Trying to Figure Out the Long Term Plan

Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Before I start today, we have a pretty big event coming to my hometown of Lloydminster on September 28th.  Eight alumni each from the Oilers and Flames will square off in the Boundary Battle of Alberta with all proceeds going toward Project Sunrise which is a terrific mental health initiative.  The event is already sold out (I believe tickets went in something like six hours, ridiculous), but why go sit in the stands when you can play in the game?  Not sure where it currently stands, but when the event was announced they had four spots available on each team for $1,000.00.  The first two names are being announced today (perhaps already have been by the time this gets posted) will be Sportsnet colour analyst and former Oiler Louie Debrusk, and former Flames defenceman, two time Stanley Cup champion, over 1,100 games in the NHL Jamie Macoun.  Both guys have reputations as being among the most genuinely great people ever to suit up in the league.  We’re not talking about guys who if you pay a grand to play next to them they’re going to treat a guy like shit and then get the hell out of there when the game is done.  Great guys with a couple thousand or so stories from their years playing hockey to tell (a lot of which I’m sure can’t be shared in public settings…).  It’s a great start to the list and I know that more great names are still to come, so if you got the dough it’d not only be worth your money but it goes towards a terrific cause.  If you’re interested, send me a DM on Twitter (@TJ_Soups) and I should be able to get you in touch with the right people to make it happen.

 

Now, how to transition from something damn good to something terrible…I’m kidding, it’s not terrible.  But if you’re impatient, as all Oilers fans should be, it’s a very hard truth to hear or read, but it’s a fact.  And the fact is that this is at least a one year rebuild for the Oilers.

 

I’m guessing very few Oilers fans, even those who view themselves as the “elite” fans, were aware of this.  Or perhaps they were trying to convince themselves otherwise.  To me, it was obvious from the moment they fired Peter Chiarelli that it would take a minimum of 18 months to undo the knot that Chiarelli tied.  I’m not a big Ken Holland fan, but it was going to take damn near a miracle for anyone to step in and turn this team into a playoff contender.  Even in trying to construct a roster myself, assuming UFA’s would sign, assuming GM’s would take my trade proposal’s, what I pieced together still wasn’t going to be anything of a sure bet and really isn’t far off what Holland has done.

 

What I find funny though is seeing people mock signings like Joakim Nygård, Gaëtan Haas, and Josh Archibald and I can’t help but think just how moronic people can be.  What is wrong with these signings?!?  Sure, they aren’t the BIG moves people want, but they’re low risk, rationale moves that this club has been begging for since…2008?  2006?  And yet the moment they’re announced, people can’t wait to shit on them.  At least you can see a plan here with Holland and it’s to put out a much faster lineup, which is one thing I was clamoring for entering the off-season.

 

But those type of moves again suggest that this is going to take a year.  Not to suggest that they’re looking to tank this season or anything along those lines.  They’re not.  They’re trying to put together as good of a lineup they can, but without killing the gains they’re making on the cap over the next few seasons.  You can’t quick fix this.  Did anyone notice it cost the Leafs a first round pick to unload a year of Patrick Marleau?  I’d guess Kris Russell would have cost a second, and can you imagine what it’d then cost to shed the rest of the Lucic deal?!?  No thank you.

 

So it is going to take some time.  And how much more damn patience are us Oilers fans going to have to display?!  Well, if you want them to put together a perennial playoff team, give them a year.  Obviously, we all want them to make the playoffs this season.  But we as fans need to have the mindset that they won’t and what we’ll see is more of what we saw last season.  For our mental health, this is a much better approach then demanding they make the playoffs ASAP.  And we must remind ourselves, we want to win Cups, not be what the Minnesota Wild or Columbus Blue Jackets have been.

 

As it currently sits, they’re going to have close to 25 million in cap space next summer.  So that’s a nice start, but it’s not just that.  A year from now, Kris Russell is much more movable with only a year left on his deal and a no-trade list that shrinks from 21 teams to 16.  I also believe that after he gets his signing bonus (whenever that is as it’s been disputed a lot in the media) Milan Lucic will be much more movable.  After his bonus is paid, Lucic will only cost 1 million dollars for the 20-21 season.  Now, before you say “yeah, but then he still has another two years left after that at a combined 9 million and a 6 mil a year cap hit”, remember that after the 20-21 season the CBA is up.  Teams are getting compliance buyouts.  At least two, maybe more.  Is he movable without penalty?  No.  But he’s much more movable, and in a year from now, Holland will have more assets stockpiled and a chance to be more aggressive.

 

You also have to go back to the draft with what I still find to be a completely bizarre use of the 8th overall pick in the draft selecting Philip Broberg.  It’s not just that it was a reach, it’s the lack of justification which came with it.  The Oilers strength in their system is the blueline, and specifically on the left side.  Add to that, Klefbom is young and locked down for four more seasons at an extremely team-friendly number, and Nurse is already a top-four D-man at 24 years old.  They already had 10 D-men 26 and under who are either on the roster or on the cusp.  Another seven defencemen in Europe, NCAA, or in the AHL.  A kid like Broberg just couldn’t have been less of a need.  BUT…

 

You have a lot of power to make trades when you’re deep on the blueline, and you will save on the cap.  Defencemen probably get overpaid more than any other position in the league.  If you’re developing them and locking them down at the right times, it can cut way down on cap mistakes.  Look at the Preds.  The only bad deal they made with their D-men was matching the Shea Weber offer sheet, which they made up for by moving him for P.K. Subban.  In turn, they’ve been able to pretty much do whatever they’ve wanted to the last few seasons.

 

The Broberg pick combined with the cap space coming up had me wondering if there wasn’t something to all the smoke around Taylor Hall possibly making a return.  Those rumours won’t go away.  And it would be one thing for them to be coming from people with zero credibility, but Elliotte Friedman has hinted at it before.  It was around the trade deadline where he said it on a podcast (can’t remember which it was, but not his own), and also talked about it on Oilers Now when asked days after.  Bob Stauffer has hinted at it a lot for several months now, and from all accounts has remained in close contact with Hall since being dealt.  Back to Friedman, who has also talked recently about Hall’s desire to play in a market where it really matters.

 

But the problem is that while fans would hear 25 million and believe they can easily go out and sign Hall for 12 million a season, they can’t.  Well, they COULD, but we’re talking shedding all of the 10 million of dead weight on the cap that Russell and Lucic eat up, AND you’d have to move out Darnell Nurse who is looking to be in line for a contract extension worth 6-7 million per season if his numbers can stay in the 30-40 point range.  Then you still likely have to go get a goaltender to be a 1B with Koskinen (if not a 1A), and even with Nurse in the lineup, you have to upgrade the blueline.  Sure, they have a lot of kids who will likely see some quality NHL minutes this upcoming season, but will kids like Jones, Persson, Bear or Lagesson be ready for top-four minutes after next season?  HIGHLY unlikely.

 

But the thing about the Oilers is that they don’t need another star like Hall.  Filling the holes they have better would take this team from the outhouse to the penthouse.  Mikael Granlund, Alex Galchenyuk, Chris Kreider, Robin Lehner, Jared Spurgeon, Sami Vatanen, Justin Faulk, there are a lot of guys who might get to the open market who would be great fits for what the Oilers really need.

 

Giving them a year to focus on a build rather than to be dusted in five by the Sharks would also give them a chance to really implement a lot of kids to save even more cap space.  Benson, Jones, Persson, Lagesson, Yamamoto, and Bouchard are all kids who are either going to push for spots on the roster or should be ready to go for the start of the 20-21 season.

 

So this very possibly could be what their plan i.  If so, I believe it’s fair to say “ok, one year build, next year playoffs, the year after that is when they’ll be able to put out a true contender”.  For those of you fearing a McDavid trade request if this is the case, he’s not going to ask out if they have a very legitimate plan.  You can miss the playoffs trending up and miss the playoffs trending down.  Sure, shit could hit the fan once again this season and be a nightmare and if that’s the case then he just may finally snap.  But more than likely they’ll be more competitive this season and if they do miss the playoffs they’ll at least do so trending up.  The kids gain experience, the system gets stronger, the cap space increases, and the organization at least has a GM who isn’t going to piss away any asset or cap space he can get his hands on.  That’s a BIG improvement over how things have been here.

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Edmonton Oilers Top 20 Prospects – July, 2019

I say this every year this time of year…summer sucks!  I know most of you don’t agree, but deal with it.  Bugs, allergies, forced trips to the lake no matter how shitty the weather, and there are no sports on.  Zero.  Mid-season baseball and early season CFL action just simply don’t cut it, and please don’t give me the MLS.  Summer just flat out sucks.  Some of my buddies get geared up for pre-season NFL action, but even being a die-hard NFL fan, I can’t really get into it.  There is no other two month stretch in the year quite like this one, and while my significant other is in all her glory right now as a teacher who lives for these two months, I am the polar opposite.

 

Perhaps the best way to counteract this personal misery is to talk as much hockey in as many forms as I possibly can!  Yesterday I had my summer power rankings, and today I bring you my latest top 20 Edmonton Oilers prospect list!

 

While this is a fresh list, be warned that some of the write-up’s aren’t.  Simply put, there was just no reason to change what I had wrote on some of these players back in April.  Add to that, I have trouble keeping my blogs under 2500 words these days, so anytime I find a way to cut a bit of a corner, I’m going to take it as there are only so many hours in the day!

 

Hounourable Mention

 

Maxim Denezhkin

Team: Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 51  G: 22  A: 17  P: 39

DOB: 12/10/00

Acquired: 7th Round, 193rd Overall, 2019 Draft

Obviously, you can see he has some filling out to do.  Skating isn’t great, but I often wonder when slighter guys are having skating issues at these level’s of hockey if added strength isn’t what is needed to get their skating to the level it needs to get to?  Also a high character kid from what I’ve read and heard.  Interesting 7th round pick, I definitely wouldn’t say it sounds wasted.

ETA: Early 24-25

 

Tomas Mazura

Team: Kimball Union  League: USHS

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 37  G: 14  A: 40  P: 54

DOB: 09/23/00

Acquired: 6th Round, 162nd Overall, 2019 Draft

The more I’m reading on Mazura, the more I’m at least interested.  Where he really caught my attention was the first media scrum he did at development camp.  WOW!  I tweeted after seeing it “I can see why they took him”.  Look, loving the kid doesn’t make him a good prospect.  He is insanely thin right now.  I got him as 6’2 but if I’m not mistaken, some have him at 6’3.  And 170lbs might be extremely generous.  The kid has a shit ton of filling out to do.  He is a total project, but they bet on a kid who is big, skates well, and seems to have a ton of energy along with a high IQ.  Can’t complain about that.  Major project though.

ETA: Early 25-26

 

Matej Blümel

Team: Waterloo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 58  G: 30  A: 30  P: 60

DOB: 05/31/00

Acquired: 4th Round, 100th Overall, 2019 Draft

Reading about him in the Hockey Prospect Black Book, they say he’s a very inconsistent player.  He’s a shoot first kid as he led the USHL in shots on goal this season.  It does sound as though he has some decent upside, as a 19 year old in the USHL his numbers really weren’t too impressive.  Compared with Flames prospect Martin Pospisil (someone I was very high on as a mid-rounder in last years draft), Blümel was outproduced on a PPG basis, 1.43 to 1.03.  Obviously, there is a long way to go here for both players, but not overly encouraging when you consider that Pospisil is just a solid prospect who brings a lot more to the table (he’s a rat).  Blümel is off to UCONN this fall so the Oilers have at least three seasons to let him develop before making a decision on him.  Was interested to find out that Mazura and Blümel are very tight friends.  Scott Howson claims he had no idea of that when they picked them, but…I don’t know.  Pretty tough to believe that just being a coincidence.

ETA: Early 24-25

 

Ostap Safin 

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 15  G: 3  A: 8  P: 11

DOB: 02/11/99

Acquired: 4th Round, 115th Overall, 2017 Draft

I felt as though I had to drop him off the list, but I’m not personally giving up on him.  I’ve seen others disregard him after this season, almost like they have no clue that he missed the majority of the season with a hip pointer.  Hip issues are TOUGH to overcome.  I think of a guy like Brett Connolly who had hip issues in his draft year, and it took him until the 16-17 season to really establish himself in the league and I can’t help but wonder if that was why?  So we’ll see on Safin.  But as I’ve pointed out many times, this kid has a monster ceiling.  He’s not just big, he is a tremendous skater and plays with an edge.

ETA: Late 21-22

 

John Marino 

Team: Harvard  League: NCAA

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 33  G: 3  A: 8  P: 11

DOB: 05/21/97

Acquired: 6th round, 154th overall, 2015 draft

The big question with Marino is now whether or not they’ll get him signed as he is about to enter his Sr. season and therefore be a UFA after the season.  The regime who drafted him is gone and as it felt during the draft, Ken Holland wants to do EVERYTHING his way whether it’s for the best or not.  I’ve maintained for a while now I like Marino maybe more than most.  Nice size, great skater and moves the puck well.  A new age shutdown D-man.  Add to that he’s a RH shot, I’d love for them to get Marino signed, but perhaps there is something under the table already done and both sides have agreed that it’ll be better for his development to stay at Harvard for the season rather than see limited time in Bakersfield?  Something worrisome for getting Marino signed is that he now doesn’t have Adam Fox in his way, so he’ll be Harvard’s number one D-man this season and as a result his numbers might get a massive bump and therefore draw a ton of suitors to the impending UFA.

ETA: Early 22-23

 

20. Olivier Rodrigue 

Team: Drummondville  League: QMJHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 159  Glove: L

2019 StatsGP: 48  G.A.A.: 2.43  Sv%: .902

DOB: 07/06/00

Acquired: 2nd Round, 62nd Overall, 2018 Draft

The raw stats that I have up don’t look overly great for Rodrigue last season.  One that tells more of the story that looked a little better however was his adjusted goals saved above average, which was 9th in the Q last season (13.631).  Still wasn’t the type of season I believe most were hoping to see out of a kid they traded back into the 2018 2nd round to snag, but we have a LONG ways to go with Rodrigue.  Look at that weight, he might still have 30lbs to put on.  He’ll be in the mix for the 2020 WJC team, but he is nowhere near the lock he seemed as though he’d be for it this time last year.  But I can’t stress enough that there is a very long way to go with this kid.

ETA: Early 23-24

 

19. Dylan Wells  

Team: Wichita  League: ECHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Glove: L

2019 StatsGP: 34  G.A.A.: 2.94  Sv%: .910

DOB: 01/03/98

Acquired: 5th Round, 123rd Overall, 2016 Draft

Before I begin, those numbers are combined ECHL and AHL.  Got into one AHL playoff game which was game 2 vs San Diego and played great!  It was a losing cause, but he came up with a 35 of 38 stops.  In his first year of pro hockey, the kid had a very respectable .910 Sv% (.909 in 12 AHL games).  Extremely encouraging when you remember that he was coming off a very disappointing final year in the OHL.  It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster in his three years since being drafted, but for my money, he’s had two out of three good seasons.  Next year is a big one though.  I really don’t know how at this time they plan on working with Wells and Stuart Skinner.  Both need more AHL minutes this season, and they have Shane Starrett as the starter so there is only one spot available.  Are they going to carry three goaltenders in Bakersfield and possibly just rotate all three?  Do Wells and Skinner take turns starting in Witchita and splitting time with Starret in Bakersfield?  Or, is someone being shipped out?  It’s an interesting predicament.

ETA: Early 21-22

 

18. Stuart Skinner 

Team: Wichita  League: ECHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Glove: L

2019 StatsGP: 47  G.A.A.: 3.07  Sv%: .891

DOB: 11/01/98

Acquired: 3rd Round, 78th Overall, 2017 Draft

Like Wells, the numbers are combined ECHL and AHL.  Had some real good moments in relief of Shane Starrett in the 2nd round of the AHL playoffs vs San Diego.  Wells got the full 60 in game two of the series, but Skinner took over after Starrett struggled in game three, and again after Starrett struggled in game four, then was tremendous in the game five start stopping 45 of 46 helping the Condors stay alive.  A rough outing in game six led to being pulled after the first period, but overall in the series Skinner played very well against a good Gulls team.  It really is neck and neck at this point between Skinner and Wells and I don’t think anyone knows who is going to come out on top.  I think I can speak for all Oilers fans in saying we don’t care just as long as one of them comes out on top as a starting NHL goaltender.

ETA: Early 21-22

 

17. Ilya Konovalov

Team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl  League: KHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 194  Glove: L

2019 StatsGP: 45  G.A.A.: 1.89  Sv%: .930

DOB: 07/13/98

Acquired: 3rd Round, 85th Overall, 2019 Draft

I now can say I’ve seen him play!  There is a clip on youtube with the camera solely on him!  It is damn near impossible to tell what exactly he is having to face, but there are some quality scoring chances in the 5 minutes or so where he makes some great stops.  Two breakaways and a glorious chance from a cross-crease pass where he stole one.  Something else I noticed is how well he appears to track the puck, and then I’ve read that it’s one of his biggest strengths.  Very positionally sound.  Bob Green said something along the lines of him being bigger than he looks, and again it’s just from the one highlight pack but I can see that.  If you think NHL teams worry about the size of their skaters, it is NOTHING compared to the size requirements for goaltenders these days.

ETA: Early 22-23

 

16. Philip Kemp 

Team: Yale  League: NCAA

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 30  G: 3  A: 5  P: 8

DOB: 02/12/99

Acquired: 7th Round, 208th Overall, 2017 Draft

He’s nothing to get over excited about, but there is some reason to get excited about hitting on a 7th round pick.  Don’t believe that’s happened since 2003 for this organization (Kyle Brodziak).  I see him as a Mark Fayne clone, only question is whether we’re talking Fayne in Jersey, or Fayne in Edmonton.

ETA: Late 22-23

 

15. Filip Berglund 

Team: Skellefteå  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 52  G: 2  A: 9  P: 11

DOB: 5/10/97

Acquired: 3rd round, 91st overall, 2016 draft

A little like Kemp in that he doesn’t have much flash in his game.  Maybe a little more offensive ability, but definitely not the type who oozes skill.  On one hand, it’s good that he’s staying over in Sweden another season with the team currently looking at six D for two bottom pairing spots next season (I doubt they’ll want one of the kids on the roster as the number seven guy).  But on the other hand, we would like to get a closer look at him sooner or later.  20-21 I’m sure.

ETA: Late 20-21

 

14. Joe Gambardella

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 201  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 50  G: 29  A: 19  P: 48

DOB: 12/01/93

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed March 28th, 2017

It’s go time for Gambardella, and he’s right there.  He’s got the wheels that this organization needs a lot more of, so that’s a good thing.  And he started to gain the trust of Ken Hitchcock near the end of the season, so that’s another great sign.  He’s not a guy Hitchcock would normally like, but he seemed to really appreciate Gambardella.  27 goals, 45 points in 48 games in the AHL this season.  I think he can be a regular, but I do wonder if it’ll be with the Oilers.  Might be the wrong time for him to break through here, but he’ll get his shot in camp.

ETA: Early 19-20

 

13. William Lagesson  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 207  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 67  G: 8  A: 19  P: 27

DOB: 02/22/96

Acquired: 4th Round, 91st Overall, 2014 Draft

I’ve always liked him.  There isn’t a high ceiling with Lagesson, but he sure looks like he’ll play in the league at this point.  Not a pretty skater, but he can move.  Not an offensively gifted player, but put up ok numbers this season.  Not a killer on the back end, but he loves to get his nose dirty.  He’s ready to see some minutes with the big club, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can accommodate that with so many other D-men in the system around the same level.

ETA: Mid 19-20

 

12. Joel Persson 

Team: Växjö League: SHL

Pos: RD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 50  G: 6  A: 25  P: 31

DOB: 03/04/94

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed May 18th, 2018

Have to admit, I’m pretty stunned thus far that they still have a log jam of bottom pair right shot D-men.  Persson, Benning and Bear are all ready for NHL minutes this fall.  Will Persson or Bear perhaps be tried on a 2nd pairing with Nurse?  Neither are ready for that, but both fit much better with Nurse than Matt Benning does.  I wouldn’t do it, but it looks as though they may.  Anyway, Persson doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but is a well rounded D-man who can skate and move the puck well…AKA the type of defencemen the Oilers are desperate for.  He did a ton of the heavy lifting for Växjö this season, essentially being their number one defenceman.

ETA: Early 19-20

 

11. Cooper Marody  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 58  G: 19  A: 45  P: 64

DOB: 12/20/96

Acquired: Trade with Philadelphia, March 21st, 2018

I love him, but I’m not sure I love him for the Oilers.  The wheels are concerning and with both the big club and the higher end prospects there are too many players like that in the system.  So for me personally, I’d be willing to part with him for the right piece.  But I love his game.  A pure playmaker who is unafraid to go anywhere on the ice.  If he does improve the wheels, he’ll be one hell of a player.

ETA: Late 19-20

 

10. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Acquired: 2nd Round, 38th Overall, 2019 Draft

He was a great value pick and has tremendous ability.  However, his motor is scary, not in a good way.  Now, I list him as a winger.  I believe that’s where he ends up.  BUT, he does currently play the middle.  So for me, that would be the key thing to watch for next season.  Final year in Halifax on what should be a very good Mooseheads team again as they’ll return most of their key contributors, it would be a massive help to the organization if Lavoie took some big steps in his development as a centre this season, not just a top 10 prospect.  That’s the hope.  The expectation is that he can become an effective top nine winger down the road.

ETA: Mid 21-22

 

9. Ryan McLeod 

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 207  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 63  G: 19  A: 43  P: 62

DOB: 09/21/99

Acquired: 2nd Round, 40th Overall, 2018 Draft

I wonder if Marody could give McLeod his compete, or if McLeod could give Marody his wheels?  For me, I’m going to favour the guy with the wheels and McLeod has ELITE wheels.  He’ll play in the league because his speed is that good.  But frankly, it’ll be a matter of him playing with more balls that dictates whether he’ll be a bottom six player or a top six player.  He has all the ability to be a 2nd line player, if not a 1st liner, but it is pretty damn rare for a player to all of a sudden gain on ice bravery (for lack of a better term) as a trait.

