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.
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.
OILERS TOP FIFTEEN – LATE JUNE 2018
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.
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.
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.
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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