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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Eighth overall picks from the past five NHL drafts

With the Oilers picking in the eighth slot at the upcoming NHL Draft, I figured that I may as well look at what type of player they might be getting by going back to check out the 8th overall picks from the last five drafts. Can history tell us a story? Let’s find out together.

Now, before we get started, I want to preface this article by saying that I do know that looking back at draft history won’t tell us exactly what kind of prospect the Oilers could grab, but I do think it shows what type of player that could be sitting there waiting for them. I do think that going back five years will, at the very least, give us an idea of what kind of skillset could be coming our way. Looking at the rankings for the upcoming draft, there are plenty of forwards slotted in and around the eighth spot, which tells me that the Oilers have an opportunity to help fill a need even if they have to wait a season or two down the line.

2014 – William Nylander – RW – Toronto Maple Leafs

Rookie Season (2015-16) – 22GP: 6G, 7A = 13 points
2018-19 Season w/ Toronto: 54GP – 7G, 20A = 27 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

A highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds. Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone. Has improved his defensive game a lot. Has the tools and skills to lead his team in all offensive aspects.

Ignoring the holdout and resulting gong show that was Nylander’s 2018-19 season, the kid has some major skill that would be a welcomed addition to the Oilers’ top six. At 22 years old, Nylander already has a pair of 20-goal seasons under his belt and I would expect him to get back to that pace next year when he actually shows up to training camp and the pre-season.

2015 – Zach Werenski – D – Columbus Blue Jackets

Rookie Season (2016-17) – 78GP: 11G, 36A = 47 points
2018-19 Season w/ Columbus: 82GP: 11G, 33A = 44 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman that has a strong understanding of the game. Excels in key situations and is able to execute under pressure. Possesses good vision and awareness on the ice; uses his abilities to put offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. All-in-all, a very strong all-around defenceman that consistently brings his game every night.

In three years with Columbus, Werenski has averaged 42 points from the blue line which would rank him right at the top of the Oilers’ offensive output from a defenceman. Only Darnell Nurse was able to crack the 40-point plateau this year with no one else really coming close (Klefbom could have if he was healthy). Say by chance that Bowen Byram slides to #8, I would think the Oilers would have interest in adding another defenceman with the ability to put up points, wouldn’t you?

2016 – Alexander Nylander – R – Buffalo Sabres

Rookie Season (N/A)
2018-19 Season w/ Buffalo: 12GP – 2G, 2A = 4 points >>>> w/ Rochester (AHL) 49GP: 12G, 19A = 31 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

Nylander’s game is all about skill. Blessed with exceptional hockey sense, technical skills and overall offensive awareness. Very creative and shifty player with speed and soft hands. Furthermore, he has a great release, a good scoring touch and the ability to do the unexpected with the puck. On the downside, there are some consistency issues and intensity could be better. Some room for improvement when it comes to his defensive game as well.

Like his brother, the book on Alex Nylander is that he has plenty of skill but still needs to work on consistency, which is not uncommon for a young player trying to make his way. Over the past three seasons, Nylander has had a cup of coffee with the Sabres before being returned to the AHL where he has yet to be a point-per-game player. The jury is still out on the younger Nylander.

2017 – Casey Mittelstadt – C – Buffalo Sabres

Rookie Season (2018-19) – 77GP: 12G, 13A = 25 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don’t phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition’s armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won’t be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He’s a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level.

After averaging just under a point-per-game with the University of Minnesota in 2017-18, Casey Mittelstadt made the full-time jump to the NHL this year with Buffalo. While his stats from this past season aren’t anything to write home about, a quick look through his highlights shows that he has the skills to get the job done, but the key will be doing it on a nightly basis. Would the Sabres be better served to keep Mittelstadt in the AHL while he tries to learn the pro game? We’ve seen that move before.

