Early Top 10

This is Dmitri Kulikov. He’s a very well regarded young blueliner and should go in the top 10 at the NHL draft this summer. Central Scouting’s Christian Bordeleau said “He’s a great skater; he can carry the puck and shoot the puck well. He’s strong too, he can take big hits and they don’t seem to bother him.”

I love pro sports drafts. If there was a “draft channel” I’d watch it all the time. “Tonight, we’ll have the 1971 Entry Draft in black and white with shabby sound!” I’d be there. I’m not a draft expert of any kind. NHL scouts are really good at what they do, but they won’t tell me their lists and guys like Blue Bullet and speeds will publish their stuff in due time. Mr Bugg writes for a living now so it wouldn’t be fair to steal his stuff.

That’s the backdrop for why I’m posting the early top 10. It’s my list, but it’s really the list math would publish if anyone asked him (I’m certain math is a guy, my wife swears at math like he’s a guy). I’m also stealing some bio info from the Al Gore so we have a reference point.

  1. C John Tavares: From CSB’s EJ McGuire: “He is probably better than any other player in the Draft from the top of the circle down at being a threat to score. He’s an offensive player who is reliable in his defensive zone and getting better at that, but yet not asked to do that very frequently. He is pure offense and for his first years in the NHL will probably be asked to do just that.” Redline has suggested he lacks that complete player’s skills, so we’re looking at Marcel Dionne/Steve Yzerman.
  2. D Victor Hedman: He’s a smooth, swift skater and he’s 6.06, 220. A good offensive defender, has playmaking skills. He’s described as being a sound positional defender (for his age) but does lack a Chris Pronger/Scott Stevens mean streak. You could probably build a franchise around him.
  3. C Evander Kane: Central Scouting’s (and 99′s old winger) Blair MacDonald: “He has power forward qualities from the blue line in. He’s the type of player who doesn’t like being denied access to the net. You can almost see when he’s got the puck he’s going to the net and defying people to stop him. He’ll be a 200-pound forward in the National Hockey League. He plays like he’s 6-2, 6-3, bigger than his size. He’s surprised a lot of people with his strength going to the net.”
  4. C Matt Duchene: TSN’s Bob McKenzie: “Duchene is a well-built pivot just shy of six feet tall, who has elite level speed and skill. While he is perhaps not quite as prolific offensively as Stamkos, there are a lot of similarities in their game in terms of playing both sides of the puck and using speed on both offense and defence.” Redline moved him ahead of Tavares recently.
  5. C Braydon Schenn: Again McGuire from CSB: “Brayden is of the power-forward ilk. He has learned a little about the NHL from his older brother Luke Schenn and he knows how to go to the net. He is a threat to score at all times on the ice and dishes the puck very effectively to his linemates in getting the amount of assists that he does. He takes the puck to the net with the kind of authority that a Jonathan Cheechoo does, yet has puck dishing capacities that maybe a Joe Thornton does. Both are tough players, both are tough to move out in front of the net and Brayden fits that ilk perfectly.”
  6. R Scott Glennie: McGuire one last time: “Scott Glennie was mislabeled earlier in the year as perhaps being only a finisher for often linemate Brayden Schenn. Yet Scott took matters into his own hands with an equal number of goals and assists and contributed greatly this season with a power forward type attitude. Glennie might remind the fan of NHL players with power forward abilities coming off the wall like Jonathan Cheechoo and Jonathan Toews — that kind of offensive ability.”
  7. R Jordan Schroeder: An undersized skill forward in the tradition of Patrick Kane. I can see Oilers fans saying “NO!” but if you believe teams should draft BPA there’s a real chance this fellow will be in the running if available. One thing you should be aware of is that he shoots the puck–Schroeder is described as having a terrific wrister.
  8. L Magnus Pjrvi-Svensson: The one non-math pick, I’ve decided his WJ and U-18 WJ numbers (added to all the fuss) must mean something. Elite Prospects: An offensive type of player that skates very well, has fine technical skills, excellent hockey sense and a nose for the net. Pääjärvi is very dangerous one-on-one and also a gifted playmaker, although his sniper instinct is more obvious. Pääjärvi always puts up a lot of points. Needs to improve his defensive game as well as work ethic.
  9. D Dmitri Kulikov: More from Bordeleau: “What we saw this year is likely what we are going to see from Kulikov in the future; he’s going to play the same way in the NHL. He knows when to join the rush, he plays defense first, but recognizes the holes. He can shoot the puck well on the powerplay and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played in the NHL next year.”
  10. D Ryan Ellis: CSB’s Bob Boughner: “I’ve only been in the (OHL) three years and other coaches I talk to, they’ve never seen a defenseman have an impact in a junior game like Ryan Ellis. He seems to be in on every play defensively and offensively. If you come away from the game and you look at who was your favorite player, who played the best, his name always seems to come to mind. There are plays where he’s making something out of nothing. And his biggest asset is his shot. He’s got an NHL one-timer, he’s got an NHL slap shot, and that’s a dangerous weapon.”

