Friday, June 24, 2011

What to do at #31?

The first round is done. All the glitz and glamour of staring at a TV for 4 hours is over, and now the Oilers have some decisions to make. After all, we still have the 31st overall pick which is nothing to sneeze at, as it should still net us a first-round talent. Who is still available with this pick?

Brandon Saad: LW Saginaw, OHL

From Bob McKenzie: Strengths - possesses all the tools. with size, strength, shot, skating and hands all above average. Capable of driving to the net and working effectively along the wall. Weaknesses - Doesn't show up to compete every night,lacks passion at times. Left scouts wanting more effort and production. NHL Upside - Has the physical tools to be an imposing top-six forward, but will need to improve his work ethic.

Rocco Grimaldi: C US NTDP

Bob again: Strengths - A feisty little warrior. when he's going his feet never stop, fearless on the puck, character guy, plays hard, strong core and lower body, likes to score goals, skilled puck carrier and sniper. Weaknesses - He's only 5-6. Can try to do too much by himself and overhandle the puck. NHL Upside - Has drawn comparison to Theo Fleury and Marty St. Louis. His lack of height shouldn't hinder him from becoming a top-six forward at the NHL level.

Ty Rattie: RW Portland, WHL

Bob: Strengths - Skilled winger who sees the ice well, gifted around the net, swift skater and top-end puck skills. Weaknesses - more of a projection than Rattie, has to build his strength and continue working on his all-around game. NHL Upside - draws some comparisons to Jordan Eberle. May be a top-six forward with time if he's willing to compete hard enough, but he's raw, will need to add strength.

Boone Jenner: C Oshawa, OHL

Bob: Strengths - Exemplary work ethic and leadership qualities, fights through everything. Strong desire to succeed, has a physical edge to his game. Keen hockey sense, above average vision, anticipation and playmaking abilities, plays in all situations. Weaknesses - Skating is not great, short stride and a wide track, can't stop and start very well. NHL Upside - Will be a favourite of his coaches wherever he plays. Has the desire to succeed that leads most to believe he will overcome skating deficiencies. Will likely wear a letter for an NHL team some day.

Tomas Jurco: RW St John, QMJHL

Bob: Strengths - Has top ten skills with elite puckhandling abilities and excellent skating agility, has all the physical attributes to be a star. Weaknesses - very inconsistent, is a star one night and accomplishes little the next. Not overly gritty, tends to stay to the outside of the play. NHL Upside - Risky pick in the first round who may be a top-two winger (think a more skilled Michael Frolik), or could struggle for ice time due to inconsistencies.

John Gibson: G US NTDP

Bob: Strengths - Composed, technically sound, competitive. Bounces back strongly from letting in bad goals, good mental strength. Good puckhandler, decent glove and quickness. Plays soundly in big-game situations. Weaknesses - No elite qualities to his game, not tremendously gifted athletically. Must work on his consistency. NHL Upside - Will likely be the first goalie selected and in a few years vie strongly for NHL playing time. May only be a backup, but a poised one with winning pedigree.


Still a lot of talent here and the Oilers have a lot of different player types to choose from, although there doesn’t appear to be a defenseman that stands out amongst the crowd of forwards. I’ve also included goalie Gibson in the mix because, well he was a projected first rounder and the consensus best goalie of the draft.

We’re not going to get an offensive juggernaut with our second round pick, I think that’s fairly certain. Should we still target an offensive talent like Ty Rattie in the hopes that we get lucky?I don’t think he fits the draft mantra of the Oilers. He’s undersized and unlike RNH, no sure thing that he’ll be an offensive force. He also lacks the secondary skills that ensure he’d at least be a serviceable 3-4 line guy. The same argument goes for Tomas Jurco. He’s got the size Rattie lacks but questions about his desire and compete level scare me off.

Like 5 in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Rocco Grimaldi is right out. Oilers fans would riot in the streets over the selection of the smallest player eligible for this year’s draft.

After deliberation, the guy I like best at #31 is Boone Jenner. He’s not going to make the NHL due to his offensive skills though they’re present, but he’s not going to take a shift off. A very Anton Lander-esque pick.

Whoever we pick tomorrow, it will be done after a good night’s sleep and hopefully much deliberation. We’ve made two solid selections thus far in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom, but adding a third blue-chipper from the 2011 draft would be another feather in the cap of our scouting department.

In Stu We Trust

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With the first overall selection in the 2011 Entry Draft... A Bubbling Under mockdraft

The NHL draft is only days away and as many other bloggers, I’m wasting way too much of my free time scouring over all the literature I can get my hands on that discuss a bunch of 18-year old kids. It’s my favourite time of the hockey year.

This year I thought I’d put all my reading to use and create a mockdraft instead of following suit and putting out another Top-30 list. Lowetide has already done a couple this year and as always they’re well thought out, including the lists from SpOILer and Blue Bullet that he’s put up on his site. As usual, Bob McKenzie has his out and it always laps the field in terms of accuracy. I really enjoyed getting in the heads of the 30 teams’ General Managers in order to identify what exactly their team needs from Friday’s first round.

In compiling my mockdraft I relied heavily on Bob’s list as it is the gold standard. Using THN’s NHL team prospect reports as a guide, I devised a plan for each team as to their prospect strengths and weaknesses. Each team’s work in the previous five NHL entry drafts provided insight into their drafting tendencies in making a selection, there was no way Edmonton was going to Russia and Brian Burke was definitely staying in North America for example.

