Saturday, May 28, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Depth Chart May 2011

Just a quick rundown on how the depth chart is shaping up for the Oilers' offseason.
(In my eyes, anyway)

Big Club
Omark Fraser Brule

Whitney XXXXXX
Peckham Gilbert


Trade Bait: (For sure) Cogliano and Smid (Potentially) Omark, Hemsky, Brule and Fraser. Souray is bought out.


Fedun Teubert
Davidson Plante


Synopsis: The Oilers big club's top 6 seems set if they decide to draft a center that can play this year. If not, then everything goes out the window and come July, I will likely rewrite this whole thing with a totally different look. Hemsky, at this stage, looks likely to be filler until they can establish someone with a little more braun. The bottom six could use a couple of veteran role players. One that can play a tenacious style game that can PK and one that can play role of rogue sheriff. The defense can use one top pairing Dman, an overall type Dman, going to be tough to find. It also could use a bottom pairing player that has some experience with some offense, one that can help Petry along without throwing Petry to the sharks. I have Khabibulin in the backup spot for now, but the Oilers need another veteran goalie that can both serve as a kick in the behind to Khabibulin and a possible mentor for Olivier Roy. As usual, the Oilers will need to fill out the OKC club with AHL vets, by my count they need 5 of them. 3 first line forwards, a Dman and a goaltender. The OKC club is starting to shape up nicely if they can find some servicable vets for them.

EDIT - June 16, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Edmonton Oilers Mock Draft: 2011

My rundown of players I feel the Oilers should take in and around the spots where players are projected to go in. I'm using the April version of the Central Scouting Bureau rankings as a guide.

1st Round - 1st Overall - Sean Couturier C - Drummondville - Big, excellant 2-way center, plays both ends of the ice equally well. Perfect compliment for Hall and Eberle. Very Jonathan Toews like.

1st Round - 19th Overall - Joel Armia RW - Finland - Big Finnish forward displays excellant puck skills, quick release and establishes a strong net presence. Reminds me a lot of a Nathan Horton type.

2nd Round - 31st Overall - Oscar Klefbom D - Sweden - Good sized, offensive minded Dmen. Excellant point shot, good puck distributor, decent skater. Reminds me of Sami Salo.

3rd Round - 62nd Overall - Adam Lowry LW - Swift Current - Potential Power forward type. Solid hitter, pretty good overall pugilist. 4th line type agitator, with 2nd line potential. Up and down winger that plays a simple game. Could have a chance to be a Mike Knuble type. At worst he'll be Brad Winchester.

3rd Round - 74th Overall - Zachary Yuen D - Tri-City - Solid, versatile Dman who is above average in both zones. Was a +41 on a team that didn't have anyone else over +30. Andrew Ference type Dman.

4th round - 92nd Overall - Dylan Wruck LW - Edmonton - Offensive player with some gusto. Plays gutsy despite his size. Strikes me as a Nathan Gerbe type.

4th round - 114th Overall - Troy Vance D - Victoriaville - Defensively sound and pretty good open ice hitter. Need to work on strength but a good prospect to take a gamble on. Skates well for 6'6" type. I think Alexei Semenov when I see him, but he skates better than that.

5th round - 122nd Overall - Mitch Elliot LW - Seattle - Best fighter amongst the bunch and can get around ice and play a little too. Only problem is he needs to be provoked to unleash the wrath. He retaliates more than initiates. Kinda like big Georges Laraque did in his day.

7th round - 182nd Overall - Andrej Stastny C - Vancouver - Intriguing prospect that is a late bloomer. Looks to be a player that can play multiple roles. Good size, good frame, looks willing to throwdown. Looks to be a Paul Gaustad type with the potential of more offense in there.

There's the rundown. Didin't mean for a WHL type heavy draft, but this year I feel the Dub is putting out a good crop of role players this year. To go on top of things it is the junior league I get to see the most. Until the next time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mock Draft Top 30: 2011

How I do a top 30 isn't a generic top 30. I put on my scouting and GM hat on and pick the best player for where I think an organization is with their teams. Some teams draft BPA, some teams draft need.

