The Oil Knight – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Author: The Oil Knight

Born and raised in London, Ontario area. Been an Oilers fan & London Knights fan for almost 30 years.

by TheOilKnight – Feb 12/2019

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This is the first 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. Oilers fans in particular are extremely knowledgeable and I’ve found the more information you can provide them about their team at all levels the better. 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 Basics post.

The Oilers have done well the last few years drafting out of the OHL. Evan Bouchard (1st rd, ’18), Ryan McLeod (2nd rd, ’18), Dmitri Samorukov (3rd rd, ’17), & Kirill Maksimov (5th rd, ’17) have all blossomed and will head to the AHL next year after having successful OHL careers. Dylan Wells (5th rd, ’16) is also an OHL alum but Markus Niemelainen (3rd rd, ’16) has not panned out. There is a real need for speed and skill in the organization, along with guys who can makes plays with sheer determination. Keep that in mind when I project certain players as good fits for Edmonton. Also note, while I track all the prospect’s stats, I typically favour NHL translatable skills over Junior production assuming certain offensive thresholds are met. You don’t get to take your Junior points with you to the NHL. You start at zero. The reality is, some prospects games are just better tailored for the CHL rather than NHL so you can’t get too hung up on their stats alone. This is one of the biggest mistakes scouts continue to make when doing their evaluations.

Here is a list of all the Centers who are likely to be drafted this year. 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 measurables and the player links all direct to eliteprospects.com.

Center

OVR RankShootsCENTERSSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 21LConnor McMichael 6’017051322961
FC 12LRyan Suzuki6’017149183452
FC 27RPhilip Tomasino6’018052252853
FC 73LJamieson Rees5’1017132102030
NCS 111LBlake Murray6’318551261541
NCS 103LPetr Cajka5’1116847181129
NCS 134LKeean Washkurak5’1018451102434
NCS 135LTyler Angle5’916845161834
NCS 142LMason Primeau6’520353101727
FC 87RTag Bertuzzi6’119930459
NCS 164LDaniel D’Amico5’917854212344
NRRCody Morgan5’111835062026
NRLDalton Duhart6’01804811920
NRLTye Kartye6’01844921921
NRRMitchell Russell6’0188519918

Who I like for the Oilers:

Connor McMichael – Blessed with terrific speed, vision, hands, and determination, McMichael is almost the perfect type of player Edmonton needs – and is lacking. He was clocked as the fastest player with the puck at the CHL Prospects combine. He is 2nd in the OHL for draft eligibles in shots (179). His shooting percentage is 17.9% which can be attributed to him going hard to the net looking for tips and rebounds. He has 32 goals playing mostly on the 2nd line in London with another 17 yr old (Guskov) & undrafted 19 yr Dunkley. He plays an excellent 200 ft game, wins faceoffs (55%) and can play center or the wing. He is also not afraid to battle along the boards or in front of the net to make a play. Overall, McMichael still needs to get bigger and stronger but he has the skill, determination & hockey IQ to excel at the next level.

Projected Round: Mid 1st round pick

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Philip Tomasino – A workhorse who is also a speedster, Tomasino is a dynamic player who makes plays all over the ice. He too can play center or wing and is an excellent 200 ft player. The gap between he and McMichael is closing as they are very similar players. Tomasino is more of a east-west player than McMichael. Excellent agility with the puck and goes hard to the net with good hands in close. Terrific vision, knack for finding open ice. Aggressive forechecker, good at creating turnovers. Guilty of some bad turnovers himself at times. Lots to like but appears to be just a notch below McMichael offensively. 51.5 FO%. Could ultimately be drafted as a RW.

Projected Round: Mid-late 1st round pick

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Jamieson Rees – Very similar to McMichael & Tomasino in that he is a fast player who is very responsible at both ends of the ice. Nice hands in close. Can dangle. Great vision, excellent passer. Aggressive forechecker who creates turnovers by outworking opponents. 51.5 FO%. Has had some injuries last couple seasons. Durability issues. Slight frame. Excellent value in 2nd round. Steal 3rd round or later.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd round pick

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Who I don’t like for the Oilers:

Ryan Suzuki – A talented playmaker, Suzuki can be described as a pass first player who doesn’t shoot enough and appears to not be willing to work hard enough in the dirty areas to succeed. Perimeter player type that shies away from contact. Gives up too easily on puck battles. Could be better in his own zone. 44.5 FO%. Highly skilled but probably better suited on a different team.

