It’s hard to gauge where the Oilers will finish in the standings come April, but it would surprise no one if they ended up with a lottery pick on draft day. As opposed to last year, no player has emerged as a potential superstar, the closest being Nolan Patrick who looks like he’ll be a top line NHL’er, but may not reach the same productivity levels as a Jamie Benn or John Tavares. Timothy Liljegren is the other player competing for Timothy Liljegren is the other player competing for
Timothy Liljegren is the other player competing for Timothy Liljegren is the other player competing for top spot at the moment, however, defenceman can be tricky, and we may not know exactly what he’ll be for another three or four years. Where this draft differs from most is in the amount of players who fit a specific role nearly perfectly. Players like Nico Hischier projecting to be a top 6 playmaking right shot
Where this draft differs from most is in the amount of players who fit a specific role nearly perfectly. Players like Nico Hischier projecting to be a top 6 playmaking right shot winger, or Stellio Mattheos who’s looking more and more like he’ll become a big-time producer while also maintaining a prominent role in the team’s defence.
In an attempt to paint a clearer picture of the prospects I predict to be selected by a lottery team, I’ve included a player comparison, however, the comparison carries very little weight.
Timothy Liljegren – RD – Rogle BK (SHL)
Comparable: Kris Letang, John Klingberg
Liljegren plays an up-tempo, offensive style of game without sacrificing his responsibilities in the defensive zone. He’s a dynamic skater with excellent puck moving abilities, and will likely be a top two NHL defenceman. Liljegren is currently out with mono, something that may hurt his draft stock.
Nolan Patrick – RC – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Comparable: Taylor Hall, Blake Wheeler
Given his innate ability to score goals, Nolan Patrick may be the first selection come June, but it won’t be without debate. The Wheaties captain has a similar demeanor to Taylor Hall, and doesn’t jump off the sheet as the smartest player, however his offensive abilities cannot be denied. Likely a winger at the NHL level.
Kristian Vesalainen – LW – Frolunda HC (SHL)
Comparable: Filip Forsberg, Loui Eriksson
The speedy Finnish forward looks to join fellow countrymen Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine as a top five pick, and there’s a very good chance he does so. Vesalainen appeared in 19 games for the SHL’s Frolunda HC where he scored two points, and has already matched that total this year through seven games.
Gabe Vilardi – RC – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Comparable: Sean Monahan, Ryan O’Reilly
Though he is more of a puck handler than the two comparable players above, Vilardi’s strengths come in his two way game. He’s a big, speedy center who’s capable who can play in every situation. Vilardi is currently out with a knee injury sustained at the Team Canada U18 Summer Showcase.
Kailer Yamamoto – RC/W – Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Comparable: Mats Zuccarello, Matt Duchene
There are a dozen Patrick Kane comparisons every year, and this year that same comparison will fall on the shoulders of Kailer Yamamoto. He’s a cerebral offensive force who’s shot accuracy is as strong as his passing ability. He’s a tad undersized, but he definitely has the skill.
Maxime Comtois – LW – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Comparable: Rick Nash
Maxime Comtois has not gotten off to the start he was hoping for, however it won’t be long before he breaks out offensively. He may not be the strongest defensively, however he’s competent in defensive roles. He’s a guy that will produce 40-60 points per season if he pans out.
Eeli Tolvanen – LW – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Comparable: Jonathan Drouin, Tomas Plekanec
Eeli Tolvanen is an interesting player to keep an eye on in that he plays with such a calm demeanor, rarely forcing plays, creating space and time, but when he gets the chance, he can absolutely devastate a goalie. He’s a skilled left winger who should be a 30 goal scorer in the NHL.
Callan Foote – RD – Kelowna Rockets
Comparable: Brent Seabrook
Callan Foote doesn’t do anything that’s exceptional, but boasts a well rounded game that allows him to be an all situations defender. Foote isn’t the fleetest of foot, but he has a long stride that allows him to cover a ton of ice. He’s also a right shot defenceman, something teams are beginning to pay a premium for.
Michael Rasmussen – LC – Tri-City Americans
Comparable: Jeff Carter
Through seven games, Michael Rasmussen already has eight goals. The 6’5 pivot has established himself as one of the premier goal scorers in the Western League, and you can only imagine he’ll get better from here on out. He’s a heavy player who competes hard.
Cale Makar – RD – Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
Comparable: Shayne Gostisbehere
Cale Makar is the best player in the Alberta Junior league, and if he were to take the jump to the WHL, he’d likely end up a consensus top ten pick at the end of the year. Makar is an explosive, powerful skater with unbelievable vision. He’s this years riser.
Ryan Poehling – LC – St. Cloud University (NCAA)
Comparable: Ryan Johansen
Not much is known about the St. Cloud center ranked in the top five by Craig Button, but he is sure to become a household name very soon. He’s a powerful center with excellent hands, and pretty strong finishing ability. He will be a consideration for Team USA come the World Junior Challenge.
Lias Andersson – LC/W – HV71 (SHL)
Comparable: Artemi Panarin
Andersson is a highly talented winger who is entering his second season in the SHL. The Smogen native already has three goals in six games, and his goal totals will only soar from here as the slippery winger has an innate ability to put himself in great scoring positions.
Klim Kostin – RW(LH) – Dynamo Balashikha (VHL)
Comparable: Kyle Okposo
Klim Kostin will garner top five consideration for quite a while. He has been placed in the top five by a number of scouting organizations, however after a rough start which involved being sent to the VHL after receiving very little KHL ice time, he may begin to fall on the majority of lists. Kostin opted not to play for the Kootenay Ice after being selected first overall in the CHL Import Draft.
Nico Hischier – LC/RW – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Comparable: Derek Stepan
Nico Hischier could be the best Swiss player to enter the league since Nino Niedderrieter. The Halifax Moosehead has started off his rookie QMJHL season quite strong, registering six points in the first seven games. Hischier is a skilled playmaking winger, who if he pans out, puts up between 40-50 assists per year.
Nicolas Hague – LD – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Comparable: Tyler Myers
At 6’6, Nicolas Hague is the biggest defender poised to ebe selected in the top 30. Hague has taken criticism for his skating ability which is his biggest obstacle from reaching the NHL. He does boast a strong defensive game and has the ability to contribute on the score sheet.
There are players at nearly every position inside the top 15, who boast a wide range of skill sets, meaning teams will have a plethora of options when they make their choice on draft day. When you look at the Oilers prospect pool, nearly every prospect listed would fit a role whether it be their ability to be a top six goal scorer or a puck moving right handed defenceman. The three players which Oiler fans should keep their eye on is Brooks Bandits defender Cale Makar, Rockets defenceman Callan Foote, and Swedish winger Lias Andersson.