Five years after most drafts, a clear picture is available of all (or most) prospects chosen. A couple of years in junior, college or Europe, a year or so in the minors and then the build toward the NHL for 85-130 of the names chosen on draft weekend.
The 2016 draft has had more twists in the plot than a Hitchcock classic. Since it’s been five years, let’s have a look back.
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: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Lowetide: How close to NHL-ready is Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov?
- 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: 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?
THE FIRST FOUR PICKS
It was wild and crazy and it was wide open. Consider the comments on this blog leading up to the Puljujarvi pick:
- 4pm—I am listening to the radio, and they are talking about trade rumors. Edmonton has No. 4 overall and may trade down to grab a defensemen who can help right away. I am fine with that, but want to make sure the club stays in the top 10.
- 4:38pm—HAGS9K: Stay strong tonight LT nation. Remember whatever happens, we still have McDavid and we still have scotch.
- 4:41pm—SPOILER posts a tweet from Lou Korac: Source: #stlblues and #oilers in talks about Shattenkirk. Oilers offering Nugent-Hopkins; Blues asking price: Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle.
- 4:43PM—Oddspell: My heart is racing and I’m squirming in my seat.This team will be the death of me and they’re not even playing.
- 4:45pm—I find a television and now reports have Peter Chiarelli, Brad Treliving and Jarmo Kekalainen talking.
- 4:50pm—Reports now that Chiarelli has left the building.
- 4:50pm—Jeremy Rutherford tweet: Jeremy Rutherford @jprutherford 2m2 minutes ago Buffalo, NY—I’ve been reporting a return on Shattenkirk would be picks/prospect. They could get an established player but likely rules out Backes return.
- 4:54pm—Bendelson:OK.1. Beer – check
2. Bendelson draft list – check
3. Optimism – check
4. Dogs (to keep me grounded) – check, check
5. Crying towel – nope (see #3)
6. More beer – checkReady to go.
- 5:00pm—The television opener anticipates something but lacks specifics. TV is awful at pretending they don’t know when they do, so I assume crickets because they are rambling. We are coming down to Tkachuk versus Dubois for Edmonton.
- 5:08pm—SPOILER posts a Bob McKenzie tweet:Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie · 2m2 minutes ago: There is talk on the draft floor, as yet unconfirmed, that CBJ prospect Sonny Milano has been traded.
- 5:10pm—Gary Bettman probably gets booed driving by arenas in mid-summer, but he hangs in there I will give him that much. The only thing he has ever done that I would have liked to do? Hand Z the Stanley.
- 5:11pm—Drew: nothing stupid, nothing stupid, nothing stupid, nthing stoopid, tnithsd stoopidsnur!
- 5:12pm—JonK: I admit the booing of Bettman makes me giggle a little. Haha.
- 5:20pm—NYC OIL Gentleman Backpacker: Lou: “first pick of the 216 draft” We are going waaaaaaaay back.
- 5:23pm—Stevezie (after two Montreal trades) Montreal is smarter than i hoped.
- 5:27pm—speeds: When Bettman started with Eller, I thought he might be slow-playing the first part of a Subban trade!
- 5:29pm—Lowetide: Well, we are about to see something. Or nothing.
- 5:30pm—SPOILER: Christ, Laine is going to be auditioning for The New Kojak series before he’s 21. How does he feel about lollipops?
- 5:30pm—V4ANCE posts a tweet: Aaron Portzline @Aportzline now
Now things get interesting. #CBJ on the clock shortly, with rampant speculation that a trade is in the offing.
- 5:37pm—After an array of posts surrounding Dubois to Columbus, Smellyglove posts: Just walk up Chia!!!! Just walk up and take the Finn. Fix the D with something else, or go incremental.
- 5:38pm—Ice Sage: LOL now watch Oilers pick Tkachuk
- 5:38pm—Asiaoil: PLD is a beast – so glad he is out of our division. JP is a RW – perfect.
