The Edmonton Oilers went to the draft with a full jacket of draft picks and added to the total once there. They spent heavily on the CHL and added two significant players from the Russian leagues. It was the most fascinating draft in recent years, the first led by Craig MacTavish as general manager.
- No. 7 overall: D Darnell Nurse. The big, tough and mobile defender is enjoying a quality final year of junior. He began on the NHL roster (two games), delivered a strong performance at the world junior tournament and is playing the shutdown role on a quality SSM Greyhounds team that could win the OHL title. Nurse did have some injury issues but the season has been a success and he’s fine now. I’m content with the selection, although the talent that came after (Rasmus Ristolainen, Bo Horvat and Valeri Nichushkin) is formidable and all three have developed more quickly. As you know, I’m a big believer in waiting five years after draft day and for me Nurse’s progress suggests he is going to be a substantial NHL player. Scott Cullen informs us there’s a 90% chance Nurse will be 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot ends up being an NHL regular who spends time as a top 6D or better.
- No. 56 overall: C Marco Roy. In many ways Roy is the forgotten prospect in the 2013 draft, partly because he hasn’t been signed and partly because he is playing a secondary offensive role with the Quebec Remparts. Roy’s 26 goals in 59 games is a good total, especially considering 23 came at even strength. He is not yet signed, which may be due to his participation in the Memorial Cup (it is in Quebec City this time) but I sense the organization is still evaluating. Players taken after Roy have had success, some very good (Tyler Bertuzzi, Eric Comrie) in their junior leagues and some (William Carrier, Linus Arnesson) transitioning to pro hockey. Scott Cullen’s study has a 29% chance for Roy to play 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot is a minor league forward who plays fewer than 50 games in the show.
- No. 83 overall: C Bogdan Yakimov. The Oilers traded down (I’ll have more later) in order to acquire more picks, something that does makes sense depending on the quality of the draft. Yakimov is tracking in a successful manner, despite getting off to a slow start in the AHL and then succumbing to injury. His season is slightly better than the pick he was traded for based on AHL boxcars, but it’s early days and plenty of track to go before we can make the call. I’m pleased with this selection based on his showing in training camp and anecdotal information from Oklahoma City. Names afer Yakimov are going well, with Sven Andrighetto already 12 games into his NHL career. Another season in the AHL will hopefully involve a spike in the Yakimov boxcars. Scott Cullen’s study shows a 24% chance for Yakimov to play 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot is a minor leaguer who plays fewer than 50 games in the show.
- No. 88 overall: L Anton Slepyshev. He is probably the most talented skill winger in the system at this time and posted a solid KHL season. Slepyshev has been rumored as a possible signing in the last few days and should push for NHL employment (if signed) in the next two seasons. It’s important for Edmonton to strike now with a contract, sometimes even promising prospects lose traction due to lack of playing time in their home leagues (although Slepyshev appears to have overcome the issue). Lots of quality picks after Slepyshev, including the impactful Oliver Bjorkstrand. Scott Cullen’s study has a 24% chance for the Russian to play 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot is a minor league forward who plays fewer than 50 games in the league.
- No. 94 overall: R Jackson Houck. I think the best description of Houck at this time is this: Edmonton liked him enough to have their AHL team sign him to a tryout offer but not enough to sign to an entry-level deal. The decision on Houck may depend on Roy, Slepyshev and others but it’s clearly a tell in terms of his junior performance (not as strong as the others in this group according to the brass). Houck has fallen behind several prospects taken shortly after, including Kyle Platzer, Michael Downing and Juuse Saros. He has a 24.5% chance at 100 NHL games based on Cullen’s math (a better chance than the Russians, a strange reflection of past success) and the average for this draft slot is minor leaguer who spends 50 games in the NHL.
- No. 96 overall: C Kyle Platzer. Along with the Russians, Platzer is a big plus arrow in this cluster of picks and looks to have blossomed offensively since draft day. His defensive ability was a known item on draft day, so we could be looking at a real two-way find in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Early days, mind. Nick Paul is among the group of players chosen directly after Platzer. Scott Cullen’s study has a 24.5% chance at 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot is a minor leaguer who plays fewer than 50 games in the league.
