Saturday, May 18, 2013

Edmonton Oilers Mock Draft 2013

Time for another round of being a wannabe scout and take a look at who the Edmonton Oilers might take with their draft picks. I have been doing this since 2010 and having a blast in doing so. Oilers only have 6 draft picks at this point in time, therefore the list will be shorter than it has been in years past.

1st Round - 7th Overall - Curtis Lazar C/RW Edmonton - The Oilers dip into their backyard and take the player they have been watching for the past couple of seasons. Lazar brings so much more versatility and adaptability to his game to go along with great acceleration and a quick trigger shot. I have little doubt about him fitting in with the other young Oilers. He could play on the Oilers as soon as next season if the Oilers choose to go that route. Depending on the direction the Oilers want to go with their young club under the Craig MacTavish regime, Lazar can play in any position under any type of coaching.

2nd Round - 37th Overall - John Hayden C/RW USNDP - Oilers need big wingers, this player is one of the bigger wingers in the draft. Has all the tools to be a scoring power forward. Good hands in tight around the net but also can make a play in space. Skates well for a big man and isn't afraid to use his frame. 6'3" 220 lbs at 18 years of age. Committed to Yale University for next season so its a storage pick for the Oilers but one that could have a high return at the end of his tenure. Could be a player that sneaks into the latter half of the first round. layed a lot of center on his club team but played the wing at the U18s and was fantastic. Another large U.S player Michael McCarron will need to be eyeballed with this pick if he is still available. Either player would be a solid pick here.

3rd Round - 55ish Overall - Tristan Jarry G Edmonton - I'd really like the Oilers to take a defenseman at this point but the selection is limited in this range. Oilers need to find a bluechip goaltending prospect, so why not go back to the "backyard" and take Tristan Jarry. Jarry is an A Grade goatending prospect that is a bit of a secret due to exposure. Jarry played backup to Laurent Brossoit this season but posted some of the best goaltender numbers in WHL this season. When he got a chance to be the "man" at the prospects game, he took the ball and ran with it. He was spectacular in that game. Jarry is a unique blend of being a structural goaltender with a high degree of athleticism. Another WHL goaltender Eric Comrie may or may not be available with this pick. Either would be fine choices here.

5th Round - 128th Overall - Jamal Watson RW Lethbridge - Watson is a favortie of mine. I have him ranked a lot higher than many of the other scouting servcies but I'll take him here because its likely the range he will go in. Watson is a gamebreaker in the making. Reminds me a lot of Emerson Etem at the same age. Etem grew up and emerged as a top flight power forward scoring big goals for the Anaheim Ducks this season. I feel under the right guidance, Watson could have the same kind of emergence. A player with already a lot of speed, if he can find some semblance of power to his game, he could become a handful for many years to come.

6th Round - 158th Overall - Quentin Shore C U of Denver - Shore went undrafted in 2012 after being ranked in the 80 range by many scouting publications. Craig MacTavish would be a fan of Quentin Shore because he plays a very similar game that he did back in the day. Defensive minded center with mild offensive ability. Quentin comes from a hockey family where his brother Nick and Drew have already been drafted by NHL clubs. Drew played for the Panthers this past season. Shore is currently playing for the University of Denver, just finishing up his freshman season. Nice 6'2" frame on this prospect. Tough to say where the overagers will go.

7th Round - #188 Overall - Cody Corbett D Edmonton - Once again the Oilers dipping into their backyard. Much like Quentin Shore, Corbett was overlooked in his draft year. I personally had him potentially going in the 1st round last year, so I was shocked to see he went undrafted in 2012. Not a lot of buzz about Corbett heading into this draft, so if the Oilers land him in this area of the draft, I would consider it wo be quite the find. Corbett is an all purpsoe defender that plays in a variety of situations. His biggest calling card is reliability. Decent offense and a strong defender with a hint of physicality. Once again, tough to say where the overagers will go.

