March 2019 – Page 2 – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Month: March 2019

By TheOilKnight 03/15

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courtesy of NHL.com

Dimitri Samorukov was drafted in the 3rd round in 2017 by the Edmonton Oilers. At the time, he was viewed as a “toolsy” prospect who flashed some elite qualities but really needed to work on his consistency. But, inconsistency is exactly how I would describe his draft year +1 and the first half of this season. There were many nights where he simply did not show enough or gave a good enough effort. Mental mistakes & a lack of work ethic were far too common. I know, because I attended a few of those games and noted it here and here. To be fair, there were other nights where he just brought it & looked like a Top prospect. But “Dima’ as he is referred to by many, was such a jekyll & hyde prospect that it was hard to foresee him having a solid career after Junior. A frustrating player to track from game to game without a doubt.

It is important to note, Dima was buried on the depth chart behind OHL phenom Ryan Merkley for the majority of his career, until midway thru this season when Merkley was traded. That meant, he saw little Powerplay time and rarely got Top pair duties. He was in charge of of the majority of tough defensive minutes playing with a young and inexperienced group. His numbers reflected that, as thru 23 games he had 0 goals & 6 assists. Merkley who was one of Guelph’s leaders, was also known as a lazy player who didn’t give nearly enough effort defensively and had a toxic attitude. I believe that affected not only the team but Dima’s game too as he showed a lot of the same tendencies as Merkley. However, once Merkley was traded, Samorukov began to get more responsibility and his game slowly started to come around. It wasn’t until the World Juniors in late December till he really broke out, showcasing all the skills and qualities that made him a 3rd rd pick to begin with. Since then, he has maintained consistency and his play has not dropped off at all. If anything, he’s gotten much, much better. 10 goals & 38 pts in 35 games since.

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courtesy of hockeydb.com

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Strengths

Samorukov‘s mobility is a real strength. He is an excellent skater with good speed & has a bit of ‘shake and bake’ in his game. He really bends his legs and has an upright style which looks a little awkward but it works well for him. That mobility enables him to excel at zone exits by carrying the puck out, or jumping up and joining the attack which he loves to do. Being such a good skater also allows him to track down the puck carrier from behind, or beat opposing forecheckers to the puck. Speed & mobility translate well to any level, and Samorukov certainly has those.

Samorukov also has a cannon for a shot. He gets plenty of torque on it and he can unleash it from any angle. His one-timer from the point is also very strong though he still struggles with accuracy. I used to dub him the “glass rattler” as he would hammer pucks without even getting close to the net (I once counted 1 SOG on 12 attempts live). He has improved in that area considerably though recently. He appears to follow through with his shot more now which is encouraging. Dima hasn’t quarterbacked the PP much in Guelph throughout his career but appears to have that ability. Projecting to the next level however, he may not be more than a PP2 guy due to lack of experience and accuracy. Regardless, his shot is deadly and NHL caliber even if the accuracy isn’t.

Samorukov is a very effective puck mover and passer. He can make those highlight reel tape to tape stretch passes, or make a simple breakout pass for a quick zone exit. His vision is excellent & his head is usually up. He does get into trouble sometimes trying to “thread the needle” or make a few too many high risk passes, but overall I consider his puck moving ability a real strength which will bode well for his future as he turns pro.

Samorukov can be a real physical presence when he wants to. He’s had some devastating open ice hits that makes opposing players think twice the next time they enter the zone. In the d-zone, he has the ability to box out his man or pin his man up against the boards. In his draft year & the last half of this season, his physicality has really shown up more and it has made him a more effective defender. In between, it has been sporadic at best. It seems, he can’t decide if he wants to be a physical defender or a finesse defender. When he turns pro, if he can continue to bring that physicality forward then he could really establish an identity as a prospect. He can be real tough to play against when he wants to be.

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Here are some highlights from this season that showcase his strengths:

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Weaknesses

Like any prospect, Samorukov also has areas he can improve on as he turns pro and continues to work on his game.