Without further ado, Edmonton is on the clock...

1: Edmonton:

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Taylor Hall LW, Magnus Paajarvi LW, Jordan Eberle RW, Sam Gagner C, Alex Plante D, Riley Nash C

Team Needs: Teams finishing last place consistently need everything. Unfortunately with no clear-cut #1 pick this year this gives our GM “options”. They need help at C, on defence, and in goal.

Pick: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C Red Deer

2: Colorado:

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Joey Hishon C, Matt Duchene C, Kevin Shattenkirk D, Chris Stewart RW

Team Needs: Colorado could use some productive wingers to compliment established centers Duchene, Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly, but could also use another stud blueliner to compliment the offensive talents of recently acquired Eric Johnson. Worth noting that they have stayed in Canada for their first rounders the past five years.

Pick: Gabriel Landeskog, LW Kitchener

3: Florida

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Erik Gudbranson D, Nick Bjugstad F Quinton Howden LW, Dmitry Kulikov D, Keaton Ellerby, Michael Frolik

Team Needs: Florida’s gone full-tilt rebuild like the Oilers, starting in earnest last year at the draft where they made three selections to address three needs. They could use a C here and are unlikely to take a defenseman with Gudbranson in the stable. All their first round selections last year under new GM Dale Tallon were large mammals.

Pick: Sean Couturier, C Drummondville

4: New Jersey

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jacob Josefson C, Mattias Tedenby RW, Matt Corrente D
Team Needs: New Jersey is in an unfamiliar position this year picking as high as they are, and they aren’t likely to screw this up. They’ve been lacking a stud on defence since the days of Scott Neidermayer and there’s a damn good blueliner available. If negotiations are not going well with Zach Parise, they may be tempted to take a forward here.

Pick: Adam Larsson, D Skelleftea

5: NY Islanders

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Nino Niederreiter LW, John Tavares C Calvin DeHaan D, Joshua Bailey C, Kyle Okposo RW

Team Needs: The Islanders need help pretty much everywhere, so they’re bound to get something good in the 5-hole. They aren’t known to go for defence with their first pick, as 2008 first rounder DeHaan was their second selection that year. There are still both forwards and defensemen available here, but expect the Islanders to go forward here to provide a complimentary center to John Tavares.

Pick: Jonathan Huberdeau, C St. John

6: Ottawa Senators

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jared Cowan, Erik Karlsson, Jim O’Brien C, Nick Foligno LW

Team Needs: Goaltending and defence sure aren’t needs here. Ottawa has to upgrade their forward corps if they’re going to be taken seriously in the coming years. There are two options available here, and both are good fits. Ottawa has taken both from the CHL and Sweden in the past, but I think that intangibles will win out here.

Pick: Mika Zibanejad, C Djurgarden

7: Winnipeg Winnipegs

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Alex Burmistrov C, Evander Kane C, Zach Bogosian D, Bryan Little C

Team Needs: A name and logo. Outside of that, Winnipeg needs a center to build their new team around. There are some defensemen available here that would fit BPA, but Winnipeg doesn’t have a glaring need for them as their blueline is young and signed long-term.

Pick: Ryan Strome, C Niagara

8: Columbus

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Ryan Johansen C, John Moore D, Nikita Filatov C, Jake Voracek RW, Derick Brassard C

Team Needs: Columbus has historically been thin on the blueline and avoided drafting them with high picks. There aren’t many forwards available at this point in the draft, but there are some dandy defenders here. With John Moore in the fold they can forego the offensive creativity and focus on the snarl that left when Adam Foote left town.

Pick: Dougie Hamilton, D Niagara

9: Boston

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Tyler Seguin C, Jordan Caron RW, Joe Colborne C, Zach Hamill C, Phil Kessel C

Team Needs: The recent Stanley Cup champions must be over the moon with that Kessel trade, but that’s old news. Boston can afford to stockpile the best talent available. If pressed, I’d say they could use a blueliner to feed Chara on the PP.

Pick: Ryan Murphy, D Kitchener

10: Minnesota

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Mikael Granlund F, Nick Leddy D, Tyler Cuma D, Colton Gilles L, James Sheppard C

Team Needs: Minnesota is undergoing a franchise transition of sorts. With less emphasis on an ever apparent defensive presence, their prospect pool requires a shot of offense. They might be scared off from selecting a defenseman here as their most recent picks have either been foolishly traded away (Leddy) or failing to live up to first-round status (Cuma). Unfortunately for Minnesota, the talent level falls off after the first nine players.

Pick: Sven Bartschi, LW Portland

11: Colorado

Team Needs: With gritty winger Landeskog in the fold, Colorado can turn its attention to other areas of concern. Calvin Pickard, selected last year, lessens the need for a goaltender. The graduation of Stefan Elliot from junior opens a space in the pipeline for a puck-moving blueliner. The “shy away from Europe” theory again applies here.

Pick: Nathan Beaulieu, D St. John

12: Carolina

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jeff Skinner RW, Phillippe Paradis LW, Zack Boychuk C, Brandon Sutter C

Team Needs: The Hurricanes hit a home-run last year with the selection of Skinner, who will be a staple for the next decade as a top-6 winger for Carolina. They’ve got depth at C and some intriguing defensive prospects. Another team that doesn’t like to take Euros with first rounders.

