As I said earlier this week, I made a little Youtube clip for the Oilers new prospects from this year’s draft. But before we get into said video, I should probably say a few things about the draft the prospects themselves. If you want to skip the commentary on the draft picks, scroll down to the bottom or click here.
We’ll start from the Oilers last pick in the 7th round and move forward to their first pick in the 1st round.
PHIL KEMP (USNTDP) – RHD – 7th Round #208
55gp 5g 7a 12pts
The Skinny on Kemp is that he’s a stay at home defender who played for the US National Development Program and he’s committed to play in the NCAA for Yale for the upcoming season.
About the only thing he’s got going for him is that he’s right-handed. That said, the Oilers under Chiarelli don’t mind taking gambles in the latter rounds at large dmen. Vincent Desharnais was the Oilers final pick in the 2016 draft and Zayat Paigin was the final pick in the 2015 draft. All three defenders come in at 6’3″ or taller but out of the trio, I’d have to say that MAYBE Paigin makes the biggest impact.
Was there anything wrong with Artyuom Manulin out of Swift Current? He’s a 6’3″ 196lb RHD who amassed 50 pts this past season in the WHL. Sure he’s Russian but that hasn’t stopped this Chiarelli regime from drafting Russians before.
SKYLER BRIND’AMOUR (Selects Academy U-18 (USMAAAE)) – C – 6TH ROUND #177TH
6gp 3g 6a 9pts
Brind’Amour son played for four teams last year, the US Selects Academy, USNTDP u18, USNTDP u17, and the US NTDP Juniors. So if you’re wondering why his stats above seem a bit lacking, he was up and down with the US National Development Program.
This current generation of Brind’Amour plays much like the previous one in that he’s got the grit, he’s got the hockey sense, and he’s got the physical tools to play the game. One area that Skyler did not pick up through the genes, an ability to put up offense. He’s simply a two-way checking forward.
I was a little surprised that the Oilers would take Brind’Amour but there’s a thing to be said about drafting the sons of good NHL players and it’s not unprecedented. They took the son of Vegas GM George Mcphee in the 2016 draft, Graham McPhee. Bloodlines aren’t ignored within the Chiarelli regime. Caleb Jones comes to mind as well. His brother Seth is doing quite well in Columbus these days.
I’d probably have taken big Finnish right-winger Sebastian Repo. He’s 6’3″ 189lbs and he racked up 32 points in 46 games playing for Tappara in the SM-Liiga. He’s an overager, originally eligible in 2014, he hadn’t done much up until this past season to warrant a draft pick. But this past season he led all players under 21 years of age in scoring.
If the odds are that you’ll get a bottom 6/pairing player in the later rounds of the draft hold true, then picking up a player like Repo, who could contribute right away at the minor league level, seems like a no-brainer for Edmonton, especially with the growing Finnish contingent.
KIRILL MAKSIMOV (Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL) – RW – 5TH ROUND #146
66gp 21g 38a 59pts
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read much on Maxsimov going into the draft but a few of the gents who follow me on Twitter were jacked about this pick. They said he’s a whiz in front of the net which immediately made me think of Ryan Smyth but he doesn’t come close to Smytty in that regard.
Maksimov didn’t have a great year to start with Saginaw and was later dealt to Niagara where he started to realize his offensive potential. 22 points in 29 games during the regular season and 4 goals in 4 games during the playoffs were his stats after the trade from Saginaw.
What’s the deal with Saginaw by the way, another Oilers pick, Markus Niemelainen, has left to go back to Finland to play…
I’ll say I was happy with the pick here. The Oilers’ wing depth needs coming up needs some more skill and scoring and if Maksimov can go back to Niagara in 2017 and put up 40 goals, he’ll be a steal for them.
OSTAP SAFIN (Sparta Prague, CZE Jr) – RW – 4TH ROUND #115
24gp 6g 12a 18pts
Originally projected to be picked at the end of the 1st round but no later than early 3rd, the big Czech fell to the Oilers in the 4th. When this happens, it makes me ask why? I’ve read that Safin has some consistency issues, so perhaps that’s why he dropped. But for a man his size with the skills, strength, and who plays with a physical edge, the Oilers may have stolen two players in this draft.