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Consistency

Here’s the thing. Fans who only watch highlights see all the good things Samorukov is capable of and just assume he is going to be a great prospect. The reality is, he’s had some serious consistency issues that can’t be ignored. He’s been downright awful many nights throughout his OHL career, making poor decisions and playing far too lackadaisical. Until the last 3 months, that has been his M.O. Good one night, bad the next. Hence the Good Dima vs. Bad Dima references. It is very encouraging he has maintained consistency for awhile now, but is still a concern as he moves on to minor pro next year. The first third of this season was virtually uneventful. The next third of the season he had better efforts but it was still sporadic. This last third of the season he has dominated. So what kind of player are the Oilers going to get moving forward?

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Decision Making

Even through this hot streak Samorukov is having offensively, he still makes a few head scratching plays each game. Sometimes, he tries to walk through the whole team and the play goes the other way & it’s in his net. Or, he isn’t patient with the puck in his own zone and just gives it away right up the middle. That part of his game will probably always be there. But, if all the other parts of his game develop, you would hope good coaching could help keeps those plays to a minimum. He likes to make a lot of high risk plays on the ice.

This shouldn’t be happening with 20 seconds to go in period.

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Defensive Intensity

This is the key for me if Samorukov is going to be a bonafide NHL‘er or not. As of now, he does not show enough defensive intensity or compete to be a solid pro. And his offence is probably not good enough to get him to the NHL. In order for him to be successful, he needs to bring his compete level up in his own zone and become a tougher player to play against on a nightly basis. That’s why I think a guy like Dave Manson, who coaches the defence in Bakersfield, could have a huge impact on a guy like Dima. There’s no question Samorukov has the ability to be a strong defender, who makes good reads, boxes out players & takes the body. But, he needs to be coached up & encouraged to do so. In his draft year, he was a physical force then it mysteriously disappeared from his game almost completely. He became a more “finesse” defender and lazy stick checker instead (like Merkley). Now, while he’s playing well again, he’s lighting guys up. Samorukov has the wheels to keep up with NHL‘ers but with better positioning, coaching & commitment to being a more defensive minded dman, he could really find his niche.

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Projection

There’s no doubt Samorukov has a tremendous skillset. He has great mobility and puck moving ability, which should bode well for him as he turns pro. He also has a big shot & good offensive instincts. The key to him, is to work on being much more consistent defensively, and to continue to incorporate physicality into his game. When he does that, he is a very effective player. When he tries to get cute, and relies on stick checking instead of taking out his man, or walking thru the whole team – he struggles. Dima needs to work on taking care of his own end first because if he is a liability in the d-zone, he won’t advance as a prospect. If he commits to defence, he’ll make it and the offence will be a bonus. The reality is, he has struggled for most of his OHL career with consistency, but has exploded since the World Juniors. Has he finally matured as a prospect or is he just on a hot streak as a 19 yr old playing against 17 & 18 yr olds? I’m still not sure either way because I have seen so much Good Dima and Bad Dima throughout his career in Guelph. But, there’s no denying the tools are there and he has a real chance to develop into a nice prospect for the Oilers down the road.

As far as NHL comps go, when Samorukov is playing up to his potential, he looks so much like Nikita Zadorov out there. Big, mobile, physical presence who has a cannon of a shot and loves to jump up and join the rush. Like Zadorov, he also has defensive lapses & makes mental errors from time to time. Consistency were issues for both of them in Junior but you can live with those if the other parts of his game progress. Zadorov can be a very difficult player to play against. I know because I watched and scouted him up close. Samorukov while not quite as big or physical, still has that potential. He just has to keep working on his defensive intensity. While he’s having some offensive success now as a 19 yr old, I still don’t see him as an big offensive producer in the NHL. He does have a chance to be a solid puck mover though. He looks like a NHL defenceman, but whether he becomes a solid 2nd pair dman or a bottom pair fringe type is up to him. The skill is there, the will is still very much up for debate.

