2015-16 Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects

2016-17 Top 10 Edmonton Oilers Prospects

The former dynasty of the 1980’s has had a decade of not being able to win anything other than draft lotteries. With current former first overall draft picks from previous drafts on the roster such as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, Edmonton struck oil again winning their fourth draft lottery in six years.

No draft lottery since 2005 was more significant than the 2015 draft as the Oilers won the right to select generational talent Connor McDavid.

Despite the Oilers selecting in the top ten of the entry draft for the past seven years in a row and cherry picking elite talent in the first round, their late round drafting has failed to produce much of a supporting cast with little to no players remaining with the club that have had much, if any of an impact.

With a new management regime at the helm that does not consist of throwback alumni from the golden days, but rather experienced hockey minds, the future is slowly beginning show promise.

1. Connor McDavid: Centre – 6’1” / 195 lbs
Drafted: First overall in 2015 draft by the Oilers.

Until he starts his career, there is not much that can be said about McDavid that hasn’t already been said. This will be his first and only appearance on a prospect ranking as he will immediately usurp RNH as the Oilers top line centre. There is no chance he will be returned to Erie in the OHL, the only question is, how dominant will he be in his rookie season? His most prominent comparison is Sidney Crosby, who in his rookie season scored 102 points in 05-06; to score at that pace in today’s game would be impressive as Jamie Benn led the entire NHL in scoring last season with only 87 points. Can he duplicate Mario Lemieux’s first impression by scoring on his first game on his first shift off his first shot? These are the bench marks he will begin to be measured against.

Scouting Report

“McDavid, regarded as the top draft prospect since Sidney Crosby, has game-changing potential. He was third in the Ontario Hockey League in the regular season with 120 points despite playing 47 games. He’s been even better in the OHL playoffs; he had 11 points in a four-game sweep of London and leads all players in goals and points.” – Mike Morreale of NHL.com

2. Darnell Nurse: Defence – 6’4” / 205 lbs
Drafted: Seventh overall in the