The Edmonton Oilers love homegrown talent. The WHL has been producing quality talent over the last six seasons, but the Oilers are gobbling it up at close to twice the clip of the other NHL teams. Is this wise?
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/WHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 33 from the WHL.
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 32 from the WHL.
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 33 from the WHL
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 43 from the WHL
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 31 from the WHL
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 37 from the WHL
- FINAL TALLY: 1265 total players, 209 from the WHL
- PERCENTAGE: 16.5%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/WHL PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 3 from the WHL.
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from the WHL.
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 3 from the WHL.
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 4 from the WHL.
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 1 from the WHL.
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 2 from the WHL.
- FINAL TALLY: 49 total players, 14 from the WHL.
- PERCENTAGE: 28.6%
A normal number for Edmonton during these years would be 8 players drafted from the WHL, they have 14. Put another way, if you flush Edmonton’s contributions to the last six drafts, the NHL is using WHL kids 16.0% per cent of the time. Edmonton’s devotion to the dub is significant, and the players acquired include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, David Musil, Mitch Moroz and three last season—Jackson Houck, Ben Betker and Greg Chase. Those three, taken 94th, 158th and 188th overall, represent real value. The Oilers also selected some genuine clunkers, Cameron Abney, Curtis Hamilton, Jordan Bendfeld, and others.
A note about last year’s list, which is here. I had two Oilers picks:
- #13 C Greg Chase: Nice combination of skill and grit.
- #16 R Jackson Houck: Impressive player, physical and skilled.
And it does make me wonder a little about the WHL being undervalued. If Greg Chase can last that late—a kid named Vermin was taken two spots before—then I do wonder about the OHL bias. It’s probably a good idea to keep this post handy, chances are we’ll see a couple (well, maybe one, Oilers don’t have many picks) WHL men. I bet they take the goalie from this list.
TOP DRAFT ELIGIBLES 2014, WHL
- C Sam Reinhart, Kootenay: He’s a wonderful prospect. Reinhart’s power-play totals (60 GP, 12 G, 28 A) and his even-strength numbers (60GP, 22-41-63) are top drawer, and the things he doesn’t possess can’t obscure the talent. A worthy No. 1 overall, he’d be a steal at No. 3.
- C Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert: Music! Finally, a big No. 1 center falls to the Oilers. Fans are divided on this player, but it has more to do with the quality of the other players available than anything Draisaitl lacks. His even strength totals (64GP, 25-37-62) are in the range with Reinhart, and his power-play numbers (64GP, 12-28-40) are also close. I suspect 10 years from now we’ll know the answer to these 1-4 questions, but the math is so close it’s really impossible to make a strong argument for one over another. Unless you’re on the internet.
- L Jake Virtanen, Calgary: 45 goals led the draft-eligibles ranked near the top of the draft, and he’s a physical winger with size. Has surgery ahead, it might impact his draft number but I still think he’s quality. Remember Willi Plett? This guy is miles similar.
- D Haydn Fleury, Red Deer: There’s plenty of talk that he’ll go Top 10 overall, so my ranking may seem steep. I don’t see him as an offensive juggernaut, and don’t put a massive amount of value on the defensive side of this player. He might develop, Fleury is an awesome skater, but there are a dozen forwards in this draft I prefer and he’s probably 15-20 overall in terms of actual value in this year’s draft. Unless he’s Lidstrom in coverage, he’ll go too high.
- D Julius Honka, Swift Current: He might be my favorite player outside the top 5 overall. Honka is a skilled puck mover but he can also play defense. Alhough no one appears to be giving him credit in print, I give him huge marks for coming over to the WHL in order to prove he can play in a violent league. I believe he’ll go first round.
- L Nikita Scherbak, Saskatoon: Wildly underrated player, I see him as a possible Top 20 selection. 54GP, 26-43-69 and he plays a rugged game. Finished 35 points ahead of the second place scorer on the Blades.
- R Connor Bleackley, Red Deer: These players always remind me of the 70s Habs. Recent editions include Colby Armstrong and Curtis Hamilton—tradition wingers with enough skill to do damage and enough grit to stand on their own. I’d love to see Edmonton take this player, but he’ll be gone by No. 30.
