The Edmonton Oilers spent riches in the WHL a lot at the beginning of the decade, overspending there and not necessarily getting full value on investment. In the four drafts from 2010 through 2013, Edmonton chose a WHL player 11 times. Beginning in 2014, the club has been far more picky about players from the western league, choosing Leon Draisaitl (2014), Ethan Bear (2015) and Tyler Benson (2016). For this season, based on the math of the draft, I believe the Oilers should shop more heavily in the WHL. Let’s have a look.
NHL PLAYERS/WHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR
- 2016 NHL draft—211 total players, 34 from the WHL
- 2015 NHL draft—211 total players, 35 from the WHL
- 2014 NHL draft—210 total players, 37 from the WHL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 33 from the WHL.
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 32 from the WHL.
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 33 from the WHL
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 43 from the WHL
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 31 from the WHL
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 37 from the WHL
- FINAL TALLY: 1,897 total players, 315 from the WHL
- PERCENTAGE: 16.61% (35 per year)
TOTAL PLAYERS/WHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY THE OILERS
- 2016 NHL draft—9 total players, 1 from the WHL
- 2015 NHL draft—6 total players, 1 from the WHL
- 2014 NHL draft—6 total players, 1 from the WHL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 3 from the WHL.
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from the WHL.
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 3 from the WHL.
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 4 from the WHL.
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from the WHL.
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 2 from the WHL.
- FINAL TALLY: 70 total players, 17 from the WHL.
- PERCENTAGE: 24.3% (2 per year)
The Oilers are far more likely to pluck a WHL player than the rest of the league based on the last nine years. Edmonton has added 24 percent of their procurement pool from the league, while the rest of the NHL spends 16.3 percent of their picks in the dub. Massive, incredible gap (six players!).
However, the past three seasons show a different trend. The NHL is drafting from the WHL at a 16.8 percent rate, while for Edmonton since 2014 the number is 14.2 percent. Oilers are in line with the rest of the league in the most recent seasons.
WHL OILERS SINCE 2008
- 2008—Jordan Eberle (492 NHL games); Jordan Bendfeld
- 2009—Cameron Abney
- 2010—Brandon Davidson (92 NHL games); Curtis Hamilton (1 NHL game); Tyler Bunz (1 NHL game), Drew Czerwonka
- 2011—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (380 NHL games); David Musil (4 NHL games); Travis Ewanyk
- 2012—Mitch Moroz
- 2013—Jackson Houck, Ben Betker, Greg Chase
- 2014—Leon Draisaitl (176 NHL games)
- 2015—Ethan Bear
- 2016—Tyler Benson
Jordan Eberle was a massive value, he is averaging 26.5 goals per 82 games during his career, fantastic payment for a No. 22 overall selection in any year. Brandon Davidson also represents extremely good value and we may one day say the same thing about Ethan Bear. On the other hand, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (55 points per 82gp) is (so far) below average for a No. 1 overall pick and the team has missed on two second-round picks (David Musil, Mitch Moroz) from the league. We are early days on Leon Draisaitl, who may end up being the best in the group.
WHL’S BEST, 2017
- RC Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings. Complete talent.
- LD Juuso Valimaki, Tri-City Americans. Big two-way D, smart, creative.
- RC Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks. Complete skills.
- C Mason Shaw, Medicine Hat Tigers. Small skill C, terrific skills.
- R Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane Chiefs. Smart, elusive, offensive. Lacks top gear.
- C Michael Rasmussem, Tri-City Americans. Big C, physical, good skater.
- R Kole Lind, Kelowna Rockets. Speedy W with skill. Good Oil option.
- L Nikita Popugaev, Prince George Cougars. Big, good skater, plus shot, passer.
- RC Morgan Geekie, Tri-City Americans. C w/2-way rep and emerging offense.
- R Aleksi Heponiemi, Swift Current Broncos. Cerebral W with skill, anticipation.
- RD Cal Foote, Kelowna Rockets. Huge D, awkward skater, good passer, tough.
- R Nicholas Henry, Regina Pats. Emerging scorer. Not fast.
- LC Jaret-Anderson Dolan, Spokane Chiefs. Small, very quick skater and plus skill.
- LC Jake Leschyshyn, Regina Pats. Quality two-way C.
- R Stelio Mattheos, Brandon Wheat Kings. Excellent skater, heavy shot.
- RD Kale Fleury, Kootenay Ice. Fascinating prospect. Haydn’s brother. Range of skills.
- RD Artyom Minulin, Swfit Current Broncos. Big defender with emerging skills.
- RD Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors. Mobile, dependable, emerging. Could be a find.
- LC Jordy Bellerive, Lethbridge Hurricanes. Undersized, nifty and aggressive F with skill.
