So, a fella on Reddit posted the ESPN prospect pool rankings and you may or may not be surprised at where the Oilers sit. I’m just going to copy and paste what I found on Reddit, you can find the post right HERE if you want to check out the comments. Some are pretty funny, like the guy who thinks the Pens have a better prospect pool than the Oilers…
Right before we get into it, there’s a “Back to School” Sale going on at the BLH Teepublic shop right now but only for the next 26 hours or so and it should expire on August 16th, 2017. Click HERE to check it out! Here are a few samples:
Just a preface, I didn’t check out the rankings on ESPN itself, so there could be more to these that what’s printed. I imagine there’d be some sort of guidelines as to what a “prospect” is or isn’t and that’s why some teams are higher/lower.
1 Philadelphia Flyers Previous rank: 6
The Flyers don’t have as much game-breaking talent as our No. 2 team does at the top of their system, but 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick is right up there; after Patrick, the Flyers have the cupboards lined with talent at every position. The group includes solid first-round picks, middle-round selections who have trended up, and an undrafted free agent in Philippe Myers who is one of the very best defense prospects in hockey. Not too long ago, the Flyers’ farm system was a laughingstock, with C-grade college free agents making it into their top five. Today, they are in the best position of any NHL team in terms of adding young premium players to their roster.
2 Arizona Coyotes Previous rank: 2
The Coyotes have the most elite talent of any system, with the No. 1 prospect in Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome not being far behind, and Christian Fischer, who established himself as a top prospect this past season. After that, the Coyotes have solid depth, but they aren’t bursting at the seams with talent at each position. With Keller, Strome and Fischer potentially graduating this season, it’s possible the Coyotes will be near the bottom of this list a year from now.
3 Nashville Predators Previous rank: 10
The Predators have assembled a top-five farm system without a top-10 draft pick since 2013, and just made a run to the Stanley Cup Final. While I love the Eeli Tolvanen pick they made in the 2017 draft, their farm is much more than just him. They have two of the best defense prospects in hockey (stop me if you’ve heard this before) in Dante Fabbro and Samuel Girard, and Juuse Saros is an elite goalie prospect. Their talent in the AHL is deep, and recent middle-round picks look promising.
4 New York Islanders Previous rank: 7
The Islanders are regularly high on my farm rankings, but not always high in the NHL standings, with several promising names over the years fizzling out. This year’s crop is headlined by Mathew Barzal, one of the most dynamic playmakers I’ve scouted. Josh Ho-Sang’s solid NHL debut this past spring helped ease some concerns, and he looks like a premium prospect again. Ilya Sorokin is one of the best goalie prospects in hockey, but it remains a mystery when he’ll come over from Russia. The depth here is good as well.
5 New Jersey Devils Previous rank: 19
The Devils’ system was kind of awful prior to the 2017 draft. But after getting Nico Hischier with the No. 1 pick and drafting well in the later rounds, their future looks substantially brighter. Mike McLeod, Joey Anderson, Blake Speers and John Quenneville supplement Hischier, and the depth behind them is decent.
6 Minnesota Wild Previous rank: 17
Despite not having first-round picks in two of past five drafts, losing their other first-rounder in the expansion draft, and never picking in the top 10 in that time frame, the Wild have built a very good farm system, with star-level prospects at the top. It’s not a deep system, but few other teams can match a top four of Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Kirill Kaprizov and Luke Kunin.
7 Tampa Bay Lightning Previous rank: 14
Tampa’s system got a big boost after getting blueliner Mikhail Sergachev in the Jonathan Drouin trade. Their 2016 draft class is also a big part of this ranking, as Brett Howden and Taylor Raddysh had fantastic post-draft seasons. Anthony Cirelli also turned heads everywhere he went, and he played everywhere this past season. The system isn’t as deep as it used to be, with the Bolts graduating a lot of youngsters the past few seasons, but they should get solid value on their recent picks.
8 St. Louis Blues Previous rank: 23
Similar to some other teams in the top 10, the Blues’ system is top-heavy, with a lot of high-end talent — and good representation throughout my top 100 prospects list — but after their top tier, it drops off a cliff. They’ve shot for the stars with a lot of their picks in recent drafts, and the end product of their strategy has landed them players like Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou, Vince Dunn and Jake Walman — high-upside prospects they’ve acquired later in the draft than their skills dictated.
