Draft Report Card: Quality Over Quantity

I declare the 2018 NHL Draft a success for Peter Chiarelli and his scouting staff. I think most of us were thinking the same thing as the Oilers flew into Dallas for the weekend. Most of you were nervous about a trade, possibly one-for-one, but confident in Chiarelli’s ability to navigate a draft.

Let’s take a look at the Oilers Draft Report Card. I’ve decided to go report card style to recap the draft in honour of my teacher wife who’s been working on report cards for three weeks. I’ve been telling her that her students are in Grade One, give them a smiley face sticker and move on, that doesn’t go over well.

Prospect: Evan Bouchard

Round of Selection: 1st Round – 10th overall

Prospect’s Position: Defense

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Skills & Abilities:

– Evan has done a great job this season carrying his teammates on a nightly basis.
– Evan does a great job passing the puck to keep his teammates involved.
– Evan shoots the puck very hard.
– Evan is a leader on and off the ice.
– Evan is responsible at both ends of the ice.

Needs To Work On:

– Evan needs to work on his quickness. This won’t be a problem for him but improving it would certainly help him.

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Oilers Summary:

By doing nothing at all Peter Chiarelli ended up getting the thing his team needed the most. The Oilers needed a right shot d-man with offensive upside more than a scoring winger and Bouchard’s closer to helping now than Dobson.

Bouchard has everything a player requires to develop into a top pairing right shot d-man who can play on your top power-play and on the penalty kill.

Overall Grade of Oilers Selection A

Prospect: Ryan McLeod

Round of Selection: 2nd Round – 40th overall

Prospect’s Position: Center

Skills & Abilities:

– Ryan is a better skater than the majority of his teammates.
– Ryan understands how to play the game in his own end of the ice.
– Ryan shows the ability to compete.
– Ryan reminds me a lot of his older brother Michael.
– Ryan has shown flexibility this year playing left wing at times.   

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Needs To Work On:

  • Ryan needs to do a better job getting to the middle of the ice.
  • Ryan also needs to work on his consistency.

Oilers Summary:

Once again the Oilers had a player who was expected by many to go higher fall into their laps. Most drafting rankings and insiders expected McLeod to be a late first rounder.

He’s projected as a third line center/winger with the possibility of playing a bit higher in the line up at times. A versatile forward with size who skates the like the wind fits perfectly with where the Oilers are headed. His favourite player and namesake is Ryan Smyth so he should get bonus points.

Overall Grade of Oilers Selection B+

Prospect: Olivier Rodrigue

Round of Selection: 2nd Round – 62nd overall

Prospect’s Position: Goalie

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Skills & Abilities:

– Olivier is a natural goalie.
– Olivier excels at positioning.
– Olivier does not shy away from challenging shooters.
– Olivier is very good at controlling his rebounds.
– Olivier’s dad has nothing but good things to say about him 😉   

Needs To Work On:

  • Olivier needs to get a little thicker
  • Olivier needs to work on playing the puck more often
  • Olivier needs to do a better job covering the top part of his net

Oilers Summary:

I have no issue with a team moving a 5th round pick to slide up from the 3rd round to the 2nd round. Unlike some other people I also have no problem with the Oilers drafting the son of their goaltending advisor. The bottom line is the Oilers moved up to select arguably the best goaltender in the draft.

After the draft Bob Green said when you have a chance to get the best goaltender in the draft you have to make a move on it. I agree.

Overall Grade of Oilers Selection B+

Prospect: Michael Kesselring

Round of Selection: 6th Round – 164th overall

Prospect’s Position: Defense

Skills & Abilities:

– Michael is much bigger than most of his teammates and uses his size well.
– Michael skates well for a player his size.
– Michael isn’t afraid to join the rush
– Michael stood out among his peers in High School hockey this year.
– Michael can make things work on the power-play   

Needs To Work On:

  • Michael could play with a little more grit.
  • Michael, like most big kids, could work on his stride a bit.

Oilers Summary:

Using a 6th round pick on a 6’4 right shot d-man is never a bad idea. I spoke with a USHL source shortly after the selection was made and he told me Kesselring is a long-term project but could become a player.

