Photo Credit: Dave Reginek/Getty Images

At Random: The List

So, if the first round of the NHL Entry Draft goes exactly the way Bob McKenzie of TSN envisions it, the Edmonton Oilers will be selecting Russian right winger Vasili Podkolzin in Vancouver on Friday with the eighth overall pick.

That said, McKenzie’s list, which dropped this morning, might be the most anticipated projection of who fits where leading into the draft for hockey fans in general, but things seldom go exactly the way he or anybody else lays things out.

Outside the first handful of picks, usually the top three or four depending on the year, players often move up or down a slot or two. It seems that at some point in the top-10 a team takes a flyer on a player rated later in the first round or goes right off the board completely – hello, Jesse Niinimaki – which re-sets many of the following picks. Risers. Fallers.

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Framed in taking the best player available, the list that matters for the Oilers, of course, is the one drawn up by Keith Gretzky and the team’s amateur scouting staff. What does that top-10 look like? Who do the Oilers have ranked eighth? Do they have Podkolzin rated there? What about Dylan Cozens or Peyton Krebs? Do they see those players the same way McKenzie does?


The reality is, whether you’re a reporter covering the team and supposedly connected at least a little with what the scouting staff is thinking, or a fan scribbling out possibilities on a scrap of paper at home without even a shred of inside intel to work with, there’s no way to predict how things will play out – taking Connor McDavid first doesn’t count.

Even during the years when I wrote the Oilers beat at the dailies, I didn’t see draft-aged players nearly enough to make an educated assessment of them leading into all the drafts I covered, especially in the pre-YouTube days. You relied on your rapport with the team’s scouts, what you heard. Even then, scouts were reluctant to show you the cards they were holding. Nobody ever said, “Here’s our list.” Not once. You got hints. Bits and pieces. Nods.

Without even that much to work with, your guess is as good as mine. As one example, we’ve heard mentions by people I consider to be in-the-know about the Oilers being interested in Swedish defenceman Philip Broberg with the eighth pick. Does that mean for certain the Oilers are interested? Maybe, but interested is one thing, calling the player’s name is another.

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Despite being rated lower by McKenzie – in the 15th spot – and not being the skilled forward most agree makes sense for the Oilers to add at this draft, Broberg is my guess, but that’s all it is. Like I said, though, even if I’m guessing right, that can change when a team does something unexpected in the top seven spots. Who do you have at eighth, and way?


I’ll admit up front I didn’t care much for Dallas Eakins when he arrived as the coach of the Oilers. First, I thought Ralph Krueger got a raw deal from GM Craig MacTavish. Second, Eakins arrived with way too much swagger for my liking for a guy who’d proven nothing as a coach at the NHL level. Third, I didn’t much care for all the hype Eakins got from some of the eastern media before he eventually crashed and burned here.

All that said, Eakins picked himself up off the floor and did some really good work with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL on the way to being named coach of the Anaheim Ducks today. After coming off as thinking he was the smartest guy in the room, Eakins swallowed a heaping helping of humble pie and earned the second chance he’s getting. I think a Q&A Eakins did with Mark Spector of Sports Net was telling, particularly this snippet:

“I went in there with a f—ing blow torch, and a can of gasoline, and I tried to hit everything head on,” Eakins said. “And I tried to hit it all in two weeks. ‘We’re going to get this changed, right away!’ Obviously it backfired . . .”

Eakins didn’t have a good enough team to work with. The roster was full of holes. Of that, there’s no question. He compounded matters with the way he handled the situation. Taking ownership for that, being humbled by what happened, tells me he has a chance to get it right this time, even with the challenges presented by an Anaheim outfit that needs a lot of work.

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Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Shameless Plugger

    I never hope for people to fail. But part of me wants to see Eakins crash and burn in Anaheim. I’ve never seen or heard a more arrogant person in my life.

    • OilTastic

      If the Oilers are patient with Podkolzin, with him committing to 2 more years in Europe, therefore keeping the Oilers from being tempted to rush him, they might find him to be NHL ready by then?

  • D

    It’s fun that both Eakins and Krueger are hired back into the NHL the same year. It should be interesting to see who succeeds more between the two. I would like to see Eakins succeed even though his work in Edmonton was not very good. Of course I want Krueger to succeed as well.

  • Realizing and admitting mistakes is a big step forward for Eakins.
    3-4 months ago i would say Oilers will not take Russian player in first round, now with Holland here, anything possible.

  • The Perceptor

    At 8, there is a good chance 1 name falls into our laps, Like a Cozens. We saw Bouchard fall a little, just last year, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. I’m also sold on Caulfield, especailly after Craig Button’s video, raving over him, using the DeBrincat comp. A little sniper on McDavid’s wing could maximize the talents of both he, and Caulfield. Remember Brett Hull and Adam Oates? Lastly, the russian, Podkolzin, is a player I can see Holland choosing, based on the history of the Red wings during his time at the helm. So between Cozens, Caulfield and Podkolzin, I think it’s highly likely at least 1 of those names should be an Oiler on Friday, but what do I know.