- 5:39pm—Skidplate: Frick Ya!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- 5:43pm—Oil In The Peg: NICE! WHO WE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN ALL ALONG! LOTTERY BE DARMNED!
- 5:43pm—Woodguy: MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
- 5:46pm—JonK:Items to watch moving forward with Puljujarvi:
– ability to stick-handle in tight
– placing passes onto the tape
– hard shot with several typesBig fast winger for McDavid moving forward?
- 5:48pm—Crazy Coach: This is awesome! Every Oilers legend needs a Finn playing the Right side!
- 5:55pm—Lowetide: Very pleased with this pick. Also pleased to know the CBJ had Dubois ahead of Tkachuk (as my list suggested).
- 5:57pm—Todd McCallan: I see Hossa. Wide range of skills. Absolutely cannot believe we got him.
- 6:03pm—Lowetide:Kent Wilson @Kent_Wilson 25m25 minutes agoAnd EDM gets Puljujarvi. Of course.I am an ass for posting this, because Kent is a really nice guy.
- 6:07pm—Swedish Poster: Puljujärvis grandfather is a legendary in the fishing community of Älvkarleby. He’s also a RW(who Håkan Andersson thinks will look even better as a C due to his elite vision and hands). Puljujärvi is a great add to the Oilers, he’s not quite at the level of Laine, Matthews at this very moment but I’d argue his upside could very well be higher due to him having a wider array of skills. I’ve been beating his drum for a while now. He’s still physically immature so I truly hope the Oil don’t screw up his developement by counting on him to be a contributer from day one.
- 6:09pm—Kmart99: Cant wait for the Oilers to just shove him in to the NHL this year and wonder why it didn’t work out.
For most of the five years that have passed since, Puljujarvi’s stock has been down and three men who went before him (Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Pierre-Luc Dubois) have been rocking in the free world and the giant mannish boy with the electric smile has been struggling to find his way.
Put into math terms, even with JP’s 2020-21 season, the four men do not resemble each other when their respective stats are placed in 82-game segments:
- Auston Matthews: 49-37-86
- Patrik Laine: 35-28-63
- Pierre-Luc Dubois: 22-30-52
- Jesse Puljujarvi: 14-12-26
Clearly one of these players doesn’t belong based on overall performance over the past five NHL seasons. However, when we isolate just last season, things begin to look up for Puljujarvi:
- Auston Matthews: 52 games, 41-25-66 (1.27 pts-game)
- Patrik Laine: 36 games, 12-12-24 (0.67 pts-game)
- Pierre-Luc Dubois: 46 games, 9-12-21 (0.46 pts-game)
- Jesse Puljujarvi: 55 games, 15-10-25 (0.45 pts-game)
Puljujarvi still trails the group, but the numbers are far closer. If the 2020-21 season had been a full schedule, JP was on a trajectory to score 22 goals. Could he score 25 next season? If the big man could deliver 200 goals over the next 10 years, with all of the other abundant gifts, that pick is going to look a lot better than it did four years after the draft.
The Oilers loved him on draft day. Bob Green: “I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I wasn’t sure. He was sitting right there and sometimes that doesn’t work for you. I was really happy he was there for us.“
Why didn’t the Oilers value Alex DeBrincat? Ryan Lambert wrote on why DeBrincat didn’t make Team USA this week for WJs, and much of it no doubt factored in to his ranking: “The probable guesses as to why have little to do with production, and everything to do with some rather tangible intangibles. DeBrincat is listed as 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds. And unlike, say Johnny Gaudreau, whose skating and speed are superlative, DeBrincat doesn’t get around at an elite level. So the feeling is that he’s a guy who’s going to score in junior, but it might not translate to the pros. Adding in the fact that he played pretty much his entire OHL career next to high-level talents, and you can see where teams rationalize the decision to drop him down the draft board.”
This conversation used to be about DeBrincat and a little about Carter Hart, but the number of players chosen in the second round of the 2016 draft who have played more than one NHL season (82+ games) now counts eight. There are seven or so more who could reach that number in the coming year.