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To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

By the OilKnight 03/13/19

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Courtesy of NHL.com


Kirill Maksimov was drafted in the 5th round in 2017 by the Edmonton Oilers. At the time, he was viewed as a longshot prospect to even get close to the NHL. He possessed an elite shot in flashes, but was considered slow afoot & incredible raw. However, he showed enough in the second half of his draft year after getting traded to Niagara, that Edmonton took a chance on him. 2 years later, the Oilers and Oilers fans could not be happier with the progress he’s made. He went from 21 goals to 34, to 40+ goals this season. Every aspect of his game has improved, as has his stock within the Oilers organization.

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Courtesy of Hockeydb.com

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Strengths

Maksimov is a shooter & scorer plain and simple. His slapshot, wrist shot and one-timer are all elite. NHL caliber release, deadly & accurate. He has that rare scoring ability where he can literally shoot and score from anywhere. That translates well to any league in the world. But, that’s not all he does well.

Maksimov plays a pro style game. He is aggressive on the forecheck, and is defensively responsible. He also displays great vision and poise on the ice. His head is always up, and he has a knack for finding the open man. Very underrated passer. He does a great job of changing angles for shots, and getting himself in the right position to make a play. He has great offensive instincts, he just seems to always be at the right place at the right time. Smart, heady player who makes it look too easy at times. He looks like a pro.

Maksimov’s work ethic might be his most exciting trait. He hustles back hard on the backcheck, he battles hard along the boards, and works hard for 2nd and 3rd chances. If he gets hit, he hits back. When he’s on the penalty kill, he will sacrifice his body to make a play if he has to. He’s always pushing himself & challenging himself to get better. Plays with great determination. It’s why up to this point in his career, he has outperformed his draft position. He works hard.

Maksimov’s skating was the big knock on him when he was drafted, and he has improved that dramatically since his draft year. Edmonton Oilers skating coach David Pelletier has worked with him several times to make him more powerful in his strides and it shows. So much so that Pelletier “came back raving how well he soaked it in“. He’s now much stronger on his skates, and it has allowed him to develop into more of a power forward who goes hard to the net. He continues to work on it too, even with no one from the Oilers there watching. Something I have noticed in person in the past. Before the game and during commercial breaks, he skates by himself pushing the pace & skating hard. Very encouraging sign.

Throughout his career in Niagara, Maksimov was a huge Powerplay threat, but also became a very effective penalty killer. When the Ice Dogs acquired more offensive firepower, Maksimov volunteered to help out a struggling penalty kill. It affected his offensive numbers a bit but helped him become more of a complete player. He was a leader for his team and well respected among his teammates. He has the elite skill that will get him to the NHL, but also the intangibles that will help keep him there eventually. Here’s his highlights from this past season:

(For 2017-18 Highlights click here. )

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Weaknesses

Like any prospect, Maksimov also has areas he can improve on as he turns pro and continues to work on his game.

While his skating and top speed are certainly acceptable now he could definitely benefit from more explosiveness. Specifically, his first few steps could be better & will likely be an area of focus as he turns pro. His top end speed is good now, just the acceleration should continue to get better. Not a weakness anymore but certainly an area of opportunity to get even better. His agility is somewhat limited being a tall player with long legs. He has more of that powerful stride north-south who compensates with his lack of agility by coasting east-west in and out of lanes. Much like Leon Draisaitl & many other bigger players.

While Maksimov likes to play a physical game, it can at times lead to some undisciplined penalties. He was suspended on a couple separate occasions for slew-footing and hitting from behind. He also finished 2nd in the OHL in PIMS this year with 118. I personally like the chippiness in his game but admittedly he needs to cut down on the retaliatory penalties and can be guilty of being over-aggressive at times. Easily correctable.

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Projection

There’s no doubt Maksimov is ready to turn pro. He plays a complete game and in all situations. Despite his offensive success in the OHL, I still think he needs at least a year in the AHL to work on his overall strength & skating. In terms of his role, he’s definitely more of a complimentary winger than a driver. A player who can start the play but ultimately finds himself in the right spot to finish it. He loves to shoot and score; something that is sorely lacking in the Edmonton organization. But, because he is a good 200 ft player who can play a variety of roles, it’s possible he starts out as a bottom 6 forward who eventually works himself up the lineup. I just wouldn’t bank on that until 2020 at the earliest.

