I thought today might be a good time to revisit the 2017 NHL entry draft. As you know, this blog spends a lot of time on the annual selection, and we got a late start because the Oilers have decided they are interested in staying in the pennant race. That said, it really is time to get going here.
- This list likes offense.
- This list also likes prospects who can make the NHL in more than one way.
- This list punishes lack of speed—even more than one year ago.
- This list fades defensemen and goalies.
THE OILERS IN THE 2017 DRAFT
- First Round: No. 23 overall
- Third Round: No. 81 overall (FROM ST. LOUIS—this is payment for Nail Yakupov)
- Third Round: No. 85 overall
- Fourth Round: No. 116 overall
- Fifth Round: No. 134 overall (FROM Vancouver—this is payment for Phil Larsen)
- Fifth Round: No. 147 overall
- Sixth Round: No. 178 overall
- Seventh Round: No. 209 overall
This is based on current standings, and of course can change a lot between now and April. I expect Peter Chiarelli will try to add a second round selection, there is still much work to be done in the amateur procurement department. Let’s go.
WHERE WILL EDMONTON LOOK?
If we look back to our examination of Edmonton’s prospects (here) I think it is reasonable to suggest a center or left winger is the greatest need—especially with Tyler Benson’s injury worry. Right wing has Jesse Puljujarvi, the defense has a lot of quality prospects (although there are some dandy RH puck movers among the group this year) and there are some interesting goalies.
THE 2017 DRAFT, TOP 50
- (1) RC Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Size, complete skill set, impact player.
- (3) R Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL). Size, speed, best sniper in the draft.
- (4) RD Timothy Liljegren, Rogle (Swe Jr). Mobile 2-way D, complete range of skills.
- (2) RC Gabriel Vilardi, Windsor Spitfires (OHL). Creative center with size.
- (5) L Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). Soft hands, elusive, creative.
- (8) RC Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (OHL). Speedy, creative, sublime passer, one dimensional.
- (6) LD Juuso Valimaki, Tri-City Americans (WHL). Big puck mover, talented, creative.
- (9) LC Casey Mittelstadt, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). High skill, quick hands, extra gear.
- (7) L Nikita Popugaev, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL). Big winger, good skater, plus shot, passer.
- (10) L Eeli Tolvanen, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Plus skater, great one-timer. Sniper.
- (14) L Elias Pettersson, Timra (Swe-1). Brilliant passer, creative, late bloomer.
- (11) LD Nicholas Hague, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL). Rangy, aggressive, big shot from point.
- (16) C Michael Rasmussem, Tri-City Americans (WHL). Big C, dominant physically, good skater.
- (15) L Kristian Vesalainen, Frolunda (SHL). Big W, skilled, strong, good shot can play L or R.
- (12) LC Lias Andersson, Linkoping (SHL). Throwback 2-way C, aggressive, quick. 5.11, 200.
- (18) C Mason Shaw, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL). Small skill C, terrific skills.
- (13) R Martin Necas, Brno (Czech). High speed skill W, just 5.11.
- (20) RC Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). Smart 2-way center.
- (21) R Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane Chiefs (WHL). Smart player, elusive, offensive. Lacks top gear.
- (17) L Matthew Strome, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL). Strong 2-way W, offensive potential.
- (19) G Mike DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires (OHL). 30gp, 2.24 .919, top 3 SP among OHL starters.
- (22) RC Robert Thomas, London Knights (OHL). Speedy forward, creative offensive player.
- (29) RD Cale Makar, Brooks Bandits (AJHL). Fast defender with exceptional puck-moving acumen.
- (23) R Klim Kostin, Balashikha (MHL). Giant W with ability to bull his way, good offense.
- (24) RD Kallan Foote, Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Huge D, awkward skater, good passer, tough.
- (28) G Jake Oettinger, Boston University (NCAA). 17gp, 1.88 .932. Fabulous numbers.
- (25) RC Ivan Lodnia, Erie Otters (OHL). Small skill C, great skater.
- (31) LD Uro Vaakanainen, JYP (Sm-Liiga). Fast two-way blue with a good shot. Playing too high right now.
- (26) R Kole Lind, Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Speedy winger with skill.
- (32) RC Morgan Geekie, Tri-City Americans (WHL). Tall thin C with 2-way rep and emerging offense.
