Well the draft is complete and the Oilers FINALLY got a Right shot defenceman in the first two rounds – something that has eluded them for 10 years. The last RHD they drafted in the Top 2 rounds was Alex Plante in 2007. This draft was interesting because as soon as Arizona took Barrett Hayton at #5 it threw everything out of whack. The Oilers had the enviable position of choosing between Bouchard, Dobson & Wahlstrom at #10 which seems impossible if you listened to all the expert’s mock drafts.
The Oilers selected 5 players this year. In terms of value, they did EXTREMELY well. In terms of drafting the best player available that will always be up for debate as scouting is so subjective but I’ll give you a breakdown of each player Edmonton drafted and who I would have drafted instead if I thought they should’ve gone a different route based on who was still on the board.
1st Round (10th overall) The OilKnight selects – RD Noah Dobson.
1st Round (10th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – Evan Bouchard
If you followed me all year on Twitter you’ll know that I had Noah Dobson ranked higher than Bouchard. I should also tell you that I am a little biased in I prefer all-round defencemen more than pure Offensive defencemen. For example, I would always take a Drew Doughty over an Erik Karlsson because I think he plays much better defence in addition to producing offence. Doesn’t mean it’s right, just means it’s my preference which is important to note when I compare Dobson and Bouchard.
Evan Bouchard is a highly intelligent, poised player on the ice who has tremendous vision and passing ability. His wrist shot is deadly especially on the Powerplay as he has a great knack of getting his through. His slapshot is also very powerful and accurate so depending on the time he has he can user either rather effectively. In terms of strictly a powerplay quarterback – the Oilers got a fantastic one. Skating wise there has been much debate about how good of a skater he is. I can tell you his skating style comes across a bit stiff, he’s not going to beat you with his agility, he’s not a start and stop kind of guy he’s more of that one-cut and go skater who has good speed once he gets going. It’s also important to note that during the Prospect’s skills competition back in January he was clocked as the 2nd faster skater backwards behind Noah Dobson.
So Bouchard fills a huge need for the Oilers in that he is a RHD and can run a powerplay. Defensively, he needs to get stronger, work on taking away his man better and up his overall intensity as he can be a bit too casual when defending. He likes to stickcheck too much but is a big guy so should have the ability to box out attackers once he works on his strength. Transitioning from defence to offence is another strongsuit as he excels at outlet passes and zone exits.
Playing in London he played an enormous amount of hockey as it was rumoured he logged 34 minutes a game roughly. I can believe it having watched almost every game he was clearly the workhorse for the Knights. I was critical of his performance in the playoffs I thought he wore down and made some mental mistakes but realistically if you consider the heavy workload he had to endure throughout the Regular season and in the Playoffs you could easily chalk it up as overutilisation. I had Dobson ranked a bit higher so would’ve chosen him but I’m not going to complain about the pick because Bouchard has the higher offensive upside and fills a huge need for Edmonton. Great pick.
2nd Round (40th overall) The OilKnight selects – RD Bode Wilde or RD Calen Addison
2nd Round (40th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – C/LW Ryan McLeod
Ryan McLeod plays for the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL. I’ve watched him play several dozen times including a couple live. The best way I can describe him is he’s “toolsy” but can’t put it altogether. His brother Michael who was drafted in the 1st round by New Jersey in 2016 also played for the Steelheads and frankly I think is a better overall player. Ryan however has excellent speed which is something that should help him moving forward as he turns pro and gives him a shot at the NHL. He also plays a pretty responsible 2 way game and can play Center or the wing. He’s got good not great hands in my opinion and is a solid playmaker but the knocks on him are concerning and will ultimately determine whether he makes it or not.