As far as NHL comps go, I’ve struggled for awhile to find a good comparison. I mean, stylistically there’s no player he looks like more than Draisaitl in my opinion. Just how he carries himself on the ice, the way he skates, finds open ice, sets up his teammates, reads the play, all remind me of Draisaitl. The way Leon is shooting the puck right now too it is reminiscent of Maksi. However, it’s tough to project Kirill to that offensive level right now so in terms of offensive production and impact, I see Alex Galchenyuk as a good comparison. They’re not the same player but similar in that they both are big bodies who can really shoot the puck, and have blistering one-timers. I see Makismov as a Top 6 forward in the NHL eventually, and playing at LW where he can show off that incredible one-timer. When that happens is still to be determined, but there is no doubt in my mind the sky’s the limit for this kid. Not bad for a 5th round pick.

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To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

by TheOilKnight – March 6/2019

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This is the 2nd installment of a 3 part series where I will breakdown every 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 Edmonton Oilers have not done particularly well drafting out of the QMJHL the last few years. In fact, they’ve only drafted one player from the Quebec league in the last four years total (Olivier Rodrigue). Before that, they drafted 8 players from 2004-2014, only one of which ever even played a game in the NHL and it was for only 2 games (Philippe Cornet). That’s awful. 14 years and counting and not ONE impact player drafted? How is that even possible? You really have to question whoever is in charge of scouting that league.

Last season, two of my favourite prospects in the entire draft were from the “Q“- Noah Dobson & Philipp Kurashev. The Oilers took Evan Bouchard over Dobson which is hard to argue as he certainly fit their need for a future offensive defenceman. Kurashev however, dropped to the 4th round despite being a 2nd round talent in my books, but Edmonton traded their 4th rd pick earlier so passed him up. Too bad, as Kurashev is having another strong season for the Quebec Remparts & had a massive World Junior performance where he scored 6 goals in 7 games for Switzerland. He looks like a true sleeper draft year +1.

Anyways, here is a list of all the Centers who are likely to be drafted this year out of the “Q“. 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 11RRaphael Lavoie6’419862324173
NCS 29LNikita Alexandrov6’017964273461
NCS 63LMikhail Abramov5’1016162163854
NCS 72 LValentin Nussbaumer6’016858172138
NCS 165 L Mathieu Bizier
6’018768142539
NCS 198 L Filip Prikryl
6’117067141731
NCS 204 L Xavier Simoneau
5’717255183957
NCS 209 L Xavier Parent
5’1018163143145
NR L Alexei Sergeyev 5’716867151934
NR R Marcel Barinka6’11615171118

Players I’d consider a “maybe” for the Oilers:

Raphael Lavoie – There might not be a more intriguing mid 1st round pick in this draft for me than Lavoie. I loved this player last season but this season it was all over the map. I saw him good, then read some critical reviews so went back & watched more video & it caused some concerns. It’s tough to dismiss your initial impressions on a prospect but something about this player scares me. There are red flags in his game so subsequently, I think the bust potential is real. He’s still a 1st rounder in my books but I’m much more leery now.

Lavoie is a big guy who has good top-end speed for his size, and can really shoot the puck first and foremost. His shot is hard with a terrific release & he can shoot from anywhere. That makes him extremely valuable to a team like EDM for example. He also goes hard to the net and does a good job of shielding opponents with his big frame. His first couple steps need work though. Lavoie has a certain swagger about him that I’m not sure is a good thing or not. His hockey IQ seems to highly debatable depending on who you talk to. I think much of it depends on which night you catch you him on. What I’ve noticed is a lot of times, he slows down and allows defenders to take away his time and space, then SETTLES for a low percentage shot. That’s probably where that “poor decision making” narrative comes from. But, he looks like a true power forward in this draft who loves to shoot the puck.