- (27) L Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph Storm (OHL). Big winger, great skater, some skill.
- (33) R Aleksi Heponiemi, Swift Current Broncos (WHL). Cerebral winger with skill, anticipation.
- (34) R Nicholas Henry, Regina Pats (WHL). Emerging scorer making a move up the list.
- (30) LD Miro Heiskanen, HIFK (Sm-Liiga). Puck-moving defender with excellent vision and speed.
- (35) LC Evan Barratt, USNDTP (USHL). Small finesse center with substantial skills.
- (36) LC Jaret-Anderson Dolan, Spokane Chiefs (WHL). Small, very quick skater and plus skill.
- (37) RD Conor Timmins, SSE Greyhounds (OHL). Impressive numbers, good at both ends of the ice.
- (38) RC Joni Ikonen, Frolunda (Swe SuperElite). Small skill center with good speed.
- (39) LD Noel Hoefenmeyer, Ottawa 67s (OHL). Fairly complete defender, good D and some offense.
- (40) RD Henri Jokiharju, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). Smooth skating Finn OD, needs defensive work.
- (41) LC Jake Leschyshyn, Regina Pats (WHL). Responsible 2-way C, I will love him.
- (42) LC Joshua Norris, USNDTP (USHL). Two-way C showing good offense.
- (43) L Alex Formenton, London Knights (OHL). An absolute burner, has some skill.
- (44) LC Shane Bowers, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL). Impressive two-way C, plus skill. 1
- (45) RD Kale Fleury, Kootenay Ice (WHL). Fascinating prospect. Haydn’s brother. Range of skills.
- (46) L Maxime Comtois, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL). Skilled, good size, skating average.
- (47) LC Alexei Lipanov, Dyanmo Balashikha (VHL). Two-way C, a little shy offensively
- (48) LC Marcus Davidsson, Djurgardens (SHL). Two-way center has some offense, nice range of skills.
- (49) RD Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL). Two-way D, some nice boxcars.
- (50) LC Ryan Poehling, St. Cloude State (NCAA). Big skill C with an offensive reputation. May be checker.
All things being equal, Makar would be a really nice addition to the prospect group. Left wingers who might still be available include Isaac Ratcliffe and Matthew Strome. I think there is a chance Edmonton would trade down or out of the first round in an effort to grab a second-round selection. After the top five (or so), this year’s draft seems to run for miles with about the same quality.
POSITION BY POSITION PROSPECT ASSESSMENT
- Goalie: It is still a problem area, despite the addition of Cam Talbot and Nick Ellis since 2015. Dylan Wells in the OHL appears to be bona fide, and the Bohemian Rhapsody (Miroslav Svoboda) continues to impress. Will Peter Chiarelli invest a first-round selection on a goalie? He did in 2012 (Malcolm Subban) but that has not worked out so far. Assessment: Oilers probably use a third or fourth rounder on another goalie bet.
- Defense: I think this is the deepest area among prospects, No. 2 (behind C) if we include young NHLers like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. At the big league level, the Oilers have Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson and now Matt Benning. I think the group that includes Ziyat Paigin, Ethan Bear and the emerging Caleb Jones may fetch one, possibly two legit NHL players. After that, we will see. The sheer numbers here—16 of 41 players on this winter’s list were defensemen—probably means Edmonton doesn’t spend a high pick here (although they may be tempted).
- Center: If you include Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, this is one of the deepest positions in the entire NHL. Edmonton has no impact prospects bubbling under, but McDavid and Leon are clearly a big part of the future. I think Caggiula and Khaira are pretty good bets for NHL careers, not sure if either man will spend a lot of time on the top two lines. Edmonton does not have to draft a center for need, although it is always a good idea to overload at any up the middle position.
- Left Wing: This position could be the weakest in the organization. The trade of Taylor Hall means the NHL team has no LW younger than 28 (Lucic, Maroon) on the everyday roster. Benson is an excellent prospect but currently injured again, Slepyshev (also a RW) is the only other substantial prospect in the system. I think the Oilers would be looking closely at draft a LW in the first round, unless there is a clearly superior player at another position.
- Right Wing: It was the weakest position one year ago, but the addition of Puljujarvi moves RW ahead of the port side. Tyler Pitlick also helped this year and could do the same in the years to come (assuming good health), and Slepyshev is pushing for full-time employment.