There are several players who belong in the conversation, including Nazem Kadri, Louis Leblanc and Jared Cowen. The are some concerns a player like Schenn could end up being a 3rd line checker/crasher, but he has some skill too. We’ll see. I like everyone on this list.


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35 Responses to "Early Top 10"

  1. Coach pb9617 says:

    The whole wide world needs more Patrick Kane.

    As for your post, my bet is that the Oilers will have to choose between Kulikov and Kadri.

  2. Smarmy Boss says:

    If Jared Cowen falls to the Oilers. All I can say is wow.

    Unless his knee is completely ruined the Oilers would have a player.

  3. Jon says:

    Wow…7 on Bobby Loo. Big changes coming for Vancouver!

    Goodbye: Sedin squared, Ohlund, Sundin, Pyatt.

    It seemed the pompus Tuzzi Naslund era lasted forever and that the Sedin sister era was over before it started.

    Oh yeah, and 1 bullet left in the luongo gun. Doesn’t Gillis claim to be a moneyball guy?

    What would a true moneyballer due with 1 year left of Luongo?

    Great list. My list was composed by reading and viewing these players and has no math basis but lot’s of uneducated bias :)

    1. Tavares
    2. Hedman
    3. Kane
    4. Duchene
    5. Magnus
    6. Schenn
    7. Ellis
    8. Kulikov
    9. Moore
    10. Kassian

    my next 4 would be Cowen, Glennie, Schroeder and OEL

    No Cowen or Glennie because the injury scares me and Cowen seems too Boris Valabik or Keaton Ellerby to me

    No Schroder because I just like the other prospects better and I know you draft BPA but like Frank Costanza…I like some size on my prospects.

    No OEL only because I have not seen much of him and seems too Benoit Pouliot to me (metoric rise in weeks entering draft)

  4. Derek says:

    Give me the Russian please.

    QMJHL Defensemen Scoring Leaders:

    1. Sebastien Piche 20 yrs 62 GP 23 G 72 Pts

    2. Benoit Gervais 20 yrs 62 GP 17 G 62 Pts

    2. Dmitry Kulikov 18 yrs 57 GP 12 G 62 Pts

    It was Kulikovs first year playing North American hockey and his excellent rookie season ( as an 18 year old ) puts him in a tie for 7th all time as a rookie defenseman in the Q.

    In 18 games played in the postseason this year he has 2 goals and 20 points.

    At 6’0 190lbs he’s much less of a gamble than Ellis.

  5. jon k says:

    There’s a lot of nice skill available at ten, but as Staples has recently investigated there are quite a few busts possible in the 9-11 range. When all the players available all have pretty good numbers is when the scouts make their money I suppose.

    Ellis seems like the best bet to me.

    Problem with looking at the boxcars only is that a player like Cowen is undervalued.