Pick: Jamie Oleksiak, D Northeastern

13: Calgary

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Tim Erixon D, Greg Nemicz C, Michael Backlund C, Leland Irving G

Team Needs: Calgary was recently spurned by 2009 first rounder Tim Erixson, easily the top prospect in their system. This defection exposed their lack of prospect depth and was a loss that Calgary frankly could not afford. They managed to turn a bad situation into a less crippling one with their return from the Rangers, but this could scare them off of Euros for a while. They’ve needed prospects to contribute offence forever.

Pick: Mark Scheifele, C Barrie

14: Dallas

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jack Campbell G, Scott Glennie RW, Ivan Vishnevsky

Team Needs: Besides ownership stability, the Stars need players who can score. They’re about to lose their offensive force in Brad Richards and, while it’s impossible to suggest an 18-year old will step up and fill that void, they’re going to need the help eventually. Defence isn’t the greatest concern in the world here and they picked up their stud goalie last year. While a center would be the best bet, and Zack Phillips is available, I see them opting again (as was the case with Scott Glennie) for a large winger who can score goals.

Pick: Joel Armia, RW Assat

15: NY Rangers

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Dylan McIlrath, Chris Kreider C, Michael Del Zotto D, Alexi Cherepanov (RIP), Bobby Sanguinetti

Team Needs: New York doesn’t really need anything particular here, just a player they can eventually plug in and allow him to play to his strengths. They don’t have a drafting philosophy in the first round as I can see and have no problems going to Europe to make important selections. They’ve got enough snarl on the blueline with McIlrath and Pavel Valentenko and enough skill on the wing to go a long way. I’m making this selection on the hope that Del Zotto regains his form.

Pick: Zach Phillips, C St. John

16: Buffalo

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Mark Pysyk D, Zack Kassian RW, Tyler Myers D, Tyler Ennis C, Dennis Persson D

Team Needs: An offensive center with size would certainly fit the bill here to compliment their hard-working wing prospects. With Myers already winning awards at the NHL level and Pysyk eventually contributing solid two-way play they have no need to go after a defenseman again. They avoid Europe like the plague and have shown a tendency to look to the WHL in recent drafts.

Pick: Mark McNeill, C Prince Albert

17: Monteal

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jarred Tinordi D, Louis Leblanc C, Ryan McDonough D, David Fischer D

Team Needs: Montreal has only minor needs at this point and can afford to draft according to their preferences instead of BPA. They love the NCAA programs (Tinordi was originally committed to NCAA) and will likely stick to that route again. They lack a dynamic offensive contributor in their prospect pipeline but those aren’t available at this point. There are some highly talented Swedes available on teh blueline, but I don’t see that as an option for Montreal.

Pick: J T Miller, C US NTDP

18: Chicago

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Kevin Hayes F, Dylan Olsen D, Kyle Beach LW, Pat Kane RW, Jon Toews C

Team Needs: More cap space. They’ve got great depth everywhere right now, having fleeced every trading partner they had after being forced to offload salary last offseason. They’ve got speed, offence, ruggedness, grit and goaltending. The best player still available (in North America) is who they’ll grab.

Pick: Duncan Siemens, D Saskatoon

19: Edmonton

Team Needs: They still need a ton of help but having picked up their stud centerman the Oilers can focus on the remaining hole in their prospect system; blueline offence. I’ve seen many mockdrafts with the Oilers taking the likes of Oleksiak, Siemens and Joe Morrow here but this isn’t the player type the Oilers have need of. The prospect pool is filled with stay at home or two-way types (Theo Peckham, Colten Teubert, Alex Plante, Jeff Petry all fit that mold), picking another one at this stage doesn’t make sense to me. Especially when there are some offensive defensemen who are available and are higher rated.

Pick: Jonas Brodin, D Farjestad

20: Phoenix

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Brandon Gormley D, Mark Visentin G, Oliver Ekman-Larsson D, Mikael Boedker LW, Viktor Tikhonov LW, Kyle Turris C, Nick Ross D, Peter Mueller C, Chris Summers D

Team Needs: Phoenix has had more first round draft picks the past 5 years than any other team in the NHL. Problem is they’ve picked some duds, and the rest have failed to live up to first round billing (O E-L excluded of course). They could use a center, as Kyle Turris is still struggling to be more than a 3rd liner. They’ve picked a little bit of everything in recent years, there doesn’t seem to be a tendency with the Phoenix scouting department. This is a bit of a reach pick.

Pick: Rocco Grimaldi, C US NTDP

21: Ottawa

Team Needs: With Mika Zibanejad home and cooling, the Senators have another opportunity to improve their forward depth. As stated earlier there’s no reason to consider D this year, unless there’s a guy left who is head and shoulders above the rest. I think they go forward, and they stay within Ontario to get it.

Pick: Matt Puempel, LW Peterborough

22: Anaheim

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Cam Fowler D, Emerson Etem C, Peter Holland C, Kyle Palmeiri C, Jake Gardiner D, Logan Mac Millan LW, Mark Mitera D

Team Needs: If it weren’t for the meteoric rise of Jeff Skinner, the Ducks would have walked away with the steal of the draft last year in Cam Fowler. He’s going to be a #1 in a few short years but could use some help around him. They’re deep at forward, blessed with skill, size and two-way abilities but lack a little bit of nasty. This pick could end up being Tyler Biggs, but I think they’ll like a defenseman here.

