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10 players the Oilers could target with their second round pick

John Mustard Waterloo Black Hawks
Photo credit:Stephanie Lyn Photography
Dave Hall
20 days ago
With a Game 7 loss still fresh in mind, the Edmonton Oilers’ brass will attempt to shift their focus to the NHL Draft. Amazingly, they’ll have just three days to pick themselves up and throw on the suits again.
To add insult to injury, the club only holds the rights to one pick in the first four rounds and, barring any draft floor deals, won’t have any business on day one.
As it stands today, here is a breakdown of their current 2024 Draft picks:
  • Round 2, 64th overall
  • Round 5, 160th overall
  • Round 6, 183rd overall
  • Round 6, 192nd overall
  • Round 7, 196th overall
  • Round 7, 218th overall
With just one round to fish for glory, the Oilers will have to make an important decision: target a safe floor or shoot for the stars with upside.
With that in mind, let’s dive into 10 names they could target in the second round.

Speed Demons

John Mustard
Position: Center/Left Wing | Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 185 lbs | Shoots: Left | Consolidated ranking: 46
We’ll set the tone with John Mustard, considered one of the speediest players in the class. Quite literally, he does everything at top speed and constantly and often burns past defenders. Granted, his game has only hit the USHL as his highest competition, but that speed isn’t going anywhere.

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As a rookie for the Waterloo Blackhawks, he led his team in goals and was second in points, finishing the season with 29 goals and 56 points in 58 games. His performance earned him the USHL’s Rookie of the Year honours. Hockey sense is a noted work in progress, but as one of the class’s youngest players, there is a lot of room for growth. Take him for the wheels and refine later.
A.J. Spellacy
Position: Center | Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 195 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 92
A.J. Spellacy is a dynamic forward for the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL, known for his impressive speed and physicality. Combining blistering acceleration and a powerful frame, he’s also one of the most formidable net drivers in his draft class.

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Despite a slow start out the gate, to the tune of zero points over his first 11 games, he managed to wrap up the season with 21 goals and 38 points in 67 games during the 2023-24 season.
His relentless work ethic and energy define Spellacy’s game. He is a high-intensity player who excels at driving to the net and creating chaos in the offensive zone through heavy hits and the occasional tussle. His offensive game has yet to pop, making him an obvious gamble. However, his size, speed, and tenacity make him an intriguing prospect with a potential middle-six upside in the NHL.
Tanner Howe
Position: Forward | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 165 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 47
Tanner Howe has posted impressive numbers for two years running with the Regina Pats over the 2021-22/2022-23 seasons, notching 59 goals and 154 points. Of course, he was playing on the same team as Connor Bedard, so many had felt it took away from the allure.
This season, however, he showed the scouting world that he could produce without the generational assistance of a Bedard, posting a 77-point season as the captain of Regina.

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Howe is considered an agile and skilled forward with a knack for creating and scoring big goals. His quick hands and excellent vision make him a constant threat in the offensive zone. Howe’s ability to maneuver through tight spaces and strong playmaking skills are complemented by his defensive awareness, making him a well-rounded and intriguing piece for the future.

Shooters

Melvin Fernstrom
Position: Right Wing | Height: 6’0″ | Weight: 187 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 84
Melvin Fernstrom is a skilled Swedish forward known for his impressive scoring ability, propelled by a booming release. He spent the 2023-24 season within the Örebro junior ranks, where he recorded 31 goals and 63 points to finish third in the J20.

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Praised for his above-average offensive arsenal, Fernstrom finds multiple ways to score, using a strong wrist shot, one-timer, or booming slapshot. His defensive play and low motor have kept his ranking modest, but there is no questioning his ability to produce.
Brodie Ziemer
Position: Forward | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 190 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 59
Brodie Ziemer combines one of the best releases of the draft with a nonstop motor and willingness to provide a strong forecheck. Known for his high hockey IQ and natural leadership, he consistently makes impactful plays on the ice.

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Ziemer excels in finding and exploiting spaces, often making quick decisions with the puck on his stick before letting off one of the more dangerous drag shots you’ll see. His defensive game is equally strong; he anticipates plays well, maintains good positioning, and isn’t afraid to play physically despite his size. His skating is average, but his agility and balance compensate, allowing him to make quick cuts and maintain possession.