The knocks on him are consistency & lack of defensive awareness at times. He plays on a stacked team and didn’t always show up on the scoreboard like he should have early, but has gotten better as the season has gone on and in the playoffs. He can play center or the wing but if does not continue to improve his defence and decision making, will end up on the wing in the NHL which wouldn’t be a bad thing. His 46.5 FO% also tells me he might be better suited as a RW anyways. Edmonton has a huge need for a player like this so it wouldn’t be a shock at all if they trade down to free up some salary, and target a guy like Lavoie later in the 1st round. He is a late 2000 birthday so just missed the cut-off for getting drafted last year, but put up 30 goals, 63 pts last season so that’s not a concern for me. Watch this highlight from Team Canada last summer:

***Update*** As of April 18, Lavoie has dominated in the playoffs for Halifax. He has 13 goals & 20 points in 11 playoff games. 5 of those goals however, were ENG’s.

Conclusion: There’s no question some of the success this prospect had is because he is bigger & stronger than everyone in Junior and can really rip the puck. He’s far from a complete product, they are some concerns about his game & the IQ is still a question mark. Probably going to be a RW instead of a Center. Sort of reminds me of Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton.

Projected Round: Mid-late 1st round pick

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Nikita Alexandrov – One of the biggest risers on draft boards this year, Alexandrov is a silky smooth pivot who certainly looks the part. Has nice size, good speed, can dangle & is a smart player who makes a lot of good, subtle plays. He displays great vision & can make some terrific passes. He kind of reminds me of Matvei Guskov in the OHL except he goes harder to the net & has a much better shot. His wrister is absolutely deadly and he shoots a ton. 192 shots in 58 games for a center. Great hands in tight too. Still needs to work on his defensive game from what I can tell but by all indications is improving in that area. 43.6 FO% will need to get better but projects as a Center at the next level. Sneaky upside as he appears to still be a bit raw. Looks like an early 2nd rd pick.

Projected Round: late 1st round to 2nd round pick

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Valentin Nussbaumer – This is a player that grows on you the more you watch him. His best trait is probably his competitiveness. He never stops hustling, creates a lot of turnovers & wins more than his share of puck battles. He’s not a speedster but he’s real quick in short bursts & is elusive and agile. While not quite the playmaker his fellow countryman Philipp Kurashev is, Nussbaumer always seems to be around the net and creating chances. Like Kurashev, he needs to shoot more as he has a very quick shot & release but only has 96 SOG in 53 games. He is a strong 200 ft player and can also play the wing. 41.9 FO% likely means he will be a winger at the next level. Real nice player on an awful Shawinigan team. Excellent value in the 3rd round. Could be a steal if he drops to 4th round or later. Talented, versatile, determined player.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th round pick

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*** Alexey Sergeev & Xavier Simoneau are both intriguing late round players too. Both have some nice scoring ability. Sergeev has had some nice chemistry with Kurashev, while Simoneau is tiny but can score.

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Who I don’t like for the Oilers:

Mikhail Abramov – An intelligent playmaker, Abramov lacks overall speed and appears to be more of a perimeter player than a guy who likes go hard to the net or battle along the boards. Skinny kid who loses too many puck battles & gets pushed off puck. More of a passer than a shooter. Can make some terrific passes while displaying great vision. Currently ranked ahead of Nussbaumer, I think his overall determination pales in comparison. Easy to play against type who needs to get bigger, stronger and work on his speed.

Projected Round: 3rd-5th rd pick

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Left Wing

OVR RankShootsLeft WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 20LJakob Pelletier5’916165395089
FC 22LSamuel Poulin6’120767294776
NCS 102RTaro Jentzsch6’116853182442
NCS 156LBrett Budgell6’019267181533
NCS 200LBrooklyn Kalmikov6’017061191029
NRLOliver Okuliar6’119266142842
NCS 151LBailey Peach5’1017454112435
NRLJeremy Martin6’018362152439
NRLMika Cyr5’917466283967

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Players I’d consider a “maybe” for the Oilers:

Samuel Poulin – Poulin reminds me a bit of Raphael Lavoie. He’s big, strong and goes hard to the net. He also shoots a lot & has a big shot including a deadly one-timer. While, he may not have as much speed or overall skillset as Lavoie, he seems to play with more determination in is game at both ends of the ice. Poulin is a good playmaker especially down low, and a nifty stickhandler in his own right. Not sure if the offensive upside is there or his numbers are just a product of his size and determination. But, he’s a volume shooter so the Oilers should consider him. I just wouldn’t take him in the 1st round and would be hesitant to take him early 2nd. Speed probably the biggest drawback. Could very well end up being a “better than the sum of his parts” type of player due to his outstanding work ethic. Showed well at the Prospects game.

