Part 2 of 3 – Scouting The WHL for the next Edmonton Oilers
This is the second installment of a 3 part series where I will breakdown every single draft eligible player in the CHL & rate the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers drafting them. I feel like by doing this it gives even the average fan an opportunity to learn more about Draft prospects without having to do the legwork of searching for them all online. It is important to note, that while I am not a Professional Scout I do take this very seriously and have a system I have found that works well over the years. For more information on exactly what I look for please check out my Scouting page.
(Also, if you haven’t read my PART 1 – The OHL you can also do so here.)
When it comes to the WHL I am not able to go to any games live so I rely on information from a lot of different sources, watch as much video as I can on each player and in many cases watch the games online. Once I release all the rankings and my takes on certain players I plan on continuing to follow up and will be paying close attention to the games come playoff time while making any adjustments I notice in my updated reports. It is far from perfect but it does enable me to at least get eyes on just about every prospect and I apply the same system I use to evaluate all prospects for all leagues across the board. The key is consistency.
For years the WHL has routinely put out some of the best and brightest young stars……last year they had 7 players go in the 1st round of the NHL draft. 2016 saw 4 WHL prospects go in the Top 30. This year however, I’ve got only 2 players from the WHL listed in my Top 31 and both are defencemen –Ty Smith and Jett Woo. A far cry from the OHL which has Svechnikov, Bouchard, Merkley, Akil Thomas, Barrett Hayton and Noel etc… or the QMJHL which has Zadina, Veleno, Dobson, MacIsaac, Groulx all projected to possibly be taken in the 1st round. It’s certainly not a favourable year for Forwards in the WHL that’s for sure although there are a few I do like for the Oilers which we’ll touch on soon.
For now though, since they are the class of their league amongst this year’s draft eligibles let’s start with…..
|FC 7||L||Ty Smith||5’10||174||69||14||59||73|
|FC 23||R||Jett Woo||6’0||205||44||9||16||25|
|FC 38||L||Calen Addison||5’10||179||68||11||54||65|
|FC 41||R||Alexander Alexeyev||6’3||190||45||7||30||37|
|NCS 52||L||Filip Kral||6’0||168||54||9||26||35|
|NCS 79||R||Vladislav Yeryomenko||6’0||176||63||13||28||41|
|NCS 100||L||Yegor Zamula||6’3||170||69||2||16||18|
|NCS 107||L||John Ludvig||6’1||187||51||2||5||7|
|NCS 110||R||Libor Zabransky||6’1||187||72||2||17||19|
|NCS 142||R||Artyom Minulin||6’3||196||64||13||30||43|
|NCS 156||L||Dawson Barteaux||6’1||170||64||3||29||32|
|NCS 179||R||Wyatte Wylie||6’0||182||72||6||25||31|
|NCS 181||L||Chase Hartje||5’11||185||58||3||22||25|
|NCS 184||L||Wyatt McLeod||6’2||183||49||2||6||8|
|NCS 188||R||Reece Harsch||6’3||196||53||10||15||25|
|NCS 190||R||Alex Kannok-Leipert||5’11||194||60||5||16||21|
|NCS 203||L||Jacob Herauf||5’11||190||70||2||16||18|
|NCS 208||L||Dylan Plouffe||6’0||185||60||9||31||40|
|NCS 214||R||Montana Onyebuchi||6’2||209||62||4||11||15|
The first column is a general ranking based on where I think they should be rated roughly. Not every player is ranked by every system so I tried to list the most appropriate. I used a variety of resources: ISS (International Scouting Services), FC (Future Considerations), NCS (NHL Central Scouting) and my own rankings to determine where they could be drafted. The rankings will likely change by end of the year but this is a good measuring stick for now. I used hockeydb.com for the measureables and the player links all direct to eliteprospects.com.
Players I like for the Oilers:
Ty Smith (Top 15 overall) – LHD. Smith is a smart, fast, puck moving defenceman with great offensive instincts & leadership qualities. That makes him an extremely coveted player. He can Quarterback a Powerplay by using his low, hard, accurate shot that seems to get through more often than not and has tremendous passing and vision to set up his teammates. Defensively, despite a smaller frame he holds his own. He seems to make good reads & is physical when he needs to be. Like most 18 yr olds he could use more consistency and needs to get stronger but compared to his peers he appears to excel. Great at skating the puck right out his zone and is capable of those long stretch passes. He would be a dream pick for the Oilers at #7 if he were a Right shot D. Even so, he appears to be a great fit for Edmonton I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does ended up being their guy come draft day.
A lot of people ask me since I get to see Evan Bouchard on a nightly basis who I would rather take – he or Ty Smith. The answer is – it depends. Both are offensively gifted players but Smith is more dynamic than Bouchard. Both do a great job of getting their shot thru from the point but Smith is more dangerous sneaking in front the point for a backdoor feed. Both are excellent skaters Bouchard’s stride is so smooth and effortless but Smith has the better agility and Top end speed. Both are great leaders and both should be very solid NHLers but I see Smith as a better fit for the Oilers despite Bouchard being RH.
