One of the things that stood out for me in yesterday’s presser with GM Peter Chiarelli was his admission that “there’s a whole cluster of ‘D’ that I like” in terms of this year’s draft eligible defence group. It comes as no surprise to me if you have been following my Prospects lists in preparation for this year’s draft I have a few d-men pegged for the Oilers. You can view my breakdown of all CHL eligible prospects and who I like for the Oilers here with the OHL Prospects, WHL Prospects & QMJHL Prospects.
Now if we assume the Oilers won’t be getting a Top 3 pick and don’t move down in the draft it is unlikely they will get an NHL ready winger at #9 so finding that puck moving Defenceman should be priority #1 even if he isn’t ready for 2-3 years down the road. Why? Well for one, they only have one Defensive prospect in the entire CHL currently (Dima Samorukov) with Ethan Bear & Caleb Jones now moving on to Bakersfield. Second, that “cluster” he is referring to is EXTREMELY talented and at least one of them should be available when the Oilers draft at #9 (it is possible they drop down further if a team behind them wins the lottery). Chiarelli clearly identified that as a pressing need so it’s almost a guarantee if they keep the pick that will be the route they go. So who exactly is he referring to when he says “cluster?” Take a look:
|RD Adam Boqvist||5’11||170||25||14||10||24|
|LD Quinn Hughes||5’10||174||37||5||24||29|
|RD Noah Dobson||6’3||180||67||17||52||69|
|LD Ty Smith||5’11||170||69||14||59||73|
|RD Evan Bouchard||6’2||193||67||25||62||87|
All five of these defencemen have outstanding qualities and could potentially be a fit for the Oilers. I listed them in order of how I think the Oilers will have them ranked. All 5 are excellent puck movers and could go in the Top 10. What separates them from each other? It depends on who you talk to but here’s my quick breakdown:
RD Adam Boqvist – Very flashy player, highly skilled, tremendous puck mover, excellent skater. Incredible edge work. Can stickhandle in a phone booth. Will struggle a bit defensively ala Erik Karlsson but offensive upside is hard to ignore. Needs to get stronger & continue to work on defence but his ceiling is very high. Highlights.
LD Quinn Hughes – Very similar to Boqvist he also needs to get a bit bigger and stronger. Will struggle at times defensively but has elite skating & puck moving ability. Loves to join the attack and has the speed to get back. Boqvist may be slightly ahead of him defensively and is a RD which is why he gets the nod. High risk high reward player similar to Kris Letang. Highlights.
RD Noah Dobson – Complete package. Big, smart, excellent skater, terrific passer & puck mover, can run PP and also play a shutdown role. Very mature player who played a year overseas as a 16 yr old. Not flashy but the best defensively of this cluster easily. Prototypical #1 Dman with similar size/skill combo to Alex Pietrangelo. A bit raw but tons of upside here. Highlights.
LD Ty Smith – Very close in terms of speed/skill combo with Boqvist or Hughes just not quite as dynamic. Bit better defensively though. Can run PP, excellent skater, terrific puck mover. Works hard defensively despite smaller frame. Probably will never be a #1 Dman but projects to be a very solid NHLer. Great leadership qualities too. Highlights.
RD Evan Bouchard – One of the safest picks of the group Bouchard doesn’t appear to have a lot of upside. Very mature for his age he is a solid dman who plays a steady game. Adept at getting his shot thru from the point on the PP. Smooth skater, excellent passer great vision. Struggles trying to do too much sometimes, can be a liability at times defensively. Looks a bit stiff. Overrated by many because of OHL point production has some nice tools but as far as NHL translatable skills go he is behind the other 4 in my opinion. Highlights.
In his presser, Chiarelli also mentioned his preference and desire to have that perfect LD-RD combination. With that in mind and considering Boqvist and Hughes will likely be gone by the time the Oilers pick at #9, I would fully expect RD Noah Dobson to be the choice if he is on the board and if he’s gone LD Ty Smith will be the selection. Either would fill a big need in organization but both would require at least 2-3 years before they are NHL ready. If the Oilers were to trade down then look for Edmonton to target RD Calen Addison late in the 1st or early 2nd round. The silky smooth offensive defencemen highlights can be found here: Highlights.
Regardless, this team needs more defensive depth in the organization especially a few exceptional puck movers to compliment a nice group of young forwards that are progressing well in Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov (full profile), Tyler Benson and Ostap Safin.
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