- RD Dylan Coghlan, Tri-City Americans. Two-way defender is a good skater, spiking offensively.
- L Ryan Hughes, Portland Winterhawks. Damn incredible line: 5.08, July 1999, 55 pts/65 games.
- RD Henri Jokiharju, Portland Winterhawks. Smooth skating Finn OD, needs defensive work.
- RC Tyler Steenbergen, Swift Current Broncos. 1998 born, too much skill to pass on.
- RC Kyle Olson, Tri-City Americans. Small and skilled, rising.
- G Stuart Skinner, Lethbridge Hurricanes. Strong showing at TP game.
- LC Brayden Burke, Moose Jaw Warriors. Please draft him. Short player, high skill, he is 20. Please.
- R Lane Zablocki, Regina Pats. Two-way W with skill, kind of a throwback player.
- R Austin Pratt, Red Deer Rebels. Power winger who can skate. Offense still uncertain.
- L Ryan Peckford, Victoria Royals. Good skater, terrific shot.
- F Trey Fix-Wolansky, Edmonton Oil Kings. 5.08 skill winger.
- R Brett Davis, Kootenay Ice. Good size, impressive offense for a June 1999.
- R Sami Moilanen, Seattle Thunderbirds. Small buzzsaw who can score goals.
- LD Scott Walford, Victoria Royals. Mobile defender who can close gaps.
- LD Jonathan Smart, Regina Pats. Great outlet passer, is a good defender. Trade helped.
- RC Josh Paterson, Saskatoon Blades. Good size, smarts, speed. Some offense.
- G Zack Sawchenko, Moose Jaw Warriors. 19 years old, .920.
- LD Jarret Tyszka, Seattle Thunderbirds. Big, mobile shut down defender, some offense. Oiler.
- RD Will Warm, Edmonton Oil Kings. Improving two-way defender.
- R Mark Kastelic, Calgary Hitmen. Big winger with some skill.
- G Dylan Ferguson, Kamloops Blazers. No buzz at all, .919.
- L Ty Lewis, Brandon Wheat Kings. Skill winger (1998) who has spiked this season offensively.
- LD Brandon De Jong, Portland Winterhawks. Giant defender (6.05) is a raw talent.
- G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders. Highly ranked goalie, .893.
- R Ryan Bowen, Lethbridge Hurricanes. Big winger who can skate, has some offense.
- R Andrei Grishakov, Calgary Hitmen. Good size and skill, adjusted well to NA.
- RD Vladislav Yeryomenko, Calgary Hitmen. Two-way defender, solid year.
- LC Jayden Halbewachs, Moose Jaw Warriors. Small, 20, impact player. Late bloomer?
- L Ethan McIndoe, Spokane Chiefs. Has some elements of a power forward.
- L Simon Stransky, Prince Albert Raiders. Small skill winger, eligible last year.
- LD Scott Walford, Victoria Royals. Two-way defenseman with speed.
- L Egor Babenko, Lethbridge Hurricanes. Undersized W, skill & aggression.
- LD Brayden Gorda, Edmonton Oil Kings. Mobile defender, not a lot of offense.
- R Patrick Bajkov, Everett Silvertips. Skill F with a plus shot.
- LD Kristians Rubins, Medicine Hat Tigers. 1997 born, mobile, impressive. Boxcars shy.
- R Brendann Semchuk, Vancouver Giants. One dimensional burner.
- G Jordan Hollett, Regina Pats. Big goalie (6.04, 194) .893.
- L Jordan Topping, Tri-City Americans. Good skater, no dominant skill.
OILERS PICKS AT THE 2017 DRAFT
- First Round: No. 21 overall
- Third Round: No. 76 overall (FROM ST. LOUIS—this is payment for Nail Yakupov)
- Third Round: No. 83 overall
- Fourth Round: No. 114 overall
- Fifth Round: No. 131 overall (FROM Vancouver—this is payment for Phil Larsen)
- Fifth Round: No. 145 overall
- Sixth Round: No. 176 overall
- Seventh Round: No. 207overall
Lots of interesting names in the group, I like any of the top seven players listed for the first round and expect young Geekie will available in the second round. A reminder, my list is based on math, so although I think Ryan Hughes is a very good prospect there may be skating issues or other that scouts have identified.
Up next: The QMJHL.
OILERS NEEDS, 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.
- 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.
- Goal: 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
OILERS TARGETS BEST ON THEIR OWN PAST
- Michael Rasmussen, Cal Foote, Tyler Steenbergen, Austin Pratt, Jarret Tyszka.
MY PREFERRED TARGETS
- Kole Lind, Morgan Geekie, Ryan Hughes, Tyler Steenbergen.