It was a very busy draft day for the Edmonton Oil Kings this year. Not only did the team hold three of the top 23 selections, but GM Randy Hansch also made three trades.
For the first time in franchise history, the Oil Kings held the first overall selection. Their previous high was second overall in 2010 when they picked Curtis Lazar, which worked out tremendously for the organization.
With their pick, they selected Dylan Guenther, a right-shooting forward from the Northern Alberta Extreme Bantam Prep Program.
Guenther had an incredible 17/18 season, posting 103 points in 30 games played. While not very many had Guenther going first overall, most would say that he has the best offensive instincts of anyone in the class.
I like the pick for the Oil Kings, they lack offense and although Guenther won’t be able to contribute next year, he should be a part of the next wave of young forwards that includes 2017 fourth overall pick Jake Neighbours.
The team also picked 20th and used it on Airdrie Xtreme defenseman Keagan Slaney. The left-shooting d-man finished the year just a shade over a point per game.
They also had the first pick in the second round of the Bantam Draft and selected another forward in Kobe Verbicky from Yale Hockey Academy. The forward had 44 points in 30 bantam games this season.
In between those selections, the team made three separate trades.
The first saw forward Nick Bowman packaged with a 6th round pick and sent to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for 20-year-old forward Vince Loschiavo.
They also sent Kobe Mohr to the Kamloops Blazers for another 20-year-old in Quinn Benjafield and a 4th round pick.
I’m a big fan of both of these moves. The team has no 20-year-olds returning to their team, so they had both the need and flexibility to bring in some impact players. Loschiavo is coming off of a down year where he had just 36 points, but he’s only one year removed from an outstanding 57 point campaign.
Benjafield has been developing well throughout his WHL career and has seen his point total jump in each of his four seasons. He’s been in the league since he was 16 and with over 250 games of WHL experience, he could be primed for a great final season of junior hockey.
The pieces they sent out weren’t very significant either. Mohr had been with the team for three seasons but had never really grown into anything more than a bottom-six energy player. The same can be said for Bowman, who had decent speed but couldn’t find the offence necessary to play on a skilled line.
The team finished the day by sending forward Davis Murray to the Kootenay Ice for a 3rd round pick. Another move that simply trims some of the fat off this teams forward group.
At the end of the day, the Oil Kings are better set up for success in 2018-19 because of the trades that Randy Hansch made and in a great position for long-term success thanks to their three early selections.