    • TruthHurts98

      You’re right, I’ve followed this draft closely. I personally don’t see how the Oilers can pass on Caufield if he’s available. Hands down the best sniper in the draft, on par with Laine but not as big. Imagine Connor and Leon dishing him on the PP?!? I think Holland is drafting someone off the USNDT, he’s already eluded to the fact he’s watched that team closely and really likes a couple of the players.

  • TKB2677

    I seriously hope that the Oilers do not pick Podkolzin at 8. He’s got a 2 year contract in the KHL before he could even think of coming over to NA. That’s assuming he actually does come over in 2 years. Plus if he does come over, he won’t have played ANY North American hockey so he could potentially need another year of AHL minimum to get used to NA hockey. All of a sudden you are 3-4 years from the draft and the guy may not have played a game for you when in all likelihood every North American kid is probably 2 years into his NHL career.

      • TKB2677

        Sorry man. I am not rolling the dice with a #8 that the KHL develops him into a good NHLer. The Oilers would have extremely limited access to him being that he is all the way over in Russia plus the KHL and NHL aren’t exactly buddies. They play a complete different style of hockey. He supposed as a ton of tools but needs some development and lacks consistency. Does that not sound like Puljujarvi? It sure does to me. The Oilers NEED to hit on this player. The already screwed up with Puljujarvi. They didn’t develop him properly but it’s blatantly obvious that he should have never been drafted 4th overall. They sure as hell can’t screw up this #8. They need to get a good player out of this.

        So I would much rather the Oilers take a sure things in a North American player vs rolling the dice of the unknown that is Podkolzin. If there is a North American kid who is going to be a 20 goal, 50 pt player like Tkachuk vs going after Podkolzin who maybe could be a 35+ goal, 60 pt player or never play in the NHL, take the sure fire thing. Maybe you get lucky and the sure fire 20 goal guy has a season like Tkachuk did and out scores his projections but regardless you know he will be at worst a decent second liner. They tried to hit a homerun with Puljujarvi passing on more sure things and it blew up in their face.

    • The Perceptor

      With all this talk in Oilers management this year about letting players become “over-rype”, and GM Holland coming from a Russian-positive organization like Detroit, drafting Podkolzin, I believe, is a real possibility, for better or worse. The 2 years thing plays into the Oilers newly stated philosophy.

  • TruthHurts98

    This is how I think the draft will unfold, but I’m probably going to be off a bit like everyone else.
    1. Hughes
    2. Kaako
    3. Byram
    4. Turcotte
    5. Cozens
    6. Dach
    7. Zegras
    8. Caufield
    9. Boldy
    10. Krebs
    Based on the fact centres go off the board before wingers and hold higher value. I think it’s likely Podkolzin falls out of the top ten.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I hope they don’t go for the “smartest guy in the room” pick. They stopped doing that several years ago and it seems to be paying off now that we have some actual prospects in the system. Wait and see who’s left between the USNTDP and the WHL guys, and pick the best, most skilled forward of the bunch.

    • The Perceptor

      Agreed! I’m a big no on Broberg. The Oilers need forward help for their stars, not yet another d prospect. I am frankly surprised that media is suggesting the Oilers have high interest in Broberg. There will be a great forward available at 8, is it’s an easy decision to me.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    “After coming off as thinking he was the smartest guy in the room”

    That was his first mistake. There were always at least three smarter people than Eakins when he was here and they all have the rings to prove it.

  • Jay (not J)

    I was pretty impressed by some of the things that Eakins has said in the aftermath of his Edmonton adventure. It would be so easy for his to talk about the roster, talk about the culture he inherited, talk about the players he had to give time to, but he’s owned every mistake, even downplayed the organisational road bloacks he faced. I’m curious to read about the donut situation in the media room when training camp starts, but other than the fact that he’s coaching a division rival and a team that I would hate even if it wasn’t one, and even if it didn’t have Corey Perry on it, I wish him all the best.

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Dallas Eakin’s was in a difficult situation in Edmonton, his 1st stint as an NHL coach. He had a difficult to coach star player who wouldn’t buy in or listen to coaches. He tried to make too many changes to culture too fast.
      When your most skilled player doesn’t buy in and set the example, your way behind the 8-ball. That’s one of the reasons he was traded.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Oilers should Finally be able to develop a Russian player with Ken Holland at the helm. Vasili Podkolzin is extremely talanted, one of the most skilled in the draft.

  • RJ

    There have been stories over the past few seasons about Euro prospects not managed well by the Oilers. You would have to think, if that rumour were remotely accurate, that KH will fix that problem.