I said earlier this week that using your 6th and 7th round picks on players who need to develop for three or four years is a good strategy. Kesselring recently uncommitted from Merrimack College and will spend the upcoming season in the USHL. He will spend one year in the USHL and then likely three more in college before you really have to worry about him.

Overall Grade of Oilers Selection: B

Prospect: Patrik Siikanen

Round of Selection: 7th Round – 195th overall

Prospect’s Position: Forward

Skills & Abilities:

– Patrik is a big kid with a good work ethic
– Patrik was really liked by the Oilers European scouts
– Patrik is more of a goal scorer than a playmaker
– Patrik will play in the men’s league next year
– Patrik is Finnish, I like Finnish players.

Needs To Work On:

  • Honestly, I have no idea what he needs to work on. I can’t lie to you.
  • Baggedmilk found a few things from some Finnish blogs that he needs to work on his skating. Apparently, he’s not the fleetest of foot and his overall mobility will need some upgrades.

Oilers Summary:

I couldn’t find much on this player outside of what Bob Green had to say when he spoke with the media after the draft. He told us that Siikanen is a big kid who works hard and that their European scouts really liked him.

He started this year in Jr. B in Finland but spent most of the season playing in the Jr. A. Green expects him to play for the big club in Espoo. Once again this is a player you don’t have to worry about for a while as he develops playing pro in Europe.

Overall Grade of Oilers Selection: B





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Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Drivefastfinishlast

    Chiarelli needs to get rid of Kelfbom. He is always injured. Only played one season healthy.
    Klefbom for Faulk ???
    Bouchard won’t be NHL ready for a few years.
    McLeod looks like he stops pucks with his face.
    The goalie is re-united with his Dad(typical Oiler move)
    The last 2 are hidden gems ???
    Oilers 97% chance of missing playoffs if nothing is done in the off-season.

  • Kepler62c

    Honestly, Chia, Green, and Gretzky know what they are doing at a draft. Since 2015 the organization has looked smart and all the drafts have “good arrows”.

    Bad trades aside, if this season works out I think there are some guys in management that will be here for a long time to come.

  • Ever the Optimist

    Very happy with the bets made here.

    Adding the top pair rhd we need, putting 3 more bullets in the cheap winger/center pipeline and another strong goalie prospect is exactly what was needed.

    Now we wait till after free agency to see if there will be a lucic trade.

    • Drivefastfinishlast

      Lucic for Skinner
      Klefbom for Faulk.
      Make it happen Chiarelli ??
      You did good this draft Chiarelli now take that energy and run with it.
      Skinner will be a UFA and won’t need protecting if there is a expansion lottery ?

      • Daryl Katz

        in all seriousness, the Oilers had yet another strong draft with Chia and his boys. 4th strong one in a row, and in spite of daddy working for the Oilers, i’m very glad that the Oilers took Rodrigue! our goaltending depth is still think after Skinner and *maybe* Wells? and simply put we needed another top goaltending prospect in the system. and either of Bouchard/Dobson was fine with me, glad they resisted taking Wahlstom here! and McLeod was as safe a pick as you can get and every team needs these type of players and you can’t pass on a guy like this when he falls into your lap. B+ from me too!

    • crabman

      Bouchard might get a few games to start if no one is added over the summer or if there are multiple injuries to start the year. But all 3 should be in the CHL next year helping lead their teams.

    • crabman

      I think trading Klefbom would be a major mistake now. With the addition of Bouchard the Oilers potentially have a very good top4 that are young enough to be around for a long time.
      Klefbom should only have been on the table as part of a package to bringbl in a top4 RD longterm. They just drafted that player. Faulk would still be a nice add as a placeholder but the price I would be willing to pay for him is much less than Klefbom.

  • boil-in-the-oil

    So Dustin, for each if our picks that you rated below “A”, who would you have picked from the available prospects? I assume you didn’t rate them an “A” because in your opinion, a better prospect was available.