ETA: Early 20-21

 

8. Ethan Bear  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 205  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 52  G: 6  A: 25  P: 31

DOB: 06/26/97

Acquired: 5th Round, 124th Overall, 2015 Draft

As has been stated by myself and others hundreds of times by now, the big question is his skating.  And like Marody, I wouldn’t be afraid to part with Bear this off-season.  But unlike Marody, Bear’s trade value is probably less than it should be at the moment.  With neither guy, you don’t move him unless you get the right deal, but I’m just saying I’d at least listen on both.  Fans have got mesmerized by Jones skating ability that they seemingly have forgotten Bear’s ability to move the puck.  It’s elite, not to mention a big shot to go with it, and Bear’s overall skating isn’t that bad at all.  I find his lateral movement actually to be pretty high end, it’s the top speed that is lacking…in my opinion anyway.

ETA: Mid 19-20

 

7. Dmitri Samorukov 

Team: Guelph  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 59  G: 10  A: 35  P: 45

DOB: 06/16/99

Acquired: 3rd Round, 84th Overall, 2017 Draft

Lower than most in Oiler land have him.  Why?  I’m perhaps more realistic than others?  Watch what’s going to happen here.  So I’ve seen some have him as high as third in their rankings.  Sammy is going to play most of next season (likely all of it) in Bakersfield, and it’ll be a big adjustment to pro hockey.  In the OHL, Sammy started to figure out that he was more physically gifted than most of the league.  He wasn’t dominating because of his IQ.  So what I expect to happen is he’ll struggle in his first year in the AHL much as Caleb Jones did.  And just like with Jones, people will then bail hard on him, and then around this time next year, I’ll have him higher than most.  Although I hope I’m wrong on that and he steps into the AHL and blows the doors off the league.  I wouldn’t complain about that in the least!  But from what I’ve seen, I believe pro hockey will be a big adjustment for him.

ETA: Mid 20-21

 

6. Kirill Maksimov  

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 63  G: 40  A: 39  P: 79

DOB: 06/01/99

Acquired: 5th Round, 146th Overall, 2017 Draft

He keeps dropping in my rankings, but it is everything to do with the organization adding to their system and nothing to do with souring even the slightest bit on the kid.  I fully believe this kid is going to make it and he’s going to be a total sniper.  A bomb of a one-timer, yet his best shot is his wrist shot.  His wrister reminds me of Joe Sakic’s.  No backswing.  People also rave about his work ethic, the way his 200-foot game has developed, and the only knock is a lack of not great wheels.  Not that they aren’t good enough already, just that they aren’t great and I’ve made the point several times that I believe it’s coming.  You watch him skate and it just looks as though he lacks power.  Then you look at how he’s built and he still just has such thin legs.  So when he starts developing lower body strength, I won’t be surprised if we’re talking about his skating being one of his best traits.

ETA: Mid 20-21

 

5. Tyler Benson  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 68  G: 15  A: 51  P: 66

DOB: 03/15/98

Acquired: 2nd Round, 32nd Overall, 2016 Draft

I can honestly say I never lost faith in the ability.  I definitely was losing faith in the ability to remain healthy at this point two years ago, but not in the kid’s ability.  His IQ and playmaking ability are elite.  He’s willing to play a complete game too, something that maybe gets a little underrated with him.  I maintain that Benson is going to ride shotgun with 97 at some point in the next year or two because they think the game so similar and he’s just such a perfect compliment.  The mistake the organization has made in the past is they would keep a good roster spot open for a kid like this.  I believe this is one reason they signed Tomas Jurco.  Benson is LIKELY ready, but let’s start making sure that the kids are earning their spots on the roster.  As has been said before he doesn’t have elite wheels, but he’s one kid who won’t need elite speed with how he thinks the game, and it’s not as if he’s a bad skater either.  He can move well enough.

ETA: Early 19-20

 

4. Caleb Jones  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 50  G: 6  A: 23  P: 29

DOB: 06/06/97

Acquired: 4th Round, 117th Overall, 2015 Draft

Benson can move, but Jones can fly.  I’ve maintained over the last two years that Jones was a player because of the skating, and you all got to see that over 17 games this season.  I won’t spend much time here because you’ve all seen him closer than most of these kids, but I will say that I believe he’ll be a top-four guy eventually, and I believe he’s proven that he’s ready for a spot on the bottom pair this season.  I would say that like Benson they should also have a veteran for Jones to compete with, I’d assume that’ll be whoever will likely be the number seven D-man, not to mention Lagesson.

ETA: Early 19-20

 

3. Kailer Yamamoto  

Team: Bakersfield  League: AHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 154  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 27  G: 10  A: 8  P: 18

DOB: 09/29/98

Acquired: 1st Round, 22nd Overall, 2017 Draft

A set back of a season.  But consider this: Johnny Gaudreau is maybe the poster boy for undersized players in the league right now.  Gaudreau played one game before the age of 22.  I compared Yamo to Cam Atkinson in his draft year, Atkinson’s first full season (kind of, it was the lockout year) was at age 23.  And read his weight, 5’8 was one thing but 154lbs is another.  I’ve had that number for a while, so I’m sure he’s packed on a few more pounds, but he’s still really small and still probably doesn’t have the strength he’ll need.  So I’d expect a full season in Bakersfield next season, but don’t bail on him yet.  He still has the qualities to thrive.  He has high-end skill, high-end IQ, and he’s insanely driven.  I thought it would have happened by now, but in hindsight, that’s likely what I missed on him.

ETA: Early 20-21

 

2. Philip Broberg

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Acquired: 1st Round, 8th Overall, 2019 Draft

I make no bones about the fact that I REALLY didn’t like the pick.  But people also need to understand that there is a difference between believing the organization should have gone elsewhere, and hating the player.  Broberg was a very risky pick, but the saying is high risk/high reward and the fact is that Broberg has the potential to be a number one defenceman in the NHL.  That’s not nothing.  What I need to know (impossible for a guy like me to know this) is where is Broberg’s IQ at, and what is his work ethic like?  I’ve flat out LOVED what I’ve heard from him thus far.  Seems to be a very humble, honest, hard-working kid.  That’s a great sign.  I’m going to guess that what won the Oilers over is he blew them away when they interviewed him.  Personally, I never read or heard that he was one of the better interviews at the combine, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t.  I wish he was headed to Hamilton for the upcoming season so he could get adjusted to playing in North America sooner and playing against weaker competition would give him a chance to work on the aspects of his game he struggles, namely his puck skills and his puck moving.  Glass half full: those skills have never needed to be developed because his size and wheels have allowed him to dominate at most levels without needing them, and therefore it remains to be seen if he will improve them to the level he needs to.  I hope this is the case.

ETA: Early 22-23

 

1. Evan Bouchard 

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 StatsGP: 45  G: 16  A: 37  P: 53

DOB: 10/20/99

Acquired: 1st Round, 10th Overall, 2018 Draft

Even with Broberg in the picture, I along with seemingly everyone else who is ranking these kids still has Bouchard tops on the list.  He’s the much safer bet of the two prospects.  Broberg has the higher ceiling, but with Bouchard I’d be completely shocked if he wasn’t at least a number five defenceman in the show for a decade.  And that’s worst case scenario.  Having said that, he still needs a year in Bakersfield.  His puck-moving ability, shot, and how well he reads the game offensively makes his defensive game passable at this point, but passable isn’t good enough when you’re talking about a kid who has the talent to be a top pairing D-man.

ETA: Late 19-20

 

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Soups Rankings: July, 2019

The NHL never ceases to amaze me.  Is it not the most odd thing perhaps in sports that their free agency has this flurry of signings right out the gate, and then all of a sudden by about 7PM EST on July 1st it goes dead?  Why?  You look at the remaining UFA’s, there is actually a lot of quality players out there, and yet in the three days since it has essentially been crickets.  And chances are, it’ll probably be this way until September 3rd, which is the day after Labour Day.  Why don’t we just say that the league completely shuts down all operations from July 3rd until September 3rd?  A full two months off, rather than pretending that’s not what happens?

 

Anyway, with things completely dead, it’s a good time to look at where these teams stand.  Obviously a Jake Gardiner here, a Ryan Dzingel there and maybe it makes a difference to a squad heading into the 19-20 season, but why wait?  It’s summer, what in the fuck else are we going to talk about?  The lake?  That place where we get maybe a max of five days during the summer that are good and we are forced to make the most elaborate meals that require an insane amount of work while we’re supposed to be RELAXING?!?  That place?  The lake and new year’s eve are the two most overrated things on the planet.  Like, why is it that I have the same amount of fun on any random Friday that I have at the lake or on NYE?!  If they’re so great, wouldn’t this NOT be possible?  Neither suck, they’re just badly overrated and this annoys me to no end.

 

With that being said, let’s see who I overrate…

 

31. Ottawa – It’ll be a hell of a long climb back for them.

 

30. Detroit – Stevie Y is likely going to do a great job, but he’s just getting started.

 

29. Los Angeles – It’s pretty bleak at the moment.

 

28. Buffalo – Watch out for Dahlin this season.  Talk about under the radar, he had 44 points as an 18 year old on a terrible team.  Kids a star.  But outside of him becoming a Norris contender AND Eichel being a Hart contender, I don’t see how this team can do anything.

 

27. Edmonton – I’m just resigned to this at this point.  Look, I had no visions of Holland turning them into a contender overnight and have always maintained they just needed to work with what they have at this point and wait out some of this mess.  But Holland doesn’t seem to have much of a plan, which was exposed with the Sekera buyout.  If he’s waiting a year, then why buyout Sekera now?  If he’s not, then why not also buyout Gagner and Manning to give them 6.9 mil in extra space?  Because he didn’t have a plan.  It was never going to look great, but a good GM does better than he has to this point.

 

26. Columbus – I worry this might be a little low for them.  I know what they’ve lost, but they also still have some terrific pieces.  But until Korpisalo proves himself as a starter, this is where they sit.

 

25. Minnesota – If you’re Mats Zuccarello, why them?!?!?  I’m sure there is some reason, but it’s definitely not because you believe you can win.  I don’t think they’re done, and again I’ll suggest to Ken Holland that they are ripe for the picking right now with Spurgeon.

 

24. Chicago – That Robin Lehner signing looks great, but he’s going from one of the best defensive teams in the league to one of the worst.  Toews, Kane, Keith, and Crawford are all a year older, and while they have some good young players, I’m not sure they can be much more than they were in 2019.

 

23. New Jersey – There off-season LOOKS really sexy!  Hughes, Subban, and Simmonds, that looks terrific!  One problem: Their big issue was goaltending and Ray Shero did absolutely nothing to fix it.  Oh, and Subban is coming off his worst season.  Oh, and Simmonds is too.  Oh, and Hughes is a rookie.  Oh, and Taylor Hall STILL doesn’t look like he wants to re-sign there.  It’s Elaine looking in the skinny mirror.  The dress might look great in the skinny mirror, but not in reality.

 

22. NY Rangers – Don’t confuse terrific off-season with terrific team.  Don’t confuse stockpiled young talent with ready to contend (Jeff Marek).  I’m as high on what the Rangers have done as anyone.  But the fact of the matter is they still have a very young roster and I’m not a fan of what they have down the middle.  If they make the playoffs this season I won’t be surprised at all, but I’m not going to have them as a lock for it as many others likely will.

 

21. Vancouver – Tricky team to rank for me.  On one hand, you look at what they added to last years team and they look ready to be a playoff team.  So why am I not putting them there?  Markstrom.  Did he turn a corner in his career last season, or was it a career year?  That J.T. Miller trade suggests it better well not be just a career year, otherwise, it’ll be a pretty damn nervous fan base in Vancouver heading into the 20-21 season.

 

20. Anaheim – Probably higher than most have them, and I’m not sure I’m the biggest fan of putting them this high.  But I find myself often drinking the Dallas Eakins kool-aid.  I believe he’ll have learned a ton from the Edmonton experience, he has a shit ton of young talent to work with in Anaheim, and by far the most important thing is he has a goaltender.  And not just a goaltender, maybe the best in the league in John Gibson.

 

19. Montreal – There is potential to move much higher here.  Kotkaniemi taking a massive step wouldn’t shock me, and Poehling being a major contributor wouldn’t shock me either.  But I believe both may need to happen for them to get back in the playoffs.

 

18. Arizona – I’m guessing most will have them at least in the top three in the Pacific if not winning the division because if they were that good unhealthy, just imagine when they’re healthy!!!…and with Kessel!!!  I don’t know if it’ll play out quite like that.

 

17. Colorado – I love this team and love even more where they’re headed.  But it’s the future that looks amazing there, not the present.  The present looks good enough to make the playoffs again, but I believe they’re a year or two away from really contending.

 

16. Carolina – I don’t know if I like them this high.  They made the Conference finals, just about everyone will be back, great.  But Mrazek is so inconsistent between the pipes and now they have Reimer coming in who looked simply awful last season for the Panthers, a step back could be coming.  Having said all that, they’re one of the most well-run organizations in the league despite a lot of noise that points to the contrary.

 

15. NY Islanders – Varlamov was an odd signing, but Barry Trotz gets everything out of any goaltender he has and Varlamov might be inconsistent but he is extremely talented.  Add to that, the decision to let Lehner walk and bring in Varlamov seems very sloppy…I’ve called Lamoriello overrated many times before, but he’s not at all sloppy.  The man knew exactly what he was doing here.

 

14. Philadelphia – If they have a full season of Carter Hart and JVR, they probably make the playoffs last season.  I hate the Hayes contract like everyone, but he should help improve them as should Vigneault.

 

13. Pittsburgh – I don’t like where this is headed.  I like the Kessel deal for them, but it really feels as though they’re big time on the decline.

 

12. Winnipeg – Probably more than any other team in the league right now, this is a “wait and see”.  Connor and Laine aren’t signed, and looking closely at their roster I simply don’t see a way they go into next season with this blueline.  Woof.  Josh Morrissey might be the most underrated defenceman in the league right now, but he can’t do this on his own.  I know Byfuglien is still around, but he’s 34.  And after those two they have NOTHING.  The Trouba trade badly hurt them, and in my opinion, now they will have to move out one of Ehlers, Connor or Laine to fix it.

 

11. Florida – If Bob plays how he can, this team is a lock for the playoffs and built for a deep run.  Joel Quenneville is fine, but it’s Bobrovsky who’ll make or break their season.

 

10. Calgary – I don’t know that last season is repeatable, as they got career years out of a ton of guys.  But let’s not confuse “might not be as good” with “won’t be good”.  I still would guess they’ll compete for the Pacific title and are a lock to be top three in the division.

 

9. St. Louis – The last time I did rankings they were nowhere near here.  Boy how times have changed…but as far as repeating, I have a tough time believing they’ll do that.

 

8. Dallas – The blueline is a year older, they should be able to score a bit more, I believe they can win the West this season but Jim Nill still will need to add.

 

7. Washington – Death, taxes, Ovy gets 50, and the Caps win the division.

 

6. Vegas – Stone made a big difference in their lineup once he arrived and if not for that horse shit call on Eakins they might return to the final last season.  I kept waiting for the bubble to burst on them, but last year proved they were no fluke.

 

5. Nashville – Subban out, Duchene in.  Interesting.  I don’t have the best feeling about them moving forward, almost as though they’ve lost their magic as stupid as that sounds.  But just on paper, they still should be elite.

 

4. San Jose – It looks like such a cap mess, but somehow Doug Wilson always manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat and do anything he wants to.

 

3. Boston – It’ll be interesting to see how they respond.  I believed this time last year that they had caught lightning in a bottle, yet they went to game seven of the final this past year.  They have so many kids who aren’t stars but are just really damn solid.

 

2. Toronto – What have I been telling all of you?  Dubas is an awesome GM, knows exactly what he’s doing, and they’re going to be fine.  As of writing this, Marner isn’t signed, but you think this guy isn’t prepared for anything that might be coming in terms of an offer sheet?!  Barrie is an upgrade on Gardiner, and Spezza should be able to handle the 3rd line duties.

 

1. Tampa Bay – Fuck the sweep, they’re going to be great again.

 

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2019 NHL Draft: Recap

As I say every year, I do this piece for fun.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Yes, I have strong opinions on the draft.  But I’m not dumb enough or delusional enough to believe that I’m right and everyone else is wrong.  Some of what I say today is going to look dumb as shit in 5-10 years!  A few things that I say are going to look pretty good!  But it really means nothing because this is just life.  A lot of shit is going to change, the draft is a crapshoot, and everyone is just looking to bat between .300-.400.

 

I did this just like last year where I go through all the teams alphabetically and speak my mind.  I left the Oilers until last (and their’s is much more detailed) so all you Oilers fans will have to read through EVERY DAMN WORD of what I have to say before reading on the Oilers (or else you’ve already scrolled to the bottom).  Also, I have added draft grades this year!  Probably dumb of me to do so, but I figured I would try that on and see how it fits.

 

Anaheim Ducks

Pretty solid outing for Bob Murray’s staff.  Trevor Zegras falling to nine I’m guessing was thrilling for them as I felt that was their need with that pick.  Didn’t love the Brayden Tracey grab at 29 but he definitely had solid numbers this season to justify it.  And I really like Jackson LaCombe at 39.  Not a draft I was super high on, but solid nonetheless.

Grade: B

 

Arizona Coyotes

Not bad, not great.  I didn’t like moving up for Soderstrom and giving up their 45th overall pick in doing so.  That said, I do like Soderstrom.  John Farinacci at 76 was pretty good value, and the one I really loved of theirs was Alexander Daryin at 107, someone I had in my top 50.  Most of their draft I didn’t really care for to be honest, but they came out of it ok.  I haven’t been the biggest fan of their drafts over the years.  While I believe they have a tremendous GM, it feels to me like they might need to be overhauled on the amateur scouting side of things.

Grade: C

 

Boston Bruins

Not many picks, but I wasn’t a big fan of what they did with any of them.  Pretty off the board grabs.  The Beecher pick at 30 is interesting though.  I wonder if he is more “Josh Norris” than he got credit for this season?  Easy to get buried on that USNTDP team this season with Hughes, Turcotte and Zegras all studs who often were playing the middle, bumping Beecher’s ice time down a lot.

Grade: D

 

Buffalo Sabres

WOAH!  I actually liked their draft for once!  Cozens at seven I believe is going to crush it as long as he is brought along as a winger.  He could be the big time sniper I thought they might be getting in Tage Thompson.  Ryan Johnson was solid value at 31 along with helping fill their need on the blueline.  Erik Portillo was a tendy I was intrigued by in last years draft and seemed to be one of the more desirable OA’s in this years draft class.  Finally, Aaron Huglen at 102, that is awesome value for a kid who can skate and has a lot of skill.

Grade: B+

 

Calgary Flames

Meh.  Maybe it is because I’ve felt they’ve done such a good job since Brad Treliving took over as GM, but I’m not a big fan of what they did.  Pelletier is fine at 26 and I can’t say I wouldn’t be swayed by how he apparently did in his interview, but there are skating concerns so you have to ask yourself if the kid hasn’t topped out already?  That is always tough to tell with a kid who gets by on work ethic.  On one hand, he might will his way to the league.  On the other hand, he might not have much more talent to improve enough on what he is despite that determination.  So we’ll see.  The rest of the draft I wasn’t a big fan of.  Much like the Bruins, they went off the board a lot, something I’m likely to say a lot as this wasn’t a very deep draft.

Grade: C

 

Carolina Hurricanes

CRUSHED.  IT.  12 picks.  So just with that, they should be landing a few players in this draft.  Suzuki was great value and fit at 28.  Not the biggest fan of his, but the talent is undeniable.  Kochetkov was right there as one of the highest ranked tendy’s in the draft and has all the tools.  I fucking LOVE Jamieson Rees (not just love, fucking love).  Had Patrik Puistola in my top 62.  Had Anttoni Honka in my top 62.  Had I gone with a top 100 then I believe Domenick Fensore would have been in it.  Cade Webber was someone I believed the Oilers would have big interest in.  Tuukka Tieksola would have been in a top 100 of mine.  Kirill Slepets would have been in a top 100 of mine.  Blake Murray big time disappointed this season but prior to the year most loved him as a 1st round pick and they got him at 183rd.  And finally, Massimo Rizzo is a really skilled kid that they got at 216.  The only one I didn’t read much on was Kevin Wall.  But, WOW!  Just WOW!

Grade: A

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Loved their draft last year, wasn’t a big fan of what they did this year.  I’m really high on Kirby Dach long term, but not over Alex Turcotte.  I had it in my final mock draft (though Sam Cosentino was reporting that Friday afternoon), but I wouldn’t have taken him over Turcotte and I especially wouldn’t have done it if I was working for the Blackhawks.  Alex Vlasic was taken around where I had him so that was ok.  The rest was just ok.  Dominic Basse was a kid I looked into late in the process and found him intriguing so using a 6th on him was good in my mind.  But all in all could have done better.

Grade: C

 

Colorado Avalanche

In rounds 3-7 I didn’t like much of what they did other than taking a flyer on Trent Miner in the 7th round (as I always love taking one goaltender late in a draft).  But they win the draft in my mind just because they got my top-ranked player with the fourth pick.  Best young blueline in the league now.  I really like Alex Newhook.  Had you told me before the draft they would get Newhook at 16 I’d have been thrilled for them.  Over Peyton Krebs though was dumb in my mind.  Similar players, so I guess we’ll see, but had they grabbed Krebs this would without a doubt be my favourite draft just with those two.  Drew Helleson at 47 was great value.  They didn’t need another D-man, but to get a stay at home right shot guy with what they already have and when you consider a very similar guy in Conor Timmins currently has concussion issues, could be a very shrewd grab.

Grade: A-

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Only had three picks, didn’t know any of them.  Don’t confuse the grade I’m giving them with what they did, it’s MUCH more just a result of hardly having any picks.

Grade: D-

 

Dallas Stars

The Stars only had four picks, so not much more here to work with than the Blue Jackets.  Having your first is key though and they took Thomas Harley which was solid both in terms of value and fit.  They have one of the best young blueline’s in the league right now, but in the system, it is completely bare and Harley addresses that.  Sjolund, Porco and Brinkman were…fine, I guess.  Wasn’t a big fan of the latter two when reading on them and didn’t see anything on Sjolund.  Again, the grade is much more of a reflection on the lack of picks than what they actually did.

