Oilers Post-Draft Top Fifteen Prospects

With the draft and development camp now behind us, it’s time to give you an updated look at the Oilers top prospects. How will the compare pre and post draft? Let’s check it out.

Prior to the draft, I gave you a top ten that looked like this.

  1. Yamamoto
  2. Bear
  3. Jones
  4. Benson
  5. Marody
  6. Maksimov
  7. Skinner
  8. Samorukov
  9. Safin
  10. Rasanen

With a few fresh faces from an impressive 2018 draft class I’ve decided to expand the top prospects list to fifteen names.

You may notice a few of the previous prospects being moved around a bit on the list that comes from chatting with a few folks at the draft who have better information than I do about these kids.

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London Knights defenceman and Edmonton Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard. Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

1. Evan Bouchard – D

Prayers to the draft gods were answered for the Oilers in Dallas when Evan Bouchard was still on the board at ten. I’ve chatted with scouts, agents and insiders since he was drafted and not one of them said he should automatically go back to junior next year. This kid will sign his entry level deal at some point in the next two months and get a long look in the fall. By all accounts he impressed at the Billy Moore’s Cup on Thursday night finishing with a goal and two assists.

2. Kailer Yamamoto – RW

The more you look at the team’s current cap situation the more you realize how likely it is that he is a full-time Oiler this season. He impressed at moments during his extended look last year and probably could have at least survived, not thrived, in the NHL. If he comes into camp stronger than he was last year that may be enough to get him regular ice-time on the big club. I’d prefer the team find some depth on the wings so he could spend time in the AHL but I’m starting to doubt that happens.

3. Ethan Bear – D

If Ethan Bear shows well in camp he could see himself in the mix early for the Oilers. I’d expect Bear to spend the majority of the season in Bakersfield while at the same time playing the role of first call up on the blueline when injuries occur in the top seven. Long term he could fit in nicely as a depth option behind Larsson and Bouchard on the right side.

4. Caleb Jones – D

I was tempted to move Jones down this list a bit but then I realized I’d be doing what I’ve accused others of doing and that’s under-rating his upside. Unlike Bear I’d expect Jones to spend the entire season in the AHL with the possibility of a late season call up.

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5. Cooper Marody – C/RW

I’ve got Marody in the five spot because I know for a fact the organization is very high on his ability to contribute in the near future. His 3rd and final year at Michigan was just as impressive as Drake Caggiula’s 4th and final year at North Dakota and Caggiula hasn’t spent a minute in the American Hockey League. If Marody starts the year in Bakersfield I don’t think he’ll be down there very long. I watched him at development camp on Wednesday and I think a good word to describe him would be shifty.

6. Ryan McLeod – C/LW

I was debating back and forth between McLeod and Benson but in the end I put McLeod higher because he’s bigger, faster, younger and doesn’t come in with a history of injuries. I’m very intrigued to see if he has another level offensively this upcoming season in the OHL. McLeod came as advertised at development camp being very noticeable due to his speed.

7. Tyler Benson – LW

Being the 7th ranked prospect on the Oilers right now is not a knock on Benson. It’s just a sign that the organization is finally building some depth in the pipeline. This may sound crazy but Benson is likely going to be able to develop properly in the AHL. What a novel concept. I’d pencil him in for a mid 2019-2020 arrival in Edmonton.

8. Kirill Maksimov – RW

If the Oilers had an award for most intriguing prospect it would have to go to Kirill Maksimov. He’s a big forward who moves very well and he has an above average shot. His skill was on display with a pair of goals for Team Blue at the Billy Moore’s Cup. Like Benson, Makismov is a player who is going to benefit from a couple of development years. The Oilers may have very well found a gem in the 5th round of the 2017 draft.

9. Stuart Skinner – G

I’m a strong believer that Stuart Skinner is just starting to scrape surface of his potential. At this point I’m worried he will be buried behind Montoya in the American Hockey League next season. The ideal plan for Skinner would be 40-45 starts in Bakersfield.

10. Dmitri Samorukov – D

I haven’t had an opportunity to see a lot of Samorukov but when I have watched him I like what I’ve seen. I’d hope to see a bit of a jump in his play over the next couple of seasons as he now has two years under his belt on the smaller ice surface. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think he could develop into a bottom-pairing guy.

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11. Olivier Rodrigue – G

I had no issue with the Oilers using a 5th round pick to move up a few spots and grab the best goaltender available in the 2018 draft. He’s a lanky kid who’s aggressive between the pipes. It will be fun to watch him develop over the next couple of years in junior.

12. Ostap Safin – RW

Ostap Safin is oozing with potential, I’m just not sure he ever reaches it. He’s a 6’5 winger who’s extremely skilled but still needs a lot of work. Scouts say he needs to use his teammates a bit more, improve his consistency and utilize his size more effectively. He’s a long shot but if it all comes together the Oilers will have a player.

13. Filip Berglund – D

When the Oilers used a third round pick on Filip Berglund in 2016 they thought they were getting a player with some offensive upside. Instead, they have a prospect that’s actually developed into a very reliable defensive defenseman. Berglund played top four minutes for a Skelleftea club that made a trip to the SHL finals last season. I’d like to see this guy in North America.