1. Edmonton Oilers - Sean Couturier C (QMJHL) - Strong-two way player that will be the defensive conscience for Hall and Eberle.
2. Colorado Avalanche - Gabriel Landeskog LW/RW (OHL) - Size and strength with scoring ability will be a fine fit for Matt Duchene.
3. Florida Panthers - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C (WHL) - With holes all over the forward corps, RNH is a good focal piece to start rebuilding the forwards.
4. New Jersey Devils - Adam Larsson D (Sweden) - A serious lack of depth D, Larsson is a good start for the Devils in rebuilding the defense.
5. New York Islanders - Dougie Hamilton D (OHL) - This was a tough call. Hamilton will be a nice compliment to Hamonic and DeHaan already in the system.
6. Ottawa Senators - Jonathan Huberdeau LW/C (QMJHL) - Winger help is what Ottawa could use. Huberdeau is a nice compliment to Spezza and Alfresson in the short term.
7. Winnipeg Thrashers - Mark McNeill C (WHL) - Winnipeg might be wise to trade down here, but McNeill is a missing piece that Winnipeg could desperately use. Two-way, tough.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Murphy D (OHL) - Puck moving Dman that has eluded Columbus for many years.
9. Boston Bruins - Ryan Strome C/W (OHL) - Bruins would be considered lucky to have Strome here. Offensive brilliance to go with the braun of the Bruins.
10. Minnesota Wild - Sven Bartschi LW (WHL) - The Wild need to find a way to score goals. This is a good place to start.
11. Colorado Avalanche - Duncan Siemens D (WHL) - Coloardo could use some phyisicality on the backend with some recent departures.
12. Carolina Hurricanes - Nicolas Beaulieu D (QMJHL) - Carolina needs to rebuild their backend. Slick Dman from the Q will help out with that.
13. Calgary Flames - Mika Zibanejad C (Sweden) - Flames have been looking for a center forever. Here's one that will fit the Flames mould.
14. Dallas Stars - Jamie Oleksiak D (NCAA) - Big defender could help Dallas out in their search for a top pairing Dman. Could be one of those Dmen solid at both ends of the rink.
15. New York Rangers - Joe Morrow D (WHL) - Morrow is everything they would have wanted Redden to be. Solid puck mover and smarts. Good player to build a defense around.
16. Buffalo Sabres - Mark Scheifele C (OHL) - Taller two-way center will fit nicly with the influx of mighty might forwards that have invaded Buffalo.
17. Montreal Canadians - Boone Jenner C (OHL) - Solid two-way center. Strength and size, two things the Habs are in the market for.
18. Chicago Blackhawks - Zack Phillips C (QMJHL) - Could make for a solid 2nd line center behind Toews for many years to come. Very crafty player.
19. Edmonton Oilers - Joel Armia RW (Finland) - Power forward type on a team that could desperately use strength on the wings.
20. Phoenix Coyotes - Tomas Jurco RW (QMJHL) - Phoenix is a team that could use more skill on the wings. Jurco is a good find here.
21. Ottawa Senators - Connor Murphy D (USA) - With Huberdeau in their back pocket, the Sens can afford to take a gamble on a player like Murphy. High upside here.
22. Anaheim Ducks - Vladislav Namestnikov C (OHL) - With Teemu Selanne at the end of his career, time for Anaheim to put back into the high end skill of things.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins - Brendan Saad LW (OHL) - With all those centers, this team is screaming for a big winger that can score.
24. Detroit Red Wings - Rickard Rackell LW (OHL) - Big Swede that plays in your face. Sounds like its right up the alley of the Red Wings.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs - Rocco Grimaldi C (USA) - A pick that could make the Leafs look like geniuses or buffoons. Pint-sized puck wizard to say the least.
26. Washington Capitals - Jonathan Miller C (USA) - Caps could use some center depth and one that has some two-way skills.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning - Phillip Danault LW (QMJHL) - A team that seems to be adept to finding good role players. They find another one here.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs - Jonas Brodin D (Sweden) - Slick puck moving Dman. Something the Leafs should definitely be looking for.
29. San Jose Sharks - John Gibson G (USA) - San Jose likes their big, butterfly goalies, so this is a pick that makes sense here.
30. Vancouver Canucks - Nicklas Jensen LW/RW (OHL) - Versatile forward that is a good fit for a team that is seemingly stacked everywhere.
31. Edmonton Oilers - Oscar Klefbom D (Sweden) - The wildcard pick. Could go 10th, could go 40th. Could develop into a solid two-way Dman or into a disaster in his own zone. I think well worth the gamble here.

Thats the rundown of the 2011 1st round. 'Til the next time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Drafting: BPA vs Need

Best Player Available versus Need. A time long debate that been going on for decades. I understand the concept of BPA and it seems to be the safer solution for those teams wanting to gather foolproof prospects. But what if your team is the Edmonton Oilers or the New York Islanders and your team has issues attracting players to your team? Losing has contributed to most of that, but how do you get out of that funk if you can't better your team? Its the chicken and the egg argument.

The problem that teams like the Oilers and Islanders face is having to build through the draft, but at the same time try and build a competitive team. So BPA isn't always the best solution for these teams when they are trying to build teams on the fly. They have holes to fill and certain types of players to fill them. The BPA philosophy could in theory have a team filled with 23 mighty mights that skate like the wind, but we all know in todays NHL that probably wouldn't fly very well. Strength like speed is still a big part of today's NHL.

