At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Peter Chiarelli’s Bruins dressed some giant wingers. Milan Lucic (6.03, 233), Nathan Horton (6.02, 229), Blake Wheeler (6.05, 225) and Michael Ryder (6.01, 200) all played with skill and all had success. That edition of the Bruins had some bigger folks on the 4line too, but Boston was a load every shift and they came in waves that season.
The current Oilers have been getting bigger from the moment Peter Chiarelli arrived in town. Among the group that may make up the top six wingers this year? Milan Lucic (6.03, 233), Leon Draisaitl (6.01, 214), Patrick Maroon (6.03, 230) and Jesse Puljujarvi (6.04, 203). That’s some impressive size, and when JP turns 23 he’ll no doubt be as strong as an ox and may be 10 pounds heavier.
We’ve been looking at this draft six ways to Sunday and one of the players “in the range” at No. 22 is gigantic winger Isaac Ratcliffe. Listed at 6.06, 200, the scouting reports give us the impression he is an intriguing size/speed package with some skill rising. If he works out, we might be looking at a very valuable player. If he can’t score? Maybe Ethan Moreau.
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: Ratcliffe is a very interesting prospect that is available this year. I could see him being drafted anywhere from 15 to 50. He has some extremely alluring qualities to NHL scouts. First thing you notice is his size at 6’6. And he skates very well, with good speed and acceleration. But he’s also not even 200 lbs yet. As he fills out, I don’t think we truly know how good he could be. Ratcliffe’s other best quality is his shot. He has an absolute rocket of a wrist shot and I think he’s got big time scoring potential. Once he’s able to add that aforementioned strength, he’ll be able to generate more scoring chances for himself as he can protect the puck better and look to be aggressive in driving the middle of the ice. His physical game is inconsistent and that’s another area of his game that will need to improve. Ditto for discipline. Source
That’s a fascinating scouting report and gives you some idea about what we’re looking at with Ratcliffe. He may take five years and he may not make it at all. Is that a player you consider at No. 25? Here are his boxcars:
- 67gp, 28-26-54 (OHL) (14 first assists)
- NHLE: 82gp, 10-10-20
- 179 shots (15.64 shooting percentage)
- Brock Otten: Anyone who watched the U18’s can tell you that Ratcliffe struggled with some lazy stick penalties and it was the same in Guelph too. He has the potential to be an excellent defensive player though with his size and skating ability. Playing for Guelph is a wild card all in itself. Because of how bad Guelph was at times this year, he had a propensity to disappear at times. He went an entire month without scoring a goal later in the year. And when he’s not scoring, that’s when the physical game and the cycle game really need to activate to make him more noticeable. Bottom line, the key word with Ratcliffe is potential, which I’ve already used several times to describe him. Huge kid who could develop as a scoring power forward under the right tutelage and with improvements to his conditioning. Source
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Based on their own established past and Peter Chiarelli’s emphasis on size, I think Isaac Ratcliffe is probably high on Edmonton’s list. The Oilers should draft a more skilled player there (Kailer Yamamoto, as an example) and maybe they’ll do it. It’s been a long time since we had so many possible candidates who could fall to the Oilers (all in a range of somewhat equal value, real or imagined). Excellent test of this regime.
I’m always interested in the combine invite list, specifically those players who get invited while also being well outside Central Scouting’s top 100 players. Why? Well, if they got invited someone was interested and the Oilers have drafted these men in the past (Graham McPhee was No. 110 NA a year ago, Caleb Jones was No. 115 NA, as examples). Let’s have a look at the group who were invited to the NHL combine but ranked lower than we might expect for such an honor.
- No. 128 NA: LC Kale Howarth, Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL). Big center (6.05) with skill. I had him marked on the “Oilers and the Hinterlands” post and of course we know how much Edmonton likes the British Columbia league. I thought that might end with Stu MacGregor’s exit, perhaps there are other forces at play.
All other invites were in the range. I don’t know much about this young man and the interwebs have very little (nice story here). Still, he’s a name we’ll watch with interest during the draft.