We are finally here. Bob McKenzie’s list sees the light of day tonight, so it’s time to lay down your bets and see how close we can get to the King. McKenzie has been doing this for awhile now, and routinely rips off 20+ and sometimes 25 out of 30 every year.
My list isn’t a prediction of who goes where, it’s a list of the top 30 players available in this blog’s opinion. Part Desjardins’ NHLE, part opinion of McKenzie, Red Line and Pronman, and bias mixed with beer and that mustard stain I cannot get rid of no matter how hard I try. Here we go.
FINAL TOP 30, 2014
- (1) C Sam Bennett—This is such a close race, but he’s my No. 1 pick. Range of skills, quality center.
- (2) C Sam Reinhart—Most skill in the draft, just shy of Bennett due partly to ?s about his future at center.
- (4) C Leon Draisaitl—This is a fine hockey player. No one should be surprised if he goes No. 3 overall.
- (3) D Aaron Ekblad—Hammer. Lots of defensive value, I’m shy because of the established risk of blue.
- (5) L Nikolaj Ehlers—The more we learn about his offensive season, the more impressive he becomes.
- (7) L William Nylander—Outstanding talent, impact offensive player.
- (9) R Kevin Fiala—I like him a lot, Pronman was the first to mention him at this level.
- (6) L Michael Dal Colle—A quality player, offense not as striking when under a microscope.
- (8) C Robby Fabbri—He’s a terrific offensive player, great motor.
- (12) L Nikita Scherbak—Skilled, rugged winger was a Stone Alone in Saskatoon.
- (10) L Jake Virtanen—Power winger who can score goals. 32 EV goals. Lordy.
- (18) C Ivan Barbashev—Gritty player with skill. A complete player.
- (13) R Kasperi Kapanen—Wide range of views on the Finn, offense is a concern.
- (19) R David Pastrnak—Outstanding prospect, might have top 10 talent.
- (11) L Nick Ritchie—What will he be in the NHL? A monster, but is he Lucic?
- (14) D Haydn Fleury—Jay Bouwmeester’s younger brother.
- (15) L Jakub Vrana—I like his scouting report a lot. Sound pick, under the radar.
- (21) C Jared McCann—A wide range of skills, I love these guys.
- (16) R Alex Tuch—Power forward, question is how much offense. Finished well.
- (24) C Vladislav Kamenev—Creative, skilled, has size. Two-way center.
- (23) C Dylan Larkin—Creative center, playmaker. Smooth.
- (17) D Julius Honka—Everyone talks about his size. He’s a really good player.
- (25) L Adrian Kempe—Aggressive, physical winger with skill.
- (27) L Sonny Milano—Skill winger with some defensive issues. Natural scorer.
- (26) C Connor Bleackley—Physical center with skill.
- (20) R Josh Ho-Sang—Started slow, finished strong. Fast.
- (31) C John Quenneville—Skill player blossomed in the postseason. Impressive finish.
- (28) D Roland McKeown—Fast train with skill. Defensive issues.
- (22) L Brendan Perlini—EV totals (58GP, 15-17) are not impressive. Role player.
- (32) D Anthony DeAngelo—Phenomenal skater, outstanding offense. A rover, defensive issues.
More movement than I thought there would be, but more information came available this week. I’d be lying if I said the Katsaros/Extra Skater watershed lacked impact, I’m genuinely unsure about men like Dal Colle and Perlini relative to their estimated value a week ago (and that is reflected in the rankings). There are five defensemen in the first round, no goalies. This is a forward draft at the top.
I have moved Ekblad behind Draisaitl. It’s based on the German’s impressive season, as we drill down there’s a real good hockey player there. It’s also true that defensemen break your heart when taken at this point in the draft.
MACT AND MATTY
A lot of talk about this interview and what it means, I’m not as upset as some folks but can certainly see how a few of the quotes could rattle cages. Here’s a quick glance at the quotes and how I read them.
- “We won’t trade those guys. So you have your draft choice (in play).”
“Those guys” are Hall and the untouchables. This is just good business. This is listening to your scouts. Craig MacTavish should be able to ask Stu MacGregor the difference in quality between No. 3, No. 6 and No. 16, and if he can find value he should take it. Lots of talk about Oilers dealing No. 3 to Toronto for No. 8 and Jake Gardiner, and MacT should pull the trigger if MacGregor says there’s a guy at 6 who is a hair below the Dangler.
- “Sam’s of really good character. We fully expect he’ll have a bounce-back year. Players normally do. He had such a good lockout year.”
Looks like he’s coming back! This may be reflective of the market on 89 at this time. If they can’t get any kind of return, then this is the right call. I still believe they could deal him for picks and use that $4.8 million on a better fit, but there’s much we don’t know.
- “We need somebody who’ll go north-south with the puck from the back end. We need defence that can move the puck better. That’s a priority, but there’s not much of that in the UFA market. Historically, a big percentage of those signings in the UFA season are poor anyway. You’re often better sticking with your own guys, guys you know. You have to do your homework with free agency. Hopefully, we make some good decisions. We are going to target some people.”
