This was the summer to sign 2014 draft picks, and Edmonton did not have a lot going on. Craig MacTavish dealt away his second and third-round picks in that season (second went in the Perron trade, the damned Blues got a great prospect in Ivan Barbashev and the third was spent on Ben Scrivens), and the team did some bizarre things after choosing Williams Lagesson No. 91 overall.
WOBBLY 2014 COLLEGE DRAFTEES
- 2014—G Zach Nagelvoort was chosen in the 4th round from Michigan. Although his draft day numbers were very good, he has faded since and didn’t play much in the second half of his junior year. Completely up in the air as a prospect, he should get the net this year but his SPs have gone from .929 to .906 to .893.
- 2014—L Liam Coughlin in the 5th round. Drafted out of Vernon (BCJHL) after 19-year old season, he had some issues getting into (Boston) university so spent another year in BC. He was traded by Chiarelli to the Chicago organization last summer and was a freshman for Vermont this past year. Blackhawks have a solid scouting and procurement department, but he seems a distant bell.
- 2014—F Tyler Vesel in the 6th round. Drafted out of Omaha (USHL) after 20-year old season, he has played well for two years at U Nebraska-Omaha. No idea if they ever sign him, but is on the radar as a prospect (imo).
FOUR COLLEGE SIGNINGS REPRESENT A MAJOR SPIKE
- March 8, 2011: Oilers sign Taylor Fedun from Princeton.
- March 19, 2011: Oilers sign Tanner House from Maine.
- March 31, 2011: Oilers sign Hunter Tremblay from University of New Brunswick.
- April 1, 2011: Oilers sign Mark Arcobello.
- July 1, 2012: Oilers sign Justin Schultz from Wisconsin.
- April 17, 2013: Oilers sign Andrew Miller from Yale.
- March 31, 2014: Oilers sign Jordan Oesterle from Western Michigan.
- April 3, 2014: Bakersfield signs Connor Jones.
- Summer, 2014: Bakersfield signs C.J. Ludwig.
- June 24, 2015: Bakersfield signs D Nick Pageau.
- March 31, 2016: Bakersfield signs W Joey Benik from St. Cloud State.
- April 7, 2016: Oilers sign Nick Ellis from Providence.
- May 6, 2016: Oilers sign Drake Caggiula from North Dakota.
- May 9, 2016: Oilers sign Patrick Russell from St. Cloud State.
- August 27, 2016: Oilers sign Matt Benning from Northeastern.
That is an enormous number of prospects in one summer—Edmonton didn’t run the table (as Detroit did in the Oates summer) but they did grab four interesting assets. In terms of recovery from a miserable 2014 draft (Edmonton got Leon and Lagesson, the rest are anyone’s guess—Vesel being the most promising), I think this has to be considered a win for Peter Chiarelli. I have no evidence that he sat in his office and made the decision to make the spring college signing season his mini redo of the 2014 entry draft, but it sure as hell looks like it. Not all of these men will turn out, but the general manager gave his team a chance in a dry summer for graduating draft picks.
- L Drake Cagguila, North Dakota (39, 25-26-51). Destination 2016-17: At least half a season in the AHL, but there is a good chance he sees NHL time. The great thing about Caggiula is that his signing addressed a major need—prospects who can score at a rate that might allow them to contribute at the NHL when recalled—and along with Puljujarvi he is an exciting option on the wing this year.
- RD Matt Benning, Northeastern (41, 6-13-19). Destination 2016-17: AHL for a time, although PC has made some noises about NHL time. He is a rare righty so there probably will be a fast track if he flourishes. His numbers remind me of Dillon Simpson, his physical game suggests a more rugged player and both men are solid in coverage based on the scouting reports.
- R Patrick Russell, St. Cloud State (41, 20-21-41). Destination 2016-17: Scoring role in Bakersfield, early or late. I don’t know enough about his footspeed to guarantee 20 AHL goals, but he has good hands and some other elements that should give us some hope about him. Intriguing player, could pass some draft picks during the next 12 months.
- G Nick Ellis, Providence (36, 1.80 .936). Destination 2016-17: AHL starter or backup. Impossible to know, but Ellis had great college numbers and I think he could end up grabbing the starting role at some point in the AHL season. He would need Brossoit to get the recall, play better than Gustavsson and be better than Laurikainen. That isn’t a difficult game plan.
- W Joey Benik, St. Cloud State (41, 23-25-48). Destination 2016-17: Battling for playing time in Bakersfield and Norfolk. He is 5.10, 175 and a pretty solid college scorer.