I love talking about the draft picks I get right. I had Ethan Bear ranked No. 38 in 2015, when he made his NHL debut I bragged so much my wife stopped going for walks with me for a time. “I’ll go later, the dog will get two walks,” she’d say. Andrew Mangiapane, Alex DeBrincat, you can bet your bottom dollar that when Arthur Kaliyev makes it there will be 40 posts about him, too.
But it’s also true I had Sam Bennett ahead of Leon Draisaitl, Eeli Tolvanen ahead of Kailer Yamamoto, I had Dylan Holloway No. 25. So, the complete record isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.
That said, I own it. All of my good and bad bets are public.
I keep reading online brags about Cole Caufield being the one true choice for Edmonton and man I have to tell you I don’t recall a bunch of people screaming his name in 2019. I do remember people talking about Trevor Zegras, that I buy.
I bet you some had Caufield higher than me (No. 9), but my guess is a lot of people who are mad about the Broberg pick would have selected someone else. I will accept any brags Blue Bullet cares to throw, he ranked Caufield No. 6, but the rest of you are going to need to send me a link. Please and thanks. Otherwise you’re pissing in the wind and frankly ruining your credibility.
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 DNB and Dom: How the Oilers should value pending UFAs
- New Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- 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
- Lowetide: What is Kailer Yamamoto’s future fit on the Oilers’ depth chart?
- DNB: What a perfect offseason could look like for the Edmonton Oilers
- Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
The 2014 draft was memorable because Edmonton was drafting No. 3 and there were four great players. Craig MacTavish and Stu MacGregor got it right, in what was the last big moment for each man in their positions with Edmonton. I was pleased for Draisaitl’s name being announced, but had no idea the impact he would have on the organization.
The 2015 draft will be remembered both for Connor McDavid and good work done by Edmonton’s amateur scouts after millions of dollars in value picks had been sent away. The trades carved that Oilers list like a hog at the slaughter, and those scouts delivered Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and John Marino in the depths of the draft. That was an amazing weekend.
The 2016 draft we’ve talked about quite a bit recently, I was thrilled with the Jesse Puljujarvi selection and it looks like it’s going to work out despite a short delay. I also liked the Filip Berglund pick but do wonder if he waited too long to come over. There’s a weird current with this draft, guys like Tyler Benson and Markus Niemelainen have some solid bullet points on their resumes but it’s playing out like Tyler Pitlick and Martin Marincin from the 2010 draft. It’s good, they’re going to have careers and some of it will be in the NHL, but I’m not sure they’re destined to be long-term Oilers. We’ll see.
The 2017 draft has always struck me as the most promising of the post-McDavid drafts. I genuinely loved the Kailer Yamamoto selection, remember being on the air with Dean Millard (draft coverage) and Guy Flaming, it was the right choice but Edmonton had never chosen a small player that soon. Dmitri Samorukov had a strong reputation as a tough defender with size and speed and he has the skill set to play effectively on he defensive side of the puck. That style is more in vogue in this year’s playoffs than they have been in years. He could be arriving right on time. Stuart Skinner was a coveted goalie on draft day, drifted due to performance, and then closed with a strong season with the Bakersfield Condors.
The 2018 draft probably houses the next substantial offensive player for the roster, as Evan Bouchard will have a major part in Edmonton’s success beginning this fall. Even if he’s third pair and second power play next season (I don’t expect that to be a job description for long) the numbers will be solid to excellent. He is an impact passer, and will be sending pucks to some of the best forwards in the game. Music! Ryan McLeod has a chance to fill an important role eventually (No. 3 center) and will be an inexpensive roster player for the next few years. Olivier Rodrigue is another solid goalie bet.
The 2019 draft is easily the most controversial in recent years, owing to the Philip Broberg selection inside the top-10 overall. The young man looks like a modern Oscar Klefbom to me, but we’ll see as time goes by and he is easily the least popular first-round selection among Oilers fans since Alex Plante. I had Broberg No. 16, and the team’s second-round selection (Raphael Lavoie) at No. 26, so have always viewed them as more of a pair than a first and a second. There’s a chance Lavoie emerges as the best player in this draft, a real rarity for an Oilers draft (last time: 2002, Jarret Stoll over Jesse Niinimaki). Ilya Konovalov is an emerging story, he has an open shot at the starter’s job in Bakersfield for 2021-22 and could push for NHL time this coming season. Matej Blumel had a big season in the Czech league, no announcement but the league rules suggest Edmonton lost his rights June 1.
The 2020 draft has that winning look one year after the fact. Dylan Holloway romped through his season (NHLE: 41.6) and has a clear path to the NHL as early as this season. He could be a significant addition to the Oilers roster. Carter Savoie followed up the most productive AJHL season since Dany Heatley in 1999 (source: Red Line Report) with an impressive debut for the Denver Pioneers of the NCHC (NHLE: 30.0). Tyler Tullio didn’t play a lot and that’s a concern, but his skill set and skill quality make him a genuine NHL prospect. It’s early days, but all of Maxim Berezkin, Filip Engaras and Jeremias Lindewall are pushing one year later. This draft has no right to look as good as it does considering where the Oilers were picking.