Overview - The theme of this draft for me is trying to find versatile players. Ones that can complement the skill on the current club heading into the future. I went heavy on right handed shots because the Oilers are lacking in that department especially amongst their prospects. 4 of the 5 players drafted shoot right. I would have hoped to pick up more defensemen along the way but with only six draft picks, there is only so much ground to cover. More important its time to delve into looking for "character" players. Ones that won't mind not being in the spotlight while trying to help the team win.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NHL Mock Draft 2013

1. Colorado Avalanche - Seth Jones D - No brainer. Avalanche need help on the backend and Seth Jones is an "ace of spades" defender. Will be playing on their top pairing before too long. Excellent complement to the variety of young forwards they have.

2. Florida Panthers. - Alexander Barkov C - Panthers are at a crossoards in their development. I feel they should keep building down the middle and take Barkov. Having too many centers has not been an issue for any team. Barkov has similar comparisons to Evgeni Malkin. Perhaps a better two-way game and slightly less electrifying.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning - Nathan MacKinnon C - I have MacKinnon listed as a C but I feel he will play wing at the NHL, at least to start a la Tyler Seguin. MacKinnon will be a nice replacement for Martin St. Louis once he moves on, feeding Steven Stamkos for all of those deadly one timers.

4. Nashville Predators - Jonathan Drouin LW - Its been awhile since the Predators have had a dynamic forward who can make offensive plays on his own. Drouin would be a good fit here but it would take a change of philosophy for this to happen. Drouin would be the lighnting rod for the offense in short order.

5. Carolina Hurricanes - Ryan Pulock D - Hurricanes need Dmen, plain and simple. Best one on the board, in my view is Ryan Pulock. I feel he is a slight downgrade to Seth Jones, but not by much. Pulock will help the Hurricanes powerplay with his cannon shot. Some have Darnell Nurse going here, I hold Pulock in a much higher regard.

6. Calgary Flames - Sean Monahan C - Flames need centers badly. More importantly they need one that can do a variety of things. Enter Monahan. Monahan will help the Flames re-establish their two way game and strengthen their weak middle.

7. Edmonton Oilers - Curtis Lazar C - Might be a bit of a reach but exactly the type of player they need. Speedy, two-way center that could play immediately if need be. Lazar would be a great fit on the 2nd line and complement the other flighty forwards on the club. This pick would really establish team speed for the Oilers.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Elias Lindholm C - A Nicklas Backstrom type center that would complement Grigorenko and Girgensens going forward. This pick would really solidify the center position as a strength going forward for the Sabres.

9. New Jersey Devils - Rasmus Ristolainen D - Devils need to continue to stockpile the Dmen and Ristolainen is another nice piece to add to the stable. Will bring an all around game and be able to provide wherever necessary. Potential top pairing defender.

10. Dallas Stars - Hunter Shinkaruk LW - Scoring wingers has been a revolving door for the Stars over the past few seasons. Shinkaruk is a good pickup here as he will score for them for many years to come. As crafty as they get.

11. Philadelphia Flyers - Valeri Nicushkin RW -  A cut away from the usual from the Flyers. Flyers need Dmen badly but I feel there isn't one here that I feel wouldn't be a reach. Nurse is still on the board but the high end potential of a Nicushkin could pay back ten fold. A "bull off the wing" type scorer with real quick hands in tight. In a lot of ways, a Flyers type player.

12. Phoenix Coyotes - Nikita Zadorov D - Zadorov would be a perfect complement for Oliver Ekman-Larsson heading into the future. Phoenix likes their "big" players and Zadorov is exactly that, big and physical.

13. Winnipeg Jets - Max Domi RW -  Jets are in need of a better supporting cast, especially ones that can score. With Mark Scheifele on the way, its a good time to pickup Max Domi. A stout player with a nose for the net. Impressive awareness and deceptive strength on the rush.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets - Valentin Zykov RW - Columbus is setup nicely in a variety of positions but one thing they need to continue to improve on is scoring. Zykov's dynamic ability will help them in the long term. May even be the successor for Gaborik as the go-to offensive player.

