The Edmonton Oilers have some good arrows from their 2016 draft crop, but there also worries on the horizon. The culprits? Injuries and the second round.
- No. 4 overall—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (28, 1-7-8 NHL and 8, 2-4-6 AHL). Puljujarvi spent most of the first half in the NHL, and showed well. However, his confidence and TOI dwindling, the Oilers sent him to the minors—where he had an immediate and positive impact. Disappointing that his transition to the NHL will not go as smoothly as that of Patrik Laine, but he remains a brilliant stroke of luck for the Oilers.
- No. 32 overall—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (33, 11-31-42 WHL). He spiked offensively as expected, and was posting quality offense for a losing team, when injury hit again. This is a real concern, as Benson has NHL talent but fell draft day because of the injury worry. The latest from Steve Ewen of The Vancouver Province: Benson, the Giants captain, did skate with the team on Thursday, but he was wearing a black defencemen’s jersey. He had been wearing a red, non-contact jersey at recent practices.
- No. 63 overall—LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (37, 1-4-5 OHL). I have checked with my OHL sources several times, and they all tell me he is playing well. Neimelainen is a mobile defender, and posted pretty good offense a year ago, so this might be an anomaly. Either way, he appears on track as a prospect, and a big part of his value will be defensive.
- No. 84 overall—LD Matthew Cairns, Fargo Force (17, 0-4-4 USHL) and Powell Rver Kings (10, 1-9-10 BCJHL). Big defender (6.02, 202) is more of a long-term prospect, and he wasn’t playing a lot in the USHL. His move to the BCHL seems to have sparked the offense, as he is at a point per game at that level currently. A nice article on the young man appeared in the Powell River Peak recently.
- No. 91 overall—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (34, 0-6-6 SHL). He is a big (6.03, 209) blue with skill, and the big news this year is that he is hanging in the SHL. He is averaging 9 minutes a night and making good progress. Turns 20 in May, splendid news he is able to play at such a high level and we hope for increased playing time.
- No. 123 overall—G Dylan Wells, Peterborough Petes (36, 3.19 .914 OHL). Former NHL goalie Phil Myre told ISS that Wells is technically sound, and the Oilers took him No. 123 despite a poor 2015-16 season. This year has seen Wells establish himself as a legit prospect again, and Edmonton appears to have a goalie prospect worth signing.
- No. 149 overall—L Graham McPhee, Boston College (26, 1-4-5 NCAA). Strong skater with two-way ability and scouting reports do talk about his skill. Freshman in college routinely get low ice time, so his offense is good based on the kinds of minutes he is likely getting.
- No. 153 overall—RC Aapeli Rasanen, Sioux City Musketeers (20, 4-12-16 USHL). He has played well (although not since the WJs) and looked good at the World Juniors over Christmas (he was one of the better Finns in the game I watched). He has strained ligaments in his elbow, leading to his long layoff.
- No. 183 overall—RD Vincent Desharnais, Providence College (19, 2-0-2 NCAA). Big righty defender (6.06, 210) has a couple of goals so far this year. Has played in 19 of 25 games, getting mighty crowded on the Providence blue line as recruits push their way up the depth chart.
- Plus Arrows: R Jesse Puljujarvi, LD Matthew Cairns, RD Filip Berglund, G Dylan Wells
- On Track: LHD Markus Niemelainen, L Graham McPhee, RC Aapeli Rasanen, RD Vincent Desharnais
- Clouds Gathering: L Tyler Benson