The Edmonton Oilers marched into the 2015 entry draft with the No. 1 overall pick in the right year and that’s for sure. They also had a pile of picks after that, and cashed many of them for Griffin Reinhart, Cam Talbot, Todd McLellan and Eric Gryba—effectively staying out of the draft for most of day two. Still, they got some outstanding value—plus Connor McDavid.
- No. 1 overall—C Connor McDavid. Scott Cullen’s numbers tell us we are looking at Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin at the top end, and Patrik Stefan at the bottom. I think McDavid has established where he will land on that graph, but it was fun to see the first 45 games to confirm the fact. Connor McDavid in full flight is just about the best thing about hockey today.
- No. 117 overall—D Caleb Jones. He showed well in Orientation Camp and in pre-season, then posted a very strong WHL season. Cullen tells us there is 14 percent chance Jones plays 100 NHL games, and the NHLE after year one (17 points) puts him above what we were led to believe on draft day. He signed his pro contract and has two AHL games this spring. I would count this as a good early arrow from the 2015 draft.
- No. 124 overall—D Ethan Bear. He enjoyed a quality season (NHLE: 21 points) and one imagines we will see him signed over the spring. Bear is a righty and has some power-play assets. Miles to go, but another solid arrow. A 16 percent chance of 100 games according to Cullen.
- No. 154 overall—D John Marino. The USHL kids are so hard to track (NHLE: 12) but all accounts have him stepping up this season. Marino improved slightly offensively in the second half (he ended the year 31, 4-14-18 after beginning 25, 1-11-12) and we look forward to his first season at Harvard. Has a 15 percent chance of playing 100 NHL games in his career based on the Cullen study. Righty.
- No. 208—G Miroslav Svoboda. A tale of two seasons for Svoboda, both in the Cze-2 league. He struggled with 8, 4.51 .867 when playing for AZ Havirov, but he played far better (21, 3.05 .924) when employed by HC Sumperk. No idea what to make of it, but you always like goalies who can stop puck 92 percent of the time.
- No. 209—D Ziyat Paigin. The other shoe in the Cam Talbot trade, Paigin could be a big damned deal. He was outstanding in the KHL (NHLE: 41 points) and he is 6.06. He has another year on his contract, but there is nothing about his season that can be looked at as a negative. Cullen’s number has him at a nine percent chance of making the NHL, but my goodness what an arrow.
I think the Oilers scouts nailed the picks they were given. We can (and will) discuss the trades that left the team with far fewer bullets for the future, but one year on we are looking at the best young player in a decade, a crazy Russian season, two WHL kids who pushed the offense and learned the defense, and a distant bell goalie. You may also enjoy reading my Harvest Moon post from the end of draft day two, a summary of the events.