15. New York Islanders - Fredrik Gauthier C - Gauthier would be an excellent complement to John Tavares in the long term as the 2nd line C. Big two way center would be a nice find for the Islanders.

16. Buffalo Sabres - Anthony Mantha LW - Time for the Sabres to potentially start look for the predecessor for Thomas Vanek. Mantha would be a good place to start. Big winger with soft hands. 50 goal player in the QMJHL this season.

17. Ottawa Senators - Alexander Wennberg RW - Senators continue the tradition of drafting two-way Swedes. Senators need to restock their centers but none available in this area without having to reach. Senators could potantially move Wennberg to center.

18. Detroit Red Wings. - Steve Santini D - Red Wings need help on the blueline ASAP and Santini is the best prospect that can help them the quickest. Duncan Keith style Dman that has an abundance of hockey sense. Red Wings are in need of offense from defense and Santini will bring that.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets - Darnell Nurse D - I have questions about Nurse's hockey sense but there is no doubt about his physical abilities. A gamble pick in my view, but if it pans out the Blue Jackets could have an excellent stead of defensemen going forward. Blue Jackets are in a great position to gamble with 3 1st round picks.

20. San Jose Sharks - Ryan Hartman LW - Sharks have lost many of their agitators over the years but Hartman also fits the new found philosophy of being able to skate. Hartman can also chip in on the offense.

21. Washington Capitals - Ian McCoshen D - Caps have lost some of the ruggedness from their backend over the years. Caps are blessed with a nice stead of offensive defensemen. McCoshen will help stabilize the physicality for the Caps.

22. Toronto Maple Laefs - Zachary Fucale G - Leafs could use another set of golatending prospects, as the last round many of them have faltered. Fucale is as "A grade" a goaltending prospect as one could find. Could play in the NHL sooner than some might expect.

23. Vancouver Canucks - Adam Erne RW - Canucks need bigger wingers and Adam Erne is a good place to keep stockpiling. Erne is a big body that isn't afraid to use it. Nice set of hands as well. Needs to stay motivated.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets - Morgan Klimchuk C - After this draft the Blue Jackets should have a very nice stead of prospects. The biggest thing now will be to add some versatility to that group. Enter Morgan Klimchuk. Klimchuk is a player that can score but he is also a forward that can play a variety of positions and situations.

25. Calgary Flames - Nicolas Petan C - If they take Monahan with their first pick, Petan would make for an intriguing 2nd pick. They would have everything they need in those two players as the top 2 pivots. Petan is pure offense with a little bit of grease to his game.

26. Boston Bruins - Josh Morrissey D - Morrissey is a nice alternative to the trees the Bruins have currently patrolling the blueline. Morrissey can do a bit of everything and is every bit as tough. Could take over the Andrew Ference spot in the future with the potential to become a lot more than that.

27. Montreal Canadians - Bo Horvat C - Canadians could use some more all around, robust players. Horavat is that player. A strong penalty killer with some scoring touch that can play anywhere in the lineup.

28. Anaheim Ducks - Madison Bowey D - Anaheim needs to continue to stockpile defensemen. Bowey would give the Ducks a real mobility option. Bowey could very well be the best skater in the draft. Bowey also has an evolving offensive game that is getting better on a game to game basis.

29. Calgary Flames - Kerby Rychal LW - Rychal is a robust forward that has back to back 40 goal seasons at the junior level. Would be the kick in the pants the Flames offense could use.

30. Chicago Black Hawks - Michael McCarron RW - Hawks could use a robust power forward and McCarron is exactly that. Bull in a china shop that has an improving offensive game.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oilers Offseason 2013

Its been awhile since I've posted on here. After the shenanigans of the past season, I grew weary of harping on the negativity of the Oilers and decided to put the blog on hold. After all, it was more of the same things that were holding the team back with no "looking for the cure" in sight. Another trade deadline came and went with no purging and the lone acquisition of Jerrod Smithson proved to be nothing more than a waste of a draft pick. Mike Brown was also acquired prior to the deadline and proved to be a very modest upgrade on Ben Eager in terms of willingness to be physical, but when it came to moving the puck north, it was nowhere near good enough.

