At the draft in 2008 (photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved), the Edmonton Oilers chose Jordan Eberle from the Regina Pats. Eberle arrived in the NHL in 2010 and has flourished in the world’s best league. His 165 NHL goals rank Eberle No. 15 on career Oilers goals among Edmonton picks. Only Ales Hemsky (174 goals) has more goals as an Oiler among players drafted after 2000.
It is extremely unlikely the Oilers will get as good a player at No. 22 in this draft, but that is in fact the task at hand. Chris Westcott does good work for the Oilers on their website and has a recent article about the draft and what might be available when Edmonton chooses. This is a more important document than you may think, because it does offer some clues about what the organization may be thinking. Back 15 years ago, the organization would call in Robin Brownlee in the days before flying to the draft. I counted those articles as some of the most anticipated of the year, and Westcott’s article may be a modern day comparable. Here are some of the names Westcott mentions:
- “Sioux City’s Eeli Tolvanen could be among the better prospects”. My list has Tolvanen at No. 10, but Bob McKenzie’s Top 15 has him just outside that ranking. Craig Button’s latest mock sees the Finn land at No. 20 and that’s definitely in the range. His estimated goals per 60 leads the draft eligibles in the USHL. The big item for Tolvanen? 246 shots in 52 games. Volume shooter.
- “Another winger to consider would be another Finn: Kristian Vesalainen.” I am not as strong on Vesalainen, ranking him No. 23. McKenzie had him at No. 15 (narrowly beating out Tolvanen) and Button’s mock puts him at No. 18 (to the Boston Bruins). Vesalainen had a big spike at the U18’s and could go much higher. If he is around at No. 22, good chance Edmonton takes him.
- “Isaac Ratcliffe is another interesting winger from Guelph in the OHL.” One of the reasons these articles are interesting is that someone, somewhere mentioned this name. I have him No. 42, while acknowledging his skating and size. I don’t know that he is in the same offensive range as the two Finns. McKenzie and Button did not have him on their most recent work, but Button’s most recent big list had the winger at No. 28 overall.
Those three names get special play in the article, along with mentions for several other prospects:
- Lias Andersson: (LT No. 14) (BM No. 14) (Button mock No. 16)
- Kailer Yamamoto (LT No. 11) (Button mock No. 25)
- Elias Petterson (LT No. 4) (BM No. 11) (Button mock No. 9)
- Joshua Norris (LT No. 26)
- Robert Thomas (LT No. 14) (Button mock No. 24)
- Kole Lind (LT No. 21) (Button mock No. 22)
The only player I would find perplexing at No. 22 is Ratcliffe. Based on what this article indicates, they have the first round forwards surrounded. If this is their list, it’s a good one.