Jett Woo (Late 1st rd/early 2nd rd pick) – RHD. Easily the best name in this draft, Woo is complete player in my opinion capable of contributing offensively but also rock solid defensively. He’s a wonderful skater who has great speed and agility but his edgework is what really stands out when you watch him. Can deliver bone crunching hits as he’s built like a tank. Seems highly competitive, has a great work ethic and makes good decisions all over the ice. I have to admit I REALLY like this player. I watched him earlier in the year thought he was good, watched a couple times recently and thought he was great. Smart, skilled, fast, aggressive, puck mover. If Oilers could snag him early 2nd it would be a steal but might have to trade back into the 1st to get him.
Calen Addison (2nd/3rd rd pick) – RHD. Has some real nice traits offensively. He sees the ice really well, head is always up makes some unreal passes and reads. First time I ever watched him I immediately thought he reminded me of Brian Rafalski. He is a bit undersized and doesn’t appear to have a big shot but is smart, poised & is always in great position. Excellent puck mover. Woo is more dynamic and well rounded for me not to mention has better size and is better defensively but Addison appears to project more offence at the next level. Be a nice late 2nd early 3rd rd pick but I don’t think I’d take him any earlier than that considering who else might be on the board.
Dylan Plouffe (Late Round pick) – Plouffe is intriguing to me as he appears to be an excellent skater and has good size. Watching a couple Vancouver games recently he definitely stood out to me on the back end. He has a nice one-timer and good wrister from the point. He seemed to have good vision and poise. Defensively, he wasn’t a stalwart but I thought he did a good job of tying up his man, getting his stick in lanes, making good reads & excelled at zone exits. To be honest, I’m not sure why he’s ranked so low. I know the knock on him last year was his decision making. It will be draft +1 for him but if it was the questionable decision making that prevented him from getting drafted last year and that has improved dramatically this year maybe a 7th rd flier would be worth it as he has some nice traits especially skating.
Maybe’s for Oilers…
The rest are pretty much maybe’s for me at this point. I haven’t seen enough of Alexeyev or Kral to make a decision one way or another yet. Minulin and Yeryoyenko are intriguing but are both 19 yr old European imports. The rest of the list are pretty average don’t see a lot of upside there.
Reece Harsch stood out for me earlier in the year especially defensively he might be another guy to keep an eye on once he gets back from injury. He is also 19 though so he may go undrafted.
|FC 49||L||Cole Fonstad||5’10||161||72||21||52||73|
|FC 57||L||Milos Roman||5’11||187||39||10||22||32|
|NCS 64||R||Kyle Topping||5’11||185||66||22||43||65|
|FC 68||L||Luka Burzan||6’0||185||72||15||25||40|
|FC 80||R||Kristian Reichel||6’0||168||63||34||23||57|
|FC 85||L||Eric Florchuk||6’1||163||71||16||33||49|
|NCS 88||L||Riley Stotts||6’0||174||69||19||25||44|
|NCS 97||L||Ryan Peckford||6’0||183||73||20||29||49|
|NCS 125||L||Justin Almeida||5’10||163||72||43||55||98|
|NCS 166||R||Brett Kemp||5’11||174||69||17||19||36|
|NCS 169||L||Bradley Ginnell||6’1||170||61||8||11||19|
|NCS 200||L||Carson Focht||6’0||154||69||13||20||33|
Plenty of options here throughout the draft. There are several 19 yr olds in this list to keep in mind and one prospect who will be 20 come draft time – Kristian Reichel. That matters because normally you would expect older players to have more success over 17 & 18 yr olds. Justin Almeida is another guy who has exploded this year as a 19 yr old. Last year his stat line was 70-11-17-28 pts. This year he finished with 98. That’s a massive jump in points. He is a tremendous skater who flashed ability but was always left you wanting more. It’s a nice breakout season but not uncommon with 19 yr olds.
Players I like for the Oilers:
Milos Roman (Late 2nd/early 3rd) – A smart, savvy playmaker with great vision and hands who appears to have a high hockey IQ. Might be one of the best passers in the draft. Excellent forechecker who plays a solid 2 way game. Can play on Powerplay and Penalty kill. Has a nice shot when he uses it but definitely more of a setup player than shooter. I know the Oilers are deep at center at the NHL level but you can never have too many good centers in my opinion. If Roman is the best player available and still on the board in the 3rd round the Oilers should pounce.
Riley Stotts (3rd/4th rd pick) – Watching a few Hitmen games lately Stotts has really stood out to me. His skating style and wrist shot reminds me a lot of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Has an excellent shot, is such a smooth skater and seemed to make decisions all over the ice. Not the greatest faceoff guy but is a good 2 way player. Would love to watch him some more think he has real sleeper potential. Plenty of skill here. While watching Calgary, another guy really impressed…
Tristen Nielsen (6th-7th rd) – Nielsen appears to be a dynamic player with some nice finishing moves and terrific speed. He’s also pretty aggressive for a smaller guy and appears to be a puckhound. Highly energetic he’s got some sweet hands and appears to be sound defensively backchecking hard in the games I watched him play. Honestly, I have no idea why he is not ranked. He has 17 points in the last 23 games to date. He looks to me like he should be a mid round pick at worst I’m willing to bet when the new rankings come out he’ll be there this time around. I’d take him in the 5th rd at this point. Listed as a Center but is playing on the wing. Could skyrocket up draft boards like Liam Foudy in the OHL he has caught fire here late.