The Oilers ended up the season in 12th. While a very few of the players took a step forward, many others took steps backwards. The Oilers are still struggling to find an identity. Young, high-flying, risk taking, is something that was similar to the '80s but seldom synonymous with winning in the 21st century. The Oilers need to take their speedy team and blend it into the modern game of station to station, grind it out, type hockey.

In this article, I will run down the player types that will be needed in order for the Oilers to become a playoff calibre team next season.

My Perceived Oilers Depth Chart:

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov
- Time to break up the "old" kid line and install a new improved version of it. Yakupov will install a more speedy robust style as opposed to Eberle's finesse style. The Oilers need to establish a more quick hitting " one pass and shoot" style. Having Hall play the role of puck transporter/playmaker and have RNH and Yakupov be more triggermen. Having RNH and Yakupov being left handed shots will allow for quick one timer options. This is a line that should define the Oilers going forward. Speed mixed in with cerebral play.

2nd line Power Foward - 2 way RH Center - Jordan Eberle
- Its time to move from Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. Its time for this team to become more balanced and defensive conscious and this is where the changes need to be made. Two UFAs that could be used in the LW spot are Ryane Clowe and Guillaume Latendresse. Clowe had a cold season while Latendresse endured an injury plagued one. Getting one of these two at a slight discount price and hope they can recapture some old glory. The biggest thing the Oilers need out of this spot is for a LW to score some but hit a lot more. Waste of time to hope for an Iginla or a Horton. As for the C spot, unless one thinks Tyler Bozak will hit the market, the Oilers may need to draft this spot. Most are hoping for Sean Monahan to fall at the 7th spot. While on the surface he is the ideal player in terms of style, the only issue is that he shoots left. The Oilers desperately need more RH shooting forwards especially with me having Gagner and Hemsky departing. Even though it may be a perceived reach, Curtis Lazar might be a better short and long term fit on this club, as well as give the Oilers more flexability to slot Lazar into different positions and situations. I feel Lazar could play on the Oilers as soon as next season. His physical and mental abilities are well above average for his age.

Ryan Jones - Shawn Horcoff - Grinding 3rd line RH winger
- I feel the Oilers need to re-up Ryan Jones, even if I'm in the minority. Jones may not want to come back, but the Oilers should look to re-sign him, otherwise they will be looking for two 3rd line wingers. Ryan Jones suffered through an injury plagued off year, but if he was willing to re-sign a one year deal around the same money, I'd welcome him back. The Oilers need his willingness to battle for pucks. More importantly, they need him hungry. As for the RW, the Oilers need another Ryan Jones type. Puck battling winger that can PK and chip in on the offense. Colby Armstrong would be the first target, Brandon Yip would be the backup plan. I can't see a situation where Shawn Horcoff gets bought out even though he is grossly overpaid. Trying to find a suitable replacement at this time would be a impossible task. Trying to find one center is tough enough, trying to find two, forget about it. Unless you think Eric Belanger can be an upgrade, which I don't, Horcoff will be back another season.

Magnus Paajarvi - Anton Lander - Ben Eager
- Time to start developing Paajarvi and Lander as a tandem. The Oilers would have been better off playing Lander full time with the big club this season. A broken foot kept that from happening although I'm not sure that would have happened anyway. Having Belanger rent out Lander's spot is a complete waste of time. Let Lander learn on the job in a 4th line role. This is a line that I would have liked to see more of last season but rarely were all three on the club at the same time. I know Eager has grown sour on the Oilers but I still feel he is a better option than Mike Brown, especially from an offensive standpoint. Eager is a player that is looking to become more than a "goon". I feel the tradeoff is give him two offensive player to play with, in turn, he give the Oilers hits. If he doesn't deliver the hits, than I feel his time would then be truely done as an Oiler, if it isn't already. This should be a ten minute a game line. In the long run it will keep everyone fresh.

