It’s time to talk about reasonable expectations for the draft. Fans of every NHL team are reaching fever pitch, with dreams of drafting a major difference maker for their favorite team. Edmonton selects No. 10 overall, and the “average” pick at that number is something on this side of sexy. The outer marker is quality, the low ebb is depressing. Get ready for the real news about the NHL draft and expectations.
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- New Lowetide: Trading a draft pick to ease cap pressure. Is it worth it?
- Lowetide: Oilers options at No. 10 overall
- Lowetide: For the Oilers, third-round success means no more walkabout selections
- Lowetide: Building the McDavid cluster.
- Corey Pronman: Top 31 prospects of the last five years (major Oilers content)
- Mitch Brown: A data-driven comparison of Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson.
- Lowetide: Buying low on Josh Leivo.
- Corey Pronman: How draft boards work
- Corey Pronman: 2018 NHL draft board.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Russia: A draft tragedy.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers at the draft: Overagers.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers scouting directors: A history.
CULLEN’S DRAFT PICK VALUE
- 10 – Generational
- 9 – Elite Player
- 8 – First Line, Top Pair D
- 7 – Top Six Forward, Top Four D
- 6 – Top Nine Forward, Top Six D
- 5 – NHL Regular, 350+ NHL games
- 4 – Fringe NHLer, 200+ NHL games
- 3 – Very Good Minor Leaguer, 50-200 NHL games
- 2 – Minor Leaguer, under 50 NHL games
- 1 – 10 or fewer NHL games
Scott Cullen has been running these numbers for years now, and it’s incredible to see how quickly ‘average’ goes downhill after the No. 1 selection. If Edmonton spends a decade drafting in the 20’s (which should be the case), we’re going to get used to it. As it is, I thought it would be a good idea to show you what an ‘average’ draft would look like based on draft trends from 1990-2013 (Cullen’s study):
- First Round—No. 10 overall—(NHL regular) Magnus Paajarvi
- Second Round—No. 40 overall—(Very good minor leaguer, 50-200 NHL games) Marc Pouliot
- Third Round—No. 71 overall—(Minor leaguer, under 50 games) Teemu Hartikainen
- Fourth Round—No. 102 overall (Oilers acquired goaltender Al Montoya from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018. Montoya covered the condition).
- Fifth Round—No. 133 overall—(Minor leaguer, under 50 games) Mike Morrison
- Sixth Round—No. 164 overall—(Minor leaguer, under 50 games) Dwight Helminen
- Seventh Round—No. 195 overall—(Minor leaguer, under 50 games) Alex Plante
Remember this is average, and No. 10 overall has every chance to be a solid NHL player for years to come. That said, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if the Oilers repeat the Paajarvi-Lander run of 2009. It is amazing to see it happen every year, but by the time we hit No. 10 on the Friday night of the draft the top end talent is running on empty. Edmonton does seem to be lucky in that this draft is delivering as many as one dozen blue-chip futures.
Yesterday I posted some early thoughts on minor leaguers and reasonable expectations for NHL games in 2018-19. I listed Kailer Yamamoto (40 NHL games), Tyler Benson (18-30), Ethan Bear (20), Cooper Marody (5-10), Caleb Jones (5) and William Lagesson (1).
I received some feedback on the predictions, and thought it might be an idea to give you my thoughts on the numbers above. First, we have to agree that it’s very early and roster changes could/should make the projections above moot. Still, the predictions inform us about areas of need on the roster. Let’s post both pro teams’ projected depth charts by position.
- Center: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, (Ryan Strome) Jujhar Khaira, Brad Malone
- Left Wing: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Pontus Aberg, (Drake Caggiula)
- Right Wing: Ty Rattie, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Zack Kassian
- Left Defense: Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, (Darnell Nurse)
- Right Defense: Adam Larsson, Kris Russell, (Matt Benning)
- Goal: Cam Talbot, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya
- Center: Cooper Marody, Cameron Hebig, Colin Larkin
- Left Wing: Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Ostap Safin
- Right Wing: Tyler Vesel, Mitch Callahan
- Left Defense: Keegan Lowe, Ryan Stanton, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson
- Right Defense: Ethan Bear, Eric Gryba, Ryan Mantha
- Goal: Shane Starrett, Dylan Wells, Stuart Skinner
There is some bleeding among the forward positions, but I think Jujhar Khaira will be the No. 4 center unless the club can add Derek Ryan or similar. That puts left wing into a state of flux, with Pontus Aberg and Drake Caggiula both guaranteed spots in the everyday lineup. The odds of one of those men struggling is very high, and allows Benson his projected (18-30) games. Cooper Marody may pass Benson in training camp, but I’m betting on the player with higher pedigree (who is also aided when Khaira is placed at center).
I have Yamamoto on the opening night roster, but that should change. We’ll see, but I suspect he will start his season in Bakersfield. Ethan Bear is a wildcard, I think both Lagesson and Jones get a cup of coffee. It all changes when the trades start coming in, but for now Tyler Benson is in a very good spot.
THE DRAFT AND THE WHL
The Edmonton Oilers draft heavily out of the WHL, as I noted in my piece for The Athletic back in February. Despite my belief that Ty Smith is one of the best players available this year, it is not a strong year for the league. One year ago, my Top 120 list featured 24 names and the actual NHL draft saw 32 names chosen. This year, my Top 120 list has only 14 names.
- LD Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs.
- RD Calen Addison, Lethbridge Hurricanes.
- RD Jett Woo, Moose Jaw Warriors.
- LD Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels.
- L Cole Fonstadt, Prince Albert Raiders.
- LD Filip Kral, Spokane Chiefs.
- LC Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants.
- RC Kyle Topping, Kelowna Rockets.
- R Riley Sutter, Everett Silvertips.
- L Justin Almeida, Moose Jaw Warriors.
- LC Riley Stotts, Calgary Hitmen.
- L Ryan Chykowski, Medicine Hat Tigers.
- RC Chase Wouters, Saskatoon Blades.
- L Hudson Elynuik, Spokane Chiefs.
The last time Edmonton passed on the WHL? 2006. This year’s list is not strong, the forward group is especially thin. There’s a chance the Oilers leave the draft without a kid from the dub. There are some interesting names here, perhaps they’ll grab someone late.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning drunk with fabulous guests! It all gets going at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Buyout options, finding value contracts and players the coach will play.
- Simon Boisvert, Prospect Insider. The value of the NHL combine, what to do at No. 10 overall.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. A busy June will get started later this week with the SCF drawing to a close. How much activity should we expect this summer?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soup!