2018 – Adam Boqvist – (D) – Chicago Blackhawks

Rookie Season (N/A)
2018-19 Season w/ London Knights: 54GP – 20G, 40A = 60 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

A dynamic offensive defenceman that can carry plays with the puck on his stick. A highly mobile and nimble skater that moves with fluidity, balance, and confidence. Utilizes an active stick and creates turnovers frequently. Could be more proactive in his own end, but has shown progression in understanding lanes and reading unfolding plays; most of his best defensive work comes through the neutral zone, as there is a lot less time and space to work with, and it is in those moments that Boqvist shines.

Offensively, Boqvist is electric; he has the toolbox of a top line forward. Slick puckhandling ability paired with excellent vision and positional awareness makes him a dangerous threat every time he is on the ice. He also takes advantage of the attention and bodies he draws towards himself in creating space for teammates. All-in-all, Adam Boqvist is a complete offensive defenseman who knows how to get the puck from point A to the back of the net, and can make it happen all by himself.

After speaking to Uffe Bodin from Elite Prospects late last year, I was convinced that Boqvist was the guy that the Oilers should target with their 10th overall pick. As we all know, that wasn’t an option as Chicago picked him up at number eight, while the Oilers lucked out and grabbed Evan Bouchard at #10. In his first year in North America, Boqvist led the London Knights in scoring from their blue line (Bouchard played nine fewer games) and showed flashes of the offensive prowess described in the scouting report above.

THE WRAP…

If the Oilers do decide to use this pick, they’re going to get a quality prospect at number eight that will likely help the team for years to come. The problem, at least as I see it, is that the Oilers need help right now and whoever ends up being chosen with this pick probably won’t help for a couple of years or more. Looking back at the last five drafts, there’s a reasonable chance that the Oilers will snag a quality prospect, but you have to wonder if they’re willing to be patient at this stage. I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that this team needs to find a way to win right now and perhaps dangling the eighth overall pick would be enough to address a need that can help them in the 2019-20 season.

Personally, I would prefer that the Oilers use the pick and add another asset to a depth chart that’s still too light on skill. While the overall quality of the prospect pool has improved in recent years, the Oilers don’t have enough high end prospects that are either knocking on the NHL door or bubbling under and ready to turn pro. You’d think for a team with as many high draft picks as they’ve had over the last decade that they’d have more than a handful of legitimate prospects on the farm or in junior, but that’s simply not the case. And don’t get me wrong, I know that the NHL Draft can be a crapshoot in terms of who actually pans out and who doesn’t, but at number eight, I personally think that it’s a worthy gamble to take. If I’m the Oilers, I walk up to the podium, select the best player available, and add another asset to the organization that will help down the road and that you don’t have to worry about at expansion time.

  • McHitch

    We have zero ability to draft and develop.

    Defenseman take 4 years if developed properly.

    Option is a skilled forward and looking at this roster we will certainly rush him and ruin him.

    Trade the pick.

    • hagar

      Cant attract market value talent, cant attract sought after gms or presidents, and cant risk drafting players because they have a high chance of not being developed correctly.

      Pretty hard to build a successful team in this competitive modern league, when you are handicapped this much before even getting out of bed.

      The affect the clowns running the show have on this team is amazing.

    • Gravis82

      no. This is exactly why we traded picks in 2015. Because they take too long to develop. And yet, we traded them for soemone elses leftovers. Now, 4 years later, the picks we could have used selected star players and the person we traded for is not longer in the NHL.

      There is no way to speed this up I am sorry. And its not even hard to find evidence. Just literally look 4 years ago.

      We are at minimum 4 years away and that is sad but true

      • McHitch

        We drafted how many first rounders that have been strikeouts?

        Paajarvi, Yakupov, JP, Yamo….

        Theres a good chance the Oilers ruin another prospect. Why not get guaranteed value.

        A 8th overall has much more value than a 16th, so to compare past trades to this one makes no sense.

        Also we have a generational player on a timer. We need to make the playoffs next year.

        Trade the pick.

        • McHitch

          How much value do 2nd and 3rd rounder have in this organization?

          At least we should trade every pick after the 8th for cap relief and/or some scoring support.

          We havent drafted and developed an nhl player outside the first round in over a decade.

          Imagine how much better we would be if we traded the picks all these years.