When I watch McLeod play he plays a very weak, perimeter game. He doesn’t win a lot of puck battles and doesn’t bring enough intensity you’d like to see from a highly projected player. His competitiveness is certainly a concern I do question how badly he wants it at times. Too often he’d settle for a low percentage shot from the perimeter when challenged when if he just went harder to the net it could have increased his chances of scoring. That level of compete has to change if he’s ever going to be anything other than a good Junior player. He also appears to take shifts off at times and can be completely non-existent or easy to rub out of the play. Not a good sign moving forward. The skill is there for McLeod but if the will isn’t then this is a wasted pick. Time will tell how bad he wants it.
2nd Round (62nd overall) The OilKnight selects – C/LW Jakub Lauko
2nd Round (62nd overall) Edmonton Oilers select – G Olivier Rodrigue
For the second consecutive year, the Oilers traded up to select a goaltender in Olivier Rodrigue. I fully understand WHY they did it as they have no CHL goaltending prospects if Stuart Skinner goes pro next year. So they are trying to keep that pipeline going and by drafting the best rated CHL goalie they got themselves great value. I still question the need for a goalie so early when the Oilers could have really used a Shooter instead and drafted a guy like Jordan Kooy who I love in the later rounds. So with that being said, based on the board I would have certainly drafted Jakub Lauko instead.
Olivier Rodrigue as I mentioned was the Top rated goalie in the CHL this draft so he has that going for him. He doesn’t have prototypical size which is a concern but he is an athletic goalie who certainly looks the part. He’ll definitely need to put on a lot more mass to compete at the next level and will have to be a fundamentally sound keeper as he does have the tendency to get beat up high. Not a lot of smaller goalies excel at the NHL level unless they are technically sound so he has work to do especially positionally but doesn’t project to turn pro for a few years so still has time. A nice prospect but considering he is an undersized goalie with some technical issues I think it’s a reach here for the Oilers especially since they traded up to get him.
6th Round (164th overall) The OilKnight selects – RW Pavel Gogolev
6th Round (164th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – D Michael Kesselring
In the 6th round the Oilers do what they usually do and draft a Prospect playing hockey in the U.S. I was upset Connor Corcoran was taken in the late 5th (we could have had him but we traded our 5th to move up for Olivier Rodrigues) but would have chosen RW Pavel Gogolev 100% with this pick. No idea why he didn’t even end up getting drafted but I think it is a mistake. 30 goals in the OHL last year is no joke.
Personally, I know nothing about Kesselring but reading up on some of his reports it sounds like he has the prototypical size and skating combination you like and had pretty good production playing in New Hampshire and is committed to a quality program in Merrimack in 2019 so that’s promising. It also sounds like he is more of an offensive defenceman who really needs to work on his consistency and defensive game which isn’t surprising once you get this late in the draft.
Here’s some highlights:
7th Round (195th overall) The OilKnight selects – G Jordan Kooy
7th Round (195th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – C Patrick Siikanen
In the 7th round I wanted the Oilers to draft Jordan Kooy from London so bad. In fact, I mocked it earlier this month. I understand they ended up taking Rodrigues earlier so it made no sense to draft two but as mentioned I would have went a different route with that pick too. Shoulda, coulda, woulda doesn’t mean I’m right just my opinion.
Siikanen was not on my radar at all but after doing some research on him he is probably going to be a wasted pick. Sounds like he really lacks speed and agility which is never a good thing especially in today’s NHL. I could give you glass half full report on him but realistically he’s a 7th rd pick so I’ll spare you. Here are some highlights:
Overall, I consider this a good draft for the Oilers. Obviously Bouchard is the big score while McLeod & Rodrigues have intriguing skills I’m just not sure if either has a legit NHL future. In terms of pure VALUE they did extremely well. The Oilers have been dying for a Right shot defenceman to quarterback a powerplay for a decade so even if Evan is the only one who plays up to his draft potential I would still consider this a good draft. It would have been nice to address the need for a potential Top 6 forward who likes to shoot with one of our two 2nd round picks but you can’t always get what you want. This will go down as the Bouchard draft for me and I look forward to follow his career even more closely here in London and providing all Oilers fans with the most indepth coverage they can handle from the OHL.
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