    As another comment, it generally seems a warning sign to me when a player plays a style but is undersized for it at the NHL level, like Kane. The team that drafts him is basically betting that his weight and strength will fill out lest they end up with another Brule.

  6. Gerta Rauss says:

    Average fan reporting in here…

    Gillis has some very interesting decisions to make in the next 6 weeks.
    This team went all in with the Sundin signing,and now face the prospect of a significant rebuild if he can’t sign the players mentioned.

    And Luongo will sit back and watch it all unfold before July 1…and Gillis knows it.

    I live on the West Coast and attended 2 Canuck games tonight…1 in real time,and 1 on the PVR when I got home…both games ended badly.

    Lots of long faces in Canuckland.

    Kulikov or Ellis sound great,but being an average fan and all,what do I know.

  7. uni says:

    Where the heck were all these deep drafts when the Oilers were picking high? /sigh

    I would love Kulikov, he just sounds like a solid D-man with an outside shot of being a Fetisov type player that can anchor a D-corp for many many years.

    Ellis seems like a gamebreaker, but size will always be against him and who knows how he’ll turn out. That said if he has Rafalski upside with more offence yowsa.

    I absolutely love drafts, and it’s been very fun the last 2 years following it. Just wish the Oil had 3 1st picks, or 2 in the top 10 last year or this year =).

  8. oilerdago says:

    Thing about Kulikov (who I like) is that if we can get him, it makes it that much easier to trade one of our top 4 defensemen in order to get one of the forwards we need.

    In making that trade, it makes it easier to package one of our dissapointing forwards (off-load a contract) versus a buy-out (which I don’t think Katz is inclined to do).

    That said, it seems to me I’ve read that the early thinking is Ottawa takes him 1 ahead of us because they too need a puck mover.

    If that’s the case, my first inclination is still a d-man (Ellis is next) or one of Glennie/Kadri. Final decision may come down to what happens in the trade market in the weeks leading up to/right after.

  9. Lowetide says:

    I hope the Oilers avoid drafting a defender. They usually take a couple of seasons longer to develop and with the CBA allowing free agency much sooner, there’s a very short window.

  10. Jonathan Willis says:

    LT, you know I love your work, but I think that “Math” is much higher on Ryan Ellis.

    No 17-year old defenseman has ever led the OHL in assists. Bobby Orr came in close (he finished 3rd as a 17-year old). This kid has off the charts offensive potential.

    As far as I can tell the only players to outscore him were Tavares and Kane – that’s it. And he’s a defenseman. Rob Schremp was a junior monster and Ellis scored at a better rate as a 17-year old than Schremp did as an 18-year old.

    He’s something else entirely, and I hope the Oilers grab him.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Jonathan: I know he’s a quality offensive player, but he’s going to have a struggle in the NHL because of his (lack of) size.

    He might be a Rafalski, but those guys take some time and you suffer with their mistakes.

    If you picking at 10 and he’s the BPA available then it’s all good, but one would hope for a player with a wider range of skills.

    Math got him in the top 10, though.

  12. Ender says:

    I wonder if someone can explain the whole Best Pick Available vs. Draft for Need thing to me. I mean, if you’re trying to manage money and resources, wouldn’t it make the most sense to draft the best available, and then trade for need? Shouldn’t you be able to cover multiple needs with one best pick that way?

  13. kanadienkyle says:

    Leblanc has slipped quite a bit since his early days high up on the list. Hasn’t improved over the course of the season and was much more dynamic early on.

  14. R says:

    I think draft for need is bigger in other leagues like the NFL or something. As someone explained it to me, if you have a young All-Star QB already, and another one is up in the draft, it makes sense to draft someone else in the range since with the cap problems that drafted QB will provide and the difficulty in getting value in trade for him is high.

    I guess in NHL terms you can argue that if you have 2 generational centres in Muscular-Legs and Malk-with-vitamin-R and you get a shot at a 10th pick you’d go for a D-man since Gonchar isn’t going to be around forever.

