Edmonton Oilers Draft Recap
By the OilKnight 06/22/20
The 2020 Draft has come and gone, with 6 new prospects now a part of the Edmonton Oilers organization. There were some controversial picks to say the least, as the Oilers attempted to add some much needed speed & skill to their pipeline. The results were mixed, as were my post pick analysis of them, which seem to trigger several members of our nice little Twitter fanbase. I try to call things like I see them and provide unbiased opinions. Changing my tune AFTER Edmonton drafts a prospect isn’t something I’m going to do. Sorry if it doesn’t make some fans feel all warm and fuzzy but that’s how I roll. I don’t try to be super positive or overly negative – I try and give the readers impartiality by sharing my perspective – good and bad.
that being said, I’ve been doing my own independent scouting for many years now unofficially. However, as far as you the reader is concerned, this is officially the 3rd annual Draft recap for the Oilers since I started my website. If you are interested in my two previous year recaps you can view the 2018 one HERE and the 2017 one HERE. There’s no question I lean towards prospects playing in North America typically, though I have pushed hard for guys abroad like Kravtsov, Bokk & Dorofeyev most recently. I favour smarts, speed & skill, and tend to ignore the flashy or one-dimensional kids who don’t have great work ethics or have questionable decision making.
So here is my breakdown of each pick, along with who I would have taken based on who was still on the board. My Top 31 list going into this draft is what I based my picks on.
1st Round (8th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – D Philip Broberg
1st Round (8th overall) The OilKnight selects – RW Cole Caufield or trades down & takes C/RW Philip Tomasino
If you followed me on Twitter leading up to the draft, you know I wasn’t a big fan of the Broberg pick. It wasn’t so much a knock on the player himself, but where he was actually selected. I had other defencemen ranked higher and had Broberg ranked in the 20’s. Doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right or he won’t be a good prospect, but in my unprofessional opinion he wasn’t the best choice at #8. I would have much rather the Oilers took Cole Caufield, who was a goal scoring machine and would have been a nice compliment to McDavid & Draisaitl up front. Or, trade down a bit while acquiring more assets and take my favourite player in the draft Philip Tomasino. Neither of those happened so naturally I’m a bit disappointed. Of course that’s all water under the bridge now as I’m going to cheer like heck for the Big Swede.
Broberg, has a nice mix of size and speed, and has some highlight end to end goals on his resume. The issues I had with him was his questionable decision making and penchant for bad turnovers. I watched a ton of film on him leading up to the draft, and saw all of his tournament games this season. I feel like he could be a very good 2nd pair defenceman in the NHL one day, but I’m not sure that he possess enough elite qualites to be a true #1 or #2. Again, it’s just my opinion. I set a ceiling on his upside based on what I’ve seen personally, I hope he destroys that out of water and will be rooting for him hard to do so. But I’m NOT going to blow smoke and say he’s a guaranteed future #1 stud D-man just not to hurt your feelings. Sorry. There is talk he could play for Hamilton in the OHL next season which would be awesome as I could track his development up close. Fingers crossed.
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2nd Round (38th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – C/W Raphael Lavoie
2nd Round (38th overall) The OilKnight selects – D Vladislav Kolyachonok
At this point in the draft, there were several defencemen I really liked that were still on the board: Kolyachonok, Matthew Robertson & Samuel Bolduc in particular. Seeing I would have taken a forward in the 1st round in my mock, I definitely would have took defence with this pick. Kolyachonok would have been the choice as I am a huge fan of his 2 way game. I’ve been extremely high on the Belarusian all year and was probably the only one in the world who had him as the 2nd best defenceman in this draft. Huge upside.
Pavel Dorofeyev would have also been a great pick in my opinion had I stuck with another forward here. The Oilers however chose to go a different route and selected Raphael Lavoie of the QMJHL. Lavoie, has an elite shot and release first and foremost. His top end speed is solid. He also has nice playmaking ability. He had a monster playoff for Halifax this past season. The issues I have with him were his decision making – especially shot selection. Quite often he would skate into traffic or shoot when the pass was there. He quit moving his feet a lot and too often settled for a low percentage shot. Offensive zone turnovers were also an issue. Plus, he’s almost older than every other prospect having just missed last year’s draft by 10 days. But, there’s no doubt he has a lot of talent and if paired with McDavid or Draisaitl he could be a real nice find here. Either way, I wasn’t big on him in the 1st round but similar to last year when the Oilers took Ryan McLeod, Lavoie provides great value in the 2nd round.
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3rd Round (85th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – G Ilya Konovalov
3rd Round (85th overall) The OilKnight selects – RW Maxim Cajkovic
I gotta admit, this one stings a bit. I REALLY like Maxim Cajkovic as a sleeper this year. Similar to Philipp Kurashev who was my favourite sleeper last year, Cajkovic has a ton of talent and could explode next season with better teammates around him. He has an elite NHL shot & release, is an excellent skater & works hard on the ice. He developed a few bad habits playing on a miserable team but those are all correctable in my view, as he matures as a player. I would have loved it if he was the pick here.