- C John Quenneville, Brandon: A nice offensive center who flourished in the postseason. He’s a skill guy, under the radar a little but a sure fire second round selection this summer. His offense (61GP, 25-33-58) was solid, he went 7GP, 1-1-2 at the U-18s. I like him.
- D Dysin Mayo, Edmonton: I love the kid, bet MacT does too. He’s got game breaking speed and no fear (and that might hurt his number) but he’s crazy good with the puck. If the Oilers pick him draft day, assume I’m doing cartwheels. Woodlief: Coaches trusted young defenseman with top minutes down the stretch, and he produced regularly on offense while cleaning up own zone positioning.
- C Chase De Leo, Portland: Terrific player, I think he might go in the second round if a team has been paying attention. He isn’t Nic Petan, who will make NHL teams regret passing on him as soon as next season. De Leo is a player though, I’d be completely satisfied if the Oilers jumped up and took him in the second round this summer.
- L Brett Pollock, Edmonton: Skill-winger looked very good during the postseason but flagging now. I like his bio, decent size, and Woodlief liked him when Pollock was hot: Continues to push our perception of what his offensive ceiling might be at the next level. Has been an extremely consistent producer all season despite playing most often in a limited checking role.
- D Brycen Martin, Swift Current: Reliable type, his value would have been far higher in 1975. I have no idea about his skating, and he’ll go too high (second round) but if teams kept passing him up through No. 75 I bet he’d be good value. Here’s the trouble projecting him as an offensive player: He went 76GP, 6-31-37 overall but 3-21-24 came on the power play and he won’t play there. So, it becomes 76GP, 3-10-13 at evens, and that’s not something you buy in the second round.
- D Travis Sanheim, Calgary: 6.03, 181 and Kyle Woodlief really likes him: love his combination of size, skating, puck skills and shot. He looks like about 10 others guys by the math, but I do trust Red Line to tell me the truth. I don’t think he’ll deliver a lot of offense, but suspect the same is true for Fleury and Martin.
- C Jayce Hawreluk, Brandon: Kyle Woodlief: Fierce competitor keyed Brandon’s first-round upset with 10 points in four games. Quietly outstanding all season and we’re surprised how little prospect love he gets. He had a nice season, doubt he gets much love but could be a late round selection.
- C Brayden Point: An impressive offensive player (72GP, 36-55-91) and he has all kinds of fun things like great faceoff ability. Showed well during the season and clearly is a quality playmaker at this level. He’s 5.09, 175 and I would absolutely love to see him as an Oiler.
- C Luke Philp, Kootenay: Woodlief: Got first-line minutes when Sam Reinhart left for the world juniors, and his confidence with the puck has been skyrocketing ever since. Philp’s boxcars are too good to ignore (71GP, 31-46-77), unless he’s an awful skater.
- L Justin Kirkland, Kelowna: Has some skill (68GP, 17-31-48) and a ‘projectable frame’ (6.03, 189) and he contributed in all three disciplines. I haven’t read enough about him to know about skating, etc, but he’s an interesting player just using math.
- D Aaron Irving, Edmonton: His stock is falling, as the young man has been moving down the OK depth chart. I guess I saw him good, but for me the speed and skill make Irving a worthy prospect. He might fall to the fourth round based on spring performance.
- C Colby Cave, Swift Current: Kyle Woodlief: He is worth a selection if only for the multidimensional game he brings every night, but now his point production has eclipsed anything we ever expected from him. He’s on pace for a 40-goal, 80-point campaign, which would double last year’s output. We think NHL clubs will have a hard time ignoring that. Finished 72GP, 33-37-70 and he’s certainly a prospect of interest. 1994.
- L Richard Nejezchleb, Brandon: His boxcars caught my eye and then this guy compared him to Tomas Holmstrom so now I’m plenty curious about him.
- G Jordan Papirny, Brandon: I wouldn’t include him (I’ll do final top 30s on the major leagues draft week) but he’s the best WHL goalie among draft eligibles and I do think Edmontoon would have interest. .900 all year, but that .914 in the playoffs turned heads, guaranteed.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Draisaitl and Papirny as Oilers after draft weekend.