Pick: Joe Morrow, D Portland

23: Pittsburgh

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Beau Bennett F, Simon Despres D, Angelo Esposito C, Jordan Staal C

Team Needs: The search continues for wingers that can play with the best centers in the league. They made a dandy selection last year with Beau Bennett, but should continue to add to their cupboards. Their defensemen are getting on in years but Simon Despres should be able to slot in as a top-4 guy in short order. I’ve got two players in mind here, and I’m taking size and speed over a consistent effort.

Pick: Tomas Jurco, RW St. John

24: Detroit

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Riley Sheahan F, Thomas McCollum G, Brendan Smith D

Team Needs: Detroit does not, nor has it really ever needed, anything. They will continue to go about their business to find the best ranked player regardless of where he came from. Lidstrom’s eventual retirement may be playing in their minds, and they could very well look to Sweden for another defenseman.

Pick: Oscar Klefbom, D Farjestad

25: Toronto

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Nazem Kadri C, Luke Schenn C, Jiri Tlusty, F

Team Needs: Regardless of how much we make fun of Toronto, they’ve done a good job in the recent past to shore up their organizational depth pretty much across the board. They won’t go goalie, they prefer to sign them when they’re a little older. The Leafs have better depth at forward than they do on the blueline at this point due to good drafting and trading. Brian Burke will pick a kid from North America, you can set your watch to that.

Pick: Brandon Saad, LW Saginaw

26: Washington

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Evgeny Kuznetsov F, Marcus Johansson C, Anton Gustafsson F, Karl Alzner D, Nicklas Backstrom C

Team Needs: Washington needs heart. They’ve got all the talent in the world but lack a true leader. That’s not the easiest thing to find, but there are some real character players in this year’s draft who could fit the bill here. A defenseman would also be nice, as they have enough offensive firepower to field a second team that could still beat the Edmonton Oilers. There are many options for the Capitals, who could again try for a home-run with someone like Viktor Rask. Very underrated scouting department.

Pick: Boone Jenner, C Oshawa

27: Tampa Bay

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Brett Connolly RW, Viktor Hedman D, Carter Ashton RW, Steven Stamkos C, Riku Helenius G

Team Needs: Tampa Bay is under new management, so throw the book out the window. The procurement department did well before Steve Yzerman was placed in the GM chair, picking up big productive bodies and the occasional superstar. The selection of Brett Connolly last year proved Yzerman is not scared off by injuries when drafting players. Their defensive pipeline is not strong, but there are forwards ranked higher. I think they continue along with their trend of drafting large mammals with secondary skills.

Pick: Tyler Biggs, RW US NTDP

28: San Jose

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Charlie Coyle F, Logan Couture C, Ty Wishart D

Team Needs: San Jose has achieved the level of “Detroit-model” in the sense that they don’t have to go after a specific position at the draft. They’ll gladly take whatever player is available to them and work them into their system when they’re ready. Lots of size and nastiness on the blueline already, but are a bit thin on the wing. Versatility is a big plus in San Jose’s system.

Pick: Niklas Jensen, LW/RW Oshawa

29: Vancouver

Past 5 drafts 1st rounder: Jordan Schroeder C, Cody Hodgson C, Patrick White C, Michael Grabner F

Team Needs: Vancouver made it to within one game of the Stanley Cup this year, and as such don’t need much at the NHL level. Their prospect pipeline however, could stand an injection of consistent talent. Recent first rounders Schroeder and Hodgson have stalled at the AHL level and White likely won’t even get that far in the Canucks’ system. The blueline was forced to provide replacements throughout the year and rookies Chris Tanev and Lee Sweatt proved capable. They need scoring and won’t likely go the college route any time soon.

Pick: Ty Rattie, LW Portland

30: Toronto

Team Needs: With big winger Saad added to their prospect collection, Toronto can add another Brian Burke type player to their stable.

Pick: Scott Mayfield, D Youngstown

31: Edmonton

The best of the rest begins the second round for Edmonton on day two of the draft. Stu MacGregor will be able to re-stack his deck and go out on Saturday and find the best player who slipped through the cracks. I would have loved if Tyler Biggs were still available as I think he’s exactly what the Oilers need, but will have to look elsewhere. Not typically the type to go looking for the home-run, Edmonton will likely pick the safe player at 31.

Pick: Rickard Rakell, RW Plymouth


That’s the draft as I see it. Looking back, my draft had 29 of the 30 players Bob McKenzie slotted as first-rounders. He’s the foremost word on the scouting front these days, and when in doubt, I trusted his list.

Disagree with my picks? I’m sure you will. Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll try and give a more in-depth reasoning as to why I made my selections.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2011 Draft POI: Jonas Brodin

Next up in our selection of prospects believed to be available with the Oilers second first-round pick is Jonas Brodin, a well-polished defenseman from Sweden (as if they produce anything else).