    I thought Bouchard was a really fine 1st round pick. Some may argue that Wahlstrom was the preferable choice, but for me, this was a huge opportunity to get the big, fast, puck moving, right-shot, offensive, potentially #1 D-man, that we have dreamed of for quite some time. For me, he was the best player available & meets a huge team need.

    After the 1st round, I was pretty much just hoping for skilled players & right hand shooters. So I’m curious who you would have taken, that would have achieved an “A”. I’m not disagreeing with you necessarily, I’m just curious.

    Trades are the next hurdle. Scary times for sure. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually win a trade (or two) for a change?! In Chia we trust (ha ha…do we?).


    • CMG30

      I also think he’s a great bet who could make the roster, but I don’t want to count on it. He may be the ‘most’ NHL ready, but if he needs time that’s OK too.

  • crabman

    I like the 1st 3 picks and have no opinion on the last 2. I agree that if you have the opportunity to draft the top rated goalie and it only costs you a 5th rounder it is a good move and if that was what Gretzky and crew thought was the best move I can get behind it. But I was disappointed in losing the 5th round pick simply because they had no 4th round pick and the team has done well in 2 of the last 3 drafts in those rounds. At that point I was hoping for a minor trade to get back into those rounds just to see what Gretzky could do with more picks. Not really a complaint. Overall I think the Oilers made out great and the prospect pool looks much better after this weekend than it did before.

    • oilerjed

      I’m late to the party on this thread but oh well. since the Oil have upped their college FA signings, does this not make the 4-7rd picks a bit obsolete? Chances of making it to the NHL are pretty scarce for those rounds where a college player you already have a better idea of what you have.

      • Big Nuggets

        can’t call them obsolete when, if I’m not mistaken, both Bear and Caleb Jones were 5th round or later. But yeah, I know what you’re saying. pretty low odds and the players I listed haven’t made it yet.

      • crabman


        better procurement of good college free agents certainly does minimize the need for later round picks but good organizations will find the occasional gem.
        over the past 3 years 4 of our top prospects came out of rounds 4 and 5. Bear, Jones, Safin, and Maksimov. If 1 or more of them make the jump in the next few years they will be cheap role players the team needs. The pronlem with college players is many of them don’t work out either and the chance of finding anything more than a bottom pair D or bottom6 forward is really rare. Anything more and the player has his chiice of where to go. At least with a 4th or 5th round draft pick if you hafe a good scouting team and can aquire some players with upside if the player does turn out he is already under team control.
        Both ways are long shots and are more likely to produce a B prospect at best but without the lottery tickets you can’t win the lottery.

        In no way am I saying I wouldn’t have moved the 5th to move up and draft the goalie. I trust the Oilers at the draft these past few years. I just would have also liked to see who they would have drafted with the pick.

  • A-Mc

    I really like the draft selections and the more I read about Bouchard, the more I like him. His numbers as a D on a crap team are better than some top forwards in the same league. Ex: hayton. He will be 19 a couple days after the home opener so he might be ready earlier than what we would normally expect.

  • Serious Gord

    “Most of you were … confident in Chiarelli’s ability to navigate a draft.”

    I think it false. Most commenters in this site were fearful and had no confidence in chia.

    And in the case of the first two picks they fell into his lap – players much higher ranked that fit oil needs were available. A chipmunk could have made those picks.

    And I am greatly bothered by the continued nepotism culture – trading up for it no less.

  • Svart kaffe

    So this goaltender’s dad is a professional goaltending advisor in the NHL? Odds are that kid knows a thing or two about goaltending. I don’t care whom his dad works for.

  • toprightcorner

    What the Oilers need to do now is have the Oil Kings trade for Bouchard and McLeod so the Oilers can really monitor their development and have their own skating and skills coaches work with them regularly.

    That’s how you take advantage of owning a Junior team and having the NHL GM do the hiring

  • Moneyball

    Chiarelli is a good GM who is putting together a first class scouting and development system in place for the Oilers. He manages risk well and knows when he has to make a deal, when he can make a deal and more often than not finds value. In contrast to the Flames that didn’t have a pick in the top 3 and desperately swung for the fences in a trade they lost on paper today. Being a good NHL GM is about building a good organization and a good system that produces winners. Tough to say that Chiarelli is not going in the right direction.

