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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