The second draft under Peter Chiarelli and Bob Green proved varied and frustrating while emerging productive, with the organization adding significant skill on the wings and another giant helping of defenseman. I am surprised by only two things: The number of defense-first defensemen taken, and the order in which the players were chosen. We will delve further into this tomorrow morning when I post the Top 20 Prospects, but two of the five best selections this weekend came after the completion of Round 3.
LOWETIDE PROJECTED WEEKEND (KISS OF DEATH)
- No. 4 overall—L Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights (OHL)
- No. 32 overall—C-R Nathan Bastian, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
- No. 63 overall—R Wade Allison, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
- No. 84 overall—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL)
- No. 91 overall—RD Jordan Sambrook, Erie Otters (OHL)
- No. 123 overall—R Matthew Phillips, Victoria Royals (WHL)
- No. 149 overall—R Nicholas Caamano, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
- No. 153 overall—C Cameron Hebig, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
- No. 183 overall—RW Matt Luff, Hamilton (OHL)
Well, I got two right last season (McDavid and Bear) and if not for Jarmo maybe it would have been two again this time. Each year over the last few, I have published a final list (Top 150 this time) and the Oilers picks populated themselves often during this weekend. Here are my rankings for the six new Oilers who appeared on my list:
- No. 3—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga): Big, fast, rambunctious.
- No. 34—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (WHL). Physical two-way forward. Injured a lot.
- No. 61—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL). Intriguing offense, may take awhile.
- No. 108—LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (OHL). Giant defender, mobile, some offense.
- No. 112—C Aapeli Rasanen, Tappara U20 (Jr. SML). A fine prospect, good size and skill.
- No. 145—LD Matthew Cairns, Georgetown Raiders (OJHL). Smart defender with good size, mobility.
One other player—Graham McPhee—showed up at No. 27 on my Oilers and the USA post. The Oilers went walkabout with their goalie (Dylan Wells) and RHD Vincent Desharnais. The rest? You might not like the player, but the team drafted from a known group of prospects.
HARVEST MOON, 2016
- No. 4 overall—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (50, 13-15-28) (Sm-Liiga). The Oilers have enjoyed a lifetime of good luck at the last two drafts, especially the first rounds. They lost the lottery, and won the war. A brilliant, fast train with two-way acumen is a tremendous addition to a forward group who often forget their lessons defensively. We have miles to discuss, but he could start his NA career in Bakersfield as early as this fall—possibly receiving an NHL look. Either way, absolute manna from heaven. Music!
- No. 32 overall—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (30, 9-19-28) (WHL). Agitating winger with two-way ability, I think he has a fairly complete skill set. The offense may not be top drawer—this season just past calls that into question—but a terrific bet and if they know he is healthy, this could be the best value in the Oilers draft this year.
- No. 63 overall—LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (65, 1-26-27) (OHL). I wanted Edmonton to draft out of Ontario and the team spent their third-round pick in the OHL. Big blue (6.05, 189) with good speed and coverage, a nice summary of him is available here. Even strength primary points per game (.108) is better than Sean Day (.105), Logan Stanley (.094) and Connor Hall (.077)—all of these men will be shutdown blue if they make it. He is described as a good passer.
- No. 84 overall—LD Matthew Cairns, Georgetown Raiders (46, 9-24-33) (OJHL). Big defender (6.02, 202) spiked in the playoffs (22, 3-16-19) but I think most of his value will be defensive. Seems to be a long ranger, doubt we hear much about him for a couple of seasons. Eventually heading to Cornell, must have a giant brain.