    Personally I think it’s better to just draft the best guy available and then trade him if need be; like a Boyes for Wideman deal where both sides win. The counter-argument I suppose is that you often can’t find a dance partner.

    I think the only time you draft for need is when you have a cluster of guys that are very close and it’s hard to distinguish one clear advantage of one over the other. So this year if you need a Centre go Tavares, if you need a D-man go Hedman. That said I think Hedman is the better player and would find it hard not to go with him even if I had a farm stocked with young D and a need for a dominant centre.

    Well that’s my meandering rant on how I understand it. Can someone else with an understanding of the game beyond the cursory level take a shot at this?

  15. Matt N says:

    Riddle me this.

    Historically speaking, there is a 1 out of 3 chance that a player drafted in the first round will NOT play 100 games in the NHL. With those kind of odds, why would a team not try to accumulate as many picks as possible. Smart NFL teams/ GM’s such as New England and Bill Parcels have been using this approach for years. The draft is a crap shoot. The higher the pick the better the odds, but you can always hit the long shots (Zetterburg) or 7 out on the sure things (Bonsignore).

  16. Sean says:

    I hope the Oilers avoid drafting a defender. They usually take a couple of seasons longer to develop and with the CBA allowing free agency much sooner, there’s a very short window.I’ve this as well of late. Willis sold me on Ellis but after watching the Oilers burn development minutes on Green and Smid I wonder if investing in defenders is less worthwhile. Of course, investing in development is what the AHL is for so lack of depth is likely the bigger problem. I still wouldnt pass on Ellis.

  17. Councilman Les Winan says:

    R, one important difference between the NFL and NHL in terms of drafting is that the NFL doesn’t really have any (post-draft, anyway) minor leagues. So most guys that you draft, particularly in the first round, are expected to step in and at least contribute, if not start, in that first year.

    As we all know, the vast majority of even 1st round NHL draft picks don’t play in the big league the year after they’re drafted.

    So, as others here have said in the past, drafting for need makes much less sense in the NHL a lot of the time, since your needs may be completely different by the time (say 2 years later, for the sake of argument) this player is ready to contribute to your team.

  18. Lord Bob says:

    The development time of defensemen is a problem. Firstly, because it eats up cheap contract years, and secondly, because fan bases and coaches get sick of watching defensemen grow up in a hurry and they leave town before they reach their potential.

    Even Sweet Lou Lamouriello, who knows a thing or two about this game, moved guys like Jason Smith and Sheldon Souray because the curve on them was just too long and didn’t get value back. We did the same thing with Matt Greene, although we got a serious asset in exchange, and I think there’s a 50% chance that Ladislav Smid goes down the same road.

    My view on defensemen is basically coming down to “take a blue-chipper if you see him (Kulikov and Ellis would both fall into this category but I expect both to go top ten), otherwise look for other teams’ projects”.

    Finally, I am terrified of Evander Kane, and not in a good way. Basically, he’s a small forward who plays big and gets everything he can from that. But he’s a small forward who plays big against CHL opposition, and that’s not a skill that scales well. He hasn’t got either the skill or the power to muscle past Robyn Regehr the way he can a junior player. Luckily the Oilers probably won’t have to worry about him.

  19. Sean says:

    Lord Bob, your description of Kane is Brule #2.

    RE developing defensemen. The NHL is an ever changing game. Where it made sense to not develop a defender a couple years ago, having a couple contributing defenders on entry level deals or bargain buys goes a long way. IE if Peckham could play a full season without getting exposed, that would hide alot of the Oilers overpays. I’m not saying that Peckham should be an NHL fulltimer just that the motivation for him playing up has to be higher than normal – for a team that relied on Matt Greene in 2006.

  20. Mr. Bugg says:

    What about Kane is small? CSB’s new measurements back up what everyone has been saying all year long- he’s 6’1. Certainly nowhere near Brule territory.

    Re: Top 10

    Kane ahead of Duchene is interesting, but I get it. You’re going to get a lot out of Kane at the next level when it comes to the role he can be used in; Duchene, not so much. He’s fast and can kill penalties, but he’s not a wizard SH by any means.