Between him, Maksimov, and Yamamoto, the Oilers shouldn’t have to worry about skill coming up through the system.
Depending on your preferences, perhaps you’d have preferred undersized pivot Tyler Steenbergen, hard-nosed blueliner Tyler Inamoto, or smooth skater dman Markus Phillips.
I like Safin.
Future Consideration’s Justin Froese says:
Ostap Safin, F, HC Sparta Praha – Massive power forward… Moves well for size and has that extra gear to get to his spot where he uses his offensive tools to finish a play… Sweet hands with smooth transitions between forehand and back hand… Well poised and heads up, seeing ice before making choices…Finds soft spots and thinks the play with or without the puck… Absolutely rips the puck and has a snap release that he can control… Hard on the body and competes to maintain body position on opponents… Smart play management, knowing when to push pace and when to relent… Strong 3 zone player.
DMITRI SAMORUKOV (Guelph Storm, OHL) – LHD – 3RD ROUND #84
67gp 4g 16a 20pts
With players like Nikita Popugaev, Scott Reedy, David Farrance, Keith Petruzzelli, Cale Fleury, and Ivan Lodnia still on the board, the selection of Samorukov shook me a bit and it shouldn’t have.
In Samorukov we’ve got an NHL-sized dman whose shot could accurately be described as something similar to what current Oiler Oscar Klefbom had at that age. Samorukov hits to destroy if a player tries to come through the middle on him and one-on-one, he’s a handful as not too many get by him unscathed.
I’d say he fits right in with the Caleb Jones’, Ethan Bears, Markus Niemelainens of the system. Not spectacular but solid. A nice 4-6 year project dman in my opinion given the depth on the left side in Edmonton.
STUART SKINNER (Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL) – G – 3RD ROUND #78
60gp 3.26GAA .905SV%
There are a few things that stand out for me with Skinner:
- The Oilers traded up to draft him using the picks from the Yakupov and Larsen trades. So basically the Oilers traded Nail Yakupov and Philip Larsen for Stuart Skinner. Makes me chuckle sometimes when you connect the dots on some trades.
- He’s scored a goal in the WHL.
- He’s been on the radar since he was 15 years old.
I can’t think of any goalies who took a major junior league by storm at the age of 15. I mean 16 and 17 is hard enough but 15 is mad and with the Hurricanes no less. It’s my understanding that around the time that Skinner broke into the WHL the Lethbridge franchise was in a bit of turmoil. I believe things have turned around now for the Hurricanes and one might say that Skinner has had a hand in that.
Bob Green had his hands all over this pick though, eh? Hopefully, Skinner turns out a bit better than Griffin Reinhart.
Skinner’s season wasn’t amazing as a SV% of .905 would suggest but Dylan Wells had a .871 SV% in his draft year and he turned that right around this season finishing the year with a .915 SV%. The Hurricanes appear to be a team on the ups, so with that, we hope Skinner’s numbers improve as well.
I’m pretty happy with the selection of the Edmonton product. Maybe only Lane Zablocki or Reilly Walsh would’ve been tempting and with Luukonen, Dipietro, and Oettinger off the board I reckon the Oilers did well to trade up and get the next best keeper. To add to that, there’s a slight possibility that the Oilers might have two goalies on Team Canada for the World Juniors this Christmas as Dylan Wells is also slated to be a consideration for the u20 national team.
KAILER YAMAMOTO (Spokane Chiefs, WHL) – RW – 1ST ROUND #22
65gp 42g 57a 99pts
There were quite a few players I was looking at for the Oilers to pick here but the overwhelming chatter was that the Oilers would be taking Yamamoto. Edmonton passed on two exceptional Finns in Kristian Vesalainen and Eeli Tolvanen (What happened to him eh?) to take the shortest 1st rounder in the history of the draft.
