Dobber’s Prospects released a list of unsigned draft picks this week and I had a good look at that list. I reckon the Oilers pipeline could use an injection and sometimes players fall through the cracks, like Ryan Mantha for instance.
Now, it’s my belief, and your’s may fall in line with mine or not, that the Oilers are lacking skilled players at the AHL and prospect level. What I mean is that the Oilers simply don’t have anybody beyond Jesse Puljujarvi playing in the minors that has a knack for piling on the points. You might say Anton Lander is lighting the AHL on fire but I don’t consider him a prospect and you might also say Anton Slepyshev could be that guy but he’s in Edmonton at the moment.
I’m talking about the player that the Oilers could afford to develop for a couple of years, say until he was 22 or 23, then brought up and ideally, have an immediate impact.
Now, first and foremost, I have not watched any of the players on the list below. These are just my opinions and I reckon that they haven’t been signed for one good reason or another but I think the numbers look decent and the scouting reports look promising.
- Giorgio Estephan (62GP 30G 50A 80PTS) – Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL) – C – 6’0″ 196lb –
(2015 round 6 #152 overall by Buffalo Sabres)
A slippery offensive center with tons of skill and offensive prowess. When he is confident with the puck, he can pull off moves that open up a lot of time and space for himself and teammates. Can create a lot of dangerous chances through utilizing his smooth skating and knowledge of the offensive end. Continues to get better in his own end, defensively and physically. All-in-all, a smart, hard-working center who continues to improve in all areas, game by game, and is not far off from becoming a complete, well-rounded hockey player who can dominate offensively. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
As the hunt for small skilled forwards continues, Estephan looks to be lighting up a league that is traditionally not easy to light up. He’s right-handed and the Oilers could always use more of those. Not as big as I’d prefer for a centreman but then again, Chiarelli just picked up David Desharnais.
- Steve Lorentz (61GP 27G 30A 57PTS) – Peterborough Petes (OHL) – LW – 6’4″ 201lbs –
(2015 round 7 #186 overall by Carolina Hurricanes)
At 6-foot-3, 191 pounds, Lorentz fits as part of GM Ron Francis’ plan to make the Hurricanes bigger from top to bottom. Passed over in the 2014 draft, Lorentz more than doubled his point total from his original draft season and became a top-six player for Peterborough. He has NHL size and needs to continue to improve as a point producer. – Hockey’s Future
Players like Lorentz can go either way. He’s having a really great season but he’s also older and has the required size to dominate at the junior level. I like that he’s scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace and it’s balanced scoring too. I see him as similar to Jujhar Khaira but I wonder how his boots are?
- Spencer Smallman (57GP 25G 48A 73PTS) – Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) – RW – 6’0″ 201lb –
(2015 round 5 #138 overall by Carolina Hurricanes)
A hard-working forward that can play a gritty, grinding style of hockey. Can play in all situations effectively due to his willingness to battle in his own end, and natural instincts in the offensive end. Very smart with the puck in pressure situations, and passes with precision. Possesses great hands and puckhandling skills, not to mention a sharp, accurate release. All-in-all, a versatile winger that exhibits the ability to switch from a gritty, able-bodied two-way player to an offensive scoring threat in an instant. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
The first name that comes to mind when I look at Spencer Smallman is Vern Fiddler. Little guys who are smart with the puck but have some sandpaper to them. Smallman seems to be ripping up the “Q” at the moment but points are points and he’s finding a way to put them up. I dig that and would welcome that on the Oilers farm team.
- Roy Radke (39GP 22G 12A 34PTS) – Barrie Colts (OHL) – RW – 6’3″ 205lb –
(2015 round 6 #164 overall by Chicago Blackhawks)
There’s reason to like Radke, who was picked in the sixth round in 2015. He’s a large, strong forward and understands how to leverage that to keep possession and make plays. IceHogs coach Ted Dent had some praise for him during prospect camp: “He’s big. He skates. He’s got that long reach. I think he’s a winger, but he played center at camp this week. For all those guys, it’s just playing at a high place. It’s learning that everything is done fast.” – Second City Hockey
Sounds like Radke would be a fine bottom 6 player. Now be that in the AHL or the NHL, that remains to be seen. Sounds like he’ll need time to adjust to the speed pro hockey but the size is there, that’s for sure.
- Dominik Kubalik (51GP 29G 19A 48PTS) – HC Plzen (Czech) – LW – 6’2″ 179lb –
(2013 round 7 #191 overall by Los Angeles Kings)
20-year old Dominik Kubalik was selected 191st overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2013. He returned back to his native country after three seasons in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves, respectively the Kitchener Rangers. His point production literally exploded this season as he is on a pace to score a point per game. He has 14 goals in 22 games, which is the the most in the entire Czech Extraliga. He is also the second best scorer overall in this league. – The Hockey Writers
The first thing that popped out when I was reading Kubalik’s report was his goals. He’s nearly scored 3o goals in the Czech Men’s League. That’s decent for a kid his age and size (he’s wafer thin). Is this a player that would be worth investing one year on in Bakersfield?