          We could not be worse. If we cant develop within our system, work the system and trade the picks. They have value to other teams and zero value to us.

          • Gravis82

            Saying we should trade the pick because we are terrible at drafting is insane. THere are two ways to be good at drafting 1) draft a lot 2) draft a lot and be good at it. One sure way to never get a great young player is to trade your pick for some other organizations lesser prospect

  • Abagofpucks

    I would keep the pick and develop him in the minors for as long as it takes. The Oilers aren’t winning the cup next year, making next years playoffs is as grand as it gets. I say don’t panick, get a new GM that can win deals, hopefully free up enough cap space to get better on the second line. Find a back up that can challenge Koskinen, and find another + dman in the second pairing.

  • OilCan2

    Keep the pick. I will be interesting to see who might be on the board at #8. Keep all of the other picks too. The Condors have made it to the top of the Pacific and they will need young guns to fill positions; not career minor leaguers to take up spots.

  • ed from edmonton

    I am increasingly disappointed in the comments on this site. Like the first two here from couple of knuckle draggers who have nothing better to do than vent their spleen. I hope oi makes them feel better as what they offer as comments is a waste of time.

  • Heschultzhescores

    After seeing Tampa and Calgary get soundly schooled in the playoffs, I’m more optimistic that we are not as far away from being a playoff team as I once thought. Now hear me out, any team in this league can beat any team in a 7 game series. It’s all about peaking, confidence, and having guys get hot at the right time. Get in the playoffs, that’s the key, after that anything can happen. Let’s draft a guy that has proven to rise in the playoffs, regular season stats are less important. See Calgary as a reference. Small and fast doesn’t translate into playoff wins. Speed, talent, and toughness are the combo that works, with the heart and desire to win at any cost.

    • Gravis82

      Oilers needed about 65 more goals this year to make the playoffs. Or prevent 65 less goals. Or some combination of that.

      We were only a few points away, but its about jumping teams. They only reason we are not 15 -20 points out is that it was a weak western conference this year

  • J from gp

    Trade the pick huh. Then what? Whoever we trade for would likely be a good player for a 1st. And with that comes with taking on another big contract, and being pressed to the cap again next year. I say keep the pick. There is a good thing going on in the bake

        • McHitch

          How can you say that?

          Name some players that would be offered for an 8th overall.

          Parayko, Hamilton, Subban, Trouba, etc…

          For cap reasons it would probably be Russell going the other way with the pick.

          Russel and 8th overall

          For

          Trouba

          You really think the 8th overall will develop into a higher impact player than the ones listed above?

          Look at our draft history, our development history and get back to me.

      • Oilerz4life

        Just keep the pic and try to clean up Chia’s mess, cap, etc. etc.

        But at this point who really cares anymore, won’t make any difference either way, whatever…

  • Frustrated Fan in Calgary

    Oilers are low on prospects. Trading the pick would be another in the trail of short term moves that have gotten them into the mess they are currently in. Definitely do not trade the pick, and just stop the stupidity.

    • McHitch

      Keeping every pick since 2016 is the reason we are here.

      Get your facts straight.

      We havent developed a player outside the 1st round in over a decade.

      If we would have traded every pick after the first round for proven nhlers, we would be a much better team.

      We literally got zero value for our picks all these years. Stop the stupidity, stop drafting.

      We cannot develop s!t all.

      • Boba The Fett

        The problem is you are drastically overvaluing picks outside the 1st round. Teams arent just going to trade you proven NHL players for mid to late round picks. Also picks turn into prospects which are better trade bait as they mature for a year or two.

        The smart play is to draft, no quality teams with staying power are built through free agency

        • RJ

          I thought the only good thing MacT did as GM was loading up in the McDavid draft.

          No Talbot, no Reinhardt and no McLellan would have left them a lot more ammo, and by now these picks would be in the NHL (and some of them are stars). They would only needed to follow McKenzie’s list and they’d be much stronger.

