Every draft has a feel, a first blush, that sometimes follows through over the years. My initial reaction to the 2008 draft was that Jordan Eberle was a lock for an NHL career and that Teemu Hartikainen was the only other man in the group with a chance, and his heavy boots were going to travel with him. That first impression has held true every day since.
The 2021 draft feels like two drafts in one to this observer. Three picks (Xavier Bourgault, Jake Chiasson and Matvey Petrov) are classic NHL picks, players who could turn pro in a couple of years and be NHL-ready any time after the end of their draft plus two season.
The three other selections, Luca Munzenberger, Shane Lachance and Maximus Wanner, appear to me as something close to ‘draft and follow’ picks. What do I mean by that? Well, I think the Oilers see something in each of these men, but what we see today doesn’t line up with things we associate with a typical selection. Munzenberger had a big WJ’s, Lachance spiked during the year and Wanner impressed in very few games. That’s how I see it.
I have no quarrel with either strategy. I’m encouraged that the Oilers shopped the world. I have no idea if anyone beyond the first-round selection will play in the NHL someday, but after the 2020 draft (itself with a couple of draft and follows) I’m willing to see how this plays out.
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: Ideal targets for the Oilers on Day 2 of the 2021 draft
- New DNB: Oilers come under the microscope after passing on Jesper Wallstedt
- New James Mirtle: Zach Hyman is leaving the Maple Leafs, expected to sign in Edmonton shortly
- New Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: If the UFA market fails, can the Oilers find their 3rd-line centre internally?
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason
- New DNB: The Oilers must act fast to address their hole on defence
- DNB: Replacing Adam Larsson
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- New DNB: Adam Larsson and free agency? Who’s on the expansion list?
- New DNB: Oilers talking to Zach Hyman’s camp
- Jonathan Willis: Duncan Keith, by the numbers
- DNB: How Ken Holland’s overpay for Duncan Keith limits the Oilers’ offseason options
- Lowetide: 10 free agents for the Oilers to target this offseason
- Jonathan Willis: Yes or no? Have your say on 10 hypothetical Oilers trades
- Lowetide: Oilers 2021-22 roster projection, including trade and free agent targets
- DNB: How do Oilers fans feel about their team’s 2020-21 season?
- Lowetide: Finding the ideal No. 3 centre for the Edmonton Oilers
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason
- DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
The 2021 draft
Edmonton chose two defensemen, two centers and two left wingers today, although there’s every chance both of the centers end up at right wing. There were reaches and value, there were obscure choices and distant bells, and we’re finding out more about the Ken Holland-Tyler Wright Oilers and their drafting style as we go along. I like their choice of forwards overall, as their have been 10 (six last year, four this time) and we’ll have to see a little more about the defesnemen but they seem to like rangy skaters.
LOWETIDE’S PROJECTED SELECTIONS
No. 19 overall: LC Zachary Bolduc
No. 116 overall: LW Eric Alarie
No. 180 overall: LC Sami Päivärinta
No. 186: LD Vladislav Lukashevich, Yaroslavl
No. 212 overall: LD Janis Moser, EHC Biel-Bienne
HARVEST MOON 2021
No. 22 overall RC-RW Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL). Edmonton badly needs more scoring forwards, and Bourgault was among the best available when the Oilers were on the clock. This is a player who is able to score, Scott Wheeler referring to a “deceptive release” and creative play inside the offensive zone. His NHLE (82, 16-16-32) projects him as a top-six NHL forward down the line based on 15 years worth of staring at Oilers draft picks (Jordan Eberle was 82, 15-12-27 in his draft season). There’s a large downbeat from Oilers fans on this player, owing to the belief that goaltender Jesper Wallstedt is the better player. It’s an interesting conversation to revisit five years from now, the extra pick was certainly appealing for general manager Ken Holland and the scouting staff.
No. 90 overall LD Luca Munzenberger, Cologne (Germany Jrs). It’s difficult to place this player into a timeline for arrival in pro hockey, and he’ll be 19 in November. His next stop is Vermont, and we’ll get a better idea about him as a player (is he a shutdown type?). For now, we know he has size (6.02, 194), can cover well and did post offense at lower levels of German hockey. He’s a draft and follow in my opinion.
No. 116 RC Jake Chiasson, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Chiasson has some things on his resume you’ll like, including a large frame (6.02) and room to grow (165). I think it’s important to note Red Line’s comment about his skating (“Easy skating style is sometimes mistaken for a low-end motor”) and his 21.5 NHLE. Those scoring totals put him in the range with former picks like Tobias Rieder and Tyler Pitlick, so we’re probably safe in calling him a middle-six center-wing if things work out for him.
No. 180 LW Matvey Petrov, Krylia Moscow (MHL). This might be my favourite pick in the draft. A RH left winger with size (6.02, 181) he is high octane offense (22-20-42 in 58 games) and could be described as a first-shot scorer. He’s a March 2003, is ranked on several notable lists and despite being one dimensional is young enough to add to his arsenal. In an unusual draft, this felt to me like the second-round pick Edmonton didn’t own.
No. 186 LW Shane Lachane, Boston Jr. Bruins (NCDC). He’s 6.04, 195 and moved up the depth chart during the season. Kirk Luedeke, who is a damned fine resource for any player and always has the goods on eastern seaboard kids, says he’s raw and projectable. He’s a draft and follow, a true one who was born August 30, 2003 and close to a year younger than Bourgault. We’ll see about Lachance as time goes by, we know he’ll want to improve his boots and mature as a player in the years ahead.
No. 212 RD Maximus Wanner, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL). Wanner is a rangy (6.03, 185) defender from Saskatchewan, and I’ve been enjoying those SK players since Terry Harper. I believe young Wanner may have some offense in him, he’s a good passer with some instincts, along with defensive acumen. As is the case with Lachance, anything more we place at his doorstep in terms of resume is a disservice. We simply don’t know what we don’t know.
- Corey Pronman: Xavier Bourgault (No. 29); Matvey Petrov (No. 113)
- Scott Wheeler: Xavier Bourgault (No. 21)
- Craig Button: Xavier Bourgault (No. 25); Matvey Petrov (No. 70)
- Bob McKenzie: Xavier Bourgault (No. 20); Matvey Petrov (No. 92)
- Lowetide: Xavier Bourgault (No. 14); Matvey Petrov (No. 70); Jake Chiasson (90)
We can track three of these men in the traditional manner, looking for contracts before age 20 and entry into pro hockey at that age. I think Bourgault and Petrov project as skill wingers, Chiasson might find his way as a two-way winger with skill.
The other three are draft and follows, and we’ll have to wait longer to find their story. The odds are longer on each young man, but better to take a player whose photo hasn’t quite developed but is intriguing, than one who is fully developed and wearing boots of clay. It’s been a day. Please visit The Athletic for more coverage and consider subscribing if you can, there’s a 50 percent off deal going on right now.
I love the Harvest Moon most of all.