Projected Round: Mid 1st round pick

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Wildcard for the Oilers:

Blake Murray – Ranked as my #1 OHL Prospect going into the year, he struggled mightily with consistency early in the season. Was downright awful in a few showings first half of season. Looked lazy & disinterested. Subsequently he has dropped in the rankings. But, he’s started to heat up playing with 16 yr old phenom Quinton Byfield. Now has 12 goals in last 12 games. Murray is a big body but he doesn’t really play a physical game. His bread and butter is his shot & release. He’s got a cannon. He’s also a pretty good skater for his size. 3rd most goals for draft eligibles now behind Kaliyev and McMichael. 53.9 FO%. Climbing back up the draft board.

Projected Round: 2nd-4th round pick

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Left Wing

OVR RankShootsLeft WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 45LNick Robertson5’615238202242
NCS 110LEthan Keppen6’221755242347
FC 61LNick Porco6’017551181028
NCS 133LDanil Antropov6’218352132942
NCS 51RJoe Carroll6’31955081624
NRLErik Cermak5’111545281624
NRLEmmett Sproule5’101665291726
NRLJordan Frasca6’11764781422
NRLJacob Winterton5’1116155101020

Players I like for the Oilers:

Ethan Keppen – Probably the most underrated player in this draft crop at this point, Keppen is your prototypical power forward who goes hard to the net and has a big shot. Make no mistake though, he is a strong skater with good mobility. Also does a great job at shielding off opponents & fights through checks. He also has soft hands & is an excellent passer. He is so tough to stop at the OHL level right now based on his determination. His work ethic is off the charts, and he seems to get better every time my Flint feed doesn’t crap out on me. He has points in 16 of the last 17 games (14G’s, 8A, 22 pts) for the worst team in the league, including goals in 5 straight games. This kid plays a pro game already & with a strong finish to the season & appearance at the U18’s in the spring, could skyrocket up draft boards. Currently, a steal in the 4th round.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round Pick

Highlights from last season (Only ones I could find)

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Players I don’t like for the Oilers:

Nick Robertson – There is plenty to like about Robertson. He’s a dynamic player who has a great motor and tremendous shot. He doesn’t have top end speed but is very quick in short bursts. He has great vision and playmaking ability. But, he’s very small and has had injury issues. Risky player with tiny frame. The Oilers already have Kailer Yamamoto who is a very similar player. Could be a nice NHL player but not the ideal prospect EDM should be looking for.

Projected Round: Late 1st-early 2nd round pick

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Wildcard for the Oilers:

Nicholas Porco – Speedster might be the fastest player in this draft crop. Can score too. Has 18 goals playing mainly on 3rd line in Saginaw. But, is considered a perimeter player who doesn’t go hard enough to dirty areas. Defensively responsible. Needs to get stronger but enough here to warrant a mid round pick.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round pick

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Right Wing

OVR RankShootsRight WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 28LArthur Kaliyev6’218553424183
FC 97LMatvei Guskov6’11724391625
NCS 56Graeme Clarke5’111724117724
FC 83Cole MacKay5’1118550222749
NCS 131Cole Schwindt6’317553141731
NCS 148LKeegan Stevenson6’117252171330
NCS 150Eric Uba6’019454172138
NRKyen Sopa5’918244151025
NRLBrayden Guy6’019455171229

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Matvei Guskov – A slow transition to the North American game hindered Guskov’s game earlier in the season. But, he has gradually improved and looks more comfortable than ever now playing with McMichael on the 2nd line. Guskov has a lot of nice traits; he’s a very good skater with excellent edge work, soft hands & good offensive instincts. He also plays a solid 200 ft game. Not sure he possesses any elite qualities yet but sneaky upside here. Type of player that could break out Draft+1 year.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th rd pick

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Players I don’t like for the Oilers:

Graeme Clarke – While he has some tantalizing offensive skill, I’d stay away from Clarke if I were the Oilers because of too many red flags. His game reminds me of Robbie Schremp back in the day minus the big production. Not the fastest skater & questionable work ethic. Offensive player who struggles with consistency & defensive responsibilities. Will likely drop in draft despite skill. Hard pass.

Projected Round: 4th-6th Round Pick

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Wildcard for the Oilers:

Arthur Kaliyev – How can a guy who has 42 goals in 53 games be a MAYBE for the Oilers? Great question. Kaliyev is the type of player scouts fall in love with because of his skill and inflated numbers, while totally dismissing the weaknesses in his game. Oilers fans could use Nail Yakupov as a perfect example of why you should look past just numbers alone. Not saying Kaliyev will be a bust, but there are red flags anyone drafting him should be aware of.

