Draft Talk – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Category: Draft Talk

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We’re only halfway through the summer but one of the most important tournaments for draft eligible players is just around the corner. Many including myself consider the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament the first real test for the 2020 NHL prospects. It’s a great chance to get eyes on the European players in particular who normally don’t get a lot of exposure, and form an initial opinion on their game and NHL translatable skills. The tournament is being held in the Czech Republic & Slovakia and it starts August 5th and runs through August 10th

Last year, three players in particular really stood out in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup tournament and caught the attention of many draft enthusiasts around the world – Philip Broberg, Vasili Podkolzin & Kirby Dach. All three had outstanding tournaments for their respective countries, and quickly found themselves near the top of many “experts” 2019 NHL Mock drafts. That momentum carried them throughout their draft year as all three were selected in the Top 10 of the NHL entry draft. So needless to say, this tournament IS important. As we’ve seen (especially in the case of Podkolzin), a great first impression can make a lasting one. 

With that in mind, there is tremendous talent in this year’s draft. There are a few glaring exemptions who aren’t eligible technically being late 2001 birthdates, so they are playing in the U.S. Summer Showcase instead. But, overall this tournament it is still a loaded with several potentially high NHL draft picks. Here is a quick breakdown of who to watch for:

 

GROUP A

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Glaring omissions: Alexis Lafreniere, Justin Barron, Braden Schneider

The OHL is absolutely loaded this year and this team has a heavy dose of OHL players on it’s final roster. Last season, FOUR Canadian-born rookies had 25 goals or more in the OHL and all four were in camp. Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield and Saginaw’s Cole Perfetti were locks to make the team. Windsor teammates Will Cuylle, and Jean-Luc Foudy who had 41 assists to lead OHL rookies, also made the team. Erie’s Jamie Drysdale should be the top CHL defenceman this year and will lead the Canadian squad on defence. He is accompanied by Kitchener’s Donovan Sebrango and the Soo’s Ryan O’Rourke. Saginaw goaltender Tristan Lennox likely gets the starting gig after looking real good in camp. All in all, 8 OHL‘ers on this roster with the big three of Byfield, Perfetti & Drysdale expected to lead the way offensively. A full OHL preview of the top prospects in this year’s draft can be found here.

Two highly touted prospects from the QMJHL weren’t eligible for this tournament – Alexis Lafreniere and Justin Barron. However, Chicoutimi’s Hendrix Lapierre had a great camp and secured a spot on this talented squad. His junior teammate Theo Rochette will also join him as will Shawinigan’s Mavrik Bourque. D Lukas Cormier played his way onto the team and Jérémie Poirier also made the final. Five players total from the QMJHL in total. A full preview of the top prospects for the 2020 draft can be found here

Our number one ranked WHL‘er in Kaiden Guhle of Prince Albert, had a strong camp & really proved to be a physical presence on defence. He’ll be joined by Moose Jaw’s Daemon Hunt. Up front, Vancouver’s Justin Sourdif & Edmonton’s Jake Neighbours had excellent camps and should help provide some secondary scoring. The hard working Ridly Greig of Brandon (son of former NHL‘er Mark Greig) secured one of the final spots on the team. Prince Albert’s Ozzy Wiesblatt, Winnipeg’s Connor McClennon, and Seth Jarvis of Portland also A full WHL preview of top prospects for the 2020 draft can be found here

This is an extremely talented team who should go as far as their big guns will take them. Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti and Jamie Drysdale are all projected Top 10 picks in this year’s NHL draft. This is their first step towards solidifying their rankings. 

The full roster is listed here

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CZECH REPUBLIC

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The Co-host for this tournament, the Czechs don’t have a lot of highly touted prospects though Jan Mysak might be the closest to 1st round potential at this point. Drafted by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2019 CHL Import draft, Mysak has represented the Czech Republic internationally at the U16, U17 & U18’s so he has plenty of tournament experience. Pavel Novak is known as a goal scorer with good speed and could impress. He was drafted by Kelowna 13th overall. Ivan Ivan, who might have one of the strangest names, is also one of the youngest and skinniest prospects in this tournament but has plenty of skill and could be a guy to keep an eye on. He will be playing in Cape Breton of the QMJHL next season. 