Grade: D

 

Detroit Red Wings

11 picks.  So four more than the Blue Jackets and Stars combined!  And they did…fine, I guess.  Obviously, I was as shocked as anyone with the Seider pick at six.  That is tremendously risky.  Even if you trade back with the Coyotes and get the 45th pick, that’s still better than reaching.  We’ll see.  I do know that Seider like Philip Broberg for the Oilers is a pretty safe bet to be a top-four D-man, and unlike Broberg he moves it extremely well and shows a high IQ on the ice.  The pick I LOVED was Albin Grewe at 66.  The kid is a total POS and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways!  Ethan Phillips was another pick I was a fan of at 97 as he was in my top 62.  All in all though with 11 picks including 6th overall, pretty disappointing.

Grade: D

 

Florida Panthers

Pretty good.  Not overly surprised by the Spencer Knight pick as a few guys had that mocked pre-draft and when you see a guy mocked somewhere a lot, chances are someone knows something (no matter how badly I may not want to believe it…)  Kolyachonok at 52 for me was a HEIST.  Easily one of the steals of the draft in my mind, as I don’t see Kolyachonok being much different from Philip Broberg (had them 18 and 19 in my rankings).  Carter Berger in the 4th round was solid, and Owen Lindmark in the 5th round I liked quite a bit too.

Grade: B

 

LA Kings

Well Turcotte falling to them was great fortune in my mind.  That feels like a home run of a pick to me.  Bjornfot I wasn’t a big on as others due to a lack of offensive potential, but if you’re just looking for a safe pick for your blueline he was definitely it.  Kaliyev was pretty decent value at 33, Fagemo was a kid who a lot of people liked and will view as great value at 50.  Wasn’t a big fan of anything else they did, but again this wasn’t a deep draft so I’m putting more into what teams did in rounds 1-3 more this season than most.

Grade: B

 

Minnesota Wild

Did ok.  Boldy slightly fell to them you might say?  I had him 11th, most had him top 10, fell to 12 thanks to two more D-men then most thought would go in the first 11.  I seen Mike Russo’s headline for his write up on the pick was something like “Minnesota got a steal”.  I don’t know who said that to him, but fuck me the least difficult thing to do is find someone who liked a teams pick and then calls it a steal.  They got a good pick in a spot where they should have known they were going to take a good kid (if they wanted to).  After that, not a big fan.  I had Hunter Jones 59th or 60th in my rankings and they got him at 59.  Adam Beckman is a little interesting as is Marshall Warren, but nothing I liked or hated too much here.

Grade: B-

 

Montreal Canadiens

Did ok.  Most view Cole Caufield as falling to them, I had him 16th so he’s perfectly in range, but hated it over both Peyton Krebs and Alex Newhook, though in the Habs defence they have loaded up with centres in the last two drafts and don’t have anyone in the system I’d say is a sniper like Caufield.  Jayden Struble was solid where they got him, he’s a kid I really liked in the 2nd round.  Mattias Norlinder I felt was good value at 64.  Rhett Pitlick to me was awesome value at 131!  And I like that they took a tendy late (Frederik Nissen at 138).  Solid showing, but for me passing on Krebs by that point knocks the grade down a bit.

Grade: B-

 

Nashville Predators

Loved it.  Tomasino at 24 was tremendous, don’t know what else to say about it.  Afanasyev at 45 wasn’t something I would have done, but with him, in particular, I’ll praise them for it because of the upside.  The kid has the tools to be star in the league if he ever puts it together.  I loved Alex Campbell (not because of the last name).  The kid just has a non-stop motor.  Oh and look at this, a goaltender in the 5th round (148th).  I can’t tell you much on Ethan Haider, but I’m always a fan of doing that in the draft.

Grade: A-

 

New Jersey Devils

11 picks including 1st overall, so they better have crushed it!  Hughes was obvious (for them).  Didn’t really like Nikita Okhotyuk at 61, but then I loved Daniil Misyul at 70 so for me they kind of made up for it.  Graeme Clark and Michael Vukojevic were both real good value late in the 3rd round.  Case McCarthy in the 4th was kind of interesting as I and others had him ranked probably 40-27th or so before last season.  Shitty year, but potential as he can skate and has decent size.  Cole Brady in the 5th is a goaltender so you know I like that.  And their last two picks of Patrick Moynihan and Nikola Pasic (who was in my top 62 and went 189th!) were AWESOME value!  They did good and combined with Hughes, tough to not give them this grade.

Grade: A

 

NY Islanders

You might have thought that I had the reigns on their draft at certain points!  Only five picks, but Holmstrom at 23 was surprising to me!  I had him 22nd in my top 62 but in no way believed he’d go 1st round.  And then my late round (or what I thought was going to be late round) sleeper was Reece Newkirk and they snagged him at 147.  Two kids with HIGH motors and who aren’t afraid to get into the opposition’s face.  Samuel Bolduc was in between those two picks and while I wasn’t too high on Bolduc (opposite motor of Holmstrom and Newkirk), the kid is very talented.  For what they had to work with, I like what they did.

Grade: B

 

NY Rangers

Pretty easy pick at two so I won’t spend any time on that.  Matt Robertson at 49 was awesome value.  Karl Henriksson was a kid a lot of people liked more than I did and they got him at 58.  Same can be said for Zac Jones who they took at 68.  And then the one I personally loved was Leevi Aaltonen at 130.  Had him in my top 62 knowing he’d go much later than that, but he’s a hard worker and a great skater.  For me personally, I was looking for kids who could really skate this year seeing how it wasn’t a good draft in terms of depth.  They did well.

Grade: B+

 

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson, Shane Pinto, and Mads Sogaard in the top 40.  Their grade is likely going to make me look stupid in the years to come because on one hand, I didn’t like what they did at all.  On the other, this is one of the best drafting organizations in the league.  I have no problem shitting on a teams draft if I know they don’t draft well, but the Sens do.  This one is going to be interesting to read back in 5-7 years.

Grade: D

 

Philadelphia Flyers

To be honest, the only pick I REALLY liked for them was Bobby Brink at 34.  York at 14 was fine, but I feel they passed up much bigger talent to take him.  He does address what would have started to be a need had they not done anything about in this draft.  I loved Brink as I already alluded to.  Mason Millman was the only other pick I found interesting.  I considered him for my top 62 at one point as he’s a pretty talented kid.  Took Roddy Ross (tendy) late, so points for that, but all in all I wasn’t the biggest of fans.

Grade: C

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

I liked the pick of Sam Poulin at 21.  Surprised they went with a kid who is further off than others they could have gone with.  Nathan Legare was great value in my mind at 74 as the kid can really shoot the puck.  Other than that, not much of a fan of what they did.

Grade: C

 

San Jose Sharks

Won’t take a whole lot of time on the Sharks as they only had five picks, no first rounder, and I wasn’t a big fan of the kids they took.  The one who I find a bit interesting is Leduc’s Dillon Hamaliuk.  Had a tremendous start to the season before going down with a season-ending lower body injury.  Not a fan of their draft, but much like the Sens the Sharks have real potential to make me look like a moron here.

Grade: D

 

St. Louis Blues

Only five picks for the Blues too, and again didn’t really like what they did at all.  And again, it’s a team who have the ability to make this draft grade look really stupid because they draft and develop extremely well.  The other thing with the Blues though is…who the fuck cares?!?!  They won the Cup!!!

Grade: D-

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

And yet ANOTHER team who draft well and I didn’t like what they did!  This time it’s not just a team who draft well, it’s a team who might draft better than any other in the league!!  But I hated it.  Nolan Foote was a MASSIVE reach.  The only one I liked was getting Maxim Cajkovic at 89.  I guess Mikhail Shalagin at 198 was one I’d say I liked too (can you tell I’m just typing this as I read?)  All in all though, a surprisingly weak looking draft.  But I say weak looking because yet again they have the ability to make a schmuck like myself look very stupid down the road.

Grade: D

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

They didn’t have a first but crushed it with what they had.  Just went value the whole way.  Nick Robertson was value.  Mikko Kokkonen was value.  Mikhail Abramov was value.  Just value throughout just like what they did last year.  The grade gets hurt a little from not having the first rounder (I’m not sure I like that I factor in how many picks a team has into the grade).

Grade: B

 

Vancouver Canucks

They did very well.  I can’t quite say that they crushed it, but did well.  I’m stunned they were the team who stepped up to grab Podkolzin.  The more I believe that they’re going to do the wrong things thanks to Francesco Aquilini wanting so badly to put a playoff contender on the ice, the more than seem to make the smart and responsible decision!  Nils Hoglander was a GREAT pick at 40.  Again, in the Hockey Prospect Black Book someone called him the Swedish Bobby Brink, and he really is.  Ethan Keppen at 122 was the other pick I really loved.  Definitely would have had Keppen in a top 100 had I gone that far with my list.  Finally…yet again…tendy late in the draft (156th).  Don’t know Arturs Silovs, but I always give points for that move.

Grade: B+

 

Vegas Golden Knights

Three kids who I felt were INSANE value where they got them.  Peyton Krebs first and foremost, had him 6th, they got him 17th.  Pavel Dorofeyev, I had him 32nd, they got him 79th.  Layton Ahac I had 45th, they got him 86th.  Then I also liked where they got Ryder Donovan and Mason Primeau, and once again a team who took a goaltender late (Isaiah Saville, 5th round, 135th overall).  Knocked it out of the park.

Grade: A+

 

Washington Capitals

Their draft is pretty simple to explain.  They went with skill on every pick.  It could be argued they just simply took the most skilled player on the board.  Speed wasn’t big on their list, size looks to have been, but more than anything just getting as much skill as they could.  Didn’t hate it, didn’t mind it.

Grade: C

 

Winnipeg Jets

I don’t mean to be going shorter with these the longer I go, but I didn’t say a lot on the Caps and don’t have a lot to say here either as I find myself not hating or loving what they did.  Ville Heinola at 20 was one I liked as I had him 14th in my top 62.  The rest was just ok, though one more time you’re going to read this…took a goaltender late (one of five taken in the 5th round), so points there, though not enough to really affect the grade.

Grade: C

 

Edmonton Oilers 

Some Oilers fans need to understand that this is an opinion and an opinion on how the organization is run rather than not pulling for or having anything against these kids personally.  People don’t like negativity, and I get it, neither do I.  It wears you out.  But are some of these people trying to get away from negativity, or hide from the truth?  There’s a difference, and the latter isn’t very becoming on a person.  ANYWAY…I really didn’t like the Oilers draft.  I can honestly say that this is what I would have done:

8 – Peyton Krebs

38 – Vladislav Kolyachonok

85 – Maxim Cajkovic

100 – Reece Newkirk

162 – Blake Murray

193 – Samuel Hlavaj

So we’ll see.  I hope I’m WAY off and they make me look like a fool.  But having said this, it isn’t as though I feel they’ve got nothing here.  As much as I hated the Broberg pick, the fact of the matter is that he’s a pretty safe bet to be a top-four defenceman thanks to his skating ability and size.  It’s the fact that it’s just such a huge gamble when the large majority of people believe that several forwards who fit the Oilers organizational need perfectly were sitting there for them.  So it’s not even a case of Broberg needing to hit.  Broberg needs to be a home run AND Holland will have to turn some of his mountain of young D-men (ten who are 25 and under and under contract, eight of the ten being either in the NHL or knocking on the door, another four including Broberg whom they own the rights to, three of them are very legitimate prospects) into some quality talent up front.

Raphael Lavoie was a value pick.  I’ve seen a lot of people being giddy about the pick, and I do love his talent.  But he is a player with a very low motor and there are whispers that the work ethic is poor off the ice as well.  Apparently, he was viewed as a poor interview by a lot of teams at the combine, and in just watching his draft day scrum I didn’t get the best impression of him.  Of course, that’s just one interview and you could chalk it up to him not being completely comfortable with his English (it is very strong in my opinion).  Nobody will deny the talent he has.  He has the ability to be top six power forward who can fill the net, but very much so feels like a boom or bust pick.

The one pick I’m excited about is Ilya Konovalov.  Very rare to see a near 21 year old kid be drafted, and I’m guessing that it is his size that has held him from being drafted previously, but the numbers in the KHL this season as a 20 year old were off the charts.  Compare him with other highly touted Russian goaltenders at the same age. Ilya Samsonov (Wsh prospect) .926 Sv% in 26 games played (though in fairness in his 19 year old season the Sv% was .936 in 27 games played).  Igor Shestyorkin (NYR prospect) .912 Sv% in just 7 games.  Ilya Sorokin (NYI prospect) .929 Sv% in 39 games.  He’s right there with these guys.  There is one video I found of him on Twitter.  It’s from November, and the camera is on him the entire time so it’s difficult to see what exactly was coming at him.  But he looked bigger to me than the 6’0 he’s listed at (Bob Green alluded to this post draft that he believes he’s bigger than he’s listed), and what I saw reminded me a lot of Marc-Andre Fleury.  Tracked the puck well, very quick feet, very agile, flexibility looked very high, he appeared to me like a kid who has high-end ability.  If in reality he’s let’s just say 6’2 (maybe a reach), he has tremendous potential.  Even if he isn’t that though, he’s still an intriguing kid.  An added bonus as I’m sure you’ve heard elsewhere by now is that he’ll be playing for Craig MacTavish.  With two years left on his deal, Mac T will have plenty of time to get him ready for life in North America and specifically Edmonton.

I’ll have more on Broberg, Lavoie, and Konovalov in my upcoming top 20 Oilers prospects list along with write up’s on Matej Blümel, Tomas Mazura and Maxim Denezhkin, but I will say that all three are very raw, but have some skill.

Grade: D+

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2019 NHL Draft: Mock Draft 2.0

Well, I didn’t plan on doing a 2nd one, yet here I am!  I’m literally in the middle of doing a podcast right now, but I have to do a new mock thanks to new pieces of information coming down the pipe.  Not a lot of changes, but a few.

 

The biggest reason I do my own draft rankings is simply to give you my thoughts on the kids who could end up going in my mock so if you missed my top 62 list yesterday, all you have to do is click here.

 

SPOILER ALERT: Here is exactly what is going to happen in tonight’s draft.

 

1. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 23  A: 63  P: 86

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 2nd overall

I can make an argument for Kakko, and I can make an argument for Byram.  But it’ll be Hughes.  He is WELL worthy of the pick, but the deciding factor is that Hughes is going to be a very marketable player and the Devils have a difficult time filling the building.  I do wonder if it was just Kakko at the top if there would be a hot debate right now about what the Devils are going to do between Kakko and Byram.  But that’s not the case.  A highlight reel American born player is going to sell a lot of tickets.

Other options: Kaapo Kakko – he’s not quite the exciting player, but he won’t have to alter his game any and therefore might be the better pro.

Who I’d pick: Jack Hughes – assuming I’m the Devils GM.  And if I’m the Devils GM, I have an owner who has ticket sales to worry about.  Bowen Byram doesn’t fill the seats like Hughes will.

2. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 3rd overall

They’ll take Kakko and be thrilled about it, really no need to go into great detail about it.  They still need a stud number one centre moving forward, but with the Rangers they can always wait for someone to possibly spring available as long as they don’t destroy their cap moving forward.  They’re in a great situation.

Other options: None

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – MSG is sold out every night.  Their actual need this high is actually a franchise centre, so maybe Turcotte, but not with the 2nd pick.  They secured four real good D-men in the last 12 months, and they do have a need for Kakko, but I just couldn’t pass up a kid who I see as a legitimate number one D-man.

3. Kirby Dach 

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 5th overall

Big change to the mock number one!  The word on the street (Sam Cosentino anyway) is that they are going to take Kirby Dach at three.  I don’t like it for them, I don’t get it, I hate what Stan Bowman seems to be building here.  Dach isn’t a shitty skater but think of Leon Draisaitl.  Draisaitl isn’t fast.  Neither is DeBrincat.  Neither is Strome.  And these are the guys the Hawks are going to build around?!  Turcotte makes so much more sense to me from a team-building standpoint, from a marketing standpoint (local kid), and simply I and most have Turcotte ahead of Dach.  I do believe Dach’s ceiling is a little higher, but Turcotte has nearly as high of a ceiling and he’s a lot safer in my mind.  Anyway, this sounds like the pick.

Other options: Alex Turcotte – I just can’t understand why they’re going Dach over Turcotte, and I love Dach.

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I know what I’ve said to this point, but the fact is that I just believe Byram is going to be a Norris level defenceman while I worry Turcotte tops out as an elite 2nd line centre just like the guy I compare him with.

4. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 1st overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Sens, acquired by the Avs in the Matt Duchene/Kyle Turris trade.  What a gift if Byram gets to four, and what a blueline the Avs would now boast.  Scary good.  I know they need some help up front, but unless MAYBE there would be a choice between Turcotte and Byram, you take the stud D-man here and run.  And no, I wouldn’t then trade Tyson Barrie.  They have a ton of cap space to add this summer, not to mention some very good still developing forwards.

Other options: Alex Turcotte – I believe this becomes much more realistic for a centre to go to the Avs now.  However, word on the street is that they’ll still take Byram.

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I think you all know how I feel about him by this point!

5. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 23  A: 30  P: 53

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

SOH Rank: 2nd tier, 4th overall

I haven’t heard that this is a lock, but if it is, what a gift for the Kings!  It’s not that Dach was going to be a shitty pick at all.  But Turcotte fits their needs a lot better than Dach does.  They want to build with a ton of speed and need help down the middle, Turcotte is a perfect fit.

Other options: Trevor Zegras – some like him better than Turcotte because of the flash he plays with.

Who I’d pick: Alex Turcotte – just love the pick for the Kings.

6. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 8th overall

Sticking with this.  On one hand, the Wings shouldn’t be taking another winger at six.  They’re set on the wings.  But on the other hand, Podkolzin is a different type of winger.  One that is much more difficult to find.  And you have a new GM who has all the job security in the world (so he can afford to wait the two years) and has had more success drafting Russian born players than anyone else over the last decade.  I think this makes a ton of sense.   Let’s not sleep on them trading down though.  Yzerman has done it a lot in the past, and if you look at their NEED, it’s on the blueline and it would be a pretty bad reach to take one at least in the top nine (HINT HINT TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING OF MAKING SUCH A HORRIFIC DECISION…).

Other options: Trevor Zegras – if we’re talking need, they still need certainty down the middle.  Larkin is great, and I still love Joe Veleno.  But to assume you’re set with those two would be bad management.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – it doesn’t sound like Krebs is getting much love before 10 and I can’t figure out why.  I fully understand he has the Achilles injury, but if you’re drafting any of these kids past two to play next season you’re likely not a good organization.

7. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 18th overall

The one thing I’ve come to realize is the last 24 hours is that the NHL teams love Broberg much more than the independent guys, so I’m thinking he’s for sure going top 10.  I’m praying it isn’t to the Oilers so obviously some of this is wishful thinking on my part.  But the more I give this thought, the more I believe the Sabres do it.  They need D-men, and most apparently like him up here.  So I believe it’s viewed as both need and possibly BPA or at least not anything of a reach.  I don’t like it for the Sabres or anyone in the top 10 despite the need.

Other options: Trevor Zegras – hometown boy, not to mention they still need help up front with Nylander looking like a bust and Mittlestadt not having a very encouraging rookie season.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – not only tops on my board, but it’s an organization that could really use the intangibles Krebs brings to the table.

8. Trevor Zegras 

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 7th overall

Last minute alteration here folks.  Who is running this draft for the Oilers?  Keith Gretzky.  What is his track record in the draft (throw out 15 and 16 because it doesn’t sound as though he had any say after Chiarelli left)?  Skill.  He loves skill.  Pastrnak, Yamamoto, Bouchard.  All HIGHLY skilled guys who could dish the puck extremely well.  The Broberg shit scares me, and I had Cozens here, but neither align with Gretzky’s line of thinking.  Zegras does.  I will say though if Broberg falls here…I fear the worst folks…

Other options: Matthew Boldy – you’d think I say Cozens or Krebs, but Boldy is a little more skilled and again lines up with Keith Gretzky’s way of thinking.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – he is simply everything you want a hockey player to be.  All the talent, all the intangibles, and for some completely FUCKED rationale he is not even on the Oilers radar.

9. Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 9th overall

I obviously have just flipped the Oilers and Ducks picks last minute here, but if Cozens is still there, he is a Bob Murray type of player.  Think about the guy he just bought out.  You think Murray will be ok with having a smaller group that lacks physicality?  I sure don’t, and taking Cozens would address that very well, not to mention he has the skill to go with that physicality.

Other options: Matthew Boldy – was tough deciding which way they’d go as I would guess Boldy’s size would also be pretty appealing to the Ducks.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – I believe I made my love for him clear…

10. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 11th overall

Boldy kind of falls right into the Canucks lap in this scenario.  Do they need another winger?  Probably not.  But do they need some skilled size?  Absolutely.  Boldy in a few years could be a perfect compliment to a top line with Pettersson and Boeser.  Or, imagine him doing the dirty work in front of the net on a PP featuring Pettersson on the half wall, Boeser on his off wing, and Hughes manning the blueline.  He is a terrific fit here.

Other options: Victor Söderström – he’s not a sexy pick at all, but he would be a terrific fit on their blueline.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – is anyone listening?!?!?!

11. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 6th overall

This is a great fit for the Flyers.  I’ve said that Krebs has a little Mike Richards in his game (better skater), and is terrific on the wing if that’s where you want to use him.  Add to this, under Paul Holmgren (who OBVIOUSLY isn’t using Chuck Fletcher as his puppet…………..) the Flyers loved the stockpile centres.  Kevin Hayes gets brought in, Giroux, Patrick, Krebs would fit perfectly there.

Other options: Cole Caufield – the Flyers love flash, and Caufield would be a flashy pick.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – finally, he goes.  Teams will be sorry.

12. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 16th overall

I don’t think this fills much of a need for them, but I have heard a lot that owner Craig Leipold meddles.  This is why I believe they end up with a lot of US players on their team.  Caufield is a Wisconsin kid, but I’m going to guess here that Leipold has found out about him, and won’t let Paul Fenton not pick him should he still be on the board.

Other options: Victor Söderström – this is getting annoying how much I’m suggesting him.  He’d make a lot of sense for the Wild though.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – I think this would be the right move for them.

13. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 24th overall

I’d say a very safe bet is that this is a D-man.  They have no high-end D-men in their system.  They haven’t used a 1st or 2nd round pick on a D since taking Aaron Ekblad.  Initially, I had Harley here.  But then settled with Broberg, and now I’m back to Harley seeing I have Broberg gone by this point.  The cats have loved taking kids out of the OHL, so Harley just makes a lot of sense in this spot even though I’m personally not as high on him.

Other options: Mortiz Seider – it sounds like a LOT of teams are excited over how well Seider interviewed.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – getting a sense that teams aren’t near as high on him as independent guys are.  I guess we’ll see.

14. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 15th overall

They LOOOOOOOVE them some OHL!  Four of their last top picks were out of the OHL.  Maybe a much more eye-popping stat, 14 of their last 29 picks 4th round or higher were used on OHL kids since 2013.  Damn near half, and if you include tier II Ontario kids, it’s 15 of 29.  So a safe bet is suggesting the Coyotes pick someone from the OHL, and the numbers check out with Tomasino, and the game checks out with Tomasino.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – after they took Hayton last year, it sure doesn’t appear as though the analytics have much of an influence over their scouting department.  If you’re looking at sheer numbers though, combined with where they love to take their kids, Kaliyev makes a lot of sense.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – I love Tomasino, but I just like Newhook’s game a tad more.

15. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 12th overall

FINALLY!!!  He no longer will be an “other option” or “who I’d pick”!  He is just extremely solid across the board, and even though he hasn’t showcased high-end offensive ability, I believe he has a very good offensive upside.  As for the Habs, I know they have some good D in the system, but they don’t have a guy at Soderstrom’s level.  They did a terrific job the last two drafts addressing their issues down the middle.  Nothing wrong with turning your attention to stockpiling the blueline when you can.

Other options: Cam York – a lot of similarities with Söderström, but a left shot.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – would make a lot of sense, but so would York, so would Seider, so would Harley if he’s still around.

16. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G.A.A.: 2.50  Sv%: .906

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 20th overall

Normally I can’t stand goaltenders going 1st round, but Knight is without a doubt going in the 1st round this year.  Why the Avs?  Well, most in the hockey world believe in being able to blow a 1st round pick if they own more than one.  I think it’s completely fucked logic, but most think this way and picking a goaltender qualifies under that logic.

Other options: Alex Newhook – he’s falling.  Not sure if that’ll happen, but I’m having a tough time slotting him.

Who I’d pick: Spencer Knight – for them, I actually really like this pick.

17. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 13th overall

There are several ways the Knights could go, so it likely will just be a simple ask of who the best player is on their board, and I’m guessing that’s York.  They don’t have much in the system, but they’re REALLY thin both in the system and on the big club along the blueline.

Other options: Moritz Seider – I really worry I got him falling a lot further than he’s going to go.  As high as 10th wouldn’t stun me.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – they need D, but they need everything in their system.

18. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 17th overall

The need on the big club is scoring depth.  But the Stars need in the organization (a little to my surprise to be honest) is on the blueline.  They have nothing in the system, and Julius Honka appears to be falling out of favour.  If he is, then they have a massive need for a RHD, and a guy like Seider moving forward would be an excellent partner for a kid like Heiskanen, freeing up Klingberg to anchor another pairing.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – I haven’t been much of a fan of how they’ve drafted under Jim Nill…picking Kaliyev would be something I wouldn’t be much of a fan of.

Who I’d pick: Mortiz Seider – big fan of this pick if it shakes down this way

19. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 14th overall

I really feel they’re taking a D-man in this spot, and Heinola ends up being the best on the board, or at least close to it.  Let’s not forget something about the Sens: they draft extremely well.  They have a joke of an owner, but they have a terrific amateur scouting staff.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – not as skilled as Harley, but apparently interviewed much better and might be an even better skater.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – he’d be far too good to pass up for me.

 

20. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

Pick initially belonged to Winnipeg, moved to New York in the Kevin Hayes deal, and now back to Winnipeg in the Jacob Trouba deal. Newhook falls right into their lap.  He’s not the big kid we all know they love, but he is the high-end centre they seem to be craving right now.  Newhook falling to them here would salvage the Trouba deal for me.

Other options: Raphaël Lavoie – if they view him as a centre, which he has played in Halifax, they might love him cause he fits their bill of size and skill.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – fall stops here.

21. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 30th overall

The Pens don’t usually have a 1st rounder!  The last one they had was 2014 (Kasperi Kapanen).  The most recent one who is still on the roster?  87.  Olli Maatta was, but of course he just got dealt to Chicago.  Anyway, they seem as though they’re moving towards adding more size.  Another thing with the Pens is I’m guessing they’ll want someone who will be close to stepping in the lineup seeing that the window is closing quickly on Sid and Geno.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – the Pens are a team who I believe would love his skill.

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I’m about to say his name a ton, but maybe shouldn’t here?  Again, they need players as fast as they can get them and Kolyachonok will take a few years.

22. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 25th overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Leafs, acquired by the Kings in the Jake Muzzin trade.  Keep something in mind with this pick: the coaching candidates for the Kings were all old buddies of Rob Blake.  This pick would fill a need, but the big reason I like projecting it is Rob Blake played a long time with a man named Craig Johnson.  Craig Johnson has a son named Ryan.  Just remember that come draft day.  But by no means would this be any kind of reach, and fills a need too for this organization.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – they really need to rebuild their blueline, and he’s an OHL kid.

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I just love the wheels and upside.

23. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 23rd overall

Tough one here because on one hand Brink is the type of kid who I see the Islanders loving.  They’ve stockpiled skill, especially with late first rounders they’ve had.  On the other hand, Lou Lamoriello is now in charge and I have no idea how different their scouting staff looks or if it’s similar, if their philosophy has been altered.  So I won’t lie, I’m guessing here.

Other options: Tobias Bjornfot – most like him better than I do (not that I dislike him, just not at this point in the draft).

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I could easily look this up and I’m not…but I believe he’s my highest ranked guy left, and he fits the need.

24. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 44th overall

They don’t really have much in the organization on the blueline on the left side.  If you also look at their blueline moving forward, I see five guys with a hole on the bottom pairing, left side.  Bjornfot feels like someone who fits well for the Preds.

Other options: Alex Vlasic – if they’re thinking about LHD, they have lived off drafting from the USNTDP the last few seasons.

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolaychonok – I’ll stop saying him now because I don’t believe he is going with any of the picks between 25-30.

25. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 31st overall

Believe it or not, this doesn’t have anything to do with his last name.  This organization is built on skilled size, and that is exactly what Kaliyev brings to the table.  I’m not a fan of his motor, but the Caps have had success with guys who don’t possess the best motors (Brett Connolly for example).

Other options: Pavel Dorofeyev – same idea in terms of skill, and Dorofeyev is Russian born, unlike Kaliyev, and we all know they’ve done better than most taking Russian kids.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if they took Poulin, it would be the first kid the Caps have taken out of the Q since 2010.  It would be the first time the Caps used a 1st round pick on a player out of the Q since Reggie Savage in 1988.

26. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 27th overall

Will the playoffs do anything to change the way they build their team?  Honestly, I can’t see it.  Treliving isn’t the type of guy to panic, which is why he is such a good GM.  Aggressive, yes.  But he’s going to stick to what he believes in and he believes in skill.  Hoglander is skilled and works his ass off.  Not big as you can read, and he’s not that fast, but he’s got a ton of skill and a ton of character.

Other options: Brett Leason – Craig Button put Leason to the Flames in their mock.  His brother works for the team.  I’ve also felt in the last few weeks that it feels like a fit too though I’m not exactly sure why.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if I’m the Flames, I’m looking to get a little heavier which Poulin would provide without sacrificing speed or skill.

27. Brayden Tracey

Team: Moose Jaw  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 66  G: 36  A: 45  P: 81

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Jordan Eberle

SOH Rank: 13th tier, 63rd overall

Before I start this one, I have buyers remorse on Tracey.  When doing my rankings, I got too worried about the wheels and compete.  At this point he’s one of the most talented kids and the offensive production obviously shows that.  Don’t know if I’d have had him too high on my list, but definitely should have been top 62 (hence why I listed him as 63rd).  Since I didn’t have him on that list, he’s not the best skater, but he hasn’t filled out yet either and at close to 6’1 he might add a gear as he gains strength.  But the kid is extremely smart and can fill the net, this is a Tampa type of kid.  And Al Murray is still there.  Al Murray loves the WHL.  He loves the CHL in general, but he loves the WHL because it’s in his backyard, Moose Jaw specifically.  Brayden Point was a Moose Jaw Warrior.  Brett Howden was a Moose Jaw Warrior.  Brayden Tracey is an Al Murray type of kid (skilled) and is a Moose Jaw Warrior.  Not sure how this slipped past me in the first mock (also apologies, in the first mock I INITIALLY had the Rangers with the pick, which isn’t the case obviously, very sorry about such a sloppy fuck up).

Other options: Matthew Robertson – their need is on the backend, so if they look to address the need, Thomson makes sense.

Who I’d pick: Ryan Suzuki – if he falls to them, for this team specifically I believe Suzuki would thrive.

28. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 29th overall

We know they’re going with a forward.  I’m guessing they want a highly skilled forward.  Suzuki checks both those boxes.  He’s a kid who I have a tough time pinning where he goes as he plays such a perimeter game, yet he’s so talented, not sure how teams will be viewing his game.  The skill is there however to be a top six centre in the NHL.

Other options: Connor McMichael – also one of the most talented players left on the board.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – isn’t it fun how I keep saying I’d pick Poulin?!

29. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 35th overall

Pick initially belonged to San Jose, moved to Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal, then moved to Anaheim in the Brandon Montour deal.  They get Krebs at nine, they will then look to shore up the blueline with 29.  That Ducks blueline isn’t nearly the beast it looked as though it was becoming just two years ago.  Thomson gives them a bonafide RHD prospect that they currently lack.

Other options: Drew Helleson – another righty D-man they might look at.

Who I’d pick: Lassi Thomson – he’s not flashy but I feel he’s solid and a great fit for the Ducks.

30. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 21st overall

The Bruins need a little more size.  Keep in mind that when I call for teams to get bigger, I don’t advise they do it at the expense of speed.  There is no law that says you have to be one or the other.  Poulin has solid speed, but as you can see he has the heavy body that the Bruins need a bit more of.

Other options: Jamieson Rees fits them perfectly.  In your face, completely fearless, speedy, would be anything but surprising to see them pick Rees.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – I love the fit, and now I can quit saying this, although there is only one pick left…

31. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 43rd overall

Pick initially belonged to St. Louis, moved to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly deal.  They have a big need for RH shot D-men.  I have them taking Broberg at seven, but he doesn’t address the right side where it’s really bare.  Helleson is a new school shut down D-man.  Nothing flashy, but the type of guy who could be the perfect compliment to a kid like Dahlin down the road.

Other options: Matthew Robertson – they once upon a time took the top Oil Kings D prospect in Mark Pysyk, history repeats itself?

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I’m a fan, you should have figured this out by now.

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2019 NHL Draft: Edmonton Oilers

I’ve done my top 62 list.  I’ve done my mock draft (subject to change).  I felt like putting out more content this morning though and felt as though a piece on the Oilers draft was the best route to take.  If you follow my work, you’re likely an Oilers fan.  Not all are, but most.

 

I won’t spend much time setting this up as it’s pretty long, but since it’s the most accurate I slotted the later picks using McKenzie’s list.  So if I’m talking about a guy for the 85th pick and you’re questioning it, chances are he’s around that area on Bob’s list.  I’d never use my own list because simply put I have my own views that I believe strongly in, so we won’t see much alignment with my list and what NHL teams do.

 

We’ll start by looking at what the team needs.  Unlike certain TSN personalities who did a mock draft the other night where picks were made based on immediate team needs, the reality is that teams are looking at what the needs are organization-wide.  That can include what is needed on the big club, but more so looks at what is in the system.  After that I’ll go through each of the picks and just simply give some players I like in that range.

 

Let’s begin.

 

Organizational needs

Speed and skill up front – I’ll put this as a blanket first and foremost.  They’re very thin on the big club, and even though there are kids I like in the system, a lot of those kids have skating concerns.

Wing – More so on the left than the right side, but neither side is stacked.  I’d say they have two quality LW’s (Benson and McLeod) and two quality RW’s (Yamamoto and Maksimov).

Centre – Some of you are likely screaming right now “McLeod is a centre!!!!!”  Fair enough, but better safe than sorry in my books to consider him a winger.  That leaves just Marody.  Obviously the age and contracts of both McDavid and Draisaitl impact, but it is STILL (despite me screaming about it for three years now) bare in the system.

Gamesmanship/spark plugs – You’ll see me harp on this throughout this blog, but I’ve said it before and will say it again, if “miserable pricks” could be measured analytically, the Oilers would rank 31st.  And they have nobody coming who plays a hateable game.

Goaltender – This ends up 5th on the list mainly because the blueline is so loaded in the system.  But they probably should take yet another goaltender in this draft.  I like Skinner, I like Wells, and they took Rodrigue…not to mention Starrett, but none of those guys are close to certainties and until someone is an organization needs to stockpile at the most important position in hockey.  I wouldn’t take one before the 100th pick, and I’d look to Europe or the USHL to find a project who you’ll have time to assess his game before deciding if he is worthy of an ELC.

Defencemen – They’re pretty stacked on both sides at the moment, but you can never have enough D-men.

 

8th overall

I believe it’s safe to say that the top four is set in stone.  It’s Hughes, Kakko, and then I strongly believe it’ll be Turcotte/Byram to the Hawks and Avs, though I’m not 100% on which to whom.  I THINK the Kings take Dach, but if they want speed (as they’ve been pretty loud about) then Zegras might make more sense for them.  So I believe they’re looking at six possibilities with that pick.  I’ll speak on them, plus two guys whom I can’t believe they from all accounts aren’t giving consideration to.

Philip Broberg

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Let’s just get right to this one.  I hate the idea, most hate the idea, and there is a shit ton of smoke here.  It does sound like more teams than just the Oilers love the idea of Broberg up around this point though.  Buffalo and Vancouver are definitely up there, and I also wonder if the Wings aren’t too.  All three teams BADLY need D, which is what makes Broberg most interesting is that the Oilers in their organization have very little need to take (let alone reach) on a D-man here.  I’m really wondering if it’s not a smokescreen because it’s very unlike Ken Holland to let things get out.  Maybe someone within the organization knew that the teams colour analyst wouldn’t shut up if he got what he believed was juicy information and so a seed was planted?  Very conspiracy theory type shit, but it just doesn’t make ANY sense to take Broberg and I can’t believe this would be lost on people in the organization, even given how awful they’ve been.  Should they do this though, as fans we shouldn’t be overly distraught about it.  Broberg does have the size and skating ability to become a number one D-man someday.  You listen to him interviewed, he seems very humble and to have a very high IQ which is intriguing.  If they give him two or three years to develop, we might all be singing a very different tune on him.  But it is a scary gamble in this particular draft with the 8th pick.  Those who want to tell you “just make a trade down the line” are not giving any thought to how insanely difficult it is these days to make a trade.

 

Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

I don’t have Dach getting past five.  But if he does, this becomes very realistic in my mind.  I believe if the Oilers had their way, he’s who they badly want at eight.  And Dach has the potential to be a home run.  You can’t find 6’4 playmaking centres like this.  I know he has a questionable motor, but don’t confuse that with doesn’t put in the work.  He’s captain serious away from the rink.  I’ve been told he doesn’t party, doesn’t drink, and his life is hockey.  So when you look at it that way, he’s very similar to Draisaitl.  I don’t think fans would be pissed about getting a right-handed Leon Draisaitl.

 

Trevor Zegras

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

He could go 5-7, easily.  But you can also make the case that Zegras falls to the 8th pick.  Kings take Dach, Wings take Podkolzin, Sabres take Broberg.  That order wouldn’t stun me in the slightest.  My buddy SPR doesn’t like him and he is the only one.  Reason being, he is a VERY flashy player who looks to make a lot of plays with the puck which are extremely high risk.  He’s big-time flash.  But the question I and others have is once he stops having success playing that way if he’ll adjust and start making much more intelligent plays with the puck?  I believe he will, but you can name a lot of kids over the years who never wanted to change their game.

 

Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

Again I’ll state: you draft him as a winger and he’s a home run of a pick.  If you’re hoping he can play the middle, you’re asking for trouble.  But I fully believe had he played the wing all season we’d be talking about Cozens in a much different light and most would have him in their top five.  Size, speed, shot, physical.  Going into the Hlinka/Gretzky last year I did my top 32 list and I had him compared to Iginla.  I’ve changed it to Kreider, but when I say that I don’t mean that Kreider is his ceiling.  He has 30-40 goal, 70-80 point potential, just that his game is like Kreider in that he’s big, fast and physical.  I love the idea of the Oilers building with speed AND size and Cozens definitely brings both.

 

Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

He’s the choice of the Oilers Twitter world!  So as you can read, I’m not as high on him.  I LIKE the kid, and I’m pulling for him because he’s exciting to watch, but a lot of people who are screaming for the Oilers to take him are missing what the concerns are on him.  It’s not his size.  It’s his skating for being that size isn’t very good.  It’s probably better than DeBrincat’s was, but still not where you want or need it to be.  His play away from the puck is very suspect.  He had a very nice luxury of not needing to play away from the puck all season, but I know those who have tracked him a lot more than I have, say it’s not good.  Finally, the big one for me is that he displayed no playmaking ability.  Guys who only score at lower levels of hockey historically haven’t stuck in the show.  Think of who I got him compared within Cammalleri, his assist numbers were great at Michigan and lower levels.  Same with DeBrincat.  So he played with three of the best playmaking centres in the history of the USNTDP all season and racked up goals…ok.  AND?!  But having said all that, I’m really just trying to open some eyes to some who are overrating him and I don’t dislike him near as much as I make it sound there.  His shot is ELITE already.  And if he were drafted by the Oilers, someday he’d likely get put with McDavid who obviously has the ability to carry a one-dimensional shooter like this.  If they picked him, I wouldn’t be crying, but I would be cringing a bit because there are a lot of legitimate concerns.  It feels to me that people see his shot, see his goal totals, and for those reasons alone they just feel like you have to take that kid out of fear that if you miss on him the hate will rain down on your organization because it was “so obvious”.

 

Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

The complete opposite end of the spectrum from Caufield.  Some wonder if Caufield has a game that doesn’t translate, where most feel Boldy has more of a pro game and his numbers don’t tell enough of the story.  Big, skilled, good (though not great) skater, and apparently all the intangibles check out with Boldy.  He’s not getting talked about much with the Oilers, yet it’s been made pretty clear he’s on their radar.  I think there was one guy they could realistically pick here who everyone would be at least ok with, it’s Boldy.

 

Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

These last two don’t sound like kids they’re considering and I don’t know why.  Well, with Podkolzin I do believe it’s likely because of the contract preventing him from coming over for two seasons.  It shouldn’t, but knowing the Oilers they would be an organization who would have an issue with it.  As I stated with the needs, this team lacks spark plugs.  Assholes.  Miserable fucks to play against.  You wouldn’t think of a Russian player being this guy, but Podkolzin is.  If his name is Vince Pederson he’s a slam dunk top-five pick.  And don’t get me wrong, I get the concerns.  The skating isn’t great (though much like Evan Bouchard last year that is getting greatly exaggerated).  I personally downgrade Russian forwards because they bust at an alarming rate (I even did with Svechnikov last year).  But at eight you should be at least looking at him.  Not to mention we talk about getting McDavid a shooter, Podkolzin has the ability to be a pure sniper in the show along with being a high-end power forward.

 

Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

I don’t get it.  I simply don’t get it.  He brings everything to the table that the Oilers need.  Skill, intangibles, versatility, he’s even a fuckin Albertan!!  And yet from the sounds of it, he’s not even on their radar.  I think of guys like Zach Parise, Mike Richards, guys who in their primes were the perfect blend of talent and intangibles and that is Krebs.  The Achilles injury?  Meaningless.  He shouldn’t be playing on a team next season anyway and will be healthy by December at the absolute latest.  It pisses me off talking about Krebs at this point because unless the local media are badly missing the boat, the Oilers aren’t even giving him the time of day.  For the Oilers specifically, I’d take him over any of these kids, even Dach because I feel the Oilers need to be a little safer with this pick and Krebs is the safer bet of the two.

 

Trade up?

Full credit to Darcy McLeod who made this suggestion on Twitter Wednesday.  If the Hawks pass on Byram for Turcotte (as I and many others believe they will), Ken Holland should be offering the 8th pick and Puljujarvi to the Avs for the 4th pick.  And I think it’s something the Avs would heavily consider.  They don’t NEED Byram (not that anyone should pass on a player that good because of need) and could likely still land a stud up front at eight, while also adding Puljujarvi.  Darcy also suggested adding more if need be from the Oilers POV and again, I agree (I got Byram 1st in my rankings, so obviously I agree).  What that something else could be?  I’d do as much as 8th, Puljujarvi, and Samorukov.  Not sure if others would, but I would because I believe that much in Byram.

 

Trade back? 

I believe this is a very good move if they did it.  The way I see it is they should be craving a forward of some kind and there are kids like Newhook and Tomasino who look as though they’ll go in the 12-15 range who’d be terrific gets if you could add a 2nd.  I’m not sure I’d look to add the 2nd in this draft though.  It’s always tough to tell how a draft will shake down (this time last year a lot of people believed this draft was LOADED), but the 2020 draft at this point looks as though it’ll be a lot deeper than this.  If you can add a significant piece and move back while still adding the player you need to the system, you should.  Ken Holland did say yesterday that he would look at moving back a few picks (or something to that effect).

 

39th overall

They’re going to get someone good here.  I don’t know if they can do as well as they did last year with McLeod, but as far as I’m concerned it looks as though some kids I personally love could be around for 39.  Here are five kids potentially on the board at this point:

Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 25  P: 29

DOB: 05/25/01

Comparison: Braydon Coburn

I can’t see him being around with this pick, but he is 39th on Bob McKenzie’s list so he does qualify.  Wheels.  If they do in fact love Broberg so much (and they don’t make the mistake of picking him) then, in theory, they should be all over Kolyachonok at 39 if he remains on the board.  You give this kid three or four years development, they’d have a stud on their hands.