Not a thing wrong with this line of thinking, I don’t see an Ehrhoff on the free-agent list. I wonder about the definition of puck-mover though, the club tried to acquire Nikita Nikitin over the weekend and he’s not exactly Scott Niedermayer out there. One could overreact and suggest the puck mover is going to be from the Jason Smith family, but let’s see how this plays out.
- “We’d like a third-pairing defenceman who can block shots and kill penalties. A Mark Fraser-type guy.”
This tells me a couple of things. First, the club doesn’t like my idea of Ference-Schultz as a third pairing option, and that the third set this winter is going to be giving us some crazy video. I wonder if they want a veteran third pairing that will match the 4line on those tough zone starts? Maybe. Anyway, full sail for Engelland here, ladies. Don’t catch the scurvy.
- “I can’t mention any names. I think Justin has enough game. He’s not too needy out there.”
Yeah, I’m prepared to predict this won’t end well. Schultz has become ‘opposite sideburns’ where there’s nothing he does that doesn’t smell like roses. Schultz can wheel, and I imagine those old goats in the gondola see him and think of Paul, but he’s not a very good defender. The one thing I hold on to like grim death is the sweet, sweet air that Craig Ramsay breathes. He’s a dummy whisperer. Godspeed, Craig.
- “Much like Chicago’s got where they have three lines of offensive guys and a fourth line that can play against anybody. That’s what we’d really like to do. We need (Anton) Lander to step up and (Mark) Arcobello, or add a free-agent forward or two who can compete for those jobs. Maybe somebody who could come in and be a good fit with Yak (Nail Yakupov on the third line). We have the first line (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle). If we can draft a guy at centre who can play, then we’d have that guy, Perron and Sam or some form of that.”
This is the money quote, and I’ve quoted the whole damn thing. PLEASE click through and read the Matheson article, because that’s a lot of quote I’m using. First, the Yakupov third line thing. LOTS of anger and angst online last night. Relax. If the Oilers run Nuge-Hall-Eberle and then the second line houses Grabovski-Perron-Gagner, that leaves Yakupov with Kulemin and some center options. Maybe’s it’s Leon the Dangler, maybe it’s Yakety Yakimov, maybe it’s Arco the flood, hell boys maybe it’s that Swede we’ve been bashing for five long years. Worrying over Nail’s slotting at this point is folly. The one thing I continue to believe is that he’s vulnerable to a trade offer this summer. We wait.
- “Yeah, I’d say so. But the player will determine that.”
This is a question about Leon Draisaitl. The Deutschland Dangler has the NHLE to make the grade, and he’s certainly big enough. The Oilers are old hands at this stuff, and I’d expect he would get 9 games. At that point, Arcobello will probably have outplayed him, and if history holds Leon stays and Arco gets the blunt. We’ll see. I am excited to see Draisaitl-Yakupov on a soft parade line with Kulemin, gotta say.
- “I’d be surprised if I get one. If you can’t get it at the trade deadline, you can’t get it closer to the draft. The value of draft choices at the trade deadline is at the bottom. At the draft, the value is high.”
I don’t believe him. He’s a take charge guy, and he’ll have listened to his scouts ramble on about all these Quenneville’s and goalies from Blagoveshchensk, and he’ll make some kind of deal. I remain convinced Gagner is in play.
- “Brossoit is probably a couple of years away. He’ll hopefully have a solid year in the American League next season (as a backup). We’ve signed Ty Rimmer and he can play in the East Coast League. I like Ty. We also have (Frans) Tuohimaa, who we signed, (and Tyler Bunz). They’ll all be competing.”
Good news for Bachman or similar, doesn’t sound like he thinks much of anyone but Brossoit. Actually, the guy I’d rather be in that sentence is Ty Rimmer.
- “Marincin had a really good year with us and we’re optimistic about him. Klefbom played very well at the end, but we’ll see if he’s ready or needs more time in the American League. This upcoming camp is very important for players like (David) Musil and (Martin) Gernat, who played in Oklahoma City last year. They have to show improvement. I suspect Musil will come into camp with a real determined effort to compete for a job, whereas last year he was just feeling his way. Gernat has to come to camp with a better mentality and put in work on his body. He has to make a step. If guys like Musil and Gernat don’t make steps, then you start to get concerned that they won’t do what they have to do to be players.”
Some real nice quotes in there. Marincin where he should be in the conversation, Klefbom 4A and maybe ready sometime this season, and a really nice look into the thinking with regard to Musil and Gernat. Notice the urgency, and this is year two in their entry level deal, mind. Love it! I’m very much looking forward to seeing those two, along with Nurse and Simpson at TC/pre-season.
- “He was close last year. He’s over 200 pounds now. We’ll see him at our orientation camp (early July at Jasper) and hope to get him here working out for the rest of July. Get him indoctrinated into the system. He’ll be very close.”
Yep. I’m thinking the 9 game audition is there for him, Nurse just needs to push for it.