Extras: Ryan Smyth - Teemu Hartikainen
- This is the best I can think of for Ryan Smyth. Not enough energy thes days to contribute every game but his experience will come in handy especially if the Oilers can ever find themselves a playoff game. Teemu Hartikainen still needs to learn the finer points of the game. But with him at the end of his ELC, it likely means his next deal will be a one-way deal, meaning he will stick with the Oilers next season.

Sergei Gonchar - Shea Weber
- This is best case scenario in my view. I know some are clamouring for Mark Streit, but I don't think the value will be there. He will be looking for a long term deal with big money, and I don't think the numbers will be there to justify the deal. In turn, I'd be trying to milk a one year deal out of Gonchar to get him to play one final season. Gonchar may very well stay in Ottawa, but the options are limited. On the other side, I have Shea Weber. Now Weber, isn't a UFA, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the Nashville Predators will hold an auction for. If Weber hits the trade market, its the one player the Oilers need to go "all in" on. I'm talking everyone outside of Taylor Hall, should be made available to acquire him. Bidding will be high, so the Oilers will have to part with some of the Fab 4 to acquire him. I'm talking a Nuge, Gagner, and Petry type deal. As long as Nashville doesn't ask for Hall, I'd do whatever I could to acquire Weber. Without these two pieces the Oilers will likely be out of the playoffs again next season, because their defense will still be too weak.

Ladislav Smid - Justin Schultz
- Time for Smid to take on veteran role and become a reliable go-to defender now that he is being paid like one. He's been OK over the past few seasons, but always leaves me wanting more. Because of his lack of offense, his defense needs to be air tight, and that hasn't always been the case. Justin Schultz had a modest first season. As expected he thrived offensively and struggled defensively. The grind of the NHL game eventually wore the young Schultz down. It will be up to him to make offseason adjustments to become better prepared for the marathon that is the NHL season. This pairing will either solidify Smid as a rock solid defender or expose him as an overpaid defender.

Mark Fistric - Jeff Petry
- I'd bring back Fistric. Oilers need physicality on the backend even though Fistric is a high risk/high reward type style. His hits can be spectacular but when he misses the opponent usually has a clear path to the net. I prefer Fistric over Nick Schultz. Nick Schultz is a no frills defender that isn't particularly good at anything other than getting in the way. Not physical, not offensive, debatable defensive player. Nick being -13 and Justin being -19 showed me the pairing didn't work that well even if there were others that were trying to convince us that it was a solid pairing. Time to cut the cord. The Oilers would be in good shape if Petry played on the third pair. He can continue to learn the offensive side of the game while playing against lesser opposition defensively. If injuries arise Petry can move up the batting order if need be, which is never a bad thing to have.

Extra: Nick Schultz
Nick Schultz wins the extra spot. I'm pretty indifferent about the whole thing but since he is under contract for one more season, might as well. Corey Potter could also fit into this spot if need be. Schultz's contract will likely make him immovable but I don't feel comfortable having him in the lineup as an every game player.

Devan Dubnyk - Cristopher Nilstorp
- Devan Dubnyk will likely get the bulk of the games but needs to continue to be pushed. Enter Nilstorp. Nilstorp is a prototypical Eurpoean goaltender with a blend of size and athleticism. Had a cup of coffee with the Dallas Stars but played well for the AHL affiliate. He's the type of goaltender that could be a talent meets opportunity type scenario. The Oilers could use an AHL goaltender as well as I'm not sure Yann Danis will be back. Enter a Henrik Karlsson or a Chad Johnson type.

Gone: Sam Gagner, Eric Belanger, Ales Hemsky, Mike Brown, Lennert Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk, Corey Potter, Ryan Whitney.