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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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