- No. 113 overall: L Aidan Muir. The big winger had a good NCAA debut, finishing inside the top 9 in team scoring (freshman don’t get a push in time on ice or PP time under normal circumstance) but he did manage 1-3-4 with the man advantage (36GP, 5-6-11 at evens) this season. The school lists him at 6.04, 212 and that’s certainly big enough for the NHL. One area of concern with this pick: Picks right after included Jan Kostalek, Jordan Subban, Martin Reway and Hudson Fasching. You’d have a hard time arguing Muir has more value than those fellows two years after draft. Cullen’s study suggests a 14% chance to play 100 NHL games and the average player at this spot is a minor league type who plays 10-50 games in the league.
- No. 128 overall: L Evan Campbell. He had a solid-to-good NCAA season as a sophomore, posting enough points to rank No. 4 in team scoring. It’s an interesting spike year over year but I don’t think it vaults him into prominence among the Oilers’ prospects at this time. Taken after Campbell: Solid prospects Cal Petersen, Gustav Possler and Cole Ully. The Oilers prospect has a 16% chance at 100 NHL games and the average for this draft slot is minor leaguer who spends 10-50 games in the NHL.
- No. 158 overall: D Ben Betker. The big man with good speed got himself a contract and from all reports had a fine season in the WHL. I asked a scout not long ago about him and received the magnificently positive ‘he’s got a chance’ about Betker. Well, that is the truth. Sean Malone is a prospect of note chosen in the moments after Betker. Edmonton’s newest giant has a 15% chance at 100 NHL games, average is minor leaguer who spends 10-50 games in the NHL.
- No. 188 overall: R Greg Chase. He had a weird year but scored well once traded to the coast. Has some big goals in the playoffs so far and he’ll need to combine that skill with rugged play and hard work in order to make it. It’s a long road but he got a lot out of his junior career. Brenden Kichton is an interesting player, probably the most interesting of those chosen immediately afterward. Chase has a 10% chance at 100 NHL games and the average for this late pick is minor league forward who gets 10-50 games in the NHL.
Cullen’s numbers are here. It looks like a good draft, we’ll have to wait and see how good and how many kids make the grade. History (and Cullen) tell us the group taken outside the top 100 are going to need some help and that Houck may be in a little trouble based on his final junior season. I’m not sure if Roy should be included with Houck, my sense is he’s better than that but this is a fan talking.
The Russians and Platzer appear to be very good NHL prospects from here, along with Nurse who overcame the disappointment of draft+1 to check off all the boxes this season. I once waxed poetic on the 2010 draft and that edition, only to watch derailments of all kinds, so will keep my powder dry on this one and suggest it is tracking well on six of ten fronts with a couple of curio’s thrown in.
HOW’S THAT CRAZY TRADE GOING?
As a reminder, the trades were:
- First trade: Edmonton trades 37th overall (Valentin Zykov) to Los Angeles for 57th overall (William Carrier), 88th overall (Anton Slephyshev) and 96th overall (Kyle Platzer).
- Second trade: Oilers trade 57th overall (William Carrier) to St. Louis for 83rd overall (Bogdan Yakimov), 94th overall (Jackson Houck) and 113th overall (Aidain Muir).
For Edmonton, the deal works like this: Valentin Zykov for Kyle Platzer, Anton Slepyshev, Bogdan Yakimov, Aidan Muir and Jackson Houck. There’s always a danger when stacking junior numbers alongside KHL and AHL totals, but any way you slice this the deal looks pretty damn good for the Oilers. Yakimov and Carrier may be undervalued by this graph (I used Rob Vollman’s numbers for the AHL and KHL NHLE’s to frame it in the most positive way for the pro players) but no matter how we break it down three of the top five (Platzer, Slepyshev and Yakimov) are Oilers prospects.
We’re just two years in, too soon to know. It looks promising.