Which brings me to conundrum that the Oilers face. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vs Adam Larsson vs Sean Couturier. Nugent-Hopkins is likely the most dynamic player in the draft and if I was starting an expansion team I would likely pick first overall. But since the Oilers already have a team in motion that has Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and mix in some Ryan Whitney, this tells me the Oilers are strong on the wings and have a #1 Dman for the forseeable future. Weaknesses for the Oilers lie at the center position now and into the future.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as I have described is a heckuva player. Very cerebral, very Datsyukian like. The problems that arise if the Oilers draft Nugent-Hopkins are:
- Strength becomes an issue in the top 6, therefore becomes a problem all over the team since the first two lines play the majority of the game. If you conceive a line of Hall-RNH-Eberle its a line thats likely not going to have the puck a lot, therefore forced to defend which isn't the forte of any of these players.
- Not enough pucks for this line. RNH likes to handle the puck, Hall likes to handle the puck. Eberle can play away from the puck with the best of them. Might be a little bit of mismatching going on. At least until someone conforms to play better away from the puck.
- RNH is probably at least a year away from making an impact at the NHL to deal with his strength issues. He could make the Oilers this year, but if he does, Lord have mercy on their souls. Small, young NHL players for the rest of the NHL to feast upon. Even ones as dynamic as these three are, are going to face a lot of long frusterating nights.

The Oilers are one of the slightly disadvantaged teams in the sense there oppurtunity of winning is smaller than those of big market teams. Through UFA's and NTC's, the Oilers have to fight these things and likely overpay for these things, therefore have a smaller opening to execute winning. The question is how much more losing is Taylor Hall going to put up with while he watches his counterpart Tyler Seguin helping the Boston Bruins in big playoff games. When you have a long history of losing its a hard thing to all of the sudden start winning. A well executed plan is a must, along with some luck along the way.

Which brings me to Adam Larsson. Larsson is an excellant defender and an excellant athlete. He is the safe pick because of his defending skills alone, he will likely have an NHL career, the impact of that career remains to be seen. I would think it would take at least 3-4 years before Larsson becomes a top pairing Dman, if he becomes one at all. I'm thinking it'll take one year to get accustomed to the NHL schedule and speed of the game, another year to find his niche in the NHL, and then from there hopefully see some growth in his game. Playing defense is a taxing job in the NHL, therefore the growth becomes a baptism under fire. its the reason why teams have short fuses with the Dmen they draft.

Sean Couturier. The player I'm personally hoping the Oilers take. Reasons being:
- Strength, strength, strength. Mix that in with a solid two-way game and I think is a better complimentary for Hall and Eberle. Remember, the Oilers should be building around Taylor Hall, he is the new face of the franchise and building around him is a must.
- Couturier is a traditional center. Only takes chances if they are there, which means he is comfortable playing on the defensive side of the puck. But supports the offense very well, but not at the sacrifice of the defense. This will allow Hall and Eberle to push the puck from the wings and not have to worry about defense as much as they would otherwise have to. Like they say, offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.
- Only concern I have about Couturier is occasional uninspired play. Is he going to go all Dustin Penner on us when the games matter? Hmmmm.

I guess this is where it all lies. BPA vs Need. Nugent-Hopkins vs Couturier vs Larsson. This pick will likely mold the direction of where the Oilers are going. Either heading for the top or straight into the gutter. My heart says Couturier is the right fit and my head says the Oilers will take the BPA and take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pros and Cons Top 6 2011

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C
Pros - Magnificent puck handler and distributor. Excellant vision. An offensive dynamo. Thief-like defensive skills, great on the backcheck at thieving. Excellant first step and high end agility. Very instinctive player, excellant hockey IQ.
Cons - Strength is an issue, very slight. Worried about one on one puck battles. Doesn't have high end speed, but gets around the ice well.
Projection - First line offensive center.

Adam Larsson D
Pros - A pure athlete. Skates very well and is very polished defensively. Very good on man-to-man coverage. Makes good crisp passes. Smooth puckhandler. Solid body-checker.
Cons - Offensively there are some question marks. Average shot, questionable decison making with the puck at times. Really wonder how he's going to put up numbers offensively.
Projection - #2 Dman.

Gabriel Landeskog LW/RW
Pros - Prototypical power forward. Takes puck to the net strong. Takes abuse and gives abuse. Excellant leadership qualities. Has no problems dropping the gloves.
Cons - Worried about his long range scoring, accuracy mostly. Kind of a clunky skater (skates with a hitch). Injuries have crept into his game this year mainly due to his style of play so duribility is an issue.
Projection - First line winger.

Sean Couturier C
Pros - Excellant 2-way center, excels at both ends of the ice. Excellant size, vision and awareness. Solid shooter and solid playmaker. Knows how to use his size.
Cons - Has bouts of uninspired play. First step is kinda slow. Wonder about his ability to make others around him better.
Projection - First line two-way center.

Jonathan Huberdeau LW/C
Pros - Gutsy player. Plays big. Equally good distributing or putting pucks on net. Excellant finisher around the net. Really slimy along the boards, tough player to pin. Excellant player in the transition game. Puck protection is excellant.
Cons - Large concerns about his size and the ability to translate his game to the NHL. Skating is pretty generic, he gets around, but isn't a flyer. Puck retrival is a concern.
Projection - Top 6 forward.

Ryan Strome C
Pros - Offensively dynamic. Excellant stickhandler and puck distributor. Solid finisher. Excellant top end speed. Has excellant sense of timing. Has a nice frame to put some lbs on. Aggressive, always pushes the puck forward.
Cons - Defensively average. Not positionally sound. Likes to chase the puck too much instead of defend. Might make a better winger than a center in NHL.
Projection - First line player.