 

Jamieson Rees

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 10  A: 22  P: 32

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Sam Bennett

Rees is a risky pick because he’s had some injuries to overcome and scouts are concerned that he plays too reckless.  The Oilers though don’t have enough reckless, so at 39 I love the idea of them taking a bit of a risk and addressing that.  I’d rather gamble on that then on a talented kid finding a compete level.

 

Simon Holmstrom

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

DOB: 05/24/01

Comparison: Joonas Donskoi

I have Holmstrom four spots ahead of Rees in my rankings, but Rees is more in your face than Holmstrom.  Like Rees, he’s got one of the best motors in the draft, but like Rees he has injury concerns.

 

Albin Grewe 

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

DOB: 03/22/01

Comparison: Ryan Hartman

Another kid who brings it.  Don’t let the nationality fool you with Grewe, this kid has a lot of Raffi Torres in his game where he can be a bit of a head hunter.  But while that’s what he’s best known for, the numbers also check out with him.  Elite Prospects had him 28th in their rankings relying heavily on XLS% (Expected Likelihood of Success) and XPR/82 (Expected Point Rate per 82 Games) to do the rankings.

 

Daniil Misyul

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 4  A: 6  P: 10

DOB: 10/20/00

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

If you’re reading this, you’re an Oilers fan.  If you’re an Oilers fan, then you know the scouting report on Nurse.  One of the best skaters in the league and can be a nasty SOB in his own zone.  Also like Nurse, not a lot of vision/ability to move the puck.  But like Kolyachonok, if you give Misyul time you might have a stud on your hands.

 

85th overall

From here out, the draft always goes wide ass open.  Players who you believe should go 3rd round fall to the 6th, 7th, or even completely out, while kids you’ve never heard of all of a sudden start being picked.  I’ll suggest kids in these spots (three for each of the following picks), but it is a complete crapshoot as to where they could end up going.

Pavel Dorofeyev

Team: Magnitogorsk  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 19  G: 17  A: 14  P: 31

DOB: 10/26/00

Comparison: Teuvo Teravainen

Bob has him 82nd!  That says to me that the independent guys (none that I could find having him lower than 41st) like him a shit ton more than NHL organizations do.  That stunned me.  Needless to say, if the Oilers took a swing on him here I’d be thrilled!  The kid has tremendous skill.

 

Aaron Huglen

Team: Fargo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 10  P: 14

DOB: 03/06/01

Comparison: Connor Sheary

Speedy, competes hard, and he’s still rail thin as you can read.  He’s got 20-25lbs to go, so what kind of damage will he do once he does that?  Intriguing.

 

Ethan Phillips

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 150  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 16  A: 27  P: 43

DOB: 05/07/01

Comparison: Arturri Lehkonen

Basically the exact same line of thinking with Phillips as with Huglen.

 

100th overall

Reece Newkirk

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 23  A: 36  P: 59

DOB: 02/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Shaw

I just love this kids game.  A total “see you next Tuesday” if you know what I mean, with a terrific motor.  He physically looks like Brad Marchand out on the ice and as I’ve maintained throughout this, the Oilers badly need more of this.  They don’t need to sacrifice speed or skill to do it, but the kids I’m mentioning all have the speed and skill first and foremost.

 

Rhett Pitlick

Team: Chaska  League: USHS

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 28  A: 33  P: 61

DOB: 02/07/01

Comparison: Drake Caggiula

Same line of thinking as Newkirk, Grewe, Rees, etc.  I don’t believe Pitlick is quite the instigator those players are, but he definitely has the wheels and willingness to get his nose dirty.  Tyler’s cousin (Rem’s brother, son of former Sens D-man Lance Pitlick).

 

Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 24  P: 46

DOB: 01/03/01

Comparison: Jakub Vrana

This time last year this kid was viewed as a top 15 pick by pretty much everyone.  I’m not sold that coming over to the Q and playing with such a terrible team as the Sea Dogs were didn’t have much more to do with his production than a dog shit effort.  Also if you just simply look at his 2nd half numbers, they were good and showed a bit of his talent.  Well worth a swing by this pick.

 

162nd overall

One thing about the 6th and 7th rounders you need to keep in mind is that the USHL/NCAA and European kids become much more valuable as you get extra time to evaluate what you might have before having to make a decision on giving them an ELC.  Not many picked in this range that aren’t projects, so better to have that extra time to develop the project.

Alexander Daryin

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 20  A: 15  P: 35

DOB: 08/16/00

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

My first OA to make an appearance, Daryin got passed over in last years draft.  Much like Huglen and Phillips who I liked as possible 3rd rounders, Daryin has tremendous wheels, great skill, and is still lacking 20lbs or so that he’ll put on in time.  I actually have Daryin higher in my own rankings than Huglen or Phillips, but Daryin isn’t ranked on McKenzie’s list and is passed over on a few lists.  The draft is chess, not checkers.  Take a kid where you believe you can get him.  Not sure I can get Daryin here, but with the information I have it at least looks possible.

 

Leevi Aaltonen

Team: Kalpa  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 24  P: 36

DOB: 01/24/01

Comparison: Bryan Rust

He’s not on Bob’s list, though he is around 40-90 for most.  At 162, who in the fuck knows.  I love Aaltonen’s wheels though.  Around this point, just give me guys with something elite (preferably skating).  I have always said, I want later draft picks who can do something elite that can’t be taught.

 

Nikola Pasic

Team: Linköping League: SWE-J20

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 33  G: 18  A: 18  P: 36

DOB: 10/16/00

Comparison: Pontus Aberg

Speedy and skilled, but lacks compete (I’ve told you my comparisons are the best…).  At 162, obviously I’m not going to be terrified to swing and miss on a skilled kid.

 

193rd overall

Martin Hugo Has

Team: Tappara  League: SM-Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 9  A: 7  P: 16

DOB: 02/02/01

Comparison: Brandon Carlo

TERRIFIC name!!  I wouldn’t say Has is as good of a skater as Carlo, but he does move very well for a big man.  And there is some offensive upside with him.  Mainly though if you’re drafting him, he’s a project.  He has the right tools to work with, so give him three seasons and then see if he’s worth bringing over to North America.

 

Dominic Basse

Team: South Kent  League: Midget

Pos: G  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 185  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G.A.A.: 1.91  Sv%: .924

DOB: 04/22/01

Comparison: Pekka Rinne

Please don’t kill me on the comparison, I’m just trying to think of a kid who was raw like this.  Rinne went late in the draft, was massive, and moved well.  That’s it.  You know Basse is pretty obscure when the league he played the majority of the season is just listed on Elite Prospects as “Midget”.  He is committed to attend Colorado in the fall.  From what I’ve read (I mean, no doubt I’ve seen him play and scouted him a ton…) he moves very well for his size, he’s not just a puck blocker.  That’s the key for me with goaltenders.  Size and athleticism.  Take them late and hope to coach them up.  There will be lots of options along these lines at this point.

 

Cade Webber

Team: The Rivers  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 14  P: 26

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Scott Mayfield

This is the type of kid they’ve LOVED to take late in the draft.  Think Matt Cairns. Think Vincent Desharnais.  Think Skyler Brind’Amour.  Think Philip Kemp.  Think Michael Kesselring.  They love their projects and Webber is DEFINITELY a project.  Obviously it’s a new regime, but with Keith Gretzky supposedly still running the draft, tough to believe their mentality would change.  Two things: size, and he skates very well for that size.  Only thing missing is that he’s not a right shot, but they’ve loaded up with RHD over the years that if they weren’t to take one this season it wouldn’t hurt them.

 

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2019 NHL Draft: Mock Draft

Better late than never!  It’s been a busy year for yours truly.  Normally by now I’ve put out four mock drafts with my fifth ready to go tomorrow.  However, due to a busy schedule, this is the first of the year.  I need to find an easier way to do these, however, I pride myself on my mock drafts being the best you’ll read.

 

I really do mean that.  While I can destroy anything else I write or do for podcasts, these mock drafts are the best.  They’re the most well thought out, I’d challenge anyone else who does them to have a more accurate track record over the last four years, and in the last two years (for sure, could be more) my mock drafts have got more guys going in the 1st round than McKenzie or Cosentino in each draft.  Personally, I don’t understand why that should count for anything, but every year I see guys from TSN and Sportsnet saying that they got whatever the number is out of 31 in the 1st round.  I know for both in 2017 it was 27 of 31.  I got 28 of 31.  Last year I believe I got 27 of 31.  McKenzie was lower than most years last year (I want to say it was 24 or 25) and I can’t recall what Cosentino had but just recall that I had bested him as well.  I believe in 2017 I went six for six to start and had seven overall (you get one wrong and it can easily go to shit).  Last year was the first year I was all over the map, but I ended up with six spot on which is crazy.

 

All I do is dig.  I dig into what teams like to do, what their organizational needs are (much more worried about what is in the system than on the big club), and also look at how they might strategize for the draft (for example, a team with two 1st rounders might be influenced by what they’re able to do with their 2nd pick).

 

Here’s the deal: I’m PLANNING on this being the only mock draft.  HOWEVER, if there are enough big changes between now and 4PM MST tomorrow I may just flat out do another.  We’ll see.  At worse, maybe expect this to be altered/updated.  Or, maybe I don’t touch it at all!  If I either do a 2nd one or alter this one, I will be putting it on social media.  I won’t be the douche who edits it quietly and then claims to be right after the fact.

 

The biggest reason I do my own draft rankings is simply to give you my thoughts on the kids who could end up going in my mock so if you missed my top 62 list yesterday, all you have to do is click here.

 

SPOILER ALERT: Here is exactly what is going to happen in tomorrow night’s draft.

 

1. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 23  A: 63  P: 86

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 2nd overall

I can make an argument for Kakko, and I can make an argument for Byram.  But it’ll be Hughes.  He is WELL worthy of the pick, but the deciding factor is that Hughes is going to be a very marketable player and the Devils have a difficult time filling the building.  I do wonder if it was just Kakko at the top if there would be a hot debate right now about what the Devils are going to do between Kakko and Byram.  But that’s not the case.  A highlight reel American born player is going to sell a lot of tickets.

Other options: Kaapo Kakko – he’s not quite the exciting player, but he won’t have to alter his game any and therefore might be the better pro.

Who I’d pick: Jack Hughes – assuming I’m the Devils GM.  And if I’m the Devils GM, I have an owner who has ticket sales to worry about.  Bowen Byram doesn’t fill the seats like Hughes will.

2. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 3rd overall

They’ll take Kakko and be thrilled about it, really no need to go into great detail about it.  They still need a stud number one centre moving forward, but with the Rangers they can always wait for someone to possibly spring available as long as they don’t destroy their cap moving forward.  They’re in a great situation.

Other options: None

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – MSG is sold out every night.  Their actual need this high is actually a franchise centre, so maybe Turcotte, but not with the 2nd pick.  They secured four real good D-men in the last 12 months, and they do have a need for Kakko, but I just couldn’t pass up a kid who I see as a legitimate number one D-man.

3. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 23  A: 30  P: 53

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

SOH Rank: 2nd tier, 4th overall

This is where the draft begins.  This pick is very likely to be Turcotte if you look at recent history.  In 2016, did anyone (other than a very select few including myself may I very arrogantly and annoyingly add) expect the Blue Jackets to pass on Puljujarvi and select a centre?  But they did so because of how difficult it is to acquire a 1st line centre.  In 2018, did anyone expect Arizona to take Barrett Hayton at 5?  But they did because they had to grab him there.  If they didn’t there, they weren’t getting him.  Now, the latter was a big mistake, but the former wasn’t and I put Turcotte into that same class.  I can’t stress enough how close I was to putting Turcotte into my first tier.  This kid is very likely going to be the next Jonathan Toews for this club, or what Bergeron is for the Bruins, or O’Reilly was to the Blues, Kopitar, Barkov, go down the list.  That either 1st line or 2nd line centre (it’ll depend on the offence) who can play in any situation.  And as much as people will scream for the Hawks to take Byram because they can then “trade for that guy”, you can’t.  Every once in a blue moon a guy like Seguin or O’Reilly becomes available, but 1st line centres and number one D-men are just damn near impossible to find.  And even though I have Byram 1st, I’ve always felt as though you NEED stud centres, you don’t NEED stud defencemen to win a Cup.

Other options: Bowen Byram – it’ll be an interesting decision, but I feel most, if not all, have this to be a lot more of a neck and neck race between Turcotte and Byram than I do (even though I love Turcotte).

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I know what I’ve said to this point, but the fact is that I just believe Byram is going to be a Norris level defenceman while I worry Turcotte tops out as an elite 2nd line centre just like the guy I compare him with.

4. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 1st overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Sens, acquired by the Avs in the Matt Duchene/Kyle Turris trade.  What a gift if Byram gets to four, and what a blueline the Avs would now boast.  Scary good.  I know they need some help up front, but unless MAYBE there would be a choice between Turcotte and Byram, you take the stud D-man here and run.  And no, I wouldn’t then trade Tyson Barrie.  They have a ton of cap space to add this summer, not to mention some very good still developing forwards.

Other options: Kirby Dach – it wouldn’t stun me if the Avs went Dach over Byram.  Dach has the talent to be an elite centre in the NHL, and the Avs have a big lack of depth up front in the organization, not to mention a terrific blueline moving forward without Byram

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I think you all know how I feel about him by this point!

5. Kirby Dach 

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 5th overall

One of my favourite predictions for a long time now has been predicting an OHL kid to the Kings.  But there isn’t an OHL kid in sight, so they need to look elsewhere.  So I’m now looking to fill a need (within reason of course, no reach) and a type they prefer and even though the Kings have been loud about wanting to greatly improve their team speed I just don’t think they can pass up Dach’s potential here.  The knock’s on Dach were the exact same as the knocks on Draisaitl, on a similarly skilled P.A. Raiders team, and he’s turned out ok.  Plus as I laid out with Turcotte, teams are going to go after the potential first line centres when they can.

Other options: Trevor Zegras – if speed is their big desire then he makes more sense for them than Dach.

Who I’d pick: Kirby Dach – I got him 5th and with Kopitar and Carter on the back nine in their career’s, they need a potential replacement.

6. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 8th overall

On one hand, the Wings shouldn’t be taking another winger at six.  They’re set on the wings.  But on the other hand, Podkolzin is a different type of winger.  One that is much more difficult to find.  And you have a new GM who has all the job security in the world (so he can afford to wait the two years) and has had more success drafting Russian born players than anyone else over the last decade.  I think this makes a ton of sense.   Let’s not sleep on them trading down though.  Yzerman has done it a lot in the past, and if you look at their NEED, it’s on the blueline and it would be a pretty bad reach to take one at least in the top nine (HINT HINT TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING OF MAKING SUCH A HORRIFIC DECISION…).

Other options: Trevor Zegras – if we’re talking need, they still need certainty down the middle.  Larkin is great, and I still love Joe Veleno.  But to assume you’re set with those two would be bad management.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – as we inch closer to Friday, it doesn’t sound like Krebs is getting much love before 10 and I can’t figure out why.  I fully understand he has the Achilles injury, but if you’re drafting any of these kids past two to play next season you’re likely not a good organization.

7. Trevor Zegras

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 26  A: 52  P: 78

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 7th overall

Much like the Wings, the Sabres big need is on the blueline.  But barring a trade back, it would be a bad reach to take one at this point in the draft.  So I’m going to suggest what most are which is that they take the hometown kid.  The Sabres all of a sudden don’t look anywhere near as set at centre as they did this time last year.  Mittlestadt really struggled this season, and of course they got next to nothing in return for one of the best two-way centres in the game.

Other options: Philip Broberg – I am very likely dreaming here, but they do need to continue adding to their blueline and I’m not a fan of how they draft.  So…maybe?

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – not only tops on my board, but it’s an organization that could really use the intangibles Krebs brings to the table.

8. Dylan Cozens 

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 9th overall

So here is my theory as to what is happening: the Oilers really like Broberg, but not with the 8th pick.  I believe what is happening is that the Oilers are looking to trade back (possibly as far as 19, and seeing who that would be with, likely to shed some contracts) and with a lower pick, the Oilers would take Broberg.  If they can’t make a deal however, it now doesn’t sound as though they’re going to make a pick that will have the fan base losing its collective skulls.  We should also keep in mind that Bob Stauffer is where this Broberg shit kind of started, and Stauffer isn’t as plugged into what the Oilers are doing in the draft as some believe.  He was certain they were taking Val Nichushkin in 2013 for example.  Trading back, especially if it sheds salary, is a terrific idea!  In my opinion, they could probably trade back as far as 13 and land a winger that they desperately need.  If they keep the 8th pick, it does now sound like they’ll make a much more rational decision than what was being bandied about.  Cozens (especially with Puljujarvi on his way out) would be a perfect fit for what this team needs.  As everyone is stressing, he’s not a centre.  Looking at things down the line, he’s going to thrive on the wing.  Darcy McLeod suggested on Twitter yesterday that Holland should package Puljujarvi with this pick and look to move up to four if the Hawks pass on Byram (as I and most people have it).  That makes a TON of sense for both sides and if you have to add a little more if you’re Ken Holland, you do it.  You should know by now what I think of Bowen Byram.

Other options: Philip Broberg – this is still a very terrifying possibility.  Even if they trade back, the last thing they need is another LHD in the system, especially one who lacks skill and the ability to move the puck.  He can skate the puck, but he doesn’t move it well.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – he is simply everything you want a hockey player to be.  All the talent, all the intangibles, and for some completely FUCKED rationale he is not even on the Oilers radar.

9. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 6th overall

Fuck.  I hate this pick for the Ducks.  Hate it because Krebs seemingly isn’t even in consideration for the Oilers, and I just know he’s going to be picked by the Ducks and torment them for a decade or more.  The dirty little secret about the Ducks is that they’ve maintained a terrific system throughout the years, drafted as well as anyone.  They do already have a couple of good centres in the system in Sam Steel and Isac Lundestrom, but if a kid like Krebs joins those two the Ducks could be set down the middle for a long time to come.  Then again, the Ducks could use Krebs on the wing.  Either way, I think this kid is going to be a star.

Other options: Matthew Boldy – was tough deciding which way they’d go as I would guess Boldy’s size would be pretty appealing to the Ducks.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – I believe I made my love for him clear…

10. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 11th overall

Boldy kind of falls right into the Canucks lap in this scenario.  Do they need another winger?  Probably not.  But do they need some skilled size?  Absolutely.  Boldy in a few years could be a perfect compliment to a top line with Pettersson and Boeser.  Or, imagine him doing the dirty work in front of the net on a PP featuring Pettersson on the half wall, Boeser on his off wing, and Hughes manning the blueline.  He is a terrific fit here.

Other options: Victor Söderström – he’s not a sexy pick at all, but he would be a terrific fit on their blueline.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Boldy – if things fall this way, I don’t believe anyone else makes sense.

11. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 54  A: 23  P: 77

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 16th overall

I have a tough time right at the moment trying to figure out not only what Philly might do, but where Caufield will go.  I fully anticipate tomorrow night twitter will be going ape shit because of a Caufield fall for reasons I laid out in my top 62 list.  But as I’ve said about Caufield, while I have my concerns, that shot is outstanding and I completely understand the attraction to him.  He’s a sexy prospect, and Philly under Paul Holmgren always make the sexy move (oh?  Holmer isn’t the GM, it’s Chuck Fletcher?  Sure…)

Other options: Victor Söderström – it’s been a few years now since the Flyers looked hard to stockpile defencemen.  They’re now pretty bare and could stand to add a high-end D for the pipeline.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – I believe that’s the better move, but that’s just me.

12. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

SOH Rank:4th tier, 10th overall

I have a tough time getting a read on what Paul Fenton and his staff will do.  Filip Johansson was a very odd pick last year in the 1st.  They could use a D-man, and they’ve drafted centres with two of their last three top picks.  But Eriksson Ek isn’t progressing well, while Kunin looks ok, but not like a top end guy.  Newhook has the type of skill they could really use down the middle moving forward.  With Koivu and Staal both on their last legs, it’s vital they have a bit of a succession plan in place.

Other options: Victor Söderström – this is getting annoying how much I’m suggesting him.  He’d make a lot of sense for the Wild though.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – I think this would be the right move for them.

13. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 18th overall

I’d say a very safe bet is that this is a D-man.  They have no high-end D-men in their system.  They haven’t used a 1st or 2nd round pick on a D since taking Aaron Ekblad.  I’m not as high on Broberg and others who scout independently aren’t as high on Broberg as NHL teams seem to be.  I do understand the intrigue though as he was dominant at both the Hlinka/Gretzky in August, and the U-18’s in April, not to mention the skating is outstanding.

Other options: Thomas Harley – I originally had Harley going here.  Same rationale obviously as with Broberg, but they’ve loved the OHL over the years too.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – almost as if I’m suggesting he is falling…

14. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 15th overall

They LOOOOOOOVE them some OHL!  Four of their last top picks were out of the OHL.  Maybe a much more eye-popping stat, 14 of their last 29 picks 4th round or higher were used on OHL kids since 2013.  Damn near half, and if you include tier II Ontario kids, it’s 15 of 29.  So a safe bet is suggesting the Coyotes pick someone from the OHL, and the numbers check out with Tomasino, and the game checks out with Tomasino.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – after they took Hayton last year, it sure doesn’t appear as though the analytics have much of an influence over their scouting department.  If you’re looking at sheer numbers though, combined with where they love to take their kids, Kaliyev makes a lot of sense.

Who I’d pick: Philip Tomasino – I love this pick for them, feels like a kid their staff will love.

15. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 12th overall

FINALLY!!!  He no longer will be an “other option” or “who I’d pick”!  He is just extremely solid across the board, and even though he hasn’t showcased high-end offensive ability, I believe he has a very good offensive upside.  As for the Habs, I know they have some good D in the system, but they don’t have a guy at Soderstrom’s level.  They did a terrific job the last two drafts addressing their issues down the middle.  Nothing wrong with turning your attention to stockpiling the blueline when you can.

Other options: Cam York – a lot of similarities with Söderström, but a left shot.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – you’ll never believe this…I like the idea of Söderström for them.

16. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G.A.A.: 2.50  Sv%: .906

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 20th overall

Normally I can’t stand goaltenders going 1st round, but Knight is without a doubt going in the 1st round this year.  Why the Avs?  Well, most in the hockey world believe in being able to blow a 1st round pick if they own more than one.  I think it’s completely fucked logic, but most think this way and picking a goaltender qualifies under that logic.

Other options: Bobby Brink – maybe the best pure scorer left on the board, and the Avs need scoring depth.

Who I’d pick: Spencer Knight – for them, I actually really like this pick.

17. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 13th overall

There are several ways the Knights could go, so it likely will just be a simple ask of who the best player is on their board, and I’m guessing that’s York.  They don’t have much in the system, but they’re REALLY thin both in the system and on the big club along the blueline.

Other options: Thomas Harley – same idea as York, could argue this one either way.

Who I’d pick: Cam York – he’d be a very solid pick for them.

18. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 17th overall

The need on the big club is scoring depth.  But the Stars need in the organization (a little to my surprise to be honest) is on the blueline.  They have nothing in the system, and Julius Honka appears to be falling out of favour.  If he is, then they have a massive need for a RHD, and a guy like Seider moving forward would be an excellent partner for a kid like Heiskanen, freeing up Klingberg to anchor another pairing.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – I haven’t been much of a fan of how they’ve drafted under Jim Nill…picking Kaliyev would be something I wouldn’t be much of a fan of.

Who I’d pick: Mortiz Seider – big fan of this pick if it shakes down this way

19. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 24th overall

Pick initially belonged to Columbus, moved to Ottawa in the Matt Duchene deal.  I think if I’m Pierre Dorian I just keep looking to add to this blueline.  I’m not the biggest Harley fan, but you can’t deny this kids skill set.  Nothing wrong with simply looking to take talent.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – not as skilled as Harley, but apparently interviewed much better and might be an even better skater.

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I got the sense in doing my homework for the draft that he has much more of a desire to advance his game and his hockey career than Harley.

 

20. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 30th overall

Pick initially belonged to Winnipeg, moved to New York in the Kevin Hayes deal, and now back to Winnipeg in the Jacob Trouba deal.  I had trouble with this one, but we know how much Chevy loves his big guys with a lot of skill so it makes it very difficult to think of someone else to put in this spot.

Other options: Ryan Suzuki – doesn’t at all feel like their kind of guy, but they have been searching for better depth down the middle.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – he feels like he’d fit the Jets perfectly.

21. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 23rd overall

The Pens don’t usually have a 1st rounder!  The last one they had was 2014 (Kasperi Kapanen).  The most recent one who is still on the roster?  87.  Olli Maatta was, but of course he just got dealt to Chicago.  Anyway, I believe they’ll love Brink’s skill, and he might not be too far away from being able to contribute.  It is win NOW mode in Pittsburgh, even if that window has closed, Rutherford is going to look for anyway he can to pry it back open for one final shot at it with Sid and Geno.

Other options: Ville Heinola – they have big holes all over, and Heinola is personally my top player left.

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – I just said it, CAN’T YOU READ?!?!?!?!?!?!  IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sorry, I’m getting tired of typing.

22. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 25th overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Leafs, acquired by the Kings in the Jake Muzzin trade.  Keep something in mind with this pick: the coaching candidates for the Kings were all old buddies of Rob Blake.  This pick would fill a need, but the big reason I like projecting it is Rob Blake played a long time with a man named Craig Johnson.  Craig Johnson has a son named Ryan.  Just remember that come draft day.  But by no means would this be any kind of reach, and fills a need too for this organization.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – they really need to rebuild their blueline, and he’s an OHL kid.

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – you know by now

23. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 14th overall

I’m trying to look at this the way Lou will.  And I have a feeling that even after getting Dobson and Wilde last year that Lou won’t feel his blueline looks too good moving forward and therefore goes after someone else.  I don’t expect Heinola to go near as high as I have him ranked, and I’m well aware that Lamoriello isn’t doing the drafting, but he still feels like a good fit for what Lou wants in a player which is extremely high IQ, and isn’t at all worried about them being dynamic.

Other options: Tobias Bjornfot – most like him better than I do (not that I dislike him, just not at this point in the draft).

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – I’m higher on Heinola than many.

24. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 44th overall

They don’t really have much in the organization on the blueline on the left side.  If you also look at their blueline moving forward, I see five guys with a hole on the bottom pairing, left side.  Bjornfot feels like someone who fits well for the Preds.

Other options: Alex Vlasic – if they’re thinking about LHD, they have lived off drafting from the USNTDP the last few seasons.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Robertson – obviously I have other guys ranked ahead of Robertson, but at this point of the draft (this draft anyway) I’d feel decent about drafting a little more for need.

25. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 31st overall

Believe it or not, this doesn’t have anything to do with his last name.  This organization is built on skilled size, and that is exactly what Kaliyev brings to the table.  I’m not a fan of his motor, but the Caps have had success with guys who don’t possess the best motors (Brett Connolly for example).

Other options: Pavel Dorofeyev – same idea in terms of skill, and Dorofeyev is Russian born, unlike Kaliyev, and we all know they’ve done better than most taking Russian kids.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if they took Poulin, it would be the first kid the Caps have taken out of the Q since 2010.  It would be the first time the Caps used a 1st round pick on a player out of the Q since Reggie Savage in 1988.

26. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 27th overall

Will the playoffs do anything to change the way they build their team?  Honestly, I can’t see it.  Treliving isn’t the type of guy to panic, which is why he is such a good GM.  Aggressive, yes.  But he’s going to stick to what he believes in and he believes in skill.  Hoglander is skilled and works his ass off.  Not big as you can read, and he’s not that fast, but he’s got a ton of skill and a ton of character.

Other options: Brett Leason – Craig Button put Leason to the Flames in their mock.  His brother works for the team.  I’ve also felt in the last few weeks that it feels like a fit too though I’m not exactly sure why.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if I’m the Flames, I’m looking to get a little heavier which Poulin would provide without sacrificing speed or skill.

27. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 03/09/01

Comparison: Alex Edler

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 34th overall

I feel fairly confident that they’ll look towards helping their blueline with this pick.  I’m not overly confident that the pick is Robertson because if I’m the Lightning I want someone who can move the puck a little better.  Al Murray loves the CHL kids though and Robertson is the best on the board for most at this point.

Other options: Lassi Thomson – another WHL option who maybe moves the puck a little better than Robertson, though Robertson has the higher ceiling.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Robertson – with his size and skating combination, a team who develop as the Lightning do could get the max out of him, so for them, I really like this pick.

28. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 29th overall

We know they’re going with a forward.  I’m guessing they want a highly skilled forward.  Suzuki checks both those boxes.  He’s a kid who I have a tough time pinning where he goes as he plays such a perimeter game, yet he’s so talented, not sure how teams will be viewing his game.  The skill is there however to be a top six centre in the NHL.

Other options: Connor McMichael – also one of the most talented players left on the board.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – isn’t it fun how I keep saying I’d pick Poulin?!

29. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 35th overall

Pick initially belonged to San Jose, moved to Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal, then moved to Anaheim in the Brandon Montour deal.  They get Krebs at nine, they will then look to shore up the blueline with 29.  That Ducks blueline isn’t nearly the beast it looked as though it was becoming just two years ago.  Thomson gives them a bonafide RHD prospect that they currently lack.

Other options: Drew Helleson – another righty D-man they might look at.

Who I’d pick: Lassi Thomson – he’s not flashy but I feel he’s solid and a great fit for the Ducks.

30. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 21st overall

The Bruins need a little more size.  Keep in mind that when I call for teams to get bigger, I don’t advise they do it at the expense of speed.  There is no law that says you have to be one or the other.  Poulin has solid speed, but as you can see he has the heavy body that the Bruins need a bit more of.

Other options: Jamieson Rees fits them perfectly.  In your face, completely fearless, speedy, would be anything but surprising to see them pick Rees.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – I love the fit, and now I can quit saying this, although there is only one pick left…

31. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 43rd overall

Pick initially belonged to St. Louis, moved to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly deal.  They have a big need for RH shot D-men.  D-men in general, but specifically the right side is bare.  Helleson is a new school shut down D-man.  Nothing flashy, but the type of guy who could be the perfect compliment to a kid like Dahlin down the road.

Other options: Matthew Robertson – once upon a time their scouting staff took Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk.  Does history repeat itself?  He is one of MANY options at this point.

Who I’d pick: Daniil Misyul – I love his wheels.  A team will need patience with him, but he already can fly and he’s physical, so to me the downside is he’ll play, and the ceiling is high.

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2019 NHL Draft: Top 62 Prospects

FINALLY, I have a new piece out.  FINALLY, I have my top 62 prospects list done.  FINALLY tomorrow I’ll put out a mock draft (normally I do five a year, this year, unfortunately, it’ll only be one).  I’ve been extremely busy this year working on other things.  That made my draft work even harder to get done to my perfectionist level than in years past because I was playing catch up.  I started working on this list around Memorial Cup time and figured I’d still put out two or three.  But again, I was playing catch up and literally JUST got this finished early this morning (it’s out at 8 AM MST, I’m writing this part at 12:10 AM MST).  And I’ll be honest because I was playing catch up this whole time and was up against it, I’m not sure it’s my best or even good work.  It’s still going to be much better than some shit out there though!

 

I don’t like this draft too much.  The top end is pretty good.  The very top of the draft probably compares well to a draft like 2008 where you have sure-fire All-Star players, but not generational talents.  Then around 16 (give or take) it really falls off into a group of talented kids with big warts, and then takes another dive around 25.  In time, I doubt we see much quality coming out of rounds 2-4.

 

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen), specifically with the OHL kids a couple of great guys to follow are Brock Otten and my buddy Sean Patrick Ryan do great work and have great insight.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

 

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  Reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past (last year, Serron Noel) on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

 

Is that enough for you?  Well that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

 

I’m going to take a minute to brag a bit.  My comparisons are much more spot on than anyone else.  FUCK ME are there a lot of awful comparisons out there.  Craig Custance just did a piece for the Athletic on who the kids in this draft compare to and they were beyond eye rolling.  And in fairness to Craig, I don’t believe he was the one making them but he got them from someone who SHOULD be in the know.  I take my time thinking of them and try to get them as accurate as can be.  With so many people, it seems as though they take one aspect of a players game and say it reminds them of a player.  I need a lot more than one aspect.  And it doesn’t mean I’ll get them all spot on obviously, but I’ll put my comp’s up against anyones.  Other people BADLY need to clean that up.

 

Finally, I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.

 

Got all that?  Let’s proceed.

 

Tier one

1. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

I’m ACTUALLY going to do this apparently…Ok, so I don’t like doing things for shock value, click bait, any of that shit.  Hate it.  If someone is reading this right now and thinking that’s what I’m doing here, A) I don’t blame you, and B) just hear me out and know I’m not looking to sell you on it but just laying out why I believe this.  I’ll also say/admit, I don’t know if I’d have the balls to say this if I were a GM.  I think I would, but I’m not, I’m just an unpaid blogger with an opinion.  Byram isn’t going to be better than Hughes or Kakko next season (Byram should go back to Vancouver).  He might not be for his entire ELC.  But I do believe that in time, Byram will be the top guy to come out of this draft.  I personally see him having all the tools to be a legitimate number one defenceman, which is the most difficult piece for an NHL team to find.  The other thing in this is that Kakko is a winger, and I’m not sure Hughes can successfully play the middle in the show.  I find myself having bigger questions of Hughes playing the middle than I do of Byram becoming a number one D-man.  And if I really believe that, then I have to put him 1st on my list.  I could look like a complete jack ass for doing it, and I’ll be the first to admit it.  And I know some will probably draw a parallel between this and Chiarelli moving Hall for Larsson.  I get it.  But this is what I believe.  The kid has elite IQ, skating, vision, puck moving, escapability, gap control, engages physically, great stick, he apparently was one of the best interviews at the draft, the kid has it all.  You could be extremely nitpicky and say his shot isn’t the best.  A) teams are moving away from having that “bomb” from the point on the PP, and B) that is something which is easy to develop (not to mention he has a decent shot that’s very accurate already, it’s no muffin).  Then, of course, you have the fact that the kid was the leading scorer in the WHL playoffs.  This seasons Vancouver Giants squad weren’t loaded, and they went to game 7 of the league final, thanks to Byram.  It’s also not as if I view Byram as being a world above Hughes or Kakko.  I have all three VERY close to each other.  Think of the Blackhawks run and ask yourself “who would you rather have, Kane or Keith?”  You could debate that one all day.  For me, that would be extremely close, but in the end, I’d have to say Keith.  And in this case, I’m saying Byram and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  Worse things have happened.

 

2. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 24  G: 12  A: 36  P: 48

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

Me putting Hughes 2nd has nothing to do with disliking Hughes and everything to do with being THAT high on Byram.  But I will go back to the concerns of him being able to play the middle.  There aren’t many centres sub 5’11 in the league, and those who are can usually play an elite 200-foot game (Aho, Point).  Not to suggest he can’t, but he’s far from a certainty to do so.  Don’t get any of this twisted though, I fully believe he’s going to be a star and one of the most exciting players in the league.

 

3. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

Hughes is a shit ton of flash.  HIGHLY skilled kid.  It won’t stun me though if Kakko is the more valuable player.  Kakko shows a lot of signs of being a complete winger which is why most might feel I make the Hossa comparison, but the comparison is mainly in regards to their offensive games.  He is an equally great playmaker and sniper who has a rare combination of elite skill and tenacity.  And like Hossa, Kakko is near impossible to knock off the puck.  The only knock on Kakko is his skating, but we’re not talking about it being bad at all, he’s just not an elite skater.

 

Tier Two

4. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 12  A: 22  P: 34

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

I have him in his own tier.  You thought having Byram first in my rankings was dumb?  I was SO close to having Turcotte in that same group.  The only thing that held me back from that was that I’m not sure if Turcotte can be a legitimate 1st line centre.  I feel extremely confident he can be an elite 2nd line centre, but I’m just unsure of what the offensive ceiling is going to be.  Man, I love this kids game though.  I have very little doubt he is going to be a centre who is capable of playing in any situation of the game.  A coaches dream.

 

Tier Three

5. Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

So I have a lot of insight on Dach that maybe others don’t have.  I’ve read things like people questioning his passion for the game.  I’ve been told by really quality sources (who have bashed Dach at times) that’s a joke.  The kid is a “nerd” for the game.  Knowing that I then get into the numbers, upside, comparisons, etc and there are a lot.  1) I get the concern of only 73 points in 62 games, but it really was just one long drought mid-season rather than inconsistency all season.  Not something to be proud of at all, but much more likely that something else was going on.  Another way to look at it is he had 70 points in 49 games, which is a 96 point pace.  He was great early, great in the 2nd half, and pretty damn good in the playoffs too.  If it was more spread out, then I’d be more concerned.  2) Let’s not pretend the Blades have a lot of help for him.  It’s definitely not the same situation as Peyton Krebs had for help, but it’s not great either.  3) He’s probably still more raw than most realize.  He’s 198lbs but when you look at him, he’s a very skinny kid.  He’ll be able to put on another 20lbs still without hurting his speed, and the added strength as he gets older could increase his skating ability which is already well above average for a player this size.  4) If you look at the numbers Getzlaf put up in his draft year, or look at the numbers Draisaitl put up in his 17 year old season (he was a late draft), Dach beats them both.  Another big centre his numbers are right in line with (even though it’s a different league) is Mark Scheifele.  I get the concerns, but I feel as though a lot of people are looking at him wrong.  Detractors who I’ve read want to make the case that his numbers aren’t matching where some are ranking him.  For me, I see him as a guaranteed 3rd line centre, likely 2nd line centre, and then the upside is enormous.  People always question why bigger players like Dach still get so much love and in a lot of cases overrated in the draft.  Well, it’s because the draft is chess, not checkers.  There are going to be guys in the late 1st, 2nd round, 3rd round, etc. who are close to what a Zegras, Caufield, Newhook, or Tomasino are.  Those kids are all great, but you can find them.  If Dach comes close to his ceiling, it’s a damn near impossible to find a talent like this.  How many 6’4 RH shooting first line centres are there in the NHL?  Two?  Three?  They’re extremely rare and unique.  Has Getzlaf ever been available?  Not that I ever recall.  Has Scheifele?  No, and it’s highly unlikely Scheifele ever will be.  Ok, I think I’m finally done and I know I changed no minds on this, but for me, this is why Dach is in my top five.

 

6. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

Consider the organization he has been playing with.  Teams could key on Krebs every night, he had no help at all, and he was over a PPG player.  And he’s a playmaker.  My rule with playmakers is that they have an easier time playing pro hockey.  The higher level of hockey they play, the more they find players who can think the game on their level.  Across the board, he does everything well.  Speed, IQ, vision, 200-foot game, very willing to get his nose dirty and play physical, he’s very complete.  And then on top of that, all the intangibles check out.  He’s 100% captain material.  I see Krebs as one of the safest picks of the draft, even after the Achilles injury he’s sustained.  I do wonder if he’s a winger or a centre in the pros, but he has such a complete game that it’s difficult to bet against him playing the middle.  For me, he’s a lock to play in the league as a top-nine guy, with first line upside.

 

7. Trevor Zegras 

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

I love this comparison because it’s as Barzal as you can get, right down to the combine interview and reading about how some loved him, some hated him.  He’s cocky, he’s flashy, he’s incredibly talented and needs to reign it in a bit…remind you of anyone?  Like the case is with Krebs, I wonder if Zegras will play the middle or be better utilized on the wing.  But with Zegras it’s not because of his wheels, but an opportunity to play with more risk.  Then again you could argue that playing the middle gives him more opportunity to create.  I understand the concerns with his game, he’s really flashy.  He’s a lot like Rob Schremp at the same age.  The difference though is Zegras can skate, where Schremp couldn’t.  Also, if Schremp came along today he’d be given much more opportunity than he was from 2005-2011.

 

8. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

I have to say, I absolutely LOVE his game.  He’s multi-dimensional.  His shot is elite, he doesn’t use his teammates as often as he could or should but when he does he displays outstanding vision, he plays in your face, he plays physical, he has gamesmanship which is very difficult to find, I love talents who are difficult to find and he qualifies as this.  The skating is solid despite what some have said.  It’s not pretty, but he produces good high-end speed and the foot speed isn’t an issue.  If I’m a GM, I’m not too worried about him honouring the remaining two years of his contract as most of these kids will need a year or two to develop anyway!  But in saying all of this, the bust rate of Russian forwards in the 1st round has me unwilling to put him any higher than my 4th tiering and 9th overall.  It looks as though Andrei Svechnikov will buck that trend, but even if he does he will still be only the 2nd Russian forward taken in the top 25 since 04 to pan out (1 for 9 previous to the 2018 draft).  Those numbers are too damning to ignore.

 

9. Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

By now I’m certain you assume I have a strong bias for the WHL kids with Byram 1st, Dach 5th, Krebs 6th, and now Cozens making it four in my top nine.  Truth be told, I’m so much more concerned about getting the list how I would pick it if I were the GM of a team that it’s only hit me after the fact that it looks like I favour the dub kids.  Trust me, zero to do with a bias, everything to do with liking what the four kids bring to the table.  Ok, Cozens.  I’m seeing people down on him.  He’s a winger folks, quit judging him on how he performed as a centre this season because he’s not going to be a centre.  He has three things that are elite which are his size, speed and shot.  That’s a winger, and combine that with a willingness to play a physical game, I see Cozens being a stud on the wing.  But again, if you’re drafting him, don’t do it as a centre.  He doesn’t seem to have the elite IQ, vision or 200-foot game to play centre in pro hockey.  Maybe that’ll come in time, but if you just look at how his game translates to playing the wing, I’m not sure how you still aren’t going to be sky high on him?

 

Tier Four

10. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

I like him a lot.  As I said earlier with Hughes, not a lot of sub 5’11 centres in the NHL and the ones that are all are terrific 200-foot players.  Crosby, Aho, Point, even a kid like Pageau.  Newhook I believe can stick in the middle though.  He shows a willingness to play that complete 200-foot game that everyone looks for out of their centres.  And while he’s only 5’10.5, he is already closing in on 200lbs which puts him around the same size as Sid.  Everything checks out with Newhook from a talent standpoint, the big concern obviously is he didn’t get to prove it at the highest of level’s this season.  I believe seeing him at the U-18’s put a lot of scouts minds at ease.

 

11. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

If you watch clips of Boldy, I’m not sure you see a guy like JVR.  But what I see is Boldy developing into that kind of player in the pros.  It’s almost an identical skill set.  Both are great down low, great hands, obviously the size, puck protection, Boldy isn’t an overly physical player, but he also isn’t afraid to play in traffic.  That’s JVR.  Boldy looks to be a very safe pick as he doesn’t have a big flaw, but I don’t know how high his ceiling is.  If his skating improves a little, the sky is the limit.  If it doesn’t, he’s still going to be a hell of a top-six winger.

 

12. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

I wonder we look back on this draft in a decade and all ask “how the hell did Soderstrom not go top 10?!”  I got him here obviously, 14th on McKenzie’s list, 13th in the Black Book, 11th for FC, 14th for EP, everyone seems to see him as a very safe bet, yet when you look at the tools he possesses this kid has a lot of offensive ability.  If that ever comes out in him, it’s not a reach to say that this kid can be a number one defenceman.  The problem is he didn’t really show it this season, and so pretty much everyone is left really liking him, but not loving him.

 

Tier Five

13. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

Another D-man who was expected to have much higher numbers than he did.  Is that a product of playing with a loaded USNTDP team, or is he failing to live up to expectations?  I’m saying it’s much more the former.  I have trouble writing about York because the prototypical puck moving D-man is difficult to write about.  Good skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, not very physical but is willing to go to the dirty areas on the ice.  Assuming the offence will be there, he should be a very solid top-four D-man, but the stats suggest that’s not a certainty.

 

14. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

Reminds me A LOT of Leafs 2018 1st rounder Rasmus Sandin.  He also lacked the high-end speed and flash that so many can get a little too wrapped up in.  The fact of the matter with both is that their IQ and puck moving are elite.  I personally love this type of defencemen.  I really regret not having Sandin higher than I did last year as they’re so composed under pressure and really quarterback the offence five on five.

