Sometimes it takes a few years to find out about a draft class, and it appears the Oilers 2011 group is at least a little about injury. How much will it impact the future? Too soon to know, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom are compiling a resume of difficulties that is at this point a legit concern. If they lose time this coming winter, we can graduate that concern into outright worry.
- No. 1 overall: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. One of my favorite Oilers ever, he had a difficult season pretty much across the range of his abilities. We will review this during his RE, but the Nuge did not post a career high in any major category and was in fact well below average in many. His first five seasons are a close match offensively for David Krejci and that is an excellent player. As encouraging as 2014-15 was, this past season was something headed in the other direction. I remain convinced of his quality, but he missed a lot of games and he seemed to be out of sync all year.
- No. 19 overall: D Oscar Klefbom. This was the major payment in the Dustin Penner deal and Klefbom’s place in the organization at this time suggests the deal was a good one. I am very bullish on his future, although the injury history is piling up. The mid-season injury was so ridiculous one doesn’t know how much to worry about it. When healthy this season, Klefbom was a major player and a difference maker. Absolutely vital to this team’s future.
- No. 31 overall: D David Musil. Musil has developed at pace and made his NHL debut last season, but the NHL road was not available to him this year. A strange, and possibly galling coincidence for Musil? Although he did not play for Edmonton this year, Adam Clendening—taken four spots later in the 2011 selection—was claimed on waivers by the Oilers and spent a lot of time in the provincial capital. Plenty of time for an NHL career of his own, he is often mentioned as an epic draft fail due to the other names taken in the same round (who have past him). Ridiculous of course, Musil had nothing to do with when he was drafted.
- No. 62 overall: G Samu Perhonen. Taking goaltenders early is a very risky business, but by round three it seems a reasonable bet and Perhonen was taken in that range. He didn’t do much between his draft day and the point Edmonton decided not to sign him, but over the past two seasons he has been building a decent resume. Maybe we will see him down the line.
- No. 74 overall: C Travis Ewanyk. Ewanyk is now in the Ottawa organization, he posted the same offense as last season and appears to be settling in as an AHL checker—a role we discussed as being likely on his draft weekend.
- No. 92 overall- D Dillon Simpson: Interesting player, he has been improving in small steps since his draft day. Tracking in a similar fashion to Brandon Davidson, although we shouldn’t read too much into it (the point about Brandon Davidson is that he turned into Brandon Davidson, not that guys with his resume always develop).
- No. 114 overall: F Tobias Rieder. Rieder was a nice pick for Edmonton, absolutely looked good on draft day and everyday since. At least a solid double into the gap based on where he was taken and the career he is currently tailoring.
- No. 122 overall: D Martin Gernat. He looked good in junior and had a good first year pro, but the organization soured on him in 2014 training camp and then he got hurt. Dealt away as a minor portion of a deadline deal, he seems to be at a professional crossroads.
- No. 182 overall: G Frans Tuohimaa. Big Finn is now 24 and had a decent year in the Swedish Allsvenskan. He hasn’t really had a quality season since 2012-13.
Cullen’s list is here and you may also enjoy ‘Harvest Moon‘ written in the hours after the draft’s completion. I have in the past mentioned this as a strong draft, and the trio of Nuge, Klefbom and Tobias Rieder look poised to have long NHL careers. All three have posted over 100 NHL games five years after their draft—the last Oiler draft that could make that brag is 2005—and the only real worry is injury.
Among those who are still pushing, Dillon Simpson—for me—holds more promise than David Musil. It is important to note both men are card-carrying members in the longshot division, but Simpson has momentum and a track record for improvement.
This draft could have been so much better. Nuge and Klefbom were astute picks, and signing Rieder would have made it top drawer. The Musil selection overlooked exceptional talent, and while we shouldn’t blame the player, the organization itself gave so much talent back to the pool that the quality first round had less impact. The forensics may or may not have picked up on it. We wait.