The Edmonton Oilers drafted another elite offensive talent this weekend, another outstanding teenager with a magnificent future. Old Oiler fans like me are reminded of the fab four who arrived 30+ years ago and cut through the NHL for a decade. Young Oiler fans can look forward to better days and perhaps their first Stanley in memory.
One thing we all share: Oiler fans have had enough of looking forward to draft day as climax to each season. Enough. This organization’s upper management should move up or move on.
- #1 overall: R Nail Yakupov. Ridiculous talent combined with swagger and attitude. Yakupov has great personality and should give Oiler fans a lot to cheer for on and off the ice. Perhaps this young Russian can win the Calder trophy for a franchise that still hasn’t been honored with the trophy. NHLE 82, 18-22-40.
- #32 overall: L Mitchell Moroz. Coke Machine selection that takes Oiler fans back to the days of Kevin Prendergast, Moroz was taken when their was more skill on the board. The organization may be familiar with him because he’s an Oil King, and his TOI ranged from 4th to 2nd line during the season. NHLE 82, 6-3-9.
- #63 overall:F Jujhar Khaira.Another big forward (6.03, 195) with room to grow, he played in the BCJHL and Redline suggests he was underscouted. Quoting RLR: this kid is big, mean, aggressive, nasty, and guess what, he can score too. NHLE 82, 6-11-17.
- #91 overall: L Daniil Zharkov. The second most famous prospect Edmonton drafted this weekend, Zharkov is also Russian and another strong personality. At 6.03, 200 he fits the Coke Machine description (or will) but has enough skill to be considered a good hockey player. NHLE 82, 11-7-18.
- #93 overall: D Erik Gustafsson. Very interesting player, he’s 20 years old and one imagines the Oilers might bring him over right away for OKC. Gustafsson’s size (6.0, 176) runs out of time with the Coke Machine theme of this season’s draft. NHLE 82, 5-6-11.
- #123 overall: D Joey Laleggia. This has the best chance to be a depth gem along the lines of Gernat and Rieder. Corey Pronman’s take: He’s a good skater with a great offensive mind who would be a nice shot in the dark pick in the mid-rounds due to his notable offensive upside. He flashes high-end hockey sense with his quick game processing and he’s really effective moving the puck out of his own end and controlling the blue line on the power play.NHLE 82, 9-21-30.
- #153 overall: R John McCarron. The third straight 1992-born player, he’s a huge winger (6.03, 215) with plenty of toughness and a mean streak. McCarron fits the Coke Machine label perfectly. NHLE 82, 6-12-18.
NHLE’S over the past 2 drafts (draft seasons)
- R Nail Yakupov 18-22-40
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 11-27-38
- C Tobias Rieder 9-10-19
- L Daniil Zharkov 11-7-18
- R John McCarron 6-12-18 (’92)
- F Jujhar Khaira 6-11-17
- L Mitch Moroz 6-3-9
- C Travis Ewanyk 5-4-9
- Joey Laleggia 9-21-30 (’92)
- Erik Gustafsson 5-6-11 (’92)
- David Musil 2-8-10
- Dillon Simpson 2-7-9
- Oscar Klefbom 3-3-6
- The highlight of this draft is Nail Yakupov. Winning the lottery allowed the Oilers to draft the best player available and gives the club a ridiculous cluster of talent up front.
- The pick at 32 was somewhat disappointing. The players we talked about this morning were available at that number. My picks were Pontus Aberg, Dalton Thrower and Matt Finn–you may have had other names.
- I was initially unimpressed with the Khaira pick but after reading more he’s at least worthy of being “in the range” of his selection. The Oilers clearly spent the day drafting for need and I think this player gives them their best chance of getting that big forward who can play with real skill.
- I like the Zharkov pick. In a draft filled with flags and frayed corners, I think the player covers the number.
- The three 20 year olds are interesting but their window of opportunity is limited.
- Laleggia’s numbers are impressive and I’ll spend a little time over the next few days having a longer look. Could he come out right away?
- We don’t know enough about Gustafsson to make the call.
- I have no quarrel with the last pick, he’s a lottery ticket and hell maybe it cashes.
I think Oiler fans would have felt a lot better about this draft if the club had drafted (say) Matt Finn at 32. I think the initial shock of the Moroz selection may have clouded our judgement of the rest of the group and suspect we’ll find some things to like about Khaira, Zharkov and Laleggia in the coming days.
It’s also true that Moroz is a “trending” prospect. Kirk Luedeke from Redline report tweeted me this evening with the following:
- Luedeke: if his emerging skill set legit, with his toughness, Oil would have missed boat. We had Sutter higher, yes. But we also should have had Moroz higher, too. Not a bad pick- folks questioned Lucic at 50 in 06.
I think the Oilers probably wanted to trade into round 1 and grab Samuelsson, and when that wasn’t available checked down to their next Coke Machine. It might have been Sutter, but it was Moroz. Might be something about inside knowledge or maybe they saw his progress October to May and felt he was the better man.
In an interview posted on Oilers Nation this afternoon, Stu MacGregor tells Jason Gregor about Moroz and why the club selected him.
- “You always have to step up if there was a player you like. We liked him, we followed him and his developmental curve is on the way up. He provides some toughness, but not just toughness, he’s a good hockey player. He takes the puck to the net real hard and he shows a little bit of touch around the net. He’s only played one year of junior and I think he’s got an opportunity, with continuous development and drive, to be a good player for us.”
Finally, a note on the scouting staff and Stu MacGregor. I don’t think their draft was a strong one, as they clearly went after “need” as opposed to “best player available.” Although the overall quality of the draft was not strong, the pick at #32 meant they were passing on too much talent by taking Moroz. The scouting staff better be right, or this pick will be remembered for a long time.
This has a chance to be a “Nail and little else” draft. The Moroz pick looms large.