    I think Glennie is too high for what he brings. He’s not a one-shot scorer- he just takes a lot of shots. But I’ve waxed about him enough.

    If you swapped Kulikov and Glennie, I think you’d have a list that looks very close to a lot of NHL teams’.

  21. Jonathan Willis says:

    My view on defensemen is basically coming down to “take a blue-chipper if you see him (Kulikov and Ellis would both fall into this category but I expect both to go top ten), otherwise look for other teams’ projects”.

    I agree, although I’ll also add that Euro defenders later in the draft (i.e Motin) are good bets since they get a little longer to develop.

  22. HBomb says:

    I think, given that he’s been as high as 8th overall in some mock drafts I’ve seen online AND the probability that the Oilers are looking at his “type” of player based on need, Zach Kassian needs to be included in this discussion somehow.

    Not saying it’s right or wrong, but it is what it is.

  23. Lord Bob says:

    European players can be great (Motin was a perfect example of a mid-round pick that’s looking good so far), but you have to be careful with them and hope they don’t go the Jani Rita/Alexei Mikhnov Memorial Highway to Obscurity route getting two minutes a night from some coach trying to make a playoff run.

  24. Vic Ferrari says:

    Just off the top of your head, Lain, re MLB:

    1. What is your sense of the value of speed on the basepaths in general, and the ability to steal bases in particular?

    2. What is your sense of the value of sacrifice bunts?

    I’m looking for gut feel stuff, Lain.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Vic: I’d say you should never let a baserunner steal if he can’t make it 80% of the time. And it might be higher.

    I would never sac bunt. Not ever. Never. Gene Mauch killed me every season. I wanted him to win so badly and he kept shooting himself in the nuts. It was sad. Donnie Moore sad.

  26. Bruce says:

    As I recall, the Gospel according to (Bill) James is that a 2/3 base-stealing rate is about break-even. As he explained it in simplified terms, with success you gain a base; with failure you lose both a base-runner and an out. Not equal currencies but all have value. “Seems” about right to my gut. I think a 75% rate is clearly successful, much less than that is pretty meh.

    As for the sac bunt, James made the salient observation that a successful sacrifice is the only play that is applauded by the fans either way: if the home team drops one down they cheer the advance of the runner; if the visiting team does, they cheer the out. That’s enough to suggest that it’s a pretty revenue-neutral play. The best- and worst-case scenarios are also fairly balanced — bunt into a force play, pop it up into a DP, bunt foul on third strike vs. a good or even in-between bunt potentially forcing a bad throw or bad decision by a fielder (esp. the pitcher) leading to an everybody’s-safe situation.

    To me both are situational things, and I appreciate those players and managers who limit them to times of game where one-run strategies are of the essence. Whether by steal or sac, the successful move of a runner from first to second puts him in scoring position and removes the force (and the DP), but it closes the hole at first base and generally reduces the pitcher’s distraction of holding the runner. That said, if the runner never steals, he’s not much of a distraction. So you need to swipe a base once in awhile just to keep ‘em honest.

    Probably Pete Palmer or somebody has done a game state analysis of runs scored per situation; i.e from second with none out vs. from first with none out, or vs. no runners on with one out.

  27. Bruce says:

    Google turned up this piece about the value of base stealing which does indeed cite Pete Palmer as well as terms Vic likes such as correlation, multiple regression and R-squared. There’s probably lots more out there, but this short article is a good overview.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Bruce: CS is a killer. I’m going to stand by my 80% and guess it needs to be more. Don’t send him unless he’s Tim Raines.

  29. Tyler says:

    @Vic: The break even point changes depending on the game state and the offensive environment. 70-75% is a pretty good rule of thumb. IIRC, the breakeven for The Greatest Steal of All-Time was pretty low, maybe 50%; in 1997 at Coors down by five in the ninth, it’d be signficantly higher than 70-75%.