9 Vancouver Canucks Previous rank: 13
I’m sure Vancouver fans may argue their slot should be a little higher after using back-to-back No. 5 overall picks, with those picks being Olli Juolevi and Elias Pettersson. Although both are good prospects, they don’t move the needle at an elite level. However, Brock Boeser provides a lot of value, and looked outstanding in his brief NHL time this past season. Getting Jonathan Dahlen from Ottawa was also a boost to this system.
10 Boston Bruins Previous rank: 12
Charlie McAvoy’s emergence as one of the best prospects in hockey this past season is a prime reason for Boston’s high ranking. The Bruins also have a deep pipeline, with talent at every position. However, despite many first-round picks in recent drafts, they are lacking in true game-breaking talent outside of McAvoy, who will graduate this season.
11 Buffalo Sabres Previous rank: 11
The Sabres have picked in the top 10 for two straight drafts, bringing in a pair of quality prospects in Alexander Nylander and Casey Mittelstadt. Later picks like Cliff Pu, Rasmus Asplund and Brendan Guhle also had strong 2016-17 seasons. The system is a little thin after the top names, with their AHL affiliate lacking in potential contributors.
12 Ottawa Senators Previous rank: 16
Thomas Chabot had a fantastic 2016-17 season, heading a top-heavy Sens system that has done well in recent first-round picks like Chabot, Colin White and Logan Brown. However, the team has struggled to find talent in the middle rounds, other than Jonathan Dahlen, who was dealt for Alex Burrows. The result is that Ottawa’s future rests in the hands of a handful of highly gifted prospects.
13 Toronto Maple Leafs Previous rank: 1
The Leafs’ system is much different from a year ago, with star talents like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander having graduated. The system remains good, with high-end talents on forward and defense, but the Leafs don’t have a premium prospect anymore, just a lot of good ones.
14 Vegas Golden Knights Previous rank: N/A
Probably the hardest farm system to rank is Vegas’ due to how thin it is, the obvious byproduct of just starting a franchise. However, a very strong 2017 draft class helps carry it into the teens, given that the Knights used first-round picks on premium center prospects Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki, and a topflight defense prospect in Erik Brannstrom. They have some other nice pieces, such as Nikita Gusev and Alex Tuch, whom they acquired in trades prior to the expansion draft, but almost all the value of their system is in their three first-round picks.
15 Carolina Hurricanes Previous rank: 5
Carolina has done a good job building quality young assets the past few seasons, including 2016-17 graduate Sebastian Aho. The bulk of their strength is from the many first-round picks that remain in their system, but later picks like Nicolas Roy are also a reason for their high ranking. They will have a number of options from their AHL team ready to help at the NHL level in 2017-18.
16 Columbus Blue Jackets Previous rank: 4
A year later, Columbus’ 2016 draft class looks like a mixed bag. I’m all-in on third-rounder Vitaly Abramov, who was MVP of the QMJHL and looks like a real game-changer. I like No. 3 overall pick Pierre-Luc Dubois a lot, but he took a step back this past season. I don’t see a ton of upside in second-rounder Andrew Peeke. They did fine with what they had in 2017, and I still believe in Sonny Milano to an extent. However, after graduating Zach Werenski in 2016-17, there are enough question marks in their system to make me wary.
17 Los Angeles Kings Previous rank: 29
Prior to the 2017 draft, the Kings’ system looked like it’d stay near the bottom of the league. But a great class, headlined by first-rounder Gabriel Vilardi, salvages this system’s previously thin ranks. Defenseman Kale Clague has also rebounded to top prospect form, giving the Kings some top-end talent for the future.
18 Winnipeg Jets Previous rank: 3
Despite not having a lottery pick in recent drafts, the Jets have quite a few top prospects in their system, between Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic and Kristian Vesalainen. Not every pick they’ve made has looked like a winner, and the depth is just OK, but they could supplement an already good young NHL core with their top prospects.
19 Dallas Stars Previous rank: 25
A solid 2017 draft class inserted some optimism into a somewhat mediocre Dallas system, the highlight of which was two recent first-round picks in Julius Honka and Denis Guryanov. Miro Heiskanen, the system’s top prospect and No. 3 overall pick this past June, is a true front-line defense prospect. The Stars also show moderate depth at every position except center, although the progression of 2016 third-round pick Fredrik Karlstrom provides a little depth at that area.
20 Colorado Avalanche Previous rank: 21
Colorado usually tends to target players that aren’t high-skill or upside types of talent, but they landed a 2017 draft class that seems to deviate from that trend. High-quality talents Tyson Jost and Cale Makar — the club’s first-rounders from the past two drafts — salvage what has otherwise been a near disastrous past five years at the draft for the organization.
