The Edmonton Oilers hold down the third overall selection in 2014′s entry draft. This is the period in the spring where European kids start to get a push, mostly because the U18 WHC’s are the last chance Texaco (and sometimes the first Chance Texaco, and sometimes even the Choke and Puke) for scouts to see them. There’s always tweaking. Here’s my current top 10 for the 2014 edition.
TOP 10, 2014
- C Sam Bennett (57GP, 36-55-91) Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). There’s just too much. A complete skill set, quality even-strength center who plays with an edge. He’s not a big man, but isn’t a small forward either. The best player in this year’s draft.
- D Aaron Ekblad (58GP, 23-30-53) Barrie Colts (OHL). Loses the number one ranking for two reasons. First, the risk factor on defensemen is higher, and second there appears to be some concern that Ekblad, unique among the top players this season, may have reached his outer marker. A fine player, but it could be a case of what you see is what you get.
- C Sam Reinhart (60GP, 36-69-105) Kootenay Ice (WHL). Although he’s ranked third, Reinhart is in the group we could see go first overall. Terrific playmaker, impact power-play performer. Lacks high gear.
- C Leon Draisaitl (64GP, 38-67-105) Prince Albert Raiders (WHL). Central Scouting likes his big, power-forward style game. The Oilers are strong on Draisaitl according to Jim Matheson, whose can-attached-to-a-string appears to be picking up intel again.
- L Michael Dal Colle (60GP, 36-69-105) Oshawa Generals (OHL). He’s trending as a top player, and could pass Draisaitl on draft day. High degree of skill, and the scouts say “projectable body” who could end up being a PF type.
- R Kasperi Kapanen (47GP, 7-7-14) Kalpa (Sm-Liiga). Along with Bennett, the most complete player available in this year’s draft. Two-way skills, and his offense is downplayed here because he was playing in the men’s league. The biggest mover this spring, he’s worthy.
- L Nick Ritchie (61GP, 39-35-74) Peterborough Petes (OHL). This kid is a monster already, 6.03 and 229 at 18. A team might jump up and grab him earlier, he’s a very attractive player.
- L Nikolaj Ehlers (63GP, 49-55-104) Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). The Q just rolls these guys off the assembly line now, it’s absolutely nuts. Incredible skill, he might end up being the best of the bunch.
- L Jake Virtanen (71GP, 45-26-71) Calgary Hitmen (WHL). The modern Willi Plett is going to force his way into the top 10 based on scoring and rugged play. A very nice scoring option, his 45 goals pace the top end of the draft.
- L William Nylander (22GP, 1-6-7) Modo (SHL). His WHC performance gets him on the list, and a team needed offense may jump up and take him higher. I think he’s the most skilled player available this season.