The rankings:

THN: 22
RLE: 25
CSS: 3 (Euro)
ISS: 20
Craig Button: 10
Bob: 12 (mid-season)

We see a very wide spread of positions for Brodin, but none that see him fall from the first round. He projects to being NHL-sized by the time he fills out in a couple of years, currently listed at 6'1 165. He's not going to bowl anyone over with sheer physical will but that's not his game. What he lacks in size he more than makes up for in other aspects of his game, according to frequent Oilogosphers poster SpOILer, who recently posted his top-30 over at Lowetide. SpOILer had made the brave mind to place Brodin 5th on his list, saying:

Brings the most elite hockey sense out of any of the top 6. I think it is dangerous to under-rate this ability. Off-the-charts anticipation. Is a plus plus skater. Very good passer. Has only average size and strength. It's tough to tell how much offense he will generate, but he had 4 assists without much PP time and that's a good number for the SEL. With his brains and passing ability he should be at least a solid point producer. His sense and skating make him about as much a can't-miss pick outside of the top 3 as can be had. The ability to make high quality reads playing against men at his age sets him apart. Most defensemen take years to learn what he already sees instinctively

SpOILer's not the only one raving about Brodin's vision and playmaking ability. Kirk Luedeke is fast becoming the most important voice in prospect talk that isn't working for MSM. Back in November, Kirk did a piece on Brodin and has this to say:

One more in a long line of highly skilled and mobile puck-moving rearguards from Sweden, the tall (6-1) but very lanky Brodin is an outstanding skater whose strength is his east-west lateral movement and ability to crossover in the face of forwards who attack with speed. He's got excellent vision and defensive instincts, able to diagram unfolding plays and put himself in position to interdict and neutralize the opposition attack. Brodin also has the ability to start the transition game to offense with his soft hands and crisp outlet passing. Although only about 165-170 pounds, Brodin has also shown a surprising ability to play a physical game.

Brodin appears to have speed and playmaking ability in spades, which is something the Oilers pipeline lacks as of now. Marincin and Petry both possess offensive ability from the blueline, but not of the calibre Brodin is expected to bring. Reports also suggest he's not shrinking violet either, and despite his apparent lack of bulk has been toiling against men for the past two seasons in Sweden's top two divisions.

Consistency also appears to be a hallmark of Brodin's game, which is something I hold in high regard when we're talking about 17- and 18-year olds. He's seen as the safe pick in the 20's by a couple of sources; not quite as pretty a package as teammate Oscar Klefbom but he'll get the job done. Likely won't be ready for a couple of years, but he's in a good situation in Sweden to develop his game against men.

I can see the Oilers taking Best Defenseman Available if they don't take Larsson #1, as has been their bent lately when they have multiple picks in the first round. Brodin certainly qualifies as worthy. The Oilers will certainly have him heavily scouted as they've been going to Sweden for their European selections with much more regularity since SMB took over.

Monday, June 6, 2011

2011 Draft POI: Tyler Biggs

I started doing a couple of these earlier in the year, where I'd introduce you to a kid I thought deserving of a mid-round pick. Jesse Forsberg is here and Shane Prince is here. I've been carelessly lazy for the last....ever, so these entries sort of fell by the wayside.

Blame my girlfriend, not me.

Anycase, I figured that since Lowetide has been covering the top end of the draft board with his usual excellence, that I'd leave that schtick to him and focus on players of interest that could be falling to the Oilers with the 19th overall pick. First up is a massive specimen who caught my eye reading his profile in THN's recent 2011 Draft Preview.

Meet Tyler Biggs.


THN: 20
ISS: NR (Top-30)
Bob: 10 MID

Born April 30, '93 in Ohio, he's a 6'2" 210lb RW who plays for the US National Team Development Program (NTDP). He finished the year scoring 17-11-28 in 48 games. While he isn't the most gifted offensive force that will be available at 19, he comes with other qualities that may get him noticed. Said THN:

"His Dad (Don Biggs) was a pain in the ass and he will be, too. He is legitimate tough."

I'm thinking somewhere along the Zack Kassian side of hockey will be the expectation of Biggs. He's going to be the guy to go into the corners and use his size to lean on even the bigger NHL defenders. He's got other qualities that will suit him at higher levels of hockey, says RLR scout Max Giese:

"He's a fast, mean, physical in-your-face guy with some leadership qualities."

CSS's Jack Barzee thinks his intangibles might be holding back his offensive abilities:

"Biggs is another young player who has taken on the job as leader of his team, and does most of their fighting when they have to fight, if not all of it. I think the responsibility for standing up for teammates has taken a little away from his offensive finish … wearing that ‘C’ and doing those things. My gut feeling is that he’s on an uphill path”.

Video of Biggs' game are available here. From an admittedly limited sampling, we see that Biggs likes to get involved for puck battles along the boards, can effectively skate down loose pucks and looks capable in a two-way role. His shot also looks to be a weapon, with a quick release and is accurate. Apparently has some PK ability already at a young age also, which is a bonus for a player who looks like a 3-4 line guy.

He's committed to his hometown Miami University for the Fall, though his CHL rights are owned by the Oshawa Generals.

I think he'd be a good fit for the Oilers organization because he resembles a lot of the qualities that have already been listed by General Manager Steve Tambellini and Head Scout Stu MacGregor as areas that need to be shored up. We've got a enough young offense in the likes of Hall Eberle Omark Paajarvi (Nugent-Hopkins?) that we can now concentrate our energy on finding players to compliment their skill. A big body who can skate with a willingness to protect the meal-tickets? Sounds like a winner to me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A quick musing on what the draft lottery means to me

I want this guy in Oiler colours.

I’ve never been one to shy away with giving out my opinion, especially if I’m leaning strongly one way on a topic. Last year I soap-boxed for Taylor Hall all the damn year and was rewarded. In 2007 I nearly hit my ceiling when we selected Alex Plante (jury’s still out on that one).