21 Anaheim Ducks Previous rank: 22
Anaheim’s system got a big boost from 30th overall pick Sam Steel turning into a world destroyer in the WHL this past season. Unfortunately, the pipeline doesn’t stretch too far after the top six or seven prospects. After Steel, there isn’t a ton in high-end talent, with Jacob Larsson stagnating a bit and Max Jones having question marks on his projection despite some occasional dynamic moments.
22 Florida Panthers Previous rank: 30
By drafting Owen Tippett and Henrik Borgstrom the past two years, the Panthers have added a lot of upside into their system, with some other intriguing high-skill forwards picked later. The ranks are thin at the AHL level though, and some of their drafts prior to 2016 have failed to add depth into the pipeline.
23 Montreal Canadiens Previous rank: 15
Montreal was one of the hardest systems to evaluate. From middle-round picks like Victor Mete looking fantastic, first-rounders like Nikita Scherbak and Noah Juulsen not dominating like you’d hope, to top prospect Martin Reway having to miss a season with a heart condition, there’s a lot of uncertainty with this group.
24 Detroit Red Wings Previous rank: 18
On the bright side, the Wings have used more high draft picks the past few years than they usually have, providing a lot of depth to their ranks and building in the proper fashion. On the negative side, I haven’t loved what they’ve done with some of those high picks the past two years, leaving them in a position of being more average than they should be.
25 Calgary Flames Previous rank: 9
The Flames don’t have an elite player in their system after Matthew Tkachuk graduated in 2016-17, but solid drafting has resulted in reasonable talent at every position, particularly on defense with Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Oliver Kylington. Their AHL team was entertaining this past season, with talent to see throughout the lineup. Their system could provide a lot of help to the big club during the next two seasons.
26 Washington Capitals Previous rank: 26
Washington didn’t get much value from the 2017 draft — not surprising, given that its first pick was in the fourth round — top prospect Jakub Vrana didn’t have a great 2016-17 season, and 2016 first-rounder Lucas Johansen didn’t have a great campaign, either. What prevents this system from being a complete disaster was the progression of several middle- and late-round picks into real NHL prospects, including Connor Hobbs and Damien Riat.
27 Chicago Blackhawks Previous rank: 20
Chicago’s recent drafting has been a mixed bag. Alex DeBrincat was the top player in the CHL this past season, but some other recent high picks have stagnated or struggled. There is decent depth in the system, but there is a lack of top talent outside of DeBrincat and 2017 first-round pick Henri Jokiharju.
28 Edmonton Oilers Previous rank: 8
A rare sight during the past decade: The Oilers don’t have much coming in terms of prospects! This year’s first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto is promising, and the Oilers have some decent depth at defense, but overall, the system is thin and light on impact. More than any other fan base, I imagine long-suffering Oilers fans aren’t incredibly concerned with this at the moment, given that their youthful team made it to the Western Conference finals this past spring.
29 New York Rangers Previous rank: 28
The good news: The Rangers brought in a decent amount of talent at the 2017 draft. The bad news: There was so little in the system prior to the 2017 class — thanks to dealing away early-round picks in previous seasons — that it brings the system just a notch above awful. The Rangers have tried to plug the holes with free-agent signings and the depth isn’t horrible, but there isn’t a lot here.
30 San Jose Sharks Previous rank: 24
With Timo Meier graduated, there isn’t a ton left to supplement the Sharks. Of course, I’ve said that for years, and they always seem to find a way to make an NHL player out of a depth prospect. Michigan-bound Josh Norris is a solid center, and Jeremy Roy is intriguing, but there isn’t a ton of upside here overall.
31 Pittsburgh Penguins Previous rank: 27
The Penguins have been at the bottom of my farm rankings two of the past three years — and of course, they have won the Stanley Cup two straight seasons. I think the Penguins and their fans will take it. Daniel Sprong remains the sole shining light in the pipeline, but the system is shot after a heavy push to move picks for NHL-ready assets in recent seasons.
What do you think? Do the Edmonton Oilers have the 4th worst prospect pool in the entire league? I mean with the likes of Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Bear, Jones, Wells, Benson, etc… I’m thinking that Puljujarvi isn’t considered a prospect for some reason but even then you’d think ESPN would rank them a tad higher but maybe it’s not a bad thing at all because the teams that are near the bottom are pretty bloody good, no?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!