- Matthew Bradley (66GP 30G 41A 71PTS) – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) – C – 5’11” 187lb –
(2015 round 5 #131 overall by Montréal Canadiens)
Montreal’s fifth-round selection in 2015, 19-year old Bradley is entering what will likely be his final season with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. After a 17 goal and 40 point draft year, Bradley improved his offensive numbers last season, ranking among his team’s leaders with 23 markers (third) and 51 points (fourth) in 68 games. At 5’11” and 187 lbs, the Vancouver native is decidedly average in stature, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for with hard-working two-way play. Indicative of the gritty game he aspires to deliver, Bradley cited Gallagher (even prior to the draft) and Jake Virtanen as some of his favourite players. – Hab’s Eye on the Prize
Bradley sounds like he’d be in the Greg Chase/Braden Christoffer camp. Little waterbugs that love to get their noses dirty. I always have time for these guys, and Bradley is putting up better points than Christoffer did in his last year of junior, but I have to wonder if the Oilers might move away from spending their resources on these sort of players. Everyone would love for Chiarelli to unearth another Brad Marchand though.
- Marcus Hogberg (33GP 1.89 GAA .932 SV%) – Linköping HC (SHL) – G – 6’5″ 209lb –
(2013 round 3 #78 overall by Ottawa Senators)
Hogberg is a big, competitive goaltender who excels at analyzing the play and positioning himself strategically based on the situation. He deploys a butterfly style, and at 6-foot-5, is an intimidating blocker with great lateral movement and the reflexes to excel both deep within and at the top of his crease. He has the potential to be a starting goaltender in the NHL, if he ever makes it across the pond. – Hockey’s Future
Are we looking at the Swedish Pekka Rinne or another Magnus Hellberg. A goalie with THAT size and putting up THOSE numbers? He’s very intriguing, to say the least. Do you think the Oilers would go back to a swedish goalie after employing Viktor Fasth, Anders Nilsson, and Jonas Gustavsson?
- Glenn Gawdin (44GP 24G 25A 49PTS) – Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – RW – 6’1″ 191lb –
(2015 round 4 #116 overall by St. Louis Blues)
The versatile and hard-working centerman is playing in the WHL for the Current Swift Broncos. He was drafted last summer in the fourth round, but his biggest value to the Blues appears to be his balanced game. The offensive skill is there, but some speculate the Blues will try to develop his defensive play rather than creating a scoring weapon. Gawdin has a good shot with a quick release, and has shown the ability to create scoring chances with a savvy pass. He’s a relentless defender who excels in the corners, and is responsible in all zones. (Dobber’s Prospects)
Nothing wrong with players who are already adept at playing a defensive game. That’s half of the battle with youngsters anyhow. Here’s a guy who can help out defensively but has the potential to be a concern for the opposition offensively as well, in the dirty areas no less.
- Nikita Korostelev (51GP 28G 33A 61PTS) – Peterborough Petes (OHL) – RW/LW – 6’1″ 201lb –
(2015 round 7 #185 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs)
A deft skater that plays a skill-based, puck-possession game. Very creative with the puck: can let loose an accurate bullet, utilize his stickhandling ability to create chances, or make a seeing-eye pass to an open teammate. Good hands around the net and relentless on the forecheck. Doesn’t shy away from the physical game. All-in-all, a very creative sniper that can set up, score, and play physical. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
Another euro-skiller! Edmonton hasn’t been able to develop these sort of players with consistent success in my opinion. We’ve got Slepyshev coming and Puljujarvi should be a full-time NHLer sooner than later but there’s a player out of Toronto that I absolutely love. His name is Nikita Soshnikov. He’s a little ball of fire out on the ice and I really dig his style of play. He can check and he can dangle. Does Korostelev have any of that in him?
- Stephen Desrocher (59GP 9G 35A 44PTS) – Oshawa Generals (OHL) – LD – 6’4″ 205lb –
(2015 round 6 #155 overall by Toronto Maple Leafs)
Reliable defender that can eat up minutes due to his smart play in his own end and his strength along the boards. Uses his size to his advantage and protects the puck well. Knows his game inside and out; he knows what he can and can’t do. In this, he knows how to push his limits and break down boundaries. What he can work on would be quicker decision making and quickness through the neutral zone. All-in-all, a well-rounded defenceman who has the tools and the work ethic to be successful moving forward. (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)
Now, normally I wouldn’t spend much time on another LHD but Desrocher is putting up nice numbers despite not being an offensive defenceman. He’s got great size and I reckon you can never have enough good two-way dmen in your system. Who knows, maybe this kid is another Brandon Davidson?
- Jansen Harkins (59GP 20G 50A 70PTS) – Prince George Cougars (WHL) – C – 6’2″ 194lb –
(2015 round 2 #47 overall by Winnipeg Jets)
A blue collar type two-way center. Heads-up player who makes high-percentage plays in all three zones; efficient in all situations. Smooth skater. Out-working the opposition and being hard to play against are leadership traits that Jansen Harkins most definitely embodies. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
Has been getting many comparisons, due to his high-end playmaking ability and all-around game, to the player David Krejci. Comparable adaptive game and ability to shoot as well as pass the puck. [EP]
Well, I don’t think Harkins is the second coming of David Krejci but I think he’s got future 3rd line center written all over him and if he’s got both silky and gritty hands, I can get on board with that. Why the Jets have this guy signed up by now is beyond me.
So what do you think of these players? Do any of them appeal to you? Let us know in the comments below!