And now we come to the 2011 entry draft, where once again I’ve got my eye on a particular player. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first won me over reading up on him from the 2010 THN edition of Draft Watch. His unique combination of skill and speed was more than enough for me to overcome his slight stature. I made a note to follow his 2010/11 season with a close eye, perhaps more so than any other draft eligible prospect. Though I am not in a position to watch him play live (A WHL team in Winnipeg is higher on my list of necessary things in the ‘Peg than an NHL franchise), I followed his stats lines closely. Initial concern about his lack of goal production was buffered by the notion of Hall riding shotgun.

Then came the Top Prospects game in which he put on a hell of a show for me. I finally was able to take personal opinion from his game style and compare it to paper reports. His creativity, vision and overall hockey sense were what stuck with me the most from that viewing and carried over to the next time I saw him play, in his opening round series with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Much like Sidney Crosby did to the Oilers in his first appearance in Edmonton, RNH patiently went about his game until he struck. Then again. Then again. Before the Oil Kings knew what had happened the game was a lost cause and RNH was front and center in the charge.

There are some other nice talents in the draft this year. Adam Larsson will make another GM very happy when he’s playing 25 minutes a night. Gabriel Landeskog might be the next Mike Richards-type player. Sean Couturier’s light may have just dimmed this year and could make us all look like fools. But in the end I know what I like watching in Oilers hockey and that’s speed and creativity, pure and simple.

And that’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ game.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Prospect Statistics: February

One young man made huge strides during February while most kept up their status quo. We’re getting into the stretch run for our prospects, many of whom are fighting it out with their respective teams for playoff positioning. It’s at this time when I’m looking for the cream to rise.

Cameron Abney RW Edmonton/WHL

FEB 14GP 2-5-7 -5 7PIM 10ZPG
YTD 52GP 6-11-17 -5 79PIM

Abney had an offensive burst this month, but it should be accurately pointed out that really he just had an offensive outburst for two games (3 assists in one, 1-1-2 the other). If he gets a contract from the Oilers I’m going to be more to be more than a little irate.

Phil Cornet RW Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 6GP 1-0-1 E 0PIM 13SH 5 ZPG
YTD 42GP 5-8-13 +4 4PIM 65SH

After an outstanding January, we see Cornet regress back to his previous levels. Had zero points in five games to start the month, and was subsequently benched for OKC’s next five games. He’s going to get lapped by the influx of talent next year.

Drew Czerwonka LW Kootenay/WHL

FEB 12GP 0-6-6 +2 22PIM 8ZPG
YTD 58GP 12-27-39 +11 94PIM

A dip offensively, but Czerwonka still appears to be providing a good all-around game. He’s seen his powerplay numbers take a large cut, but when your team trades for Cody Eakin that’s bound to happen. I hope he finishes the year strong, because I’m rooting for him.

Robby Dee C Maine/NCAA

FEB 8GP 0-6-6 +3 4PIM 19SH 3ZPG
YTD 34GP 9-21-30 +6 24PIM 82SH

Dee continues along in his senior year for Maine, hoping to impress the Oilers brass enough to earn a contract after finishing college hockey. He’s in much the same boat as fellow collegiate athlete Chris VandeVelde was last year. He’s putting up the numbers and has other skills (faceoffs), but will ST have a case of once bit, twice shy with this player type from the previous administration?

Jordan Eberle RW Edmonton/NHL

FEB 13GP 5-6-11 E 10PIM 34SH 187.03EV 32.53PP 0.13SH 5ZPG
YTD 50GP 14-20-34 -4 14PIM 110SH 726.16EV 122.56PP 45.26SH

Young Eberle returned from injury after the Oilers first game in February and immediately began to put up numbers again. His points are coming almost exclusively at even strength (1 PP assist in Feb), but remains a high-event player at even strength as only 3 games are even par this month. He’s learning at an accelerated pace in the best league on the planet, we’ve got something special here.

Taylor Hall LW Edmonton/NHL

FEB 14GP 5-4-9 0 4PIM 44SH 212.27EV 42.54PP 0.10SH 7ZPG
YTD 63GP 21-19-40 -10 18PIM 183SH 880.18EV 173.25PP 1.42SH

Hall is a remarkable talent, but he put up his points in slightly unconventional fashion this month and for that we should be cautious. 80% of his goals this month came courtesy the PP and a game such as that Feb19th contest is such an aberration that I don’t know what to do with it. He’s sorting out his defensive lapses but like Eberle remains rather high event. We should still be treating him with kid gloves but at the low end of the potential spectrum he’ll be a top-6 NHL forward for the next two decades.

Curtis Hamilton LW Saskatoon/WHL

FEB 13GP 5-15-20 +11 10PIM 1ZPG
YTD 53GP 21-52-73 +43 20PIM

I love this pick. He was a gamble in the last draft (huge injury concerns) but he’s paid off better than any of the other 2nd rounders we took. He’s got offensive upside, knows his way around his own zone and can be the guy the Oilers can count on next year to be a PK demon. It’s rare for any but the impact prospects to make the jump straight from major-junior to the NHL, but I think Hamilton is capable of doing just that next year because of his secondary skills. Oh, and he lit up the league this month. No big deal, just an ordinary month for him, right?

