a dancer with
the puck. Source
Kirk Luedeke, The Scouting Post: The big center can really skate and push the offensive pace of a
game- he has the skill and sense to bring a finesse style. However, with
his big frame that is still filling out, he also has the ability to
bull his way to the net, protect the puck on the cycle and excel in the
greasy areas of the ice. In short? Matthews is the total package. Source
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
In a just world, Edmonton would have finished higher in the 2015-16 standings. You can blame the players, the management, the coaching staff, the bells of Merthyr, injuries, that blasted puck or your neighbor. We are here. All the available evidence says Auston Matthews is the No. 1 option, and that any team would be lucky to have him. Including Edmonton.