- No. 91 overall—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (43, 19-22-41) (SuperElite). One of the fun picks of this draft, Swedish Poster guided us through the spring with insight about this big (6.03, 209) defender. Ideal pick because RHD, here is a snippet from Swedish Poster: He’s a big kid at 6’3 and already past 200 pounds. He’s an overager, (now) 19. His draft year was sort of a comeback year after missing a lot of time the previous two seasons due to a broken arm or maybe it was a leg. This year he was up to speed and delivered one hell of a season offensively nearly hitting PPG. As is usually the case with productive D the majority of the points came on the PP where his big shot from the blue line was full value. He scored at nearly a goal per game and a lot was due to his great shot. He got better and better as the season rolled along, one thing I like to look at for guys in swedish juniors is how they produce in the Superelit top 10 part of the season, what that means is after christmas the top 5 teams of the northern and southern divisions are put together into one 10 team league where they play for the playoff spots. It’s interesting because the level of play goes up and there are fewer teams to pad your stats against. In that segment of the year he scored 1.31 PPG over 16 games. For a D that’s pretty amazing. Small sample obviously but combined with his overall scoring the whole year it paints a very flattering picture offensively. Source
- No. 123 overall—G Dylan Wells, Peterborough Petes (27, 4.59 .871) (OHL). There are players in this draft where you kind of hope the organization has some inside information. Wells has poor numbers, point made ably by my ranking him as the No. 21 goalie among junior league Gs for this draft. If you read my post on him, you know Brock Otten has some nice things to say about him. Phil Myre told ISS that Wells is technically sound.
- No. 149 overall—L Graham McPhee, U.S. National Development Team (20, 5-0-5) (USHL). Strong skater with two-way ability (seemed to be a trend during this weekend, Edmonton added guys who can play a more complete game), he was strong at the U18s (7, 2-3-5) for Team USA. I think he is the second best late pick by the Oilers this year, described by one scout as a ‘dump and chase’ winger and I chuckled.
- No. 153 overall—RC Aapeli Rasanen, Tappara U20 (50, 19-19-38) (Jr. Sm-Liiga). This could be a real find later in the draft. A true center, he is an excellent passer who can finish, plays in all disciplines and is a fine face-off man. An impressive group of skills for so late in the draft, he is described as having average foot speed.
- No. 183 overall—RD Vincent DeSharnais, Providence College (19, 1-1-2) (Hockey East). Another big defender, Edmonton grabs their third player who I would describe as being defense first. There is a baffling lack of information on him. Big, strong, defense. I reached out to Steve Kournianos this afternoon in an effort to get some more info. SK: Very big, skates awkward but makes good first pass. Not physical, no way on the PP. Best thing he does is stand people up, use long stick to jar puck loose during board play. Doesn’t have Paigin’s shot/skill.
I will have the Top 20 prospects up tomorrow, and of course it will stretch out to 40 or so by the time all is said and done. First blush (for me) is that the team drafted well in a weaker draft, with some wobbly bits and head scratchers along the way.
If I had to guess, Oilers scouts seem to be looking for more offensive options in most if not all areas. For example, among the stay-at-home blue, Niemelainen may be a little better passer than some of the other options. I would not have shopped there three times in nine picks and believe Edmonton left value on the board. That said, I have to think that Peter Chiarelli is listening to his math people at least a little, and would suggest to you that Puljujarvi, Benson, Berglund and Rasanen are legitimate offensive prospects. Surely we can agree that is more than the normal number that Oilers management has delivered in recent history.
Is that enough? That is for you to decide. For me, I am generally impressed with this group of players and heartened by the relatively few walkabout selections. I am baffled by what on God’s green earth they plan on doing with all of these defensive defensemen, and look forward to discussing the Top 20 prospects with you tomorrow morning.
Via NYC Oil/Gentleman Backpacker (who posted this in the comments section) some very worthwhile links pertaining to this weekend’s draft:
The Oilers’ scouts must have “saw them good” there and that’s why they went to that well 2 more times after the obvious choice in JP.
The bonus is we get to listen to Button’s take on these guys as well in this YouTube channel by “bigwhite06” . which has some really nice video packages from the U-18s.
- And then the bonus fun behind-the-scenes with Puljujarvi that will make E-Town love this kid