 

15. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

Another kid who has the centre/winger question mark, so I play it safe and consider him a winger.  So I speak often of my buddy SPR and what he has to say on shit (especially when it comes to the OHL).  LOVES Tomasino.  I don’t recall him being as high on a guy as he is on Tomasino, and that includes the love in we shared with Robert Thomas two years ago.  The thing I love about Tomasino more than anything is 72 points, 58 of them at ES.  Couple that with hardly any PP time and a slow start while playing on the Ice Dogs third line (just 8 points in his first 16 games), those numbers could have been off the charts.  The biggest concern moving forward with Tomasino is a willingness to go to the tough area’s on the ice and get his nose dirty.  Everything checks out talent wise though.  Speed, skill, vision, hands, motor, across the board he’s very good.  I’ve become a big fan of his, the only real knock I have on him is just that I see him as an easy type to find.  You take the comparison to Jeff Skinner for example, and he’s far from a guy I’d dislike to have on my team, but there are a lot of guys just like Skinner around the league and are found later in the first round and later in the draft in general.

 

16. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

I get the love in with the goal totals (115 total this season), but this kid has a lot of concerns some seem to be overlooking, and 5’7, 163lbs aren’t big ones for me at all.  He doesn’t skate well for his size, his play away from the puck isn’t good, but the biggest one of all that everyone seems to be sleeping on is this guy doesn’t create.  And if you can’t create in lower levels, I really question if you can even stick in the show.  Look at the best snipers of the last 20 years (which, I’m certain it goes back much further, but let’s keep it simple).  Guys like Ovechkin, Stamkos, Heatley, Kessel, Cammalleri who I compare him to, Draisaitl had 50 this season, DeBrincat whom so many want to compare him with, none of them had anywhere close to this kind of disparity in their goal and assist totals.  115 goals is SEXY!  And 44 assists is…WHAT?!?!  Couple that with the kids centring him this season.  Hughes, Turcotte, or Zegras.  All of them have the skill to be first line NHL centres.  How do you not pile up assists playing with that kind of talent?  I know they’re playmakers, but it doesn’t mean that any of them are incapable of getting open.  All Caufield does is shoot, and he has a HELL of a shot, not to mention terrific hands, but that game isn’t going to work in the pros.  You need to be able to move it to create space for yourself.  But before the homers for him go ape shit, it’s not as if I got Caufield “off my board”!  5th tier, 16th overall, pretty high ranking for a kid with skating and playmaking concerns!  But he’s got much further to go than most are acknowledging at the moment.  Most have him top 10, some even top 5.  That’s just extreme to me.  But to each their own.  If you’ve read my rankings before, this shouldn’t be a shocker.  Two years ago I was down on Owen Tippett and Eeli Tolvanen much more than most.  A great shot can be developed, great vision can’t be.  Let’s not confuse “has him lower in his rankings than others” with “hates him” though.  I don’t.  I just have concerns and view him as more of a gamble than some do.  Trust me, I’m well aware that if he makes it, he’s going to be a BLAST to watch!

 

Tier Six

17. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

If you’re looking for the flashiest player in the draft…you shouldn’t look anywhere near Seider.  But if you want a safe, steady, top four defenceman then he’s your man!  There is offensive upside in Seider, but he has yet to really show that part of his game.  But he is a great skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, good gap control, good stick, good on puck retrievals, doesn’t give up the blueline, everything defensively checks out.  And like I said, there is offensive upside with Seider.

 

18. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Tough to rank for me.  On one hand, the size and skating combination makes him a 1st round pick.  But that is kind of where it ends.  So as I always say with a “toolsy” kid, I’d want to know how the IQ is.  He’s an incredible skater.  That alone makes him a pretty safe pick.  But he really doesn’t have much else in his arsenal, so while he’s a safe pick, I tend to believe he is much more likely to just hit his downside (number five guy) than his ceiling.  He is the type of kid I’d need to interview in an attempt to figure out how much he is going to work on his game.  If he came off as a highly intelligent kid who acknowledged what his shortcomings were and a desire to fix them, then I love him.  But that would also come out a bit in his game and it hasn’t to this point.  It should be noted that he did do an interview at the combine with Bob Stauffer and he came off as a pretty intelligent kid, but there is a big difference between intelligent and having the IQ needed to be an elite defenceman.

 

19. Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 25  P: 29

DOB: 05/25/01

Comparison: Braydon Coburn

Look, I know his warts.  He’s got plenty.  But I also know that he is perhaps the best skater in this draft and when a kid is THIS good of skater, he’s well worth taking a shot on because at worst he’s useful, and it gives him a very high ceiling.  From everything I’ve read too, he’s a terrific kid, one of the best interviews at the combine.  I look at the other kids in this area and I’m finding myself saying “he needs three years, he needs four years” etc.  I believe if you give Kolyachonok that much time, then you could end up with one hell of a player.

 

20. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G.A.A.: 2.21  Sv%: .903

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

I hate using Price as the comp, but it’s the only one for him as their games and demeanour are so damn similar.  A goaltender at 20 is pretty rare on my list.  It’s a combination of a weak draft year in terms of depth, and also that Knight is damn good.  He moves effortlessly in net and is extremely technically sound.

 

21. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

Something that I see that others aren’t talking about with Poulin is he plays a pro game.  I love his intangibles.  He wore the “C” in Sherbrooke this season, he works his ass off, his playoff numbers (14 points in 10 games) indicate he steps up his game when he needs to.  But intangibles mean nothing if they aren’t preceded by ability.  His skating isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  His skill isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  You add it all up, and you have a very safe pick.  For me, I really wonder if given the chance to play with a high-end centre down the line that he’s capable of putting up serious numbers.  It isn’t as if he’s surrounded by overwhelming skill in Sherbrooke.

 

22. Simon Holmström

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

DOB: 05/24/01

Comparison: Joonas Donskoi

I have him higher than most, but only because most are scared off at the fact he missed most of the season with a hip injury.  That doesn’t bother me near as much though.  One of the best motors in the draft who has a very solid skill set across the board (skating, skill, IQ, size), I’m very willing to roll the dice on this kid in the early 20’s if not sooner.

 

23. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

Everyone wants to compare Caufield to DeBrincat because…it’s what people who don’t know what they’re talking about do.  While I rip on myself for not being a scout, the amount of research I do at least qualifies me to discuss things and have a valid opinion on guys.  Caufield isn’t DeBrincat, but Brink is.  He is small, and not a good skater, but this is a great kid who might will himself into a top-six role in the NHL.  His IQ, skill, compete are all extremely high.  But he is flat out a bad skater with maybe average top end speed.  I’m not down on him as a fan, but if I’m a GM I couldn’t justify taking him any higher than this.

 

Tier Seven

24. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

This is tough.  I completely understand anyone who has him in the 10-20 range.  IQ, skating, great puck mover, and size.  Terrific D-man, right?  Well, he’s terrible right now in his own zone.  And it’s not just a case of a kid needing to be coached up defensively, there are a lot of nights he’s not even engaged in his own zone.  Add to that, he apparently wasn’t a good interview at the combine.  So for me, I’m scared.  There is a lot of talent, but it sounds questionable whether the kid has the passion he’ll need to get to the pros.

 

25. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

Difficult to think of a guy who is 6’0, 170lbs, smooth skating and a great puck mover as a defensive defenceman, but that’s Johnson.  That was also Spurgeon up until the last few seasons, and Johnson also has the tools to make an impact at the offensive end of the ice.

 

26. Jamieson Rees

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 10  A: 22  P: 32

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Sam Bennett

So I got Rees higher than most do.  Here is the thing: A) weak draft bumps him up.  B) Jeff Marek uses this all the time and I believe he got it from Steve Spott, but the line is “I’d rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten”.  Yep.  Rees isn’t big, and he isn’t super speedy for his size.  But he plays IN. YOUR. FACE.  When you’re seeing comparisons to players like Marchand, Gallagher and Konecny…those are extremely difficult types of players to find.  And I make no bones about it, I put a much higher value on things which are difficult to find, and a guy who plays on the edge is extremely difficult to find.  I completely understand the injury concerns, but chances are a guy will tone it down as he gets older and wiser.  Some may question the stats, but some have also questioned the organization and coaching in Sarnia.  In both the Hlinka/Gretzky last August and the U-18’s however, Rees was terrific (4 points in 5 games in the Hlinka/Gretzky, 8 points in 7 games at the U-18’s).

 

27. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

A terrific motor, and a kid with a lot of skill.  I believe it was in the Black Book I seen him compared to Bobby Brink and when I read up on the two kids…yeah, it’s spot on!  Hoglander is a little further down my list mainly due to the late birthdate but for me, if you had Brink and Hoglander side by side or Hoglander ahead of Brink I absolutely would understand.

 

Tier Eight

28. Connor McMichael

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 36  A: 36  P: 72

DOB: 01/15/01

Comparison: Jared McCann

McMichael put up good numbers this season, has good hands, good skater, high IQ, decent size, etc.  But the motor is just turned off far too much.  If the switch ever gets turned on though, someone is going to have a hell of a player on their hands.  I know people like his two-way game, but in what I’ve seen I see him being much better on the wing at the pro level.  But I say that only having watched a few London games, the U-18 games, and highlight packs of the kid.

 

29. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

If we are just talking skill, Suzuki has boatloads.  Terrific vision, great with the puck, it’s not difficult to see why this kid went first overall in his OHL draft year.  But he is strictly a perimeter player at this point and obviously, that’s a major red flag.  Maybe the most shallow draft since 2012 gets him up to 25 on my list (consider how much I value centres and pure playmakers), but I definitely won’t be putting him any higher.  Still, the talent is there to be a top-six forward in the NHL if he can ever get a little braver.

 

30. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

Much like Suzuki which is why most have them ranked side by side like this. I don’t really love the idea of comparing him to another francophone (feels extremely lazy), but if you dig into it they’re extremely similar skill sets.  Neither is a great skater, but both have tremendous size and ability to protect the puck, both have heavy shots, and while Chiasson is more of a shooter now in his years at BU he consistently had higher assist totals.  So while I’m not certain I LOVE the comparison of Lavoie to Chiasson at this moment, I feel as though what we saw out of Chiasson this season could be what Savoie becomes if he is to have a successful NHL career.

 

31. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

So good, but so lazy, and I have massive concerns that this kid isn’t going to ever put in the work to make the NHL.  Look at those numbers though, you can’t blame anyone who ranks him top 20.  He’s not an OA, didn’t live off playing with another star, and didn’t do it in a joke of a league.

 

32. Pavel Dorofeyev

Team: Magnitogorsk  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 19  G: 17  A: 14  P: 31

DOB: 10/26/00

Comparison: Tevuo Teravainen

Yet another kid in this tiering who has terrific skill, definitely an ability to be a top six winger in the NHL, but a very questionable motor knocks him down to where in my books he’s a borderline 1st round pick.

 

33. Daniil Misyul

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 4  A: 6  P: 10

DOB: 10/20/00

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

Might be too high, but this kid can REALLY skate and works his ass off.  I compare him to Nurse even though I still believe Nurse is growing, but if someone who wasn’t a homer for Nurse were describing him, it would be pretty exact as to how you’d describe Misyul.  The combination of speed, size and compete makes him nearly a lock in my books to at least play in the league.  If he’s given the proper amount of time to develop, who knows how good he can be.

 

34. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 03/09/01

Comparison: Alex Edler

There is also a lot to work with here.  Robertson doesn’t have the best puck skills and he doesn’t move the puck overly well.  But he is really mobile, as you can read he has good size, is great in his own zone, and is a very coachable kid.  To me, he’s a bit of a project because of the tools he possesses.  If I’m drafting him I’m giving him four years before looking to get him in the lineup.  You can’t teach elite puck skills or elite puck moving, but he doesn’t need to do that.  If he can simply get them to a level where they’re solid, he’s going to be a top four guy.

 

35. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

There is nothing flashy about Thomson at all, but across the board this kid just does everything well.  These type of defenceman sometimes will surprise you because the position is so much more about high IQ, skating, and moving the puck then it is about flash.

 

Tier Nine

36. Mads Søgaard

Team: Medicine Hat  League: WHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’7.5  Wt: 199  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G.A.A.: 2.64  Sv%: .921

DOB: 12/13/00

Comparison: Ben Bishop

Massive tendy put up massive numbers and gave the Oil Kings fits in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

 

37. Albin Grewe

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

DOB: 03/22/01

Comparison: Ryan Hartman

I love this kid.  And I know people hate a lot of the dumb shit he does, but at 18, I feel very confident that a kid can grow out of that.  To me, it shows he has passion and is willing to do whatever he can to help his team win.  And it’s not as though he’s unskilled or can’t skate.  Good skater, good skill.  Again, rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten.  Once he learns to settle down a bit, someone could have a hell of a player.

 

38. Jakob Pelletier

Team: Moncton  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: LW

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 39  A: 50  P: 89

DOB: 03/07/01

Comparison: Connor Brown

Terrific numbers this season as you can see.  Skating deficiencies are the big concern with Pelletier, but if he can overcome that then he’s going to play.

 

39. Nick Robertson

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 27  A: 28  P: 55

DOB: 09/11/01

Comparison: Tyler Ennis

Very similar story with Pelletier and Robertson.  Really small, not a good skater, but the skill level is ridiculous.  Have to add, maybe the most unfortunate birthdate a person can have.

 

Tier Ten

40. Shane Pinto

Team: Lincoln  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 195  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 56  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

DOB: 11/12/00

Comparison: Carl Soderberg

 

41. John Beecher

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 14  P: 20

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: Matt Cullen

 

42. Brett Leason

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 36  A: 53  P: 89

DOB: 04/30/99

Comparison: Ryan Strome

 

43. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

 

44. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

 

45. Layton Ahac

Team: Prince George  League: BCHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 28  P: 32

DOB: 02/22/01

Comparison: Brian Dumoulin

 

46. Alex Vlasic

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 2  A: 13  P: 15

DOB: 06/05/01

Comparison: Joel Edmundson

 

Tier Eleven

47. Alexander Daryin

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 20  A: 15  P: 35

DOB: 08/16/00

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

 

48. Aaron Huglen

Team: Fargo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 10  P: 14

DOB: 03/06/01

Comparison: Connor Sheary

 

49. Alexander Campbell

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 151  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 21  A: 46  P: 67

DOB: 02/27/01

Comparison: Anthony Beauvillier

 

50. Leevi Aaltonen

Team: Kalpa  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 24  P: 36

DOB: 01/24/01

Comparison: Bryan Rust

 

51. Rhett Pitlick

Team: Chaska  League: USHS

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 28  A: 33  P: 61

DOB: 02/07/01

Comparison: Drake Caggiula

 

52. Reece Newkirk

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 23  A: 36  P: 59

DOB: 02/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Shaw

Wasn’t commenting on any of these final 22 kids but I do want to say something about this one.  A kid who I without a doubt love more than most, probably all.  Reason being is it’s damn near impossible to find guys who are willing to be miserable “see you next Tuesday’s” to play against.  Teams need guys like Newkirk.  Some of the offensive damage he did was thanks to playing with Cody Glass, some of it was thanks to seeing softer minutes on his own line (again, thanks to Glass).  But 44 ES/PK points is still pretty solid.  Displayed a really high IQ when I’ve watched him.  Fully admit, 62 is likely going way overboard for ranking him, but I love kids like this and would bet big on him playing in the show some day.

 

53. Ethan Phillips

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 150  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 16  A: 27  P: 43

DOB: 05/07/01

Comparison: Arturri Lehkonen

 

Tier Twelve

54. Albert Johansson

Team: Färjestad  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 40  G: 5  A: 24  P: 29

DOB: 01/04/01

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

 

55. Jackson LaCombe

Team: Shattuck St. Mary’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 22  A: 67  P: 89

DOB: 01/09/01

Comparison: Vince Dunn

 

56. Jayden Struble

Team: St. Sebastian’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 10  A: 30  P: 40

DOB: 08/09/01

Comparison: Nikita Zaitsev

 

57. Mattias Norlinder

Team: MODO  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

DOB: 04/12/00

Comparison: Ryan Murray

 

58. Patrik Puistola

Team: Tappara  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 175  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 01/11/01

Comparison: Brandon Pirri

 

59. Nikola Pasic

Team: Linköping League: SWE-J20

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 33  G: 18  A: 18  P: 36

DOB: 10/16/00

Comparison: Pontus Aberg

 

Tier Thirteen

60. Hunter Jones

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4.5  Wt: 202  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 57  G.A.A.: 3.31  Sv%: .902

DOB: 09/21/00

Comparison: Mike Smith

 

61. Anttoni Honka

Team: JYP  League: Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 175  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 1  A: 3  P: 4

DOB: 10/05/00

Comparison: Anthony DeAngelo

 

62. Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 24  P: 46

DOB: 01/03/01

Comparison: Jakub Vrana

Another kid I have to say something on.  Was top 20 for most (if not top 10) entering the season, got off to a HORRIFIC start, but did finish the season strong on an awful Sea Dogs team.  I really wonder if he wasn’t home sick and/or they did a terrible job handling him?  This kid has 1st round talent, and he might end up being the steal of the draft.

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Edmonton Oilers Top 20 Prospects – April, 2019

What in the hell….I wrote a new blog?!?!  Not only that, this is the 2nd one I’m putting out today!  Maybe some day I’ll be able to get some consistency in my game…no wonder I relate to the Oilers so well…

 

This is one that is particularly overdue.  The last time I got around to doing an Oilers top prospect list, I was on a bit of an island trying to tell people how the system had improved.  This time around, many people have joined the party.  I’m so happy that the Peter Chiarelli nightmare is over, but the one thing I’ll never take away from the man is how well the Oilers have drafted under him, and most of this list is his doing.

 

So with that being said, the draft lottery having just taken place last night, and Bakersfield about to wrap up their terrific regular season, now is as good of a time as any to take a look at the Oilers system.  I want to start it off though looking at four guys in particular for one reason or another.

 

Hayden Hawkey  Providence  NCAA

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Glove: L  DOB: 3/1/95 (24)

Acquired: Trade with Montreal, June 23rd, 2018

I try to keep all these short, but this one isn’t, nor is it much about the player.  This trade man…so many people love to crush the low hanging fruit when it comes to the Oilers or Chiarelli.  I get it, but it’s not my style.  Especially when it’s ridiculous to do.  This one though that has rattled me from the get go.  Why in the FUCK would you make a trade for a college kid going into his senior season with the ability to walk as a free agent???  This was just a classic example of how careless and moronic Chiarelli was as a GM, because you shouldn’t be making this deal.  The deal if you absolutely HAD to do it should have been conditional.  A 7th rounder to the Habs, with it becoming a 5th or even a 4th if Hawkey signed.  Nope.  Not Pete.  Peter didn’t know how to make trades that covered his ass in anyway.  Peter just rolled the dice, EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  Moron.  Good GD riddance.  As for Hawkey…great numbers this season (.920 Sv% in 40 games), but he’s highly unlikely to sign at this point so what does it matter?

 

Ryan Mantha  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 225  Shot: R  DOB: 6/18/96 (22)

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed March 1st, 2017

Not much to say here but if you know of him then you likely know why I’m mentioning him.  Missed the entire season with a concussion and we’ll see if he’s able to resume his career.  I really doubt it to be honest.

 

Aapeli Rasanen  Boston College  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 190  Shot: R  DOB: 6/1/98 (20)

Acquired: 6th Round, 153rd Overall, 2016 Draft

I’d love to know what happened to both Rasanen and Graham McPhee this season.  Just HORRENDOUS drop off’s.  This time last year I assumed he’d be signed by the Oilers by now.  He has his Sr. year to prove himself, and then if he does, I guess we’ll see if the Oilers want him, or if he’ll want the Oilers.  I still believe he could be a very valuable 4th line centre, maybe a Mark Letestu type.

 

Josh Currie  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: R  DOB: 10/29/92 (26)

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed July 19th, 2018

In the past, I wouldn’t list a kid like Currie because of his age (not that I technically did on this list either).  But he’s worked himself into the discussion with the team.  However, I have to piss on the feel good story a bit here and say that he really didn’t look like a kid who can play in the show long term to me in his 21 game stint to end this season, in my opinion anyway.  It’s an amazing accomplishment that he has even got to this point, and I’m not saying he should now be cast aside at all.  But I only see him being about a 15th forward for the Oilers or another club moving forward.  I’d be so happy to be proven so wrong on this, and it’s not as if Currie hasn’t proven a shit ton of people wrong to this point in his career.

 

Now that I’ve said my piece on those four, let’s get to the main list!

 

20. Cameron Hebig  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: R  DOB: 1/21/97 (22)

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed December 28th, 2017

Hot start and then drastically cooled off.  Not a big surprise for me personally.  I see Hebig as a 4th line guy.  A John Madden type if he maxes out.

 

19-17. Olivier Rodrigue  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 156  Glove: L  DOB: 7/6/00 (18)

Acquired: 2nd Round, 62nd Overall, 2018 Draft

Stuart Skinner  Wichita  ECHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Glove: L  DOB: 11/1/98 (20)

Acquired: 3rd Round, 78th Overall, 2017 Draft

Dylan Wells  Wichita  ECHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 182  Glove: L  DOB: 1/3/98 (21)

Acquired: 5th Round, 123rd Overall, 2016 Draft

You are reading this right.  So my man Matt Mosewich (well, we’ve never met in person, he might be a real asshole, I actually don’t know) had this essentially the same way.  Especially this season it rings true that there just isn’t really a way to separate these three right now, and you could easily make an argument for all three.  If I absolutely HAD to rank them I’d probably say Wells, Skinner and Rodrigue.  Reason being I believe Wells has shown the most high end ability in his game and is closest in terms of being in the system the longest.  Skinner is 2nd, probably the most consistent and has the best size of the three.  And then Rodrigue is 3rd for me mostly due to the lack of size and the unknown of having yet to play pro (nor will he for another season), though we may get to see Rodrigue start for Canada in next year’s WJC.  For all three guys though it is just far too early to project on them, but all three have shown flashes.

 

16. Philip Kemp  Yale  NCAA

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 202  Shot: R  DOB: 2/12/99 (20)

Acquired: 7th Round, 208th Overall, 2017 Draft

He’s nothing to get over excited about, but there is some reason to get excited about hitting on a 7th round pick.  Don’t believe that’s happened since 2003 for this organization (Kyle Brodziak).  I see him as a Mark Fayne clone, only question is whether we’re talking Fayne in Jersey, or Fayne in Edmonton.