Benson’s best opportunity to make the Oilers could be this fall. The club will add LW’s, but even with outside additions Benson should be able to get some traction. Among players who haven’t yet established themselves as NHL players from the second round, Benson’s numbers compare well:
- Boris Katchouk 29 games, 11-23-34 (1.17 pts-game)
- Taylor Raddysh 27 games, 12-17-29 (1.07 pts-game)
- Tyler Benson 36 games, 10-26-36 (1.00 pts-game)
- Adam Mascherin 37 games, 18-16-34 (0.92 pts-game)
Benson is in some good company here, and if the were a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization I’d say he would be a lock for NHL employment next season. As it is, Tampa Bay has a reputation for exhausting entry deals for some of their draft picks, then elevating them to regular duty (Radko Gudas) or trading them if they are duplicating a roster player (Adam Erne).
Ken Holland has that reputation, and the Oilers have elevated Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Kailer Yamamoto, William Lagesson, Evan Bouchard, Stuart Skinner and Ryan McLeod over his first two seasons. Benson also played in seven games, I see him as a 3-4-5 LW for the Oilers in the coming year.
Markus Niemelainen and Filip Berglund appear to be matriculating and will play in Bakersfield this winter, while Dylan Wells is already at a career crossroads despite not playing much during his entry deal. You’d like a man to get his full opportunity but it’s been a weird time in the hockey (and everywhere). Matthew Cairns and Aapeli Rasanen are still writing their stories, Graham McPhee is trying to establish himself on an AHL deal, something Vincent Desharnais has already done.
The 2016 Oilers draft hasn’t looked this promising since 2016.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
My Dad was a unique and funny man. I’ve told you the box story, the trip up Pike’s Peak and several other tales over the years. I don’t think I’ve told you this one, stop me if you’ve heard it.
My Dad wasn’t one to follow social norms and that was in all situations. So my Mom would “prepare” Dad for moments when she anticipated a wrongway outcome. One of these occurred at the 100 Mile House Hospital in the spring of 1969.
My parents friend Alex was dying of cancer, and we were close with him and family. It was really sad, first time I’d been around the death of a person we knew (he was always kind to me) and around cancer. So, Mom bought him grapes (he loved grapes) and in the car before going up she said “Ira, talk about happy things, things that bring you joy. Stay positive. Offer him these grapes, he has had a craving for them, Marveen (his wife) told me.”
So, we go up. My brother is making weird sounds when pretty nurses pass, I’m trying not to breathe in anything that might kill me (I am my father’s son) and Dad is 10 miles ahead of Mom and us despite not knowing what room Alex is in.
He gets lost. We wait for him to get back to the nurses station, and by then Mom knows the room. Mom, I remember she looked so nice, told us to smile and make Alex feel better. She probably assumed Dad had been suitably prepared for the moment so didn’t offer any last minute advice.
Well. I wish I’d filmed it. Dad walks in, throws the bag of grapes at Alex, goes into a five-minute passion speech about how he bought the hat he was wearing (Fedora, small brim, it looked like someone had started out making a straw basket and then checked down) at the five and dime (second-hand store) for 25 cents. I mean Jesus. Mom was waving him off, doing the ‘reject all signals’ sign, blowing a bugle, he ran all the stop signs.
“I bought one of the Russian hats at the Robinsons for seven dollars, this one’s better,” I remember him saying.
Then Dad starts eating the grapes! Swear to God. Then he tells Alex that his son Irvin is buying a Corvair (this was not a good idea according to Dad) and Dad thought it was dangerous and he could get himself killed in that thing.
Mom came over the top with questions normal humans would ask and got things back on track, and also got the grapes away from Dad. Alex asked us about school, which in the the 1960’s consisted of hard hitting questions like ‘what grade are you in?’ and ‘what’s you favourite subject?’ and then we left.
Mom was real mad at Dad, who then sulked all the way home. I didn’t get one grape.