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Fourteenth overall picks from the past five NHL drafts

With the Oilers picking in the 14th spot at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, I figured that I would take a dip in the pool of league history to find the players that have been taken in that slot over the years to see if we can learn anything about the type of prospect that could be getting added to our stables. Is there anything there? Let’s find out together.

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Now, before we get started, I’m going to kick things off by saying I already know that looking back at past five drafts won’t tell us anything about the player the Oilers may select a few hours from now or how he’ll perform at the NHL level, but I always think it’s fun to get a sense of the calibre of talent that generally gets taken around that position. Obviously, every draft is different and some picks taken at #14 will work out while others won’t, but it’s interesting to look back over the past handful of years to see if there are any similarities to be found amongst the prospects taken in this spot. Besides, I need something to distract myself from the anger that’s still bubbling inside me over the Oilers getting bumped out in the play-in round and there are still hours to go until the draft starts so here we are.

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2015 – Jake DeBrusk – RW – Boston Bruins

Rookie Season (2017-18) – 70GP: 16G, 27A = 43 points
2019-20 Season: 65GP – 19G, 16A = 35 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

A two-way winger with good mobility and scoring ability. Willing to battle in the dirty areas and can always find the puck and make the smart play below the hashmarks. Shows good creativity and deception with the puck. Good individual skills and makes good use of any time and space found. DeBrusk won’t beat you up physically, but he can definitely beat you up on the scoreboard. All-in-all, a competitive two-way winger with the natural goal scorer’s instincts.

Put simply, if the Oilers are can pick up a player that can be as effective for them as Jake DeBrusk has been for the Bruins (200 GP: 62G, 58A – 120 points) then I think they’ll be pretty satisfied with their choice. The oldest player in this pointless retrospective, DeBrusk took a few years before sticking at the NHL level, which is not exactly uncommon by any stretch, and I think his development path would be somewhat similar to that of anyone the Oilers end up picking.

2016 – Charlie McAvoy – D – Boston Bruins

Rookie Season (2017-18) – 63GP: 7G, 25A = 32 points
2019-20 Season: 67GP – 5G, 27A = 32 points

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Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

Boston’s first pick in the 2016 draft, McAvoy, is one of only two U.S. college hockey players to be rated A in skating by NHL Central Scouting in the 2016 draft. McAvoy’s smooth skating and playmaking abilities led to a successful first season with Boston University, finishing the year for the Terriers with 25 points in 37 games played. While widely considered a talented passer, McAvoy’s shot leaves a little to be desired. McAvoy is not particularly big but he managed to accrue 56 penalty minutes for Boston U in 2015-16 and possesses some nastiness to his game. McAvoy is not NHL-ready but has great potential as an offensive defenseman. Given the proper seasoning, McAvoy should develop into a solid contributor for the Bruins’ blueline in the next three to four years.

How about the Bruins hitting on back-to-back NHL contributors with their 14th overall picks? I know the Oilers are fishing for forwards this year, but I’ve gotta say that I love this pick by the Bruins in 2017. McAvoy is a fun defenceman to watch and I think we can all agree that he’s the type of defender our team could use on their blue line. In 184 games played so far, Charlie McAvoy has registered 19 goals and 73 assists for 92 points while averaging 22:31 on the back end.

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2017 – Cal Foote – D – Tampa Bay Lightning

Rookie Season: N/A
2019-20 Season w/ Syracuse Crunch: 62GP – 6G, 22A = 28 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

An assertive two-way defenceman who reads plays quickly and understands both the offensive and defensive sides of the roles he is put into. He plays a consistent game, and can be trusted to create chances from the back end on special teams. He uses his size to gain leverage against other players, though he isn’t an overly physical force. His hockey sense is outstanding, and his ability to not just read but start and, on the odd occasion, finish plays is overtly indicative of his high talent level.

Seeing as the team that drafted him just won the Stanley Cup, it’s not exactly surprising that Cal Foote is one of only three players that have yet to play a game in the NHL, especially as a defender. Over the past two seasons, Foote finished up his junior career and has been working on his game in the AHL without the pressure of having to produce at the NHL level, but with the cap issues the Lightning are starting to run into, I can’t imagine it will be long before he makes his NHL debut. Could Foote become an NHLer in his Draft +4 season?

2018 – Joel Farabee – LW – Philadelphia Flyers

Rookie Season (2019-20): 52GP – 8G, 13A = 21 points

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Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

Slight and slippery, he feasts on oppositions with his vision and his finishing ability. Great skater who works tirelessly in all three zones. Had a tremendous season with the USNTDP this year. He thrived while playing with Wahlstrom and 2019-eligible super-prospect, Jack Hughes, and didn’t miss a beat while anchoring his own line. Needs to add strength but does all the little things that make players successful. Can hurt you during all situations. Getting a high-ceiling player in this part of the draft is a coup.

While it’s way too early to judge this pick overall, it is interesting to me that Farabee made the jump to the NHL after only one more year in the minor leagues. After being drafted at 14th overall in June of 2018, Farabee spent one season with Boston University before making the full-time jump to the pros the following year. Farabee played in only five games with the AHL Phantoms before being called up to the Flyers, a spot he remained for the rest of the 2019-20 season. That’s not to say that he’s lighting the world on fire, but the 20 year old is finding a way to contribute a few points here and there while averaging 14:06 on the ice with the Flyers.