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Projected Round: Late 1st-early 2nd Round Pick

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Jakob Pelletier – There is plenty to like about Pelletier I just don’t think he would be a good fit for the Oilers. Why? For one, he reminds me a lot of Kailer Yamamoto. That small, but skilled forward who at times gets pushed around too much trying to play a possession game. Edmonton needs more shooters and Pelletier can be guilty of over-passing and not shooting enough. Plus, the Oilers need more speed in their lineup and Pelletier’s speed looks to be average for his size. Make no mistake, he is highly skilled and could have a successful career somewhere as versatile playmaker. I just don’t see the fit in Edmonton.

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

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Right Wing

OVR RankShootsRight WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 44RNathan Legare6’019668433780
FC 57RMaxim Cajkovic5’1118760222446
FC 72RAlex Beaucage6’219268394079
FC 78LYegor Serdyuk5’1116563254065
NCS 166RYaroslav Likhachyov5’1116857121224
NCS 160LJeremy Michel6’115064162642
NRLChristophe Farmer5’10154416713

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Maxim Cajkovic – Pronounced “Chy-ko-vich”, here is a player that has a dynamic skillset and has really come on in 2nd half of season. The former 1st overall pick in the Import draft, Cajkovic is a offensive force. His shot and release are elite, as he can score from almost anywhere. He’s also a terrific passer and makes a lot of smart plays with the puck. He can really drive the play and create chances on his own but still plays an unselfish game. Has excellent speed & acceleration. He shows up big in tournaments for Slovakia, and had a lot of success playing in Sweden as a teenager. Stood out for me at the Hlinka-Gretzky vs. Team Canada. His Junior team the Saint John Sea Dogs are having a lousy season but he is clearly their best player. Has the potential to be a real sleeper in 2nd round. Has that “Whoa” factor. Perfect type of player for the Oilers.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd Round Pick

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Nathan Legare – I rank Legare below Cajkovic because I like Cajkovic’s game better. But, there is a lot to like about Legare who has 43 goals in 62 games. He has a big shot and relentless work ethic which certainly bodes well for his potential. He scores a pile of goals right in front of the net as he loves to hang out around the blue paint. Plus, he’s a battler. He battles along the boards and in his own zone. Not sure his game translates well to the NHL though. His speed is somewhat suspect and he’s not really a driver, he’s more of a trigger man. He’s got decent size but isn’t overly physical. Classic overachiever who gets by on sheer guts and determination which should make him a fan favourite. I see a Matthew Tkachuk type minus the puck skills and chippiness. Complimentary winger.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd rd pick

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Players I don’t like for the Oilers:

Alex Beaucage – Another natural goal scorer, Beaucage is big and strong but slow afoot. He also plays on a very good team (54-7-1) and probably benefits from that more than anything. He has a terrific shot though and can dangle in close. Not sure about his 200 foot game as his team is so strong everyone is +30 or so. Tough to get an accurate read on this player but the speed factor probably means he slips a bit and not a great fit for Edmonton.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round Pick

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Yegor Serdyuk – A goal scorer, but similar to Arthur Kaliyev in that he doesn’t do enough away from the puck for my liking. Not really a driver relies more on his linemates to do the dirty work as he tries to get open. Doesn’t work hard enough in puck battles. Speed isn’t great though he is quick in short bursts. Questionable 200 ft game. Seems disinterested at times. Too many red flags for me despite the knack for goal scoring.

