If the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup in the next decade, the province of Ontario should demand a ring. Since the club decided to rebuild (again) in the early days of January of 2010, exceptional talent from the east has been flowing west at a rapid clip.
Note: As we are likely to be tight for time in April, I am beginning the draft series concerning leagues early this year.
NHL PLAYERS/OHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR
- 2015 NHL draft—211 total players, 48 from the OHL
- 2015 NHL draft—211 total players, 31 from the OHL
- 2014 NHL draft—210 total players, 41 from the OHL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 37 from the OHL
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 48 from the OHL
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 46 from the OHL
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 42 from the OHL
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 42 from the OHL
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 46 from the OHL
- FINAL TALLY: 1,897 total players, 381 from the OHL
- PERCENTAGE: 20.08%
It was a monster season for the OHL at the 2017 draft, 48 players tying the highest recent number (2012). The NHL drafts 20 percent of their talent from the OHL, an insane number considering all of the other hot spots the provide talent. Lots of these kids are European, so the actual number of Canadians drafted is obscured.
TOTAL PLAYERS/OHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY OILERS
- 2016 NHL draft—9 players total, 2 from the OHL
- 2015 NHL draft—6 players total, 1 from the OHL
- 2014 NHL draft—6 total players, 0 from the OHL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 2 from the OHL
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 2 from the OHL.
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 1 from the OHL.
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 2 from the OHL.
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from the OHL.
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 0 from the OHL.
- FINAL TALLY: 70 total players, 10 from the OHL.
- PERCENTAGE: 14.3%
The Oilers draft heavily from the OHL, but at a rate that is below NHL average. If you take Edmonton’s piece of the pie out of the overall totals, the other 29 teams actually draft from the Ontario league at a 20.3 percent clip. The OHL: Spend picks there.
OHL OILERS SINCE 2008
- 2010—Taylor Hall (437 NHL games); Ryan Martindale
- 2011—Tobias Rieder (217 NHL games)
- 2012—Nail Yakupov (285 NHL games); Daniil Zharkov
- 2013—Darnell Nurse (100 NHL games); Kyle Platzer
- 2015—Connor McDavid (111 NHL games)
- 2016—Markus Niemelainen, Dylan Wells
I wanted the Oilers to take a bunch of OHL kids last season, they grabbed two. This year’s Ontario list isn’t as deep, but there is a lot of talent on the board for 2017.
OHL’S BEST, 2017
- R Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads. Size, speed, sniper.
- RC Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack. Speedy, creative, range of skills.
- RC Gabriel Vilardi, Windsor Spitfires. Creative C with size, speed average.
- RC Robert Thomas, London Knights. Speedy forward, creative.
- LD Nicholas Hague, Mississauga Steelheads. Rangy, aggressive, emerging offense.
- RD Conor Timmins, SSE Greyhounds. Smart, reads plays well, excellent passer.
- L Matthew Strome, Hamilton Bulldogs. Strong 2-way W, offensive potential.
- RC Ivan Lodnia, Erie Otters. Small skill C, great skater.
- L Alex Formenton, London Knights. An absolute burner, has some skill.
- G Mike DiPietro, Windsor Spitfires. 46gp, 2.21 .922.
- L Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph Storm. Big winger, great skater, some skill.
- LC Morgan Frost, SSM Greyhounds. Smart, skilled, and emerging.
- R Adam Ruzicka, Sarnia Sting. Big (6.04, 202) forward who plays intelligent game.
- RC Sasha Chmelevski, Ottawa 67s. Impressive skills, outststanding PP game.
- L Zach Gallant, Peterborough Petes. Fast skater, intelligent player, boxcars moving.
- RC Jack Studnicka, Oshawa Generals. Range of skills, he is posting quality offense. Not much buzz.
- L Mackenzie Entwistle, Hamilton Bulldogs. Big winger, who can skate, check, some skill.
- RD Eemeli Rasanen, Kingston Frontenacs. Giant defender with skill, mobility.
- L Jonah Gadjovich, Owen Sound Attack. Emerging PF, 40-goal man. Average speed.
- C Kevin Hancock, Owen Sound Attack. Draft re-entry having a fine offensive season.
- RC Nathan Schnarr, Guelph Storm. Big center with speed, a little shy offensively.
- L Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs. Big winger with a good shot. Speed hurts him.
- LC Austen Keating, Ottawa 67s. Offensive center, more consistent this season.
- LC Ben Jones, Niagara Ice Dogs. I think he might be a sleeper. Playmaker.
- RC Greg Meireles, Kitchener Rangers. Smaller forward, speedy, responsible.
- L Linus Nyman, Kingston Frontenacs. Small skill winger with good speed. 22 goals.
- RD Adam Thilander, North Bay Battalion. Impressive skills, could be massive value.
- LC Joseph Garreffa, Kitchener Rangers. Small speed merchant with skill.
- RD Brady Lyle, Brampton Battalion. Good size, speed two-way defender.