2019 – Cam York – D – Philadelphia Flyers

Rookie Season: N/A
2019-20 Season w/ University of Michigan: 30GP – 5G, 11A = 16 points

Pre-Draft Scouting Report:

A highly skilled defenseman. York has impressive hockey sense and his overall skill level is high. Furthermore, he is very mobile, has a good passing game and a quick release. Defensively he is solid with an active stick and strong positioning..

Just over a year removed from being selected, it is way too early to tell what will happen with Cam York’s career. By all accounts, he had himself a fine year in the NCAA as a freshman with the University of Michigan, and the most recent plan that I could find was that he had been planning to turn pro this fall, but with COVID-19 ruining everyone’s plans about basically everything, there has yet to be any further updates on what the 2020-21 season will look like for Cam York.

EVEN MORE 14th OVERALL PICKS

Below, you’ll find a list of guys draft at 14th overall dating back to 1980.

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Year Player Pos. Drafted From Drafted By
2014 Julius Honka D Swift Current Broncos (WHL) Dallas Stars
2013 Alexander Wennberg C Djurgardens IF (SWE) Columbus Blue Jackets
2012 Zemgus Girgensons C Dubuque (USHL) Buffalo Sabres
2011 Jamieson Oleksiak D Northeastern (H-East) Dallas Stars
2010 Jaden Schwartz C Tri City (USHL) St. Louis Blues
2009 Dmitry Kulikov D Drummondville (QMJHL) Florida Panthers
2008 Zach Boychuk C Lethbridge Carolina Hurricanes
2007 Kevin Shattenkirk D US Under-18 Colorado Avalanche
2006 Michael Grabner RW Spokane (WHL) Vancouver Canucks
2005 Sasha Pokulok D Cornell University (NCAA) Washington Capitals
2004 Devan Dubnyk G Kamloops Blazers (WHL) Edmonton Oilers
2003 Brent Seabrook D Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) Chicago Blackhawks
2002 Chris Higgins C Yale University (NCAA) Montreal Canadiens
2001 Chuck Kobasew RW Boston College (NCAA) Calgary Flames
2000 Vaclav Nedorost C Ceske Budejovice HC (Czech) Colorado Avalanche
1999 Jeff Jillson D U. of Michigan (NCAA) San Jose Sharks
1998 Patrick DesRochers G Sarnia Sting (OHL) Phoenix Coyotes
1997 Michel Riesen RW Biel (SwissA) Edmonton Oilers
1996 Marty Reasoner C Boston College (NCAA) St. Louis Blues
1995 Jay McKee D Niagara-Falls Thunder (OHL) Buffalo Sabres
1994 Ethan Moreau LW Niagara-Falls Thunder (OHL) Chicago Blackhawks
1993 Adam Deadmarsh RW Portland Winter Hawks (WHL) Quebuc Nordiques
1992 Sergei Gonchar D Chelyabinsk Traktor (Russia) Washington Capitals
1991 Pat Peake RW Detroit Compuware Ambassadors (OHL) Washington Capitals
1990 Brad May LW Niagara-Falls Thunder (OHL) Buffalo Sabres
1989 Kevin Haller D Regina Pats (WHL) Buffalo Sabres
1988 Claude Boivin LW Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) Philadelphia Flyers
1987 Stephane Quintal D Granby Bisons (QMJHL) Boston Bruins
1986 Everett Sanipass LW Verdun Junior Canadiens (QMJHL) Chicago Blackhawks
1985 Calle Johansson D Vastra Frolunda (Sweden) Buffalo Sabres
1984 Terry Carkner D Peterborough Petes (OHL) New York Rangers
1983 Bobby Dollas D Laval Voisins (QMJHL) Winnipeg Jets
1981 Normand Leveille F Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) Boston Bruins
1980 Jim Malone F Toronto Marlboros (OHA) New York Rangers
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THE WRAP…

If the Oilers do decide to use this pick just like everyone suspects that they will, they’re going to get a quality prospect at number 14 that will likely help the team for years to come. The problem, at least as I see it, is that the Oilers also need help right now and whoever ends up being chosen in this slot probably won’t help for a couple of years or more, which makes the chatter about trading the pick get louder every year. Looking back at the last five drafts, there’s a reasonable chance that the Oilers will snag a quality prospect, but like anything with the NHL draft, there are never any guarantees. Quite frankly, any Oilers fan that’s been around can tell you that there are busts and diamonds littered all over the first round and it will be up to the scouts to make sure that they get this right.

Personally, I’m hoping that the Oilers use the pick and add another forward to a depth chart that’s still too light on skill. While the overall quality of the prospect pool has improved in recent years, especially on defence, the Oilers still don’t have enough high-end forwards 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 an area that might be addressed over the next couple of days. I know that the NHL Draft can be a crapshoot in terms of who actually pans out and who doesn’t, but at number fourteen, I’m thinking that there’s plenty of opportunities to pick up a player that will be able to help down the road.

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