Teemu Hartikainen RW Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 10GP 2-2-4 -2 0PIM 21SH 7ZPG
YTD 59GP 16-20-36 -3 29PIM 111SH

Just when we thought Hartikainen had taken the next step towards his NHL career, well it seems we may have been a bit premature in that projection. He’s still got talent, but he wasn’t exactly pushing for a recall in February. Maybe January’s AHL rookie of the month’s been figured out by the AHL competition and they’re keying on him as a player of interest when pre-game scouting is discussed, or maybe he just didn’t have it in February. I’m hoping it’s the former.

Kellen Jones F Quinnipiac/NCAA

FEB 7GP 2-3-5 -2 2PIM 19SH 2ZPG
YTD 36GP 7-18-25 E 31PIM 80SH

Jones and the Bobcats are an interesting case. I’d be more willing to dock Jones points for February’s performance (mostly PP points) if his team could be bothered to win a single game in said month. As Jones goes, so do the Bobcats. It’ll be a very interesting March as the Bobcats limp towards the playoffs.

Milan Kytnar C Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 9GP 1-0-1 -2 6PIM 10SH 8ZPG
YTD 57GP 7-10-17 E 20PIM 54SH

Kytnar’s fate was much the same as Hartikainen’s this month. He reached high places in January but came crashing back to Earth in February. He’s not required for offense in OKC but it’d still be appreciated once in a while.

Anton Lander C Timra/SEL

FEB 7GP 1-1-2 -7 2PIM 24SH 126.36TOI 5ZPG
YTD 45GP 9-14-23 -12 30PIM 98SH 818.46TOI

Ouch. That’s a horrible minus column for a kid who was billed as a defensive specialist. We should be concerned about Lander’s continued development in Sweden. He has to be signed sometime this offseason, but there’s an opportunity to get him over to the AHL this year if he signs quickly enough.

Ryan Martindale C Ottawa/OHL

FEB 12GP 5-9-14 +6 4PIM 3ZPG
YTD 58GP 32-46-78 +37 22PIM

Just a decent month for the big center from Ontario. He’s losing pace with his linemates in the OHL’s scoring race as both Tyler Toffoli (a 50-goal man) and Shane Prince (draft eligible this year) are pulling away. Is he riding coat-tails?

Linus Omark F Edmonton/NHL

FEB 12GP 0-7-7 -4 2PIM 16SH 141.10EV 34.12PP 0.00SH 6ZPG
YTD 32GP 3-13-16 -11 14PIM 52SH 385.27EV 83.24PP 0.00SH

Omark did well from a point production standpoint in February playing with fellow Swede Magnus Paajarvi. Like Eberle he’s doing his damage at even strength which is a welcome sign. As the Oilers are no longer in a position to succeed I’d like to see Omark given more responsibility to see if he’s a piece to build with or another passenger.

Magnus Paajarvi LW Edmonton/NHL

FEB 14GP 4-1-5 -3 0PIM 26SH 169.45EV 20.56PP 0.07SH 10ZPG
YTD 61GP 10-14-24 -3 12PIM 121SH 797.56EV 86.21PP 1.48SH

Another kid at the NHL level putting up even strength points. It’s a broken record at this point but it really bodes well for the future of this team. In Paajarvi’s case we won’t know his true potential until he gets an extended shift in a top-6 role (one upside of the Penner trade). Is he more than a 30 point-per-year all-around man?

Tyler Pitlick RW Medicine Hat/WHL

FEB 11GP 7-5-12 +1 2PIM 5ZPG
YTD 55GP 27-35-62 +4 29PIM

The lustre of Pitlick is starting to wear off on me. Case in point, he hat-tricked in the Tigers’ Feb26 game (one PP goal), a game in which the final score was 7-3 Tigers, Pitlick ends the game -1. He screams defensive liability to me and couldn’t even make this team as a center, the position he was theoretically drafted as. His point totals are heavily influenced by PP time (2-3-5 in Feb) and is still struggling with his +/- despite playing on one of the Dub’s best teams. I expected more.

Kristians Pelss RW Edmonton/WHL

FEB 14GP 7-4-11 +7 8PIM 8ZPG
YTD 57GP 14-16-30 +15 27PIM

Uh, what? When did this 7th rounder come to realize he’s got some hockey skills? An absolutely perfect month for the Latvian saw him move up to play with real linemates and flourish. I’d be interested in seeing whether this kind of pace will be sustainable next year or not. He’s going to be a player of interest next year.

Toni Rajala RW Ilves/SM-Liiga

FEB 8GP 2-4-6 +5 0PIM 40SH 129.54TOI 4ZPG
YTD 38GP 9-13-22 +2 4PIM 183SH 575.26TOI

Decent. Nothing more nothing less on offense, but his +5 is a good sign. He’ll be in OKC next year regardless of what he does this year, so let’s see if he can do more with his opportunity as another previously mentioned 5th rounder (ahem, Cornet).

Chris VandeVelde C Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 10GP 2-0-2 -3 6PIM 17SH 8ZPG
YTD 58GP 9-4-13 -17 38PIM 79SH

VandeVelde’s trying hard to stop his bleeding, but he’s clearly been outclassed this year. Perhaps he’s a late-bloomer at every level of hockey.

Jordan Bendfeld D Stockton/ECHL

FEB 13GP 1-1-2 -7 20PIM 21SH 11ZPG
YTD 21GP 1-1-2 -3 50PIM 29SH

Bendfeld’s a depth AHL defenseman getting outclassed in the ECHL. Too bad we have another year on his ELC to talk about.

