Scouts are vital to an NHL team’s success for all kinds of reasons. In fact, I would suggest a wise NHL team would ask no more of their scouts than they do today—go find talent, rank that talent, hand over the list and fight for what you believe in. After the list has been delivered to the general manager, there are some reasonable check points that can be applied to the scouts’ list.
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- New Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations eat dust during Connor McDavid’s dream season
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers’ plans for the Kraken draft
- Lowetide: The Oilers must decide now what to do about the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl dilemma
- DNB: Oilers mailbag, part 2
- Lowetide: What is Kailer Yamamoto’s future fit on the Oilers’ depth chart?
- DNB: Oilers mailbag, part 1
- DNB: What a perfect offseason could look like for the Edmonton Oilers
- Lowetide: The Oilers need to add four wingers to their top nine this summer
- Lowetide: Oilers enter free agency as a major buyer. Is third time the charm?
- DNB: Oilers could look quite different next season after departure of several players
- Lowetide: It won’t be easy, but the Oilers need to re-sign Darnell Nurse soon
- DNB: Ideal Oilers free-agent targets
- New Lowetide: An early look at the Oilers’ options for the 2021 draft
- New DNB: The pressure is on Oilers GM Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
- New DNB: Connor McDavid shows his frustration as another year of his prime is lost: ‘We’re a group that expects more’
- New Jonathan Willis: The NHL gifted the Oilers Connor McDavid; six years later, they have yet to adequately support him
THINGS NHL TEAMS SHOULD DO BEFORE THE DRAFT
NHL general managers would do well to compile all publicly published draft lists and compare them to the scouts list produced in-house. It’s a simple double check to make sure no one was missed and to see outliers good and bad. Other things GMs should do:
- Value skill above all other things.
- Let math do the work. If my list found Andrew Mangiapane, then maybe find a math list you like and run that one against the team list, too. Better yet, hire a guy. Call up the U of A, find the smartest math student over there and slide him some coin.
- Don’t walkabout in the top 100. Draft from established leagues until at least the completion of the second round.
- In an unusual draft like 2021 make better use of those late picks.
- If there is a shy offensive player on the team list, why?
If this year’s draft confuses, and it does, it might be an idea to spend some time with some familiar rankings. Craig Button’s list is often aligned with the Oilers, so his final list could give you an idea about Edmonton’s final list. Here’s Craig through the years.
- Oilers at No. 1 (Connor McDavid) ranked No. 1 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 117 (Caleb Jones) ranked No. 76 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 124 (Ethan Bear) ranked No. 56 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 154 (John Marino) not ranked
- Oilers at No. 208 (Miroslav Svoboda) not ranked
- Oilers at No. 209 (Ziyat Piagin) ranked No. 71 by Craig Button
It would be fun to see the Oilers list someday, and to check and see who would have been chosen with all of the traded picks. I know people say Joel Eriksson Ek and Brandon Carlo would have been the picks, but the proof would be in the final list. You know, it’s possible Evgeny Svechnikov would have been the pick at No. 16 overall. I know they liked him. He would be a player who might be worth pursuing, seems to me there’s a player there.
- Oilers at No. 4 (Jesse Puljujarvi) ranked No. 3 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 32 (Tyler Benson) ranked No. 44 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 63 (Markus Niemelainen) ranked No. 58 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 84 (Matthew Cairns) not ranked
- Oilers at No. 91 (Filip Berglund) not ranked
- Oilers at No. 123 (Dylan Wells) ranked No. 88 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 149 (Graham McPhee) not ranked
- Oilers at No. 153 (Aapeli Rasanen) ranked No. 52 by Craig Button
- Oilers at No. 183 (Vincent Desharnais) not ranked
This draft once looked like an abandoned town in the old west, nothing but creak and tumbleweeds. Now, you can see Jesse Puljujarvi having a productive career, and Tyler Benson is NHL-ready (which is different than saying he’ll play 70 games this season as a rookie). Markus Niemelainen has put himself in the recall conversation too, meaning the 2016 draft had a fantastic year. Filip Berglund is also in photo.
- Oilers at 22 (Kailer Yamamoto) ranked No. 16 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 78 (Stuart Skinner) ranked No. 80 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 84 (Dmitri Samorukov) ranked No. 53 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 115 (Ostap Safin) ranked No. 82 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 146 (Kirill Maksimov) ranked No. 90 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 177 (Skyler Brind’Amour) not ranked
- Oilers at 208 (Phil Kemp) not ranked
I liked this draft plenty when it happened and remain impressed by the gumption shown by the scouting staff. Kailer Yamamoto was a great departure for the organization (small forward in first round) and the big defender Dmitri Samorukov is big, fast and rugged with an NHL future. Stuart Skinner didn’t show much until this year and now we’ll see (if the organization selects Sebastian Cossa in the first round Skinner still has a couple of years to make the NHL grade before getting run over by the big man). I still hold out hope for Safin and Maskimov, while Kemp is just getting started on his pro career.
- Oilers at 10 (Evan Bouchard) ranked No. 8 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 40 (Ryan McLeod) ranked No. 29 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 52 (Olivier Rodrigue) ranked No. 43 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 164 (Mike Kesselring) not ranked
- Oilers at 195 (Patrik Siikanen) not ranked
This draft is about to produce a quality puck mover, and Evan Bouchard is likely to be one of Edmonton’s most prolific draft picks in the offensive defenseman division. Ryan McLeod looks to be Edmonton’s next bottom-six center as early as this fall, the only question is will he play on the third or fourth line. Olivier Rodrigue is promising but it’s too soon to know.
- Oilers at 8 (Phillip Broberg) ranked No. 7 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 38 (Raphael Lavoie) ranked No 17 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 85 (Ilya Konovalov) not ranked
- Oilers at 100 (Matej Blumel) not ranked
- Oilers at 162 (Tomas Mazura) not ranked
- Oilers at 193 (Maxim Denezhkin) not ranked
Philip Broberg takes a lot of heat from Oilers fans but his career is tracking near Oscar Klefbom’s and that’s a positive. Rafael Lavoie could be a unicorn (first-shot scorer) and that alone would make this draft. Some real buzz about Russian goalie Ilya Konovalov, too.
- Oilers at 14 (Dylan Holloway) ranked No. 14 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 100 (Carter Savoie) ranked No. 48 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 126 (Tyler Tullio) ranked No. 51 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 138 (Maxim Berezkin) ranked No. 95 by Craig Button
- Oilers at 169 (Filip Engaras) not ranked
- Oilers at 200 (Jeremias Lindewall) not ranked
This has to be viewed, even now, as an impressive draft based on where the Oilers chose. Long way to go, but Dylan Holloway has signed with the team and could play in the NHL if things break right.
BUTTON V LT LIST
This draft is all over the place, I have outliers well into the first round. One suspects Holland might be better off trading down if his three or four targets aren’t on the board.
Los Angeles Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti recently told Frozen Royalty “I think 32 teams will have draft lists that look very similar for the top ten, maybe top 15. But from twelve to 30, or 15 to 40? If everybody submitted their draft lists for public consumption after the draft is over, I bet people would be amazed at the differences in them.”
Trading down might be the play this season.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy and fun show today on the Lowdown, we begin at 10 this morning on TSN1260. Joey Alfieri from TSN 690 in Montreal helps us preview Game 1 of the GVK-Habs semifinal at 10:20, and Jason Gregor talks NHL playoffs, Jays and Euro at 11. Legendary CFL receiver Nik Lewis pops in at 11:25 to talk AO Sports and what it brings to football fans. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!