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Photo Credit: Rena Laverty

Who’s up next? Part 1 – Blueliners

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.

  • Dr Dragon

    I hope the oilers will be drafting Evan Bouchard or Noah Dobson if the standings stay the same as of today… Both are great 2 way right shot dman the oilers covet so badly but who knows what Chia will do this year

      • The Whispererer

        I also like Tkachuk in the 4/10 pick range . Biggest downside i see is that he is a freshman in college so it could easily be 3 or more years before we see him in an Oiler uniform; assuming he doesn’t do what so many NCAA draftees do, which is to go to free agency after college rather than sign with the team that originally drafted them.

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      From the above descriptions, Dobson sounds like a Chia type player. Unless Chia is wanting to change his style to you keep up with he rest of the league.

    • crabman

      As an Oiler fan I would do this deal if we could make the money work with Pacioretty since he only has 1 year left before he will be looking for a big payday.( doubt we could make the money work.) But to have a perennial 30 goal scorer on McDavid’s wing who can skate and be physical would be awesome. And Galchenyuk doesn’t give up much to Nuge in the scoring department. He was drafted a Center but has spent lots of time on the wing. wonder if he could anchor a 3rd line as center and move up to the wing to load up top 2 lines.
      If I was Montreal there is no way I do this deal. Nuge isn’t a big enough upgrade from Galchenyuk, even though he is an established center. And Maroon is a clear downgrade from Pacioretty. With him becoming a UFA at seasons end unless they were sure Maroon would sign a team friendly deal he is a rental to a non playoff team or an overpaid free agent they could get for just the money in the off season. awful trade for Montreal.

      • Big Nuggets

        As a Nuge fan I would agree it is a good deal, assuming Pacioretty could sign long term. But people still like to assume Drai or Galchenyuk can fill the hole left by Nuge, I dont think its that easy. Neither Drai or Galy have got the job done at center. I have faith Drai will be a dominant center one day but right now Nuge is our man who can line up against top lines and win the 5 on 5 battle. As well he is good on the PP and is one of our only established PKers. Not to mention he is heading into his prime years already under contract. Pacioretty will get over 6 mil on his next contract. I don’t think I would do that deal even though personel-wise its pretty good. Chia has already done a poor job managing the cap; this deal would create further problems unless they could move one of our unmoveable contracts.
        I think the best course of action is try to reverse course on some.of Chias moves and develop some of our own cheap wingers. Keep Nuge for the remainder of
        his contract as these are the years his deal was meant to have better value.
        To solve our cap crunch next season try to trade Russell, Sekera or Lucic, barring that I think there are no easy fixes, we just have to find some cheap winger who can gel with our center depth.

  • TKB2677

    Boqvist or Dobson would be the guys I would look too because they are right handed. No interest what so ever in left shooting US college dman that is Hughes. How many of these college dmen ever live up to the hype? Not a lot.

      • crabman

        Yeah, I think the difference is the highly rated, high draft pick Dman from college typically work out. So drafting one shouldn’t be a concern. The ones that sometimes don’t work out are the later round picks that don’t sign right away and have good college years upping their perceived value before entering free agency. Especially the ones that come on offensively in their final year or two. those guys seem to be more hit or miss.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I REALLY like the crop of potential top blue liners in this draft, remind me of the year Hanifin, Provorov and Werenski went near the top of the draft. I fear though that the always forward centric Oilers aren’t going to wait to develop a potential #1 d- man and do what they do most 1st rounds….take yet another forward. Sigh!

  • wayne overland

    I have to think the Oil will be concentrating on a forward, all things beings equal rather than D. The Oil have tons of D prospects in pro hockey, although how high end they are might be debatable, (i.e. Jones, Bear, Mantha, Simpson) but virtually now prospects on the forwards in pro hockey.

  • Oiler Al

    Watched the Leafs/Islanders game last……Leafs were missing Riley and Hainsey.Was eyeing the D men moving the puck out of thwir zone. and would say 80% of the plays the puck is carried out or a crisp pass to the forward in the neutral zone…..none of this ringing it up the boards all nite long to no mans land, ala the Oilers.
    Need a new coach who isnt stuck in the 90’s.

  • OilersFan999

    I would be great to have one of these great defensive prospects but the suckey thing is that they are not close to nhl ready unless they have massive amounts of growth so the closest right shooting puck moving Defenceman is eathan bear and he will most likely take another year in the AHL before he is ready

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      not every high 1st rounder the Oilers pick has to be NHL ready. and their historic lack of patience when it comes to drafting potential high end d-men is one reason why we don’t have any because they sure as hell haven’t been signing here!