If the Czechs are going to have a chance in this tourney, they will have to rely heavily on their goaltending. Nick Malik (son of former NHL’er Marek Malik) and Jan Bednar carry a 2nd-3rd rd grade right now. It appears they’ll have to carry this team if they want to medal. Link to rosters here

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FINLAND

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Glaring omissions: Anton Lundell, Kasper Simontaival (injured)

With Lundell and Simontaival not playing, there is no doubt everyone’s eyes will be on Aatu Räty. Projected to be a potential #1 overall pick in 2021, Räty is the next big thing coming out of Finland. An absolute wizard with the puck, he already has good size and should do well in this tournament. Samu Tuomaala is also not draft eligible till 2021 but is an excellent skater and loves to shoot the puck. Expect him to pot a few at least. Another exciting player to watch out for is Brad Lambert. The 15 yr old Canadian/Finn is actually not draft eligible till 2022 but has a terrific shot & release along with good poise and vision for his age.

Slick puckmover D Kasper Puutio was the 1st overall pick in the CHL import draft so he’s a guy to keep an eye on. He was drafted by Swift Current of the WHL. Roni Hirvonen should also make a good impression with his solid 2 way game and playmaking ability.

All in all, the Finns are very young but are still very talented. Link to rosters here.

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SWITZERLAND

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Glaring omission: Theo Rochette

There’s not a lot to get excited about with this Swiss team especially considering Swiss born C Theo Rochette is actually in Team Canada’s camp. Simon Knak is the most highly rated player for this upcoming draft so he’s the main guy to focus on. He’s got good size, real quick hands and a big shot. He was also a Import draft selection of the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL & has signed so will be playing for them this fall. Plus, he scored a couple dynamite goals last year at the Hlinka-Gretzky so he’s experienced too. Probably one of my favourite sleepers in this tournament. 

D Noah Delemont is another familiar name. He can absolutely fly and is a terrific puck mover. He was drafted 3rd overall by Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL and should see plenty of ice time for an underwhelming Swiss team. 

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GROUP B

RUSSIA

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After his stellar performance in last year’s World Juniors, there’s no doubt all eyes will be on Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov. He’s currently projected to be a Top 15 pick in this year’s NHL draft so the pressure is on early to impress. Based on how he was able to shut down a loaded American team at the WJC, he should be just fine.

Vasya Ponomaryov could be this year’s Vasili Podkolzin. He is a strong skater with terrific puck skills and a big shot & release. He also appears to be a highly energetic puck hound. He’s my pick to lead the tournament in scoring. If he doesn’t Daniil Gushchin might. Gushchin is a speedy playmaker and scorer who seems to always be around the puck. He had an excellent showing at Hlinka-Gretzky tourney last year & played in the USHL last season. He is currently ranked as a 1st round prospect while Ponomaryov a 2nd rd prospect. Andrei Bakanov is a huge prospect and is commited to Michigan in 2020 despite being drafted by the Guelph Storm of the OHL in this year’s Import draft. He could surprise.

Bottom line, Russia’s hopes likely rely solely on the shoulders of Askarov. They’ll go as far as he carries them. Roster listed here

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SLOVAKIA

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Like the Swiss, there’s not a lot to get excited about with this team but they do have home field advantage so maybe someone steps up. Everyone will be watching Martin Chromiak who was recently taken 2nd overall by the Kingston Frontenacs in the Import draft to likely be Shane Wright’s trigger man. He’s a smart player who has a good shot and release. 

Samuel Krajc is a player flying under the radar. He has a good size and skill. He represented Slovakia at the WJC last year and was taken by the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL in the import Draft. 

Oleksii Myklukha is the other intriguing player on this team. Born in Poland, he is a really good skater with dynamite hands and has tore up every league he has played in last couple years. He was drafted in the 2nd round by Rouyn-Nouranda of the QMJHL

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SWEDEN

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Glaring omissions: Alexander Holtz, Lucas Raymond, Noel Gunler

With Holtz and Raymond backing out and Gunler ineligible to play in this tournament, Zion Nybeck becomes the focal point for Team Sweden. Projected to go in the 1st round of the NHL entry draft, Nybeck is a nifty playmaker and forechecking demon. He has good hands but not sure about the footspeed. Big tourney for him with some other big names absent. 

Emil Andrae and Helge Grans are two defencemen worth watching. Both are excellent skaters and puck movers. Very intrigued by Grans in particular who looks and plays like a pro already. Very smart, heady player.

Jesper Wallstedt is a big goalie who got into a couple games last year at the same tournament. He was drafted by Moose Jaw of the WHL and has talent though the pressure will be on to compete for a medal. 