The Defenders

Jesse Pulkkinen
Position: Defense | Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 216 lbs | Shoots: Left | Consolidated ranking: 50
Despite being left off the draft podium last year, Jesse Pulkkinen has risen this year’s leaderboards with a vengeance. Starting the year in the U20 SM-sarja, where he picked up just four points in 43 games last season, the now 19-year-old came out incredibly hot, recording 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 18 games. Those numbers solidified him as the league’s leading point-per-game defender (1.56).

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That run resulted in a no-brainer promotion to the pro level, starting with the Mestis (AHL equivalent) and eventually a 29-game stint in Liiga. While the point production wasn’t great at the highest level (eight points in 29 games), his pro-ready frame did not look out of place.
Pulkkinen is a dual-threat defender with a powerful shot, fluid skating, and a solid defensive presence. Oh, did we even mention a 6’6″, 216 lbs frame? There’s still some fine-tuning needed in his game, and his age may deter some from reaching early. But these “flaws” could act as a big benefit to the Oilers late in the second.
Harisson Brunicke
Position: Defense | Height: 6’3″ | Weight: 187 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 52
It’s not easy finding the combination of size and mobility, but Harisson Brunicke has both. Playing for the Kamloops Blazers (WHL), he excels in skating and mobility, using quick lateral movements and acceleration to maintain tight gaps and disrupt opponents.

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Offensively, Brunicke is adept at changing the game’s pace, creating scoring opportunities with his slick puck handling and strong shot from the point. Defensively, he displays advanced game awareness, utilizing his size and active stick to break up plays and execute clean breakouts. Despite a limited offensive output due to playing on a struggling team (21 points in 49 games), Brunicke’s combination of size, skill, and hockey IQ positions him as a promising prospect for a top-four NHL defenceman.
Tarin Smith
Position: Defense | Height: 6’1″ | Weight: 176 lbs | Shoots: Left | Consolidated ranking: 70
Surprisingly, Tarin Smith hasn’t gotten more love among draft circles. In all honesty, he may hold the defensive class’ best highlight reel package. At the very least, he’s in the top echelon.
He’s dynamic with the puck, using quick pivots and cutbacks to create space for himself.

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Don’t let his modest 35 points in 52 games turn you away. Smith shows intelligent vision, high-level instincts, and the ability to generate plays from all over the ice. While he’s no show-stopper, he’s willing to go into the corners and muck it up, if need be.
There’s likely some risk attached to this pick, but the reward could be something special if developed properly. The tools are there to be one of the more entertaining defenders out of this draft.

Safe projections

Sam O’Reilly
Position: Right Wing | Height: 6’1″ | Weight: 186 lbs | Shoots: Right | Consolidated ranking: 48
Sam O’Reilly, playing for the OHL Championed London Knights, finished third in OHL rookie scoring this season, posting 20 goals and 56 points in 68 games. He also led the rookie circuit in plus/minus, sporting a solid plus-32 on the year.
While others on this list are a more sure bet for offence, you’re banking on projectable bottom-to-middle six qualities here. Known for his 200-foot game, O’Reilly is reliable in all three zones, excelling in both offensive and defensive roles.

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He reads the play well, finds space effectively, and is often the third forward on the forecheck. Defensively, he anticipates plays, intercepts passes, and maintains strong positioning. Despite his moderate size, he plays a physical game, driving to the net and screening goalies.
While his skating needs improvement, his intelligence and work ethic give him projectable tools to eventually fill a bottom-to-middle six role.
Cole Beaudoin
Position: Center | Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 206 lbs | Shoots: Left | Consolidated ranking: 32
Speaking of safe bets, Cole Beaudoin feels like a forward who could already be plugged into a bottom-six role.
Known as a well-rounded pivot, his game is propelled by strong puck protection and relentless work ethic. He’s not the most skilled out of the bunch, but he feels like a player you want banging bodies when the moments are high. Say, the Stanley Cup Final?

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Whether it’s driving the net, terrorizing the boards or clogging gaps on the rush, Beaudoin is a menace and an absolute nightmare to play against.
Last year, he fell just short of a point per game, scoring 28 goals and 62 points in 67 games. He’s got a good release on him, but it’s his ability to play in the cycle that will likely be the gas that fuels his future offensive ledger.
Of course, with the Oilers’ pick coming at the tail end of the draft, many scenarios will have to play out in order to snag these names. But one thing is for certain, there is certainly some value at this point in the draft.
 

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