I love Yamamoto’s drive. His motor never stops. I love his creativity with and without the puck. I also love that he’s fearless and that he plays hockey the right way. I’m enamored by the idea of Yamamoto coming across the ice and flattening Johnny Gaudreau. Of course, that’s not Yamamoto’s game at all but the idea of seeing two of the shortest men in the league go at it is entertaining, to say the least.
Can Kailer Yamamoto be as good as or better than Johnny Gaudreau? ‘Tis possible in time. Gaudreau played a year of USHL and 3 seasons of NCAA hockey before starting his career with the Flames. So if the Oilers are smart they’ll take the long route with Kailer and let him develop mentally and physically into a more mature man before setting him loose on the NHL.
One thing that will separate the two players is Yamamoto’s shot. It’s a laser! The puck comes off his blade with incredible velocity and that’ll definitely help the transition to pro. He won’t have to rely on puck handling all of the time, he’ll have that blisterous wrister to back the defenders off.
The Spokane native put up some of the best results at the draft combine (1st in VO2 Max, tied for 2nd in consecutive pull-ups, 2nd in left/right pro agility, and 3rd in peak power output) and he was one of the older players in the WHL this year. He’s only eligible to play one more year for the Chiefs and then he can turn pro but if you listen to Oilers Now! host Bob Stauffer, you might be more inclined to believe that he’ll start his pro career sooner than later.
I’m against this completely and hope the Oilers do the right thing for Yamamoto and give him that last season in Spokane where he can dominate the WHL and perhaps take over 1st place in the Chiefs all-time scoring. He trails Ray Whitney by a “mere” 121 points but he had 99 points last season in 65 games. Who’s to say that a player like Yamamoto couldn’t put up another 120 points if he’s healthy?
Future Consideration’s Justin Froese says:
The most underrated part of his game is his ability to get back and read the opposition attack, positioning himself accordingly to make a play. Although he struggles with the strength of the physical game, he has the quick flick of his stick that is capable of causing enough disruption of opponent possession to rob opponents blind.
I was left tickled pink by his evolution of the team game. His elite vision and ability to process the play before anyone else while moving at break neck speed made him the most dangerous player on the ice on most shifts. His cornering, agility and acceleration has the ability to snap opponent’s skates clean off their bodies with a dizzying flurry of moves. His straight line speed is reached in sub 2-3 seconds and he can get anywhere on the ice in no time to lead an attack or return to defend his own zone. Has high end creativity with the puck on his stick and plays a lot of yoyo games with defenders who dare try to enclose him. Has a great passing game and the touch to thread the needle through what seems impossible lanes. Not just the set up guy as he as a bullet of a shot for his size and a hair trigger release that is a weapon from inside the dots. Goes all over the ice to make plays and doesn’t let the physical disadvantages he faces discourage him from doing otherwise.
I think he needs time to play against pros in the AHL to create an identity, but if he plays like he has in his 3 years, he will find a way to make himself an asset in the offensive field as a top 6 player.
I hope you enjoy the video below. To the guys who make the Hockey Prospects videos, I ripped some of their footage and noticed that I’d placed my BLH logo over their watermark, if you’re part of that team, I apologize for covering your logo.
I had a helluva time finding the right music but there was a catchy Linkin Park tune I eventually found. I’m not a Linkin Park fan to be honest but with the passing of their lead singer, I thought that using one of their songs called “The Catalyst” in a prospects video would be fitting as sort of tribute to not only the band but the players who might find themselves as a catalyst to the Oilers’ success.
It’s truly unfortunate that such a talented human found himself trapped in life and the only release would be death. I could never understand the pressures that Chester Bennington found himself under but from all accounts, he was a great man and a great family man. I hope he found the release he was looking for on the other side.
If you’re feeling trapped, talk to someone. You’re not alone in this journey we call life. And if you know someone who’s troubled, take the time to sit down with him or her and see how they’re doing. You’ll never know until you ask.