We absolutely love Cam Talbot’s optimism when he says the Oilers are going to make the playoffs.
But, unfortunately, the rest of us have to trudge through something called ‘the real world’ on a day-to-day basis, and in that dreary, dark place, there will likely be no postseason dance in Edmonton this spring.
It’s hard to see exactly where the Oilers will be drafting come June, could be anywhere from top-3 to Nos. 11 or 12, but what isn’t hard to predict is the needs the club will be chasing. Edmonton is more than solid up the middle, maybe the best in the NHL at centre, but responsible, offensive defencemen and highly talented, skilled wingers will be a top priority of the scouting and management team come draft time.
Luckily, this year’s crop of draft eligibles offers a lack of franchise centremen but a plethora of productive, puck-moving D-men and high-scoring, offensively adept wingers for the Oilers to sink their teeth into.
Here are a few draft-eligible defenceman (not named Rasmus Dahlin) that could be throwing on the Blue and Orange during the first round on Draft day.
(All rankings courtesy of EliteProspects.com)
Quinn Hughes – Defenceman, University of Michigan
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound blueliner fits the trend of smaller, mobile defencemen that have been making their way to the top of the draft in recent years. In its pre-season rankings, ISS (International Scouting Services), labelled Hughes as a “supremely gifted skater and puck handler who has the ability to control a game from the back end.”
Hughes collected bronze with Team USA at this year’s World Juniors and has 15 points in 24 games as a freshman rearguard with Michigan.
Adam Boqvist – Defenceman, Almtuna IS (Sweden)
Another smaller blueliner, Boqvist is the highest-rated defenceman aside from shoe-in No. 1 overall pick Dahlin among many scouts. The young Swede is gifted offensively, an excellent skater, can change gears without hesitation, and loves carrying the puck, according to the ISS.
Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects labels Boqvist as “a complete offensive defenceman that knows how to get the puck from point A to the back of the net, and can make it happen all by himself.”
Ty Smith – Defenceman, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Also listed at just 5-10, Smith is a smooth, offensively-gifted defenceman who can take over a game with his skating alone. He posted 32 points for Spokane as a rookie in 2016-17, and has followed that up by tallying a whopping 47 points in 48 games this season.
ISS says that Smith is an “elite skating defender whose upside is not far off from the top defenders in the 2018 class.”
Noah Dobson – Defenceman, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Dobson had a stellar rookie season in the Quebec league, and has followed that up with an utterly dominant second season so far, posting 11 goals and 48 points in 48 games this season. At 6-foot-3, Dobson has the size and reach advantage over the blueliners listed above, while remaining a very strong skater and puck-moving threat.
“Soft hands and a deadly shot accentuate his ability to get creative, on occasion. Rock solid defensively, his strong positioning severely limits time and space for the opposition. All-in-all, a well-rounded, reliable, and consistent defenceman that can log a lot of ice time and provide his team with a stable presence on the back end,” according to Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects.