I have a friend who grew up in the Kremlin. Seriously. I always tell people his story because it’s pretty cool. He loves Canada (except for the winters) and is an Oiler fan which I find to be a fascinating fact. After all, the Oilers are NOT aggressive in the Russian hockey market.
I’ve been reading Jim Matheson since I was a teenager. Matheson was writing long before many of you were born and can still hit the ball hard when the opportunity presents itself. Something tells me the recent management change might have opened up a trickle of information for the veteran newspaper man.
Matheson is writing some interesting stuff for draft fans, and specifically has his finger on the Oilers pulse as it applies to Russian defender Nikita Zadorov. The big man scored a nice goal on the PP last night, and does indeed appear to be that most rare of defensemen–a huge player (6.06, 230) with good foot speed. If the Oilers envision a shutdown LH defender who might be ready in the next 24 months, maybe they take him at #7. A few notes from Matheson, whose impressive article is here.
- Stu MacGregor talking about comparisions between Zadorov and Ottawa D Jared Cowen: “There’s similarities. Zadorov probably skates a little better than Cowen, but Cowen has a real intelligence to his game. He’s a little more refined right now.”
- More MacGregor on Zadorov: “He’s a big boy who moves pretty well.”
Matheson also sounds pretty certain of the Oilers interest, saying “the man-child Zadorov is definitely on the Oilers’ radar screen with the No. 7 pick. They’ll be watching him very closely, unless MacTavish deals the pick and they slide back about 10 spots, then the strong, two-way centre Horvat could be in play. Or maybe the goalie Fucale, who is in a group with Edmonton Oil Kings’ Tristan Jarry and Tri-City Americans’ Eric Comrie, who figure to go very early in Round 2.”
I believe they covet Sean Monahan, but are convinced Barkov will go #4 and Monahan will end up in Calgary at #6. Can’t say I disagree. speeds has a nice, reasonable argument on his blog in support of selecting Nichushkin for the #7 pick, but I think the Oilers grab the Russian playing in North America at #7 (unless Lindholm or Monahan are there, or they trade down).
Finally, I’m up to 15 now in my ongoing effort to rank the first round. This isn’t scientific (believe me) but does rely on Desjardins’ NHLE and other things that I’ve grown to believe indicate strong trends among draft eligibles. You’ll also notice some shuffling of the previous top 10, as I get a firmer grasp on exactly what we’re looking for. The last time I posted a list was here.
TOP 15 (SECOND DRAFT) 2013
- L Jonathan Drouin: Moves up to #1, impact offensive player might be the best this decade. Willis convinced me.
- D Seth Jones: I know defensemen are hard to predict, but there’s just too much talent to rank him lower.
- C Sasha Barkov: This is such a deep draft, I think he’s got a chance to be something special.
- C Nathan MacKinnon: Still a big fan, but for me the other three have the potential to impact the game more.
- C Elias Lindholm: Overlooked talent, Stu MacGregor never mentioned him during the first round of 2013 draft talk with media. Counter trey?
- L Valeri Nichushkin: Last guy on the board who could be an impact offensive player in the NHL. This is an insanely deep draft.
- C Sean Monahan: I believe he is the Oilers target, the key tumbler for new GM MacT in terms of building up the middle.
- D Rasmus Ristolainen: I stubbornly believe he’s the second best D option despite growing evidence to the contrary.
- C-L Max Domi: A nice kick at the end puts him here. Talented hockey player. Who knew?
- D Nikita Zadorov: Huge defender with speed, I don’t see the offense everyone is talking about but he can move and blocks out the sun.
- C Curtis Lazar: Despite Bob McKenzie saying that Lazar was one of two prospects outside the top 10 to get more than one vote for the lottery edition, there are Oiler fans who believe he is a late first rounder. I don’t see it. With the understanding that he is not an elite offensive player, I’m not certain there’s a tremendous gap between Lazar and Monahan based on their TOI in the CHL. I’ve nicked him some because of rumors he’ll play as a RW in the NHL.
- L Artturi Lehkonen: Finland produces an outstanding skill W who could be underrated at this number.
- D Darnell Nurse: I’m officially not as strong on this player as pretty much everyone else. I just don’t see the offense. Good player, doesn’t get bonus offensive points from me.
- L Anthony Mantha: I like him, dropped him down a little because Redline has thrown up some question marks.
- C Nicolas Petan: I know, he’s very small. Don’t care.