This blog will be following the 2016 Oilers draft this season, it’ll be five years gone afterward and we’ll make the call late spring. However, the 2017 entry draft for Edmonton is emerging as the more interesting of the two drafts with about 18 months to go before the five years tick off the clock. It’s a fascinating development.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: How will the Oilers find chemistry with no preseason games?
- New Jonathan Willis: After a brilliant rookie Oilers season, how high is Ethan Bear’s ceiling?
- Lowetide: How secure is Zack Kassian’s role on Oilers’ top line?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ signing of Slater Koekkoek could be about more than depth
- Lowetide: Why fans should expect an Oilers playoff berth in Canadian division
- Jonathan Willis: Dave Tippett has more options now thanks to versatile Oilers forwards
- Lowetide: 7 big questions facing the Oilers heading into next season
- Lowetide: What if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t sign with the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Left-side logjam will force the Oilers to make a choice, and perhaps a sacrifice
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s 2020 Oilers offseason report card
- Lowetide: Theodor Lennstrom is the Oilers’ latest European bet on defence
- Lowetide: Why Anton Forsberg could win the Oilers’ backup job in 2020-21
- Jonathan Willis: Team Draft vs. Team Trade: Which collection of all-time Oilers is better?
- Lowetide: Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft 5.0: Who could the Oilers lose?
- Lowetide: Why McDavid and Nuge together could be key to Oilers’ playoff success
- Lowetide: Projected training camp roster for the 2020-21 Oilers.
THE 2016 DRAFT
Despite being completely up in the air and with no one across the finish line as an established NHL regular, things are fairly promising for the 2016 draft. Jesse Puljujarvi is likely to play 40+ games this season, Tyler Benson may get fewer than 10 but he played a little in 2019-20 so he has some experience on his resume. Markus Niemelainen and Filip Berglund have signed NHL contracts and Matt Cairns is playing college hockey and has some crooked numbers. Depending on how things go this season, I think 2016 could leave 2012 in the dust and break free of discussion when the most disappointing draft of the decade pops up.
THE 2017 DRAFT
Kailer Yamamoto averaged 37 goals per 82 games in the WHL and 30 AHL goals per 82 games before arriving in the NHL. He is now averaging 19 goals per 82 NHL games for his career and looks like he’ll be a productive player in the coming years.
Stuart Skinner finished up his junior career with a tremendous run in the regular season and playoffs with the Swift Current Broncos in 2017-18. In his first pro season Skinner was the No. 1 goalie in Wichita (41, 3.16 .903). In his second he was thrown into the deep end in the AHL (41 games, 3.31 .892) and will be under the gun to show some quality when the Condors get back underway.
Dmitri Samorukov has been on the rise pretty much since his draft day. He is big, fast, strong and tough, with shutdown ability. He delivered impressive offense in his final 83 junior games (20-53-73), struggled in his only AHL season and has been splendid in the KHL this season. He’s played 35 games, 2-6-8 boxcars, 17:39 and 30-8 even strength goal differential.
Philip Kemp is a big, strong shutdown defenseman with enough skill to play internationally for the USA in feature tournaments. That’s a difficult team to make and likely the top bullet point for this young player. He played three years in a shutdown role for Yale (NCAA) and signed a contract with the Oilers in 2020. He is currently playing in Sweden for Vasby.
MOST NHL GAMES AFTER FIVE SEASONS
- 2011: 578
- 2015: 556
- 2010: 425
- 2012: 358
- 2014: 351
- 2013: 300
- 2016: 146 (one year to go)
- 2017: 53 (two years to go)
- 2018: 7 (three years to go)
- 2019: four years to go
The 2016 draft looks destined to be the least successful in terms of man games, although the 2012 draft contains Nail Yakupov and it’s impossible to view those 350 games as a success because of what came after. A couple of these seasons rank as all-timers:
- 1980-1,056 (Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Walt Poddubny, Andy Moog)
- 1979-1,052 (Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Mike Toal, Blair Barnes)
- 1993-602 (Jason Arnott, Miro Satan, Ilya Byakin, Alex Kerch, Nick Stajduhar)
- 2011-578 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Tobias Rieder)
- 2015-556 (Connor McDavid, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, John Marino)
- 2001-471 (Ales Hemsky, Jussi Markkanen, Ales Pisa, Kari Haakana, Doug Lynch)
- 1996-466 (Tom Poti, Boyd Devereaux, Matthieu Descoteaux, Chris Hajt)
- 2007-447 (Sam Gagner, Alex Plante, Riley Nash, Linus Omark, Milan Kytnar)
- 1981-440 (Grant Fuhr, Gord Sherven, Marc Habscheid, Steve Smith, Todd Strueby, Paul Houck)
- 2002-440 (Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Mikko Luoma)
A decade of drafting so high should have resulted in more seasons from the 2010’s landing here, but two seasons in the all-time top-5 is impressive. That 2015 Oilers draft is going to have four regular players for a long time. Imagine signing Marino and not trading all those draft picks.