A major slice of the Oilers 2010+ cluster came from the Ontario League. Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov and Darnell Nurse are the marquee names, and Tobias Rieder, Ryan Martindale, Daniil Zharkov and Kyle Platzer were plucked from the Granddaddy junior loop. In recent years, the Oilers have undervalued the OHL compared to other NHL clubs. Our look last year (before the draft) showed Edmonton using the OHL for 12.8% of their draft picks, while the league-wide total (21.2%) showed more activity from the other 29 teams.
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/OHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 37 from the OHL
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 48 from the OHL
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 46 from the OHL
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 42 from the OHL
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 42 from the OHL
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 46 from the OHL
- FINAL TALLY: 1265 total players, 261 from the OHL
- PERCENTAGE: 20.6%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/OHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 2 from the OHL
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 2 from the OHL.
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 1 from the OHL.
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 2 from the OHL.
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from the OHL.
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 0 from the OHL.
- FINAL TALLY: 49 total players, 7 from the OHL.
- PERCENTAGE: 14.2%
As you can see, it was a down year for the OHL, but the Oilers were exactly league-average (20%). In the last two seasons, Edmonton has selected 4 of 17 from the Ontario league (23.5%) so appear to be using the world’s best junior league more often for their player procurement. Of course, this is a very small sample size, and we should note that during this six year period the club spent 50% of their first-round selections on OHL players.
TOP 20 OHL DRAFT ELIGIBLES
- C Sam Bennett, Kingston: Owns a wide range of skills, and can impact the offense at even strength—he was over a point-per-game at evens. June birthday.
- D Aaron Ekblad, Barrie: The best defenseman available, the only worry is that he’s already physically mature and doesn’t have the kick that the forwards will enjoy in the next two seasons of development. A complete defenseman in junior.
- L Michael Dal Colle, Oshawa: Quality scoring-winger who impacts the offense with a terrific shot and creativity. A good skater, he’s 6.02 and lean, I had heard that he had power-forward potential but Brock Otten of OHL Prospects put that to bed in his final rankings. If the Oilers trade down to No. 5, this might be their target.
- L Nick Ritchie, Peterborough: He’s 6.02, 226 and scored 39 goals in 61GP. The internet has decided they don’t like him, there doesn’t seem to be a reason. At that size, with his skill, I can’t see this player being drafted outside the top 10. Another player type Edmonton values.
- C Robby Fabbri, Guelph: He scored 45 goals in 58 games during the regular season, and is a bona fide phenom. People keep talking about his size, but he’s not 5.05 or anything and the guy can dance. A smart team is going to trade up, grab him, and never look back.
- L Brendan Perlini, Niagra: I can’t get a handle on him, but Brock Otten says he can be compared to Jeff Carter as a junior. Very good company, and he has a nice range of skills.
- L Nikolai Goldobin, Sarnia: Terrific shot and a nice range of skills, another guy who really scored well in his draft season (38 goals in 67 games). His assist total (56) suggests a playmaker, and he could be undervalued at the draft (I have him going between 20-30 overall).
- C Jared McCann, Sault Ste. Marie: A two-way player whose defensive acumen gets a lot of play, he’s shy offensively. History tells us that most of the NHL’s quality checkers began life as junior scorers. Still, he’s highly ranked by scouting services.
- R Josh Ho-Sang, Windsor: The hits just keep on coming, another offensive player who made good things happen (67GP, 32-53-85). I have him going late in the first round, reflecting the quality and depth of the OHL this season.
- R Spencer Watson, Kingston: This is a wonderful player, who will fall because he’s 5.09. However, Watson delivered over a point-per-game and is an April 1996 birthday. I really like this player for the Oilers, suspect he’d be a great complementary player upon arrival.
- L Michael Bunting, Sault Ste. Marie: A nice range of skills, and his draft number may have been hurt by an in-season injury. Brock Otten’s report is full of fabulous information, I have him here because his NHLE (82gp, 8-13-21) are solid for a first-year OHL player. Could be very good value.
- D Jacob Middleton, Ottawa: A nice range of skills and good size make him a quality prospect. Played for a bad team and didn’t have a lot of help, but the numbers are solid considering and he has a nice defensive reputation.
- D Anthony DeAngelo, Sarnia: The moden Reijo Ruotsalainen, DeAngelo was easily the class of the OHL among offensive defenseman in terms of points-per-game. Some maturity issues and the defensive elements will keep him out of the first round.
- D Roland McKeown, Kingston: A puck-moving defenseman with chaos issues, there’s no doubt he has enough talent to play in the NHL. The worry—and the thing that will hurt his draft number—is the one dimensional aspect of his game.
- R Eric Cornell, Peterborough: He seems to have turned a corner mid-season, and came in just below a point per game overall. He finished the regular season 20GP, 7-12-19 and might be that player who is underrated at the draft because of a late spike.
- R Brendan Lemieux, Barrie: A lot like father Claude if you read the scouting report, his offense (65GP, 27-26-53) is better than one would think. I’m sure his ranking has a little to do with reputation—if he’s his Dad that are 30 teams willing to sign him up—but he also projects pretty well all on his own.
- G Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth: Impressive season, he finished second in save percentage during the regular season (.925). If the Oilers were to acquire a second round pick, it could be used on this guy.
- L Ryan MacInnis, Kitchener: Al’s boy lacks a big offensive resume, but is well respected as a two-way player. I’ve seen him projected early second round, and that means the defensive side of his game must be exceptional.
- D Alex Peters, Peterborough: Big, stay at home defender. If this was 1974 he’d be inside the first round.
- L Kevin LeBanc, Barrie: He’s not a scorer, but a two-way player with a physical side. I like him because of Brock Otten’s description of the player, and he might be a nice later round selection.
I’ll have another look at the OHL before draft day, but this looks like a grand draft season for the league. They could take 30% of the first round, and even a guy like Watson—who’ll probably go in the third round—might be a first round talent.