- L Macauley Carson, Sudbury Wolves. Scoring forward with size, 26 goals is a fine total.
- G Stephen Dhillon, Niagara Ice Dogs. SP in last two seasons: .908 and .914.
- LD Markus Phillips, Owen Sound Attack. Undersized two-way defender improved 16-17.
- L Kyle Maksimovich, Erie Otters. Small, very skilled player. I had him No. 14 same list a year ago.
- R Cole Coskey, Saginaw Spirit. Skill winger on a bad team. Probably better than my ranking.
- LD Noel Hoefenmayer, Ottawa 67’s. Mobile defender with two-way skills.
- R Maksim Sushko, Owen Sound Attack. Impressive looking player, offense is shy.
- L Ryan McGregor, Sarnia Sting. Speed merchant running in place year two OHL.
- LD Jacob Paquette, Kingston Frontenacs. Shutdown defender, has a mean streak. Mobile.
- L Albert Michnac, Guelph Storm. Czech import scoring well (58, 13-22-35) first NA season
- C Matthew Philip, Niagara Ice Dogs. Smallish center has some skill.
- L Daniil Vertiy, North Bay Battalion. Inconsistent winger has potential.
- G Matt Villalta, SSM Greyhounds. Rookie with a .913 SP.
- C Logan DeNoble, Peterborough Petes. October 1997, small and skilled. 32 goals.
- L Nick McHugh, Kitchener Rangers. Energy winger with some (53, 11-10-21) skill.
- R Oliver Castleman, Niagara Ice Dogs. Small skill (60, 17-21-38) winger.
- LD Tom Hedberg, Barrie Colts. Two-way D is an August, 1999. Draft and follow.
- RD Cole Fraser, Peterborough Petes. Big (6.02, 192) blue with some mobility.
- RC Liam Hawel, Guelph Storm. Giant (6.05, 179) C improved offense after trade.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov, Guelph Storm. Big mobile defender.
- C Domenic Commisso, Oshawa Generals. Small rocket on skates, skilled. Eligible last year.
THE OILERS IN THE 2017 DRAFT
- First Round: No. 22 overall
- Third Round: No. 76 overall (FROM ST. LOUIS—this is payment for Nail Yakupov)
- Third Round: No. 84 overall
- Fourth Round: No. 115 overall
- Fifth Round: No. 130 overall (FROM Vancouver—this is payment for Phil Larsen)
- Fifth Round: No. 146 overall
- Sixth Round: No. 177 overall
- Seventh Round: No. 208 overall
I think the Oilers may end up trading down from No. 22 (Carolina has a bunch of picks) and grabbing that missing second round pick. Among the players who might be a good fit for Edmonton are Robert Thomas, Conor Timmins, Matthew Strome, Sasha Chmelevski and one guesses Matthew Strome will be scouted heavily, too.
Up next: The WHL.
OILERS POSITIONS OF NEED, LEAST TO MOST
- 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 at center (or on the top two lines). The rest are long shots, although Rasanen may end up being a better bet than the rest. Oilers are set here, but you can never have enough centers so don’t be surprised if they take Thomas (as an example).
- Left Defense: At the big league level, the Oilers have youngsters Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse. Griffin Reinhart may or may not force himself into the lineup, but he better hurry because Caleb Jones and or Ziyat Paigin could be pushing soon. Add AHLers Jordan Oesterle and Dillon Simpson, who can also play RH side, and this spot is good. Highly unlikely we see an early pick spend on a LHD.
- Goal: It is still a problem area, I think that is fair. The club has a quality No. 1 in Cam Talbot and Laurent Brossoit has earned his shot at a backup role. Nick Ellis looks like a bona fide prospect, but he is in year one of his pro career. Is he better than Brossoit? Might be. Wells looks like a good prospect and Svoboda is stopping all pucks in the mist. Edmonton is likely to add at least one goalie in the draft and another one to the pro group over the summer.
- Right Defense: A lot of change and significant improvement in 2016 calendar year, including the acquisitions of Adam Larsson via trade and Matt Benning as a college free agent. Still, there is plenty of work to be done. Ethan Bear and recently signed CHL free agent Ryan Mantha will help in Bakersfield and at some point represent recall options. Filip Berglund and John Marino are good prospects who are developing, but are miles away. I think Edmonton may take a RHD, extremely unlikely to be in the first round.
- Right Wing: It was the weakest position one year ago, but the addition of Jesse Puljujarvi moves RW ahead of the port side. If Leon Draisaitl is listed as a RW, the need becomes far less but I don’t see the Oilers giving up on Leon as a center. After JP, the list might include Tyler Pitlick plus Patrick Russell. Edmonton is likely to draft a RW or a C who will end up on RW this year.
- 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 injuries are impacting, Slepyshev has offensive potential, and centers like Caggiula could also be an option. Skill LW is the weakest prospect spot on the board. That’s how much Benson’s injury hurts.
My guess at the draft: Trade down for two seconds, grab two forwards with those picks, and then address RHD and goaltending as day two rolls along.