For one, he struggles with consistency especially in his own zone and away from the puck. When the puck is not on his stick, he looks like an average player who is disinterested at times. Secondly, he doesn’t have the greatest speed in the world and is guilty of not moving his feet enough. He gives up on puck battles too much. Also, he has 17 goals & 38 points on the Powerplay. He likes to score and play on the PP but 5 on 5 he’s not dominant or always engaged. Kaliyev plays a ton of minutes for Hamilton on the Top line so he gets all the offensive zone starts & Top PP time. He is an elite shooter with great vision but you have to question his desire. Again, you don’t get to take your Junior points with you to the NHL. If he doesn’t get Top PP time in the NHL to start, how effective of a player will he be if his speed, work ethic & 200 ft game are all suspect? That’s the concern.

I’d still consider him late 1st round based on the high end skill but Kaliyev’s all-round game is nowhere near Andrei Svechnikov‘s was last year IMO. He will probably be drafted higher than he should as some team will overlook the red flags.

Projected Round: 1st Round pick

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Defencemen

OVR RankShootsDefencemenSizeWeightGPGAP
NCS 9LThomas Harley6’318353103545
NCS 22LVladi Kolyachonok6’21884132225
NCS 54RBilly Constantinou6’01855262026
NCS 61LMichael Vukojevic6’32065231720
NCS 173LMason Millman6’11755031821
NCS 183LLiam Ross6’21975172027
NCS 206LMitchell Brewer6’12055341014
NRRGrayson Ladd6’11714821618
NRLNathan Staios5’81685131720
NRLSimon Rose6’01724131518
NRRAndrew Perrott6’0202382911

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Vladislav Kolyachonok – If you follow me on Twitter, you already know I am a big fan of this player. VK has tremendous agility & puck moving ability. He is also the best dman in this class at end to end rushes. He is a very smart and heady defenceman who is tough to beat one on one defensively. Has a very active stick & makes some tremendous defensive plays. Aggressive for his size, wins more than his share of puck battles along the boards. He always has his head up & is capable of transitioning from defence to offence quickly. Very adept at pinching in from the point. Not a big shot but quick hands. Smart, fast, 2 way defenceman on a bad team who is still underrated by many. U18‘s in April may change that for the Belarusian. Huge upside. Absolute steal if somehow slipped to 2nd round.

Projected Round: Mid to late 1st rd pick

#7 Kolyachonok. Game 1 of the season vs. Erie

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Who I don’t like for the Oilers:

Thomas Harley – Probably the most overrated player in this year’s OHL crop. Harley is a great skater with good mobility, is excellent in transition & can make some great passes. Also very capable of running a Powerplay. However, his shot is just average which doesn’t make him a true PP quarterback at the next level, and his defensive game is very much a work in progress. He’s not physical at all & frankly can be a liability in his zone at times. Looks very tentative and unsure defensively. I see Harley with a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as Evan Bouchard minus the big shot which is a huge part of Evan’s game. Good puck mover, fluid skater but offensively limited & a defensive liability. Not worth a 1st rd pick in my opinion but some team will likely reach.

Projected Round: 1st-2nd Round pick

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Wildcard for the Oilers:

Billy Constantinou – One of the more riskier players in this year’s crop, Constantinou first and foremost is a tremendous skater on the back end. His wonderful agility & effortless skating will attract teams. He also has very good offensive instincts. Loves to jump in the rush and does a good job running the powerplay. His achilles will be his defensive game where his decision making needs to improve. Turns the puck over too much, needs to be more patient. Skill-set is intriguing but book still out on him. Consistency and maturity should help him improve not sure if he is just a good OHL‘er or has legit NHL potential yet.

Projected Round: 3rd-5th Round pick

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RECAP:

The OHL draft crop may not have as much high end skill as last year’s group, but there are plenty of quality prospects that could have impact at the NHL level. Kaliyev, Suzuki, McMichael, Tomasino, Harley, Kolyachonok could all be 1st round picks. Guys like Rees, Murray, Guskov, Keppen, Porco, and Constantinou all offer great value in the middle rounds. There are also a few sleepers in later rounds that I will offer up later in the season. Goaltenders are voodoo so I will also update those later as well.

But for now, I’ve highlighted who I think are good fits for the Edmonton Oilers out of the OHL for this upcoming draft. They need more speed & skill but also guys who play a determined game. Guys who can chop wood and carry water sort of speak while also keeping up to today’s NHL. Next up, I will touch on the QMJHL in the second installment coming out soon.

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