      • Moneyball

        Yeah. So Chiarelli came to Edmonton Immediately identified the deficiencies on the team and went about trying to fix them. Once by trading two draft picks for a prospect that did not pan out and hen Trading Hall for Larsson. I didn’t like those trades but I can’t blame Chiarelli for having to pay the price to fix a team that had drafted poorly and was built poorly on the backend. Like it or not as a result of the Hall trade the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. That’s what a good GM does, namely identify the problems and make the changes.

        • OTOF2

          I agree with making changes. But how about making good changes? You acknowledge that you didn’t like the 2 trades but give Chia credit for making them? Ok. I like change but good change that actually improves the team. The Reinhart debacle will hurt this team for years. It is / was a big deal.

          • Moneyball

            @OTOF2 you want changes and good changes. Well for starters lets look at the 2014 Oilers defence lineup.
            Andrew Ferrence, Mark Fayne, Drandon Davison, Nikita Nikitin, Brad Hunt, Oscar Kelfbom, Martin Marincin.

            You could have a forward group composed of Barzal, Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Tavares, Mcdavid, Hall, Gaudreau etc.. and still not make the playoffs with the 2014 defence corp. To his credit Chiarelli identified the problem immediately and began to resolve it from a place of extreme desperation. Looks like a good change to me.

          • Moneyball

            Yeah I agree as does everyone else. Look at what the Oilers organization is today and how the team looks and then tell me why you want to go back to the days of Steve Tambelini?

        • daryl

          You make a good point but Reinhart never made sense he was picked higher than players who had already passed him he really couldn’t skate so Snow blew smoke up Peter’s @#$# and he not only over paid he just got some magic beans. And if that wasn’t bad enough he was a LN dman.

    • daryl

      You make a good point but the Reinhart trade was terrible! Peter knew that he had been passed in the Islanders depth chart that he was slow and worst of all he was a LH dman which we already had an abundance. He traded a first and a very high second for some magic beans. I gave him the Hall trade we really needed a RH Dman and Eberle was such a washout in the playoffs it was obvious he was never going to help us win a cup but Reinhart was the worst and I have a hard time with that one.

  • Jaxon

    I would have liked them to draft two of Liam Kirk, Tristen Nielsen, or Pavel Gogolev with their last two picks. They have the production at 5-on-5 to merit a pick and scouting reports say they are both decent skaters. Can Nielsen and Gogolev be invited to camp and signed this year? I’m a bit fuzzy on the rules regarding this.matter Of so, I’d reaching out to them today.

  • Jaxon

    I’m not sure where I got the Oilers in this list but my favorite drafting this week:

    BUF and CAR did well just by virtue of drafting 1st and 2nd. Florida the redeemed their draft by Noel in the 2nd.

    MTL had a fruitful draft just with the sheer number of picks in the top 66. Not sure they made the most of them, though.

  • Kevwan

    Really happy with the draft overall.

    I especially like the idea of adding multiple good goalie prospects. For such an important position it seems like a solid plan.

    It beats the “Goalies are Voodoo” so lets draft one in the 6th or 7th round every 2 years and hope for the best.

    • Daryl Katz

      ya that was annoying me too ! the Oilers were having no success at all wasting later round picks on goalies and i was hoping they’d just stop and start biting the bullet and use higher picks on more highly regarded goalies and they did and it just might pay off !

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Bouchard really has to work on his lateral movement and transition skating. I watched a lot of his video clips from London. He got beat to the outside a lot and was slow in transition too.
        Hopefully he can improve his skating the way Driasaitl did.

  • Brad12

    Good picks today by Chiarelli, but, in addition to Hall, Eberle, Barzal, and Lucic, he has also failed with respect to the two most important positions on a team : coach and goalie

    • daryl

      Yah not sure about Todd he doesn’t react to what is goi on on the ice and he hasn’t used Jesse well punishing him for misstaks the a 19 year old would make in order to get better and taking away his ice time last year after we were out of the playoffs it would have bee a great time to up his minutes but didn’t and this is a very valuable asset. He even could be destroying his confidence.