Jeremie Blain D Acadie-Bathurst/QMJHL

FEB 12GP 2-10-12 -1 16PIM 17SH 3ZPG
YTD 34GP 3-29-32 +12 44PIM 27SH

All the talk among the Oilogosphere regarding our offensive D-prospects surrounds Martin Marincin, and I think that’s unfair to this outstanding prospect. Due to his injury trouble earlier in the season he’s been left out of most of our conversations, but he’s making the procurement department look great yet again.

Kyle Bigos D Merrimack/NCAA

FEB 8GP 0-1-1 E 47PIM 15SH 7ZPG
YTD 27GP 0-5-5 +1 112PIM 51SH

I don’t know about Bigos as an NHL prospect anymore, but then again every team needs a guy like him to police the other team. He’s either not afraid of the rough stuff or can’t keep up with the NCAA forwards.

Taylor Chorney D Edmonton/NHL

FEB AHL 3GP 0-0-0 -1 2PIM 5SH 3ZPG
YTD AHL 45GP 3-13-16 E 20PIM 69SH
FEB NHL 4GP 1-1-2 -1 2PIM 6SH 56.00EV 13.22PP 0.59SH 3ZPG
YTD NHL 10GP 1-3-4 -4 4PIM 11SH 136.45EV 22.14PP 5.22SH

Chorney was having a nice run at the NHL level until his injury. It looks like he’s really started to figure out that a defenseman should know how to play defence. He’s in the mix for a roster spot next year based on his NHL performance this year.

Brandon Davidson D Regina/WHL

FEB 13GP 1-12-13 -7 15PIM 3ZPG
YTD 63GP 8-41-49 -7 71PIM

I like Davidson. He doesn’t have draft pedigree, but knows how to play hockey. An awkwardly bad minus column keeps him from an A+ vote of confidence this month. If only he played on a real hockey team...

Martin Marincin D Prince George/WHL

FEB 14GP 1-7-8 -1 16PIM 7ZPG
YTD 59GP 13-39-52 -4 57PIM

I’d call this an improved month for the big Slovak rearguard, if only for the fact that he didn’t embarrass himself defensively again. The points are nice, but if he can’t play defence there’s no reason to get interested.

Johan Motin D Oklahoma/AHL

He’s injured. Apparently it’s upper-body.

Jeff Petry D Oklahoma/AHL

FEB AHL 6GP 0-3-3 +3 0PIM 11SH 4ZPG
YTD AHL 37GP 7-18-25 -5 16PIM 83SH
FEB NHL 7GP 0-0-0 -4 4PIM 3SH 111.16EV 11.43PP 12.15SH 7ZPG
YTD NHL 21GP 1-2-3 -4 6PIM 25SH 351.10EV 53.02PP 29.29SH

To say Petry had a bad February is the understatement of the year. Perhaps it was over-hype that led to our worrying about his play, but any way you shape it he had to be better than he was this month. I hope they keep him down in the AHL for the rest of the year so he can get his confidence back. He should be ready to go next year.

Alex Plante D Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 10GP 0-1-1 E 14PIM 12SH 9ZPG
YTD 56GP 1-10-11 +7 108PIM 54SH

Plante’s offence appears to have dried up at the AHL level, but it’s his +/- that leads me to believe he’ll have an NHL career. He’s been an effective blueliner this year.

Tyler Bunz G Medicine Hat/WHL

FEB 13GP .929SV% 2.40GAA 1SO
YTD 49GP .918SV% 2.53GAA 3SO

Bunz continues to stake his claim as the pipeline’s top goalie prospect with a workhorse month. He played in all but one game this month for the Tigers, including one relief appearance and was in most cases the team’s best player. I don’t think goalie development makes a lick of sense, but he seems the best of the bunch.

Bryan Pitton G Oklahoma/AHL

FEB 1GP 0.935SV% 1.85GAA
YTD 4GP 0.920SV% 2.46GAA

He played when Gerber was on recall to the Oilers. Numbers look good but aren’t apparently good enough to oust Jeff Deslauriers from his backup spot.

Olivier Roy G Acadie-Bathurst/QMJHL

FEB 10GP .922SV% 2.39GAA 1SO
YTD 40GP .907SV% 2.87GAA 2SO

Roy had a bounce-back month after regressing for what seemed like the entire season. A couple of ugly games, but like Bunz there were many where he had to bail his team out in order to win. He’s still alive, but I’m not 100% convinced he has NHL potential.

To note: I’ll be adding Colten Teubert to next month’s prospect statistics.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Trukhno sighting

In finding where Jordan Bendfeld's been playing the past month, I ran into an old Oilogosphere friend.

Slava Trukhno has been found. He's playing in the ECHL this year for the Bakersfield Condors. I'm quite shocked he didn't bugger off back to Russia the first chance he got after playing out his entry-level deal with the Oilers.

He appears to be doing quite well for himself in the ECHL, scoring at over a point-per-game pace with the Condors (36GP 9-31-40) and has even managed a brief re-call to the Peoria Rivermen, farm team of the St. Louis Blues (3GP 1-1-2).

It's a far cry from where many of us originally thought him to be at this stage in his professional career, but at least he's still doing what he enjoys.

As an additional note, March's prospect stats are compiled, I'll hopefully have them up soon.