    • I would have to disagree with this post with respect. Yeah we have struggled to find a winger for Conner from Bakersfield, but they are starting hopefully a long play off run. I am so sick bringing in free agent signings just to see them fall off a cliff. Starrett has to be given a long look at Camp. He has been solid all year and deserves his chance.
      Yeah no is lighting up the score board down in the farm but I think we have some “Hockey “ players on that team.

  • camdog

    From under ripe to over ripe or whatever term Nicholson uses the Oilers still haven’t figured out how to develop prospects. If you have a guy like Jesse play him in the top 6 or send him to Bakersfield. The sitting on 4th line, rotating line mates mid game/changing line mates every game or riding the pine isn’t how you develop prospects. Sure you can sit them for a couple weeks to get them in for a few practises at the start of a call up, but the Oilers musical chairs doesn’t even work for veterans as RnH stated at the end of season.

  • Abagofpucks

    I totally disagree that we don’t have prospects, we have at least a handful with more pushing for spots next year. The oilers biggest problem is cap space and some bad contracts. We need a savy GM to try and get rid of 1 or 2 of them, then release whoever doesn’t fit in next year. And find some more diamonds in the ruff, tall order but i think it can be done.

  • Kevwan

    My preference is to not trade the pick. However I would look at moving down the draft to say the 12th (Wild) spot if there were adequate assets or cap space coming back.

    • OilTastic

      i know we’re all infatuated with our high picks but moving down 3 to 5 spots probably won’t hurt us long term if we could score a player like Spurgeon in return with the Wild’s #12, and he’s still young-ish and productive on the back end. we really should consider doing something like this!

  • RJ

    Re: Werenski:

    He’s averaged 42 points the last three years, while Nurse has only broken 40 points once, Sekera has only broken 40 points once (2013-2014) and Klefbom has NEVER broken 40 points. Russell has only broken 30 points once and Larson has only broken 20 points once.

    If the Oilers could draft a defenceman who could average 40+ points he’d be a huge upgrade.

    As always I think it’s important to point out that Klefbom gets entirely too much love from the bloggers at this site. He’s never broken 40 points and he’s only ever played a full season once. His biography will be titled Mr. Glass.

    • OilTastic

      even if Byrum is still there at #8, i’m pretty sure they won’t take him just because the organization has convinced itself that forwards are a more pressing need right now. shame really because Byrum’s left shooting offense along with Bouchard’s right shooting offense would give us a nice 1-2 punch. and with Nurse and Klefbom providing offense as well, and perhaps even one or two of Bear, Jones or Persson, we could finally have solved our need for more points from the back end.

      • Just a Fan

        I don’t think he is there at 8 but if he is, I take him. You can never have too much defence. He will go back to junior and spend at least a year in the AHL. Who knows what the blueline looks like in 3 years.

      • RJ

        I am right with you. If they can pick a top defensive prospect. If that means the Oilers will finally get to trade Mr. Glass to another organization that gets to wish “…if Klefbom ever gets healthy…”, then the Oilers win.

  • JumboJim

    I’ve had an idea prompted by James Neal scratched last night in Calgary… it’s probably not a good one, but what the heck

    James Neal to Edmonton for a 5.75m cap hit until 2022-23
    Milan Lucic to Calgary for a 6m cap hit until 2022-23

    It does very little for Oilers cap situation, but it gives both overpaid players a fresh start, and could stand to make the BoA a bit more interesting.

    • Anton CP

      I’ve said that James Neal was a garbage at the beginning of the season but someone was arguing with me about Neal’s impressive offensive record…well, I wonder now.

      Lucic may not be living up to the expectation but he won’t quit on the play like Neal always does. Why as being such gifted offensive player that no teams he ever played for has tried to keep him?

  • OILERSORDEATH

    I agree BM keep the pick, but if a trade is there to get someone like Toffoli, Nylander, or Skinner, id make the trade. Of course we’d have to sweeten the pot to get those players.