 

15. Filip Berglund  Skellefteå  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 209  Shot: R  DOB: 5/10/97 (21)

Acquired: 3rd round, 91st overall, 2016 draft

A little like Kemp in that he doesn’t have much flash in his game.  Maybe a little more offensive ability, but definitely not the type who oozes skill.  On one hand it’s good that he’s staying over in Sweden another season with the team currently looking at six D for two bottom pairing spots next season (I doubt they’ll want one of the kids on the roster as the number seven guy).  But on the other hand, we would like to get a closer look at him sooner or later.  20-21 I’m sure.

 

14. John Marino  Harvard  NCAA

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 181  Shot: R  DOB: 5/21/97 (21)

Acquired: 6th round, 154th overall, 2015 draft

If you have Marino lower than Kemp on your list, I get it.  As I just laid out, I believe Kemp has a good chance of making the NHL, probably a better one than Marino.  But because of Marino’s skating ability he gets the nod for me.  With both Marino and Kemp, the fact that they are attending Ivy league schools as D-men is pretty intriguing because I maybe value IQ more than anyone in all players, but especially in defencemen.

 

13. Ostap Safin  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 191  Shot: L  DOB: 2/11/99 (20)

Acquired: 4th Round, 115th Overall, 2017 Draft

Probably the biggest disappointment the Oilers have had on the prospect front this season.  It wasn’t disappointing play, but rather damn near a full season lost due to injury.  Safin might be the biggest wildcard in the Oilers system.  A classic boom or bust type.  He has the size, he’s great skater, a mean streak, and he has a lot of skill too.  He didn’t dominate the Q as most would like to see before getting too excited about him, but it was never going to make a difference anyway.  The motor is the big question with Safin.  Sometimes with kids who don’t have much of a motor, it’ll adjust according to the level of competition they face and so we could see a kid who really starts taking it to another level once he hit pro hockey.  We also could see a kid who is an absolute dog and shows little-no passion to play.  Don’t be surprised if he goes back home next season much the way William Lagesson and Markus Niemelainen did.  He needs playing time after this season.  He likely wouldn’t get a ton in Bakersfield, probably won’t want any part of the ECHL, so on loan to the Czech league would likely make the most sense.

 

12. Joe Gambardella  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 201  Shot: L  DOB: 12/1/93 (25)

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed March 28th, 2017

It’s go time for Gambardella, and he’s right there.  He’s got the wheels that this organization needs a lot more of, so that’s a good thing.  And he started to gain the trust of Ken Hitchcock near the end of the season, so that’s another great sign.  He’s not a guy Hitchcock would normally like, but he seemed to really appreciate Gambardella.  27 goals, 45 points in 48 games in the AHL this season.  I think he can be a regular, but I do wonder if it’ll be with the Oilers.  Might be the wrong time for him to break through here, but he’ll get his shot in camp.

 

11. William Lagesson  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 207  Shot: L  DOB: 2/22/96 (23)

Acquired: 4th Round, 91st Overall, 2014 Draft

I’ve always liked him.  There isn’t a high ceiling with Lagesson, but he sure looks like he’ll play in the league at this point.  Not a pretty skater, but he can move.  Not an offensively gifted player, but put up ok numbers this season.  Not a killer on the back end, but he loves to get his nose dirty.  He’s ready to see some minutes with the big club, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can accommodate that with so many other D-men in the system around the same level.

 

10. Joel Persson  Växjö  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 187  Shot: R  DOB: 3/4/94 (25)

Acquired: Free Agent, Signed May 18th, 2018

He’s going to get one heck of a look to start next season.  Ignore that he’s on a one way contract, that really isn’t a big deal.  The contract is waiver exempt and that’s what matters, so they can play him in the AHL.  Maybe he starts there, but in my opinion they will start him on the bottom pair next season and Matt Benning will be moved for a winger.  Persson doesn’t do anything exceptionally well, but is a well rounded D-man who can skate and move the puck well…AKA the type of defencemen the Oilers are desperate for.  He did a ton of the heavy lifting for Växjö this season, essentially being their number one defenceman.  You’ll see him next season on the big club, only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not it’ll be out of camp or if he’ll need 20-30 games in Bakersfield first and maybe a kid like Ethan Bear gets that bottom pairing slot out of camp.

 

9. Cooper Marody  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 173  Shot: R  DOB: 12/20/96 (22)

Acquired: Trade with Philadelphia, March 21st 2018

I love him, but I’m not sure I love him for the Oilers.  The wheels are concerning and with both the big club and the higher end prospects there are too many players like that in the system.  So for me personally, I’d be willing to part with him for the right piece.  But I love his game.  Pure playmaker who is unafraid to go anywhere on the ice.  If he does improve the wheels, he’ll be a one hell of a player.

 

8. Ryan McLeod  Saginaw  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 205  Shot: L  DOB: 9/21/99 (19)

Acquired: 2nd Round, 40th Overall, 2018 Draft

I wonder if Marody could give McLeod his compete, or if McLeod could give Marody his wheels?  For me, I’m going to favour the guy with the wheels and McLeod has ELITE wheels.  He’ll play in the league because his speed is that good.  But frankly it’ll be a matter of him playing with more balls that dictates whether he’ll be a bottom six player or a top six player.  He has all the ability to be a 2nd line player, if not a 1st liner, but it is pretty damn rare for a player to all of a sudden gain on ice bravery for lack of a better term as a trait…

 

7. Dmitri Samorukov  Guelph  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L  DOB: 6/16/99 (19)

Acquired: 3rd Round, 84th Overall, 2017 Draft

Hockey sense is going to be the determining factor with Sammy’s future.  He literally has all the tools.  Size, mobility, plays with an edge, moves the puck extremely well, hard shot, there is nothing physically that he doesn’t have.  Could be a number one someday.  Mind you, that can be said about most young D because a large majority of the top guys come out of nowhere!  Obviously nobody is going to bank on him being a number one someday, but a top four is definitely realistic.  However, what he’s done to this point really shouldn’t surprise anyone.  He’s looked tremendous as a 19 year old, of course he should when someone has this type of talent.  I expect there to be an adjustment period next season in Bakersfield that’ll have the fans and media down on him.  So I don’t expect us to really know what the Oilers have for another year and a half or so.

 

6. Ethan Bear  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 205  Shot: R  DOB: 6/26/97 (21)

Acquired: 5th Round, 124th Overall, 2015 Draft

As has been stated by myself and others hundreds of times by now, the big question is his skating.  And like Marody, I wouldn’t be afraid to part with Bear this off-season.  But unlike Marody, Bear’s trade value is probably less than it should be at the moment.  With neither guy, you don’t move him unless you get the right deal, but I’m just saying I’d at least listen on both.  Fans have got mesmerized by Jones skating ability that they seemingly have forgotten Bear’s ability to move the puck.  It’s elite, not to mention a big shot to go with it, and Bear’s overall skating isn’t that bad at all.  I find his lateral movement actually to be pretty high end, it’s the straight ahead speed that is lacking…in my opinion anyway.

 

5. Kirill Maksimov  Niagara  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 192  Shot: R  DOB: 6/1/99 (19)

Acquired: 5th Round, 146th Overall, 2017 Draft

The ONLY reason I don’t have him 3rd is because the guys in the 4th and 3rd spots look to be such certain things at this point that I can’t bring myself to put Maksi higher than this.  But man, I fully believe this kid is going to make it and he’s going to be a total sniper.  A bomb of a one timer, and his best shot might be his wrister.  His wrister reminds me of Joe Sakic’s.  No back swing.  People also rave about his work ethic, the way his 200 foot game has developed, and the only knock is a lack of not great wheels.  Not that they aren’t good enough already, just that they aren’t great and I’ve made the point several times that I believe it’s coming.  You watch him skate and it just looks as though he lacks power.  Then you look at how he’s built and he still just has such thin legs.  So when he starts developing lower body strength, I won’t be surprised if we’re talking about his skating being one of his best traits.

 

4. Tyler Benson  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 190  Shot: L  DOB: 3/15/98 (21)

Acquired: 2nd Round, 32nd Overall, 2016 Draft

I can honestly say I never lost faith in the ability.  I definitely was losing faith in the ability to remain healthy at this point two years ago, but not in the kids ability.  His IQ and playmaking ability are elite.  He’s willing to play a complete game too, something that maybe gets a little underrated with him.  I maintain that Benson is going to ride shotgun with 97 at some point very soon because they think the game so similar and he’s just such a perfect compliment.  People are worried about getting him more AHL time, I’m not sure they realize that the only reason he’s not in the show already is because injuries held him back.  He’s not your normal 32nd overall pick.  The mistake the organization has made in the past is they would keep a good roster spot open for a kid like this.  I wouldn’t keep a spot open (3rd line LW), but I’d have either a guy on a deal for 1.1 million or less, along with Joe Gambardella and Benson legitimately competing for that position.  He’s LIKELY ready, but let’s start making sure that the kids are earning their spots on the roster.  As has been said before he doesn’t have elite wheels, but he’s one kid who won’t need elite speed with how he thinks the game, and it’s not as if he’s a bad skater either.  He can move.

 

3. Caleb Jones  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 205  Shot: L  DOB: 6/6/97 (21)

Acquired: 4th Round, 117th Overall, 2015 Draft

Benson can move, but Jones can fly.  I’ve maintained over the last two years that Jones was a player because of the skating, and you all got to see that over 17 games this season.  I won’t spend much time here because you’ve all seen him closer than most of these kids, but I will say that I believe he’ll be a top four guy eventually, and I believe he’s proven that he’s ready for a spot on the bottom pair next season.  I would say that like Benson they should also have a veteran for Jones to compete with, I’d assume that’ll be whoever will likely be the number seven D-man, not to mention Lagesson.

 

2. Kailer Yamamoto  Bakersfield  AHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 154  Shot: R  DOB: 9/29/98 (20)

Acquired: 1st Round, 22nd Overall, 2017 Draft

I would say a set back of a season.  But consider this: Johnny Gaudreau is maybe the poster boy for undersized players in the league right now.  Gaudreau played one game before the age of 22.  I compared Yamo to Cam Atkinson in his draft year, Atkinson’s first full season (kind of, it was the lockout year) was at age 23.  And read his weight, 5’8 was one thing but 154 lbs is another.  I’ve had that number for a while, so I’m sure he’s packed on a few more pounds, but he’s still really small and still probably doesn’t have the strength he’ll need.  So I’d expect a full season in Bakersfield next season, but don’t bail on him yet.  He still has the qualities to thrive.  He has high end skill, high end IQ, and he’s insanely driven.  I thought it would have happened by now, but in hindsight that’s likely what I missed on him.

 

1. Evan Bouchard  London  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R  DOB: 10/20/99 (19)

Acquired: 1st Round, 10th Overall, 2018 Draft

Craig Button doesn’t think he’s a top 50 prospect…annnnnnnnd THAT’S why fans don’t have much respect for what Craig has to say.  Bouchard is great.  Is he going to be a number one?  I don’t think so, but I never thought he would be!  Top pairing guy depending on who he’d be opposite of, but for sure a number three guy who is one of the best manning the point on the PP in the league, with a first pass that’ll be elite…if it’s not already.  Having said this, it’s setup for him to play all of next season in Bakersfield which is perfect.  He needs a season to work on his defensive play and work on his battle level in the corners and in front of the net.  He’s exactly what the Oilers need on the blueline, they just need to be a little patient.

 

The list should be done, but I’m sure the timing of this isn’t lost on anyone reading it, so why not add a bonus to this list?!  It is EXTREMELY early in the process so let’s not take this as gospel.  Obviously you get down to 8, there are a lot of different possibilities.  Kirby Dach was who Sam Cosentino projected.  To me, I believe Dach ends up going top six, not sure why he wouldn’t.  Alex Turcotte is who Craig Button projected, but again you’re talking about a highly skilled centre, why have people not noticed how highly valued centres are by NHL teams yet?  Kotkaniemi and Hayton weren’t supposed to go anywhere NEAR picks three and five this time last year!  I’d absolutely love either of those two to be picked by the Oilers, but I highly doubt either of those two will be around.  However I do feel safe in suggesting this kid will be around:

 

Peyton Krebs  Kootenay  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 181  Shot: L  DOB: 1/26/01 (18)

Comparison: Zach Parise

So to get to the Oilers picking Krebs, I had to do a mock in my head.  My mock draft went Kakko, Hughes (yes, Kakko then Hughes but in this case it doesn’t matter as either combination will go 1-2), Turcotte, Podkolzin, Byram, Dach, Cozens going 1-7.  That leaves the Oilers with Krebs at eight.  My buddy SPR loves the Oilers to go out and grab Philip Tomasino at eight and he’s been all over Tomasino for months now, and few know the OHL kids better than SPR.  But I’m looking at what I believe the Oilers will do, and I doubt anyone would cry about Krebs at eight.  Winger (ignore the talk of him playing the middle) who is a pure playmaker, terrific skater, and a high character kid too.  You look at the season he just had and then consider the shit show of an organization he played for (especially this season) and Krebs could be a HELL of a steal for the Oilers at eight.  They are desperate for talent on the wings, and Krebs is big time talent on the wing.  If Krebs is added to this list come the fall, he’ll be ranked 1st.

 

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2019 Playoff Prognostications Guaranteed…To Go Wrong

Did everyone see my 18-19 season prognostications piece?!  You didn’t?!?  Good…don’t….

 

I guess I should start this off by saying, I’m back!  First blog I’ve wrote since January, and that one was the first I had written since early December.  Life got in the way, started wondering why I was doing this for pretty much no reason at this point in my life (to be really honest), but the playoffs are here, it’s the off-season, and I got a little bit of the itch to do some writing and podcasting so I don’t know if it’ll keep going, but for today I’m putting out some new stuff.

 

I’m not sure why I’m calling these prognostications.  They really aren’t, they’re guesses.  Do we know what injuries will take place?  How the schedule might impact each team?  What game plan’s coaches may have in place?  We don’t know shit!  Yet, if these are right, you know I’ll be the first guy to let everyone know.  And if they’re wrong, I’ll never speak of them again.  Stupid either way.  So let’s get to all this stupidity, shall we?

 

Western Conference

P1 Calgary vs WC2 Colorado

Of all the first round series, this is the one that should be a cake walk.  The more I gave this series thought, the more I found myself saying that the Avs just match up horribly with the Flames.  The Flames one weakness might be in net, and the Avs have almost identical goaltending.  The Avs have a fast team with two big-time scorers, but the Flames have as fast of a team with two big-time scorers and much better depth…not to mention a centre in Backlund who will likely see a lot of Nathan MacKinnon and the Norris trophy winner who’ll also see a ton of him.  The Avs got hot down the stretch to get in, but Cale Makar isn’t walking through that door…til game 3 at the earliest…and Bowen Byram isn’t walking through that door…until late June.

Flames Sweep

 

P2 San Jose vs P3 Vegas

First of all, I’m going to say that I’m officially done doubting the Knights…despite who I have winning this series.  This is 100% about Martin Jones, or maybe Aaron Dell.  Whoever starts for the Sharks anyway.  If they get the goaltending, they win the series.  The Golden Knights top four on D is suspect at best.  I know they have pretty good depth up front, but the Sharks easily match that depth.  So this is about goaltending and we know how good Fleury can be.  Jones has been terrible this season, but I’ve seen this guy play tremendous in too many big spots over the last three seasons to believe he’s going to be shitty in the playoffs.  Remember, Braden Holtby struggled so much last season that he didn’t even start for the Caps in the playoffs, and then led them to a Cup.  I’m going to GUESS that this is Jones and all I am honestly doing is completely guessing here, as either team can win this.

Sharks in 6

 

P1 Calgary vs P2 San Jose

The big thing here is that Jones gets going for the Sharks.  To put it simply, if the Sharks get past the Knights it’ll be because Jones gets going.  If Jones gets going, then the Sharks matchup real well with the Flames, and would own a big advantage in the experience department.

Sharks in 7

 

C1 Nashville vs WC1 Dallas

This is going to be a very tough matchup for the Preds.  The Stars have a terrific young and emerging blueline, and both Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have had terrific seasons.  The Stars definitely can win this series, and I expect to hear a lot of people pick the Stars either to win this series or as a dark horse team in the playoffs in general.  It wouldn’t be a dumb thing to say.  But I believe what people are going to miss on the Preds is how much better of a team they are this season.  I don’t care that it didn’t show during the regular season.  They’ve been to the final, they’ve won the President’s trophy, the regular season for them now mean’s nothing.  Simmonds, Granlund, even a kid like Dante Fabbro, these are very key upgrades for an already stacked team.  And I honestly can’t imagine Pekka Rinne will fall flat on his face like he did last spring.  I like the Preds to win this series and make a deep run, but this series won’t be easy.

Preds in 7

 

C2 Winnipeg vs C3 St. Louis

Sucks to say this, things couldn’t be more wrong for the Jets entering the playoffs.  Awful end to the season, awful first-round opponent.  The Blues are one team that can match the Jets major advantage which is their size.  That’s the one thing that the Jets could maybe rely on in the playoffs, and the Blues are just as heavy of a team.  Blues have the better D, hotter goaltender, gone through major adversity, nothing to lose, this just couldn’t be a worse matchup for the Jets in my opinion.

Blues in 6

 

C1 Nashville vs C3 St. Louis

I gave big consideration for both these teams to go all the way.  Tough to pick against the Blues given they’ve been the best team in the Western Conference in 2019.  But again with the Preds, the regular season hasn’t meant shit to them.  They have another level or two that they can crank it up, and I believe they are going to and once they do, I don’t see the Blues matching it.

Preds in 6

 

Nashville vs San Jose

I think everyone in hockey believes this will be the West final…if both squads get the goaltending.  As far as the combination of forwards and defence go, these appear to be the best rosters in the West.  I’m banking on them getting the goaltending they need to get to this point.  And if they meet, I like the Preds goaltending a little more, and I believe the Preds also own advantages both down the middle and on the blueline, where the size and speed are saw-offs in my mind.

Preds in 7

 

Eastern Conference

A1 Tampa Bay vs WC2 Columbus

My upset special!  This will probably be extremely wrong, but I do actually see how the Blue Jackets are a brutal matchup for the Lightning.  Bobrovsky hasn’t been himself all season, but we know how hot he can get.  They aren’t better than the Lightning anywhere but have similar depth, and the Jackets are a team better built to play playoff hockey.  Everyone in the hockey world right now is pointing and laughing at the Blue Jackets for loading up at the deadline only to get Tampa in the first round.  When everyone goes one way, I love to go the other and even though I had Tampa and Nashville in the final to start the season, I’m taking the Jackets here.

Jackets in 7

 

A2 Boston vs A3 Toronto

My tune on this has changed the last two or three weeks.  I was all in on the Leafs pulling the win, and still believe that they should.  But the vibe around them couldn’t be worse right now.  Sounds like a ton of issues within the organization right now, the Bruins seem to be 100% in their heads, Andersen has been overplayed this season, I worry about the team wearing down as the season’s gone on, it just feels all wrong.  And the people who I’ve heard take Toronto love to point out how last year the Leafs were up going into the 3rd in game 7.  That’s avoiding the truth of what went on in that series.  The Bruins were the better team in at least five of the games, and maybe six.  The games the Leafs lost without Nazem Kadri, he wouldn’t have made the difference.  And while they’ve added Tavares and Muzzin since last season, they’ve lost Bozak, Komarov, and JVR.  I expect a better series than last year, but again I just can’t get over how in the Leafs heads the Bruins seem to be.

Bruins in 7

 

M1 Washington vs WC1 Carolina

So in case anyone hasn’t noticed, and I’m pretty certain they haven’t, nobody is saying shit about the Caps entering the playoffs…again.  Last year these guys finally faced no pressure.  This year it’s even less.  Nobody is picking them to go back, and nobody is crushing them for not ever getting over the hump.  Personally, I see that as a scary recipe for the rest of the league.  The Canes are a solid team, but I see them as having won their Cup by getting in the dance.

Caps in 6

 

M2 NY Islanders vs M3 Pittsburgh

I believe most will be calling the Pens to win this in 4 or 5, and the Islanders know this.  They’ve been the underdogs all season and that won’t change in this series.  Even though the Penguins win just about every matchup in this series, the Isles are playing with house money, have tremendous goaltending, and I believe will push the Pens to the limit before finally bowing out.

Pens in 7

 

A2 Boston vs WC2 Columbus

Boy would the Bruins ever be pumped up about catching a break like this would be.  And it’s funny that while I actually really like how the Jackets matchup with the Lightning, I feel they don’t at all with the Bruins.  The big thing is that against the Bruins they wouldn’t have the edge in the grit department.  Even though the Bruins aren’t big, they won’t get pushed around.

Bruins in 6

 

M1 Washington vs M3 Pittsburgh

I really believe that we’re going to see this matchup again, and I believe that this time around people are going to be pretty disappointed with what occurs.  The Caps have always felt to me like the more talented squad, but they couldn’t get over the mental hurdle.  Even though last season to me was more about the Pens gassing out then the Caps being the better team, it removed the mental hurdle for the Caps.  I just don’t like the Pens at all coming into these playoffs and I believe Jim Rutherford did a terrible job upgrading the club for another run at a Cup.

Caps in 5

 

Boston vs Washington

This is one that I could see going either way if it is to happen.  Some might go with the Bruins thanks to maybe believing the Caps will wear down.  I don’t know if we’ll see that from the Caps until maybe the final should they get there.  And if you had to give one team an edge in this series, I’d say the Caps depth skill is something the Bruins can’t match.

Caps in 7

 

Stanley Cup Final

Washington vs Nashville

I wouldn’t cry about this being the final.  The Preds love to push teams around, and the Caps proved last year that they’re capable of pushing back.  Not the speed in the final most may expect given the way the game is going, but what it would lack in speed, it’d more than makeup for in skill and physical play.  As I hinted at with the East final, I believe that by THIS point, we might see the Caps simply running out of gas.  Combine that with an extremely talented Preds team desperate to win a Cup, I’ll stick with my pick in the fall of the Preds winning their first.

Preds in 6

 

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