14. Aapeli Rasanen – C

There is no rush for Rasanen. He just wrapped up his first season at Boston College finishing with 16 points in 32 games. He’s become a big part of the Finnish National Program and has managed to contribute offensively at the international level. Rasanen will likely get two more years in college before the Oilers even consider giving him a pro look.

15. Graham McPhee – LW

Graham McPhee is a teammate of Rasanen’s at Boston College. McPhee just wrapped up his second NCAA season and it was a year where he started to feel more comfortable. After scoring just twice as a freshman McPhee found the back of the net 12 times as a sophomore. Those who some him at development camp were pleasantly surprised.


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Dare I say the Oilers prospect pool is starting to look pretty damn good? Chiarelli and his staff have accumulated depth at all positions.  While top end guys like Bouchard and Yamamoto may still be fast tracked to the NHL the rest of this group should have a great opportunity to develop together over the next three years, your move Jay Woodcroft.


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Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • sweetweb

    We need to follow the Predators model of the road To Nashville leads through their AHL Team in Milwaukee. THe road to Edmonton leads through Bakersfield.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      The Peg has also done a great job in the developmental regard…
      “The road to Winnipeg, leads through well, Winnipeg”
      Is it just me? Or are we all excited again for another season…?

      • 18% body fat

        these teams draft skill, and therefor have an abundance of players who can play in the nhl. Therefor they can create competition and be patients. Our search for coke machines has killed our depth and made it so no one wants to play here unless they are overpaid. So the management keeps filling the positions with players not ready.

        We have 97, a new arena, a owner who will spend to the cap, and a city that worships these guys. Why do we overpay on all the contracts?

        • ROILYDoGG$

          They have recently had to over pay due to not having prior depth which is now changing.
          Once the draft picks push for spots and push the older players out we won’t neer to sign expensive ufa players. This along with the college signings is a stop Gap and from how these new pics are playing out they will arrive locked and loaded starting 2019 season and the bulk will be 2020, 2021

      • Arfguy

        I say this now: I am excited for another season. As much as it may prove to be otherwise, I think last season was an especially bad year and an anomoly. Our power play was bad because the primary power play defenceman was injured and the secondary option was nursing an injury. The coach kept trying the same thing over and over until it was too late. Also, everyone was being asked to over-achieve without being given proper time (Matt Benning being asked to be a 2nd pair defenceman, Slepyshev being asked to produce more goals, Puljujarvi expected to produce more goals without being given a steady linemate).

        I think this season will be a better example of who the Oilers are. There are still a lot of question marks, but I think the team will be better this year than they were last year.

    • fasteddy

      Have you actually looked at Preds drafted players and what they have turned into? Humor me and do it…..I’ve probably said this ten times, but the pattern is pretty straightforward for all teams; if their picks are bottom half of first round typically means those picks end up spending time in minors, if not they don’t. Virtually no star NHL players “marinate “ in the minors. This is a complete fallacy made up by those that want to complain about their team. Everyone saying “we have great depth now”…..based on what? What makes a Rantonen any more likely to be a contributor at the NHL level than the 3 dozen mid to late round picks that came before him in years gone by? The answer is nothing; it’s way more likely he never plays a game in the show than it is that he becomes a contributor.

  • The Rookie

    I’m so torn. I love PC and KG as amateur scouts. The drafting is excellent. But the GMing…oi. Maybe we can build a strong enough prospect pool that we will never need to make another trade again…

  • vetinari

    Finally a good cluster of prospects at every position. A deep prospect pool keeps a steady stream of cost effective players coming our way and if we can’t get them onto our roster, then finally some trade bait where other teams will send us their players and picks for a change.

  • aspin

    I like your list but Rasanen does not deserve to be on it and definetly not ahead of McPhee. They play on the same team and McPhee has pass him in every category including scoring.

  • huskies_62

    List seems about right. It made me think though. Bouchard is exactly what the Oilers need but what it also does is push Bear done and will hopefully give him more time to develop as he should. Its also nice to see two young right hand dmen with offensive upside in the organization

  • Marguir

    I still can’t help but feel like the 2nd rd and the 3rd we had to give up for getting PC and TM hurt our prospect pool greatly this last couple years. Now I think we have caught up.

  • Carbonrod

    The oil have drafted well the last few drafts and things are better in our system now. Benson finally being healthy and in the AHL and Marody, McLeod, Maksimov getting some time in the oven gives some thing to look forward rears to in the future. They just need to keep drafting well for a couple more years and the system will be strong again.

    I think this year it will be important to sign NHL depth players to fill out our bottom 6. 3 guys that can fill the bottom two lines so our prospects can play big minutes in the AHL until they are ready to step up will help a lot.

    I’m optimistic for the future of the oil, really. We have a D core of Nurse, Klef, Larsson & Bouchard that is young and still improving with L-R balance to boot. We also have a strong spine with McJesus and Drai, with Nuge there to step in in case of an injury. If Poolparty and Yamomoto can step up in the next couple years and we hit on another couple prospects, two years from now we will be set to really light things up. Right when the new guys are ready for new deals, Sek and Russel’s contracts will be expiring and can lock the young guys up.

    • OriginalPouzar

      This is factually incorrect. Jones struggles as a rookie pro last year. He had a very inconsistent season. He started to find some traction later in the year but he is not close to NHL ready. He will need this entire year in the AHL.