Projected Round: 4th-6th Round Pick

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Defencemen

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OVR RankShootsDefencemenSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 55LArtemi Knyazev5’1117655132134
FC 90LJustin Bergeron6’118165164157
NCS 57RMaxence Guenette6’11816882432
NCS 59RJordan Spence5’101656864349
NCS 42LSamuel Bolduc6’42126592837
NCS 172ROliver Turan6’52186131013
NCS 147RNoah Laaouan5’111706951823
NCS 152RThomas Pelletier6’31926421214
NCS 169RSean Larochelle5’101596872229
NCS 194RNathan Larose6’11925361319
NRLJarrett Baker6’01876851419
NCS 208LJasper Rannisto6’2176523811
NCS 216LAdam McCormick5’111816372330
NRLJaxon Bellamy6’41836051116
NRLSimon Le Coutre 6’01832710717

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Artemi Knyazev – If you’re looking for a puck rushing defenceman with great offensive instincts in this crop, then look no further than Knyazev. He is a fabolous skater who transitions from defence to offence quickly as he’s always looking to jump up and join the attack. He is a treat to watch as he is very active in the offensive zone that almost looks Quinn Hughes like. Speed & agility are top notch. He also has a very good shot with a quick release. Tied for 3rd in QMJHL in PPG’s with 7, and leads all blueliners with 5 GWG’s. His vision and passing also to appear to be a strength though he does seem to turn the puck over more than you’d like. Very similar to Kolyachonok from the OHL though needs to work on his defensive intensity a bit more. Flashier, but a bit more mistake prone. Terrific talent nonetheless, can’t see him lasting past the 2nd round.

Projected Round: 2nd rd pick

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Samuel Bolduc – I gotta admit, I’ve seen a variance of opinions on Bolduc. Some people think he is overrated, while others think he is underrated. I gotta say, based on everything I have seen – I’m a big fan of the player. He first stood out to me at the Prospects game where his size and strong skating ability were quite apparent. Then I went back and watched a pile of tape on him and came away very impressed. He also tested extremely well at the combine, finishing 1st overall among all prospects in off-ice testing. On-ice, he was the fastest skater backwards with the puck, and 2nd fastest without just like Noah Dobson the previous year. That matters to me. In fact, I see him as a more physical version of Dobson who while may not have the offensive upside Noah does, can still join the rush and move the puck. Owns a howitzer of a shot & is 2nd in draft eligible dmen with 155 SOG. A big imposing, dman who can really skate, has good leadership qualities and a nastiness to his game which should translate well to the pros. Not a 1st rounder but great value in 2nd-3rd round.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd rd pick

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Jordan Spence – If the Oilers are looking for speedy, skilled puckmovers than Spence fits that bill to a tee. His size is a bit of a concern but his skating abilities are not. He was passed up in the draft last year but is a trendy sleeper pick this year amongst people I trust. I haven’t seen a lot of him, but he looks fast, makes smart decisions and is pretty good defensively. Shows great anticipation in d-zone to break up plays and quick to lead the breakout out of zone. Moves the puck extremely well & shows great vision. Need to see more but a very intriguing player. Pegged as a 3rd-4th rd prospect right now.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round pick

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*** Honestly, there is a lot to like about the Top 4 or 5 dmen in this group as they are all good puck movers. Justin Bergeron just missed the cut-off for being drafted last year. He may not be elite at anything but does everything real well. Smart, mobile, good defensively & has a very hard accurate shot. Maxence Guenette is a terrific skater and puck mover in his own right and is also very capable defensively. Very nice group overall.

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7 Round Mock Draft (QMJHL only)

1st rd – C/RW Raphael Lavoie (trade down)

2nd rd – D Artemi Knyazev

3rd rd – RW Maxim Cajkovic

4th rd – RD Jordan Spence

5th rd – LW/C Alexey Sergeyev

6th rd – C Xavier Simoneau

7th rd – D Jaxon Bellamy

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RECAP:

While the QMJHL draft crop may not have as much high end skill as previous years, there are still plenty of quality prospects that could have an impact at the NHL level. There are a bunch of forwards who know how to score and player a power game. Meanwhile, on defence there are several quick, puck movers that NHL teams covet. 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 QMJHL for this upcoming draft. Edmonton needs more speed & skill but also guys who play a determined game. The Oilers haven’t had a great history drafting out of this league, it would be nice if they could finally find an impact player or two here. Next up, I will touch on the WHL in the third installment coming out soon.

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