  • lee

    When you look at those players picked 8th overall, it hard to fathom why some fans say we should trade the pick. What exactly do you think you will get with the 8th pick. Teams will be looking to give you a 28-32 year old player with good numbers but with only a few more good seasons left. Not to mention that player will have a salary somewhere around 5.5-7.5 million. Sure if a team says here is our 23 year old who is only making 4 million a year and is averaging 70-75 points every season then maybe. That’s not going to happen.
    Fans have to come to grips with the fact is you haft to build your team from the draft.
    If you have to trade then look to your future, the Nuge is a free agent in the near future and Nurse wants what a #1 or a#2 d man is getting paid. Those should be your targets not a pick that could be a top 6 forward for the next 10 years.

    • Big Nuggets

      Agreed we have to build through the draft, but this teams is way too thin to be trading away thr good players. Nurse, like any player, wants to get as much as he can. Just because his agent will ask for bigmoney doesn’t mean they have to pay him thay much. Nuge is one of 3 good forwards on the team, how are we going to magically get a more by trading Nuge. With Drai scoring 50 goals riding with McDavid, Nuge is even more valuable as the 2nd line center. Build through the draft and make small trades and signings for useful players like Chiasson. Filpula would have been useful this year as we needed a 3rd line center all year. Just say no to big name trades for overpaid players that will just become the next goat anyway.

    • OilTastic

      because of the constant mismanagement we’ve had with Tambo, MacT and Chia, we end up talking about the same old BS every year thanks to these 3 clowns, which is a need for more scoring, better d-men and an upgrade in goal….same old discussion year after year after year….

      • Reg Dunlop

        Agree with the ineptitude of those 3; but the 4th, the one you didn’t name, he addressed defence(Pronger, spacek), goal(Roloson) and scoring(Samsonov, Peca). As much as he is reviled, he was the best GM we have seen here in decades. He cares about the team and the city. He LIVES here, not in Boston. Even if he has the political correctness of Don Cherry, he could be our best option. In case of confusion, I’m referring to KLowe *ducks*

        • OilTastic

          and the reason why i didn’t name him….KLowe did a magnificent job of fleecing other teams to get the players we needed to make it to the finals in ’06. Tambo was known as Dr. DoLittle for a reason, MacT, Mr. BOLD moves didn’t do anything of significance to make us any better and Chia lost traded after trade, to the point of us having to start rebuild 3.0 !

    • Mike Modano's Dog

      They play the first two games on the road and then the last three all at home. We have home ice advantage, but I agree it is a little weird to see them have to start on the road even though they have home ice advantage!

  • CMG30

    The amateur scouting is doing ok judging by Bakersfield. The trick is going to be whether or not the Oilers can resist the urge to rush them to the show before they’re ready…

  • goodtobelucky97

    Question for you all at ON;
    If a team offered to take Lucic but you have to give up the number 8 pick…would you do the deal? Baring that Lucic agreed to go to the said team. So Lucic and this years number 8 pick…Oilers get nothing back. Keep in mind, this would free up $6mill and allow the Oilers to protect another player in the 2020 expansion draft.

    • Kevwan

      No.

      In 3 years they can buy out Lucic ahead of the expansion draft. Also in 3 years Turcotte or Dach or Krebs or whoever they pick at 8 will contribute to a cup contending team.

      • goodtobelucky97

        Sorry, my bad. The expansion draft is in 2021 not 2020. So you are correct. The oilers could buy out Lucic ahead of the expansion draft but would have to pay him for 4 years. Not sure how much the cap hit would be but they could buy him out prior to the expansion draft.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      July 2nd 2019 he’ll be owed $16M. Corey Perry will be owed $15M over two years. If Anaheim wants a shake up and save money the Oilers could assume $2M remaining on his deal.

      July 2nd 2020 Corey Perry will be owed $3M on an $8M+ cap hit. Send him somewhere like AZ who will love to have that savings.

      Done

  • Kelly Youngblood

    I hope Hunter is calling the shots on draft day and I don’t mean the creepy Lynx mascot. Take a look at what his mentor is doing with the Islanders. A solid GM and a good coach is step 1 in getting the Oilers back to the playoffs. If Mark Hunter gets the job let him take the reigns on draft day and get this ship turned around.