Maybe’s for the Oilers:
Kyle Topping (3rd rd pick) – A lot of Kole Lind comparisons with Topping. Excellent passer and a has a very quick release. Plays on a line with Kole Lind and Dillon Dube so there is question about how much he is benefiting from playing with two top players. Has good speed and plays a solid 2 way game.
Eric Florchuk (3rd-4th rd) – Florchuk has a nice combination of size, skill, skating and 2 way play. While he probably doesn’t have any elite traits he does have really good hands with a quick release and good hockey sense. He is versatile can play center or wing, PP or PK and is a good faceoff guy. I wouldn’t take him any sooner than the 4th round but he is a nice player with some upside.
|OVR Rank||Shoots||Left Wing||Size||Weight||GP||G||A||P|
|FC 99||R||Chase Wouters||6’0||176||72||18||33||51|
|NCS 95||L||Jackson Leppard||6’2||194||68||15||21||36|
|NCS 144||L||Brodi Stuart||5’10||168||70||16||22||38|
|NCS 160||L||Ryan Chyzowski||6’0||190||72||21||31||52|
|NCS 164||L||Cole Reinhardt||6’0||203||68||19||15||34|
|NCS 170||R||Isaac Johnson||6’2||183||68||17||31||48|
|NCS 179||L||James Malm||5’9||179||72||19||47||66|
|NCS 193||R||Emil Oksanen||6’1||190||58||16||32||48|
There are several intriguing options here in the mid & late rounds the Oilers could consider. Of note, both Oksanen & Johnson are 19 yr olds.
Players I like for the Oilers:
Chase Wouters (4th rd pick) – Wouters (pronounced “Waters” ) by most accounts is a hard-working will do whatever takes to win kind of player. He hits, he blocks shots, he forechecks like crazy and never takes a shift off. He has good speed, a quick release and is a 200 foot player. Consistently outhustles his opponents. A coaches dream he is the energetic type of player who can change a game with one shift. I’ve watched a few times and he kind of reminds of a young Raffi Torres. Fearless competitor who could excel in your bottom six and perhaps even have a 2nd line ceiling. Would be a nice 4th rounder but wouldn’t take him any sooner.
Ryan Chyzowski (6th rd pick) – is another player who stands out for me. Son of former NHLer Dave Chyzowski he is known for his work ethic and hockey IQ. Nothing about his game jumps out at you but he is a solid all round player with good hands who’s hard work and determination lead to a lot of “garbage goals”. Always seems to be around the net and wins more puck battles then he loses. One of those gritty overachievers who could possible be a nice 3rd or 4th liner in the NHL. If he’s still there in the 6th round I think he’d be a nice pick for the Oilers.
Maybe’s for the Oilers:
Cole Reinhardt (6th rd pick) – I haven’t seen enough of Reinhardt to say either way but he has intriguing size and skill and appears to have above average skating. He is one prospect I need to see more of.
|OVR Rank||Shoots||Right Wing||Size||Weight||GP||G||A||P|
|FC 53||R||Riley Sutter||6’2||201||68||25||28||53|
As crazy as it sounds it’s very possible only 1 Right Winger in the entire WHL could get drafted in June.
Riley Sutter (3rd rd pick) – Easily the best RW in this league he looks like a solid 2nd or 3rd rd pick. He’s a Sutter so you know he’s gritty but he’s also the leading scorer among 18 yr old draft eligibles this year from the WHL. He is your prototypical power forward who’s so physical down low and has a big shot with a quick release. A hard worker who plays a very good 200 foot game he can also play Center. Has worked real hard on his skating and overall game. Probably not a Top line player in the NHL but could make for an excellent 2nd or 3rd liner on a good team.
The rest of the RW group likely won’t be drafted so unless the Oilers target Sutter specifically they will likely be searching other leagues for RW help.
So as you can see this WHL is really lacking up front in terms of Top rated talent but there are a few C/LW’s with some real potential and upside in the middle and late rounds. On defence, there are plenty of quality players to choose from depending on where Edmonton picks. If I’m the Oilers and I don’t get a lottery pick here are the players I would target each round not considering other leagues:
7th Overall Oilers Mock Draft (WHL only)
1st Round – RD Ty Smith
2nd Round – LD Calen Addison
3rd Round – RW/C Riley Sutter, C Milos Roman
4th Round – C Riley Stotts, Chase Wouters
5th Round – C Tristen Nielsen
6th Round – LW Ryan Chyzowski
7th Round – D Dylan Plouffe
To Comment please do via Twitter @TheOilKnight