At the 2016 draft, the Edmonton Oilers had something going on. Then the Columbus Blue Jackets turned the draft upside down and left Peter Chiarelli and company to select Jesse Puljujarvi, the giant mannish boy from rural Finland. Music! Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller and Mikhail Sergachev remained on the board.
In the second round, the Oilers chose Tyler Benson. Immediately we saw reports where he had been skating in Edmonton (with Oscar Klefbom) and the organization had inside intel on his (good health). More music!
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Lowetide: Is Kirill Maksimov progressing as the Edmonton Oilers’ next great hope for a true homegrown sniper?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers ease pressure on crowded defensive pipeline by trading John Marino to the Penguins
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2021-22 Oilers might look like after their steady build toward contender status
- Lowetide: Joel Persson is ideally situated to win an opening night roster spot with the Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2019-20 Oilers might look like without trade missteps.
- Lowetide: Finding the best candidates for the final two spots on the Oilers skill lines in 2019-20.
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ opening night lineup, line combinations and more.
- Lowetide: Does the James Neal acquisition impact Oilers’ prospects in 2019-20?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ acquisition of James Neal could add badly needed scoring to the top two lines.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland puts his stamp on the Oilers with first big move in Lucic-Neal trade
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland ends an ugly situation for the Oilers by trading Milan Lucic for James Neal
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Potential free-agent options for the Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers defencemen can make an outlet pass?
- Lowetide: Looking ahead to Oilers training camp: 35 players for 23 jobs
- Jonathan Willis: Josh Archibald won’t fix the Oilers’ biggest problems, but he’ll help with some key issues.
- Lowetide: Will the 2019-20 Bakersfield Condors be the Oilers’ best minor-league team ever?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
HARVEST MOON 2016
I ranked 150 players for the 2016 entry draft and the Oilers drafted six of them. I ranked Edmonton’s picks in this way:
No. 3—R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (Sm-Liiga): Big, fast, rambunctious.
No. 34—L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (WHL). Physical two-way forward. Injured a lot.
No. 61—RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (SEL). Intriguing offense, may take awhile.
No. 108—LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (OHL). Giant defender, mobile, some offense.
No. 112—C Aapeli Rasanen, Tappara U20 (Jr. SML). A fine prospect, good size and skill.
No. 145—LD Matthew Cairns, Georgetown Raiders (OJHL). Smart defender with good size, mobility.
It has not gone well since 2016. Puljujarvi has struggled to find his way, and that’s on and off the ice. If he has an inside champion it isn’t possible to see from the outside. Whatever the barriers holding him back, they are real enough to put the big man’s NHL future in doubt. Per 82 games, JP is 10-12-22. His hip surgeries this summer put his health for training camp in question, but the real issue is contract and where he plays in 2019-20.
Tyler Benson is the brightest light in the sky of the 2016 draft, coming off a truly impressive AHL campaign with a clear shot at NHL work this winter. His NHLE (37) suggests he might get some time on a skill line and would bring enough offense to hang in the top 9F.
Markus Niemelainen had a much better sophomore season in the Sm-Liiga but I don’t think he’s pushing for NHL duty (or a contract). Edmonton controls his rights until June 1, 2020.
Matthew Cairns had the most difficult time getting into games after he was drafted. He checked down from the USHL to BCHL in draft plus one, and then barely played as a freshman at Cornell. He improved in his sophomore season so there’s still a spark.
Filip Berglund is a player I liked a lot in his draft year, and he’s posted two solid if unspectacular seasons in the SHL. Not much buzz around him, Edmonton holds his rights until June 1, 2020.
Dylan Wells has performed well since his draft season, earned a contract and showed some potential in his first year pro. Miles to go and there’s plenty of competition.
Graham McPhee was progressing well as a two-way forward at Boston College, but the entire program experienced a power outage his McPhee was part of it. Fell from 24 points to nine and will need a big senior season.
Aapeli Rasanen also played at Boston College, and scored five goals (one more than he posted as a freshman). Rasanen has the reputation of a two-way center, something the Oilers badly need.
Vincent Desharnais earned solid reviews as a shutdown defender during his time with Providence College, but there was no NHL contract at the end of his college career.
Kevin Prendergast was Edmonton’s scouting director in the early years of this century. He used to say an NHL team needed two actual players per draft to keep pace, and badly needed to score in the first round. He lost his job at the 2007 draft when the club chose three men in the first round and didn’t come out with close to enough value.
The 2016 draft was run by Bob Green and a lot is riding on young Mr. Benson. If Ken Holland can get Jesse Puljujarvi signed, and Dave Tippett can unlock him, the 2016 draft can be saved. I don’t think we’ll have the same level of uncertainty about this draft one year from now. That could be good or bad news.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, dominated by MLB and the trade deadline. I have three potential baseball guests lined up, their availability depends on media avails in exotic places like Kansas City. Scott Mitchell from TSN, Cam Lewis from Jays Nation and Jason Gregor from TSN1260 are all likely to contribute, but it’s a loose show, kind of like Neil Young at the Fillmore. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter, we get rolling at 10 on TSN1260.