Still a talented team but missing a couple of their big dogs. Link to rosters here.

U.S.A.

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Glaring omissions: Antonio Stranges, Dylan Peterson, Tyler Kleven, Ty Smilanic.

Due to the U.S. Summer Showcase going on right before this tournament, the U.S. rarely sends their top prospects to this tourney anyways. That being said, there is some nice talent on this team to keep an eye on. 

Ryan Kirwan, Blake Biondi, Jack Williams, and Alex Gaffney of Muskegon of the USHL are probably the best of the group. Jake Ratzlaff has a nice size, skill combination too. 

No idea how this team will fare as so many good players are missing. Probably a disappointing finish is in the cards. Full roster listed here

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To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

By the OilKnight 06/22/20

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Courtesy of Sportsnet.ca

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.

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DRAFT SUMMARY

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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

courtesy of eliteprospects.com

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4th Round (100th overall) Edmonton Oilers selectF 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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RECAP

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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.

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To comment please do so via Twitter @ TheOilKnight

By the OilKnight 06/21/19

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courtesy of sportsnet.ca

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What a day. Despite numerous reports WEEKS before the draft by several sources that Edmonton was going to draft Swedish defenceman Philip Broberg, I was convinced it was all a smokescreen in an attempt to convince another team to jump the Oilers or offer them a deal to trade down. After all, who tells all other 30 teams who they are drafting ahead of time? What advantage is there to that? If anything, you open yourself up to having a team actually jump you in the draft order and steal your pick. Makes no sense but in the end, that was exactly what happened and I was dead wrong.

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Oilers draft Broberg 8th overall

Look, despite some negative reaction on Twitter, I’ve got nothing against the player personally. I just believe in the BPA philosophy and in my unprofessional opinion – it was the wrong move. He wasn’t the best player on the board at the time (Cole Caufield was) & we could have got him later in the draft or someone similar (or better) later. Having published my picks publicly the last 3 years I have a pretty good track record but that doesn’t mean I’m not wrong on this one. Again, not a shot at Broberg I will support him like crazy but I’m disappointed in management I think they got it wrong here. I see Broberg as a 2nd pair defenceman at best. Not someone you take at 8th overall.

(I lost a bet – hence the name & picture change)

So the Oilers went defence – again in the 1st round of this year’s draft. There is talk Broberg could play for Hamilton of the OHL next year which would be great because I am the unofficial OHL scout for Oilers fans which means unlimited access and updates for free. A potential silver lining for me in all of this.

So who’s still on the board?

In the 2nd round, you have to think the Oilers are going to go forward. That pains me too because two of my favourite defencemen in this draft – Vladislav Kolyachonok and Matthew Robertson are still on the board. If we went forward 1st round we could easily target one of those two and…..

Assuming the Oilers are targeting a forward, here is who I have listed as the Top forwards still available. A full list of my Top 31 including player profiles and HIGHLIGHTS can be found here.

  • LW Pavel Dorofeyev (my first choice) – pro game, great skill, good work ethic
  • LW Ethan Keppen – Physical beast, high work ethic, big shot, good skater
  • RW Maxim Cajkovic – elite shot, real good speed, good work ethic
  • W Samuel Fagemo – Skates and shoots angry. Questionable hockey IQ
  • LW Patrik Puistola – A highly skilled goal scorer with good speed.
  • C Raphael Lavoie – Tremendous shot, above average speed but questionable decision making
  • C Jamieson Rees – excellent skater, great 2 way game, injury history
  • F Nils Hoglander – Didn’t have him in my Top 31 but he has a lot of speed to burn. Nice skill. More of a bottom 6 energy guy.
  • W Bobby Brink – Tiny, but highly skilled, similar game to Caufield. Not sure if an NHL‘er or not. Intriguing, but bust potential.

It’s possible some of these guys drop to the 3rd round in which case, they would be steals. In my Edmonton Oilers Mock Draft I had D Samuel Bolduc, C/RW Matvei Guskov, F Patrick Moynihan & D Case McCarthy as nice mid round picks. F Martin Lang is a late round favourite of mine along with D Carter Berger, LW Joe Carroll & G Erik Portillo as late round sleepers.

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There’s still plenty of draft left and plenty of quality prospects that could fit Edmonton’s needs. Maybe, just maybe GM Kenny Holland can pull off a trade or two by the time it’s done to give Oilers fans even more hope.

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To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

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