    Sac bunts: almost always a bad idea.

  30. Bruce says:

    LT: Surely the #1 killer of an inning is GIDP. CS is probably next, but if you nail the runner to first base you’ll see more of #1.

    Still, I tend more toward your 80% than the ~63% derived from the Palmer calcs. I mean, if you’re Whitey Herzog and the top of your line-up is Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, you run as a matter of course. Otherwise, pick your spots.

  31. Lowetide says:

    You’re still giving up an out, and eventually that will mean your 1-4 hitters will be robbed of at-bats. It’s a bad bet unless my guy is a jackrabbit on the bases.

    A GIDP is a tough thing to turn, and maybe the SS throws the damn ball to his rf.

    A CS just means you’ve handed the one thing you need to the other side: an out. There are only 27 of them, before my guy runs I want to be 80% he makes it.

    That’s gut feel, but Vic was asking for just that. Earl Weaver was right, and so was Whitey Herzog. At least until Vince Coleman iirc.

  32. Bruce says:

    LT: What I remember best about Whitey’s Cardinals was pressuring the defence, and the chaos that often resulted.

    Like this (G3, 1985 NLCS):
    The Cardinals got roaring quickly when leadoff hitter Vince Coleman singled and stole second. After a walk to McGee, Dodgers starter Bob Welch seemed to have picked Coleman off, but a throwing error, reminiscent of Andújar’s in Game 2, scored Coleman and put McGee on third. Herr then walked and promptly stole second to give the Cardinals runners on second and third with nobody out. After an intentional walk to Andy Van Slyke, McGee scored on Terry Pendleton’s ground out to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

    The next inning, Vince Coleman again singled – and was again picked off base, only to advance to third on a throwing error. McGee singled Coleman home and was promptly caught stealing. Herr followed up with a homer to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the second. The game was for all purposes over.

    You’re still giving up an out, and eventually that will mean your 1-4 hitters will be robbed of at-bats.

    At times this is certainly true. Also it’s a mixed blessing to open up first base when Albert Pujols is at bat. This is particularly true w.r.t. sac bunts where you’ve already put the first out on the board, and the IBB sets up the inning-ending DP. That particular sequence drives me batshit.

    Earl Weaver was right, and so was Whitey Herzog.

    Absofuckinlutely. You are a wise man.

  33. Lord Bob says:

    Well, if we’re being literal, the number one killer of an inning is the triple play…

  34. Dennis says:

    The draft is the only thing Oilers fans have to look forward to.

    Well, that and the time frame when yet another season’s stink wafts away and you can enjoy watching Other teams play in the playoffs.

  35. doritogrande says:

    This is what I get for getting a new laptop and not yet having internet, I miss a great prospects thread.

    With Kulikov I have to disagree with you LT. This is the one player in the 8-13 range that is a perfect fit for the Oilers pipeline. This kid could be the Hemsky of defense when you consider a solid first season in the Q-league as an import. Committed to playing in North America with the potential to step on to the team within a year. He’s got better size than Ellis as has been noted, so I really really like the pick.

    A brief cursory glance at the first 10 teams in my opinion breaks down the draft like such:

    1. NYI need Tavares
    2. Tbay has Stamkos, drafts Hedman
    3. Colorado takes size in Kane
    4. ATL drafted D last year, need C for Kovalchuk, Duschene
    5. LA have great D prospects, lack high-end offensive, Paajarvi
    6. Phoenix has lots of offense, no impact defensive prospect, Cowen
    7. Toronto, Burke can’t handle the imports, could use physicality, Schenn
    8. Dallas is hard to pick. Both Modano and Zubov aren’t getting any older, I think they go Kulikov unfortunately but they might want Kadri.
    9. Ottawa, can’t deny they like Swedes like OEL but I think they want more offense, Glennie.
    10. Couple choices for impact small defensemen in OEL and Ellis and the best player remaining in Schroeder are passed over for Kadri or, grudgingly, Kassian.

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