The Oilers instead, took a Russian goalie out of the KHL. Now, I admit I knew nothing about Konovalov at the time he was drafted. Doing some research following the selection, I can see the appeal he had for the Oilers. He was named KHL rookie goalie of the year. Plus, his numbers in the KHL were staggering at first: 48 GP, 1.89 GAA, .930 SV%, that is until you realize that only put him 7th & 9th in the league overall in those categories. Upon further review, the KHL only had TWO players with more than 25 goals in the league in a 62 game season. Not exactly, a elite scoring league. 10 goalies with a minimum of 20 GP had a GAA of under 2.00. So his numbers are a bit misleading. Also, Konovalov is an overager and is listed only at 6’0″. Not too many goalies in the NHL are that “short” so there is a bit cause for concern there but that doesn’t automatically mean he won’t be a hit. Plus, if you combine him with Mikko Koskinen who is huge, it evens out anyways. It’s a gamble as a 3rd rd pick. Interesting side note, the team Konovalov plays for will be coached by the recently dismissed – Craig MacTavish.
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4th Round (100th overall) Edmonton Oilers select – F Matej Blumel
4th Round (100th overall) The OilKnight selects – LW Ethan Keppen
This was another big miss in my mind in the 4th round. Call me crazy, but 30 goals in the OHL at age 17 is better than 30 goals in the USHL at age 18. That’s exactly what we’re looking at when comparing Keppen with Blumel. Yes, Blumel has excellent speed but he only had 8 goals, 10 assists for 18 points last year – his actual draft year. Give Ethan Keppen another year how impressive will his numbers be? This could still turn out to be a decent pick but the USHL isn’t even close to OHL competition in my opinion so I have my doubts.
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6th Round (162nd overall) Edmonton Oilers select – F Tomas Mazura
6th Round (162nd overall) The OilKnight selects – F Martin Lang
I’m not going to lie, I would have took Czech import Martin Lang from Kamloops of the WHL here even though he ultimately went undrafted. I liked him more than most people going in. I was very impressed with him at the Hlinka-Gretzky and World Juniors where I thought he was one of the Czech Republic’s best players. His transition to North American game has been a bit difficult, but I saw enough in flashes to think he could be a really good prospect one day. Plus, he is literally the YOUNGEST player in this draft with his birthday being on the exact day of the cut-off. Picks this far into the draft are complete crapshoots anyways, but I would have took Martin Lang.
The Oilers selected F Tomas Mazura who’s best friend apparently is their 4th round pick – Matej Blamel. I admit, I didn’t know much about Mazura either when he was selected. He played at Kimball Union Academy of the USHS-prep league where he was their leading scorer (27th in league overall). He’s a big kid looks like and is regarded as a playmaker apparently but I’ve never seen him play for a second to date, so I have no opinion on him. He is almost a full year older than Lang though. He is committed to Providence in the fall.
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7th Round (193rd overall) Edmonton Oilers select – F Maxim Denezhkin
7th Round (193rd overall) The OilKnight selects – G Dustin Wolf
Hey look, another guy that will be playing for Craig MacTavish in the KHL next season! I find it hilarious that one of the OBC members in MacTavish supposedly walked away but is now all of the sudden in charge of developing TWO of Edmonton’s prospects now. How ironic. I have no idea if Denezhkin will be a good player or not but I’m sure MacT will do his best to give the kid as much ice time as possible so maybe this turns out to be a sleeper pick.
Seeing the Oilers were OK with taking a 6’0″ goalie, I would have waited and just took Dustin Wolf in the 7th round. Why? For one, he had outstanding numbers in the WHL: 61 GP,1.69 GAA, .936 SV%. Second, he is 3 years younger than Konovalov. Gimme a kid with those numbers and room to grow physically over the 21 year old unknown any day.
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I consider myself a very positive person in general, and try to be on Twitter when it comes to discussing the Oilers. I don’t take things too seriously usually but when it comes to scouting prospects – I do. In my opinion, and take it with a grain of salt if you must, this was a disappointing draft for the Oilers. Not because they didn’t take my guys, but because outside of the Lavoie pick, I feel they didn’t take the best player available.
The Oilers badly needed forwards in the pipeline that could score goals. They have plenty of D-men already with good upside, but who in the organization is ready to step in score at the forward position in a couple years? Kirill Maksimov is the only pure shooter they have. They badly need more and passed on some good ones at #8. The difference between Broberg and a Kolyachonok who went 2nd round is slim if anything in my mind. Caufield had 86 goals last year. He could have filled a huge void in the organization but they decided to go a different route which I think was a mistake.
The Oilers also drafted two buddies from schools that rarely, if ever, produce NHL talent. One is already 19 yrs old and underwhelmed badly in his draft year last year while the other turns 19 soon. Then they drafted two guys who are playing for Craig MacTavish who was supposedly let go but clearly will be playing a vital role in player development.
Overall, I hate to say it but it was a very underwhelming draft for me. Broberg will be an NHL‘er I’m just not sure of his upside. I am really excited to see him live though hopefully. Lavoie is a boom or bust prospect. Plenty to like but plenty of concerns as well. The rest are complete wildcards who may never even get close to the NHL. Again, it’s just my opinion I hope I am completely wrong about all of them – but I doubt it. There’s plenty to be excited about with this upcoming NHL season but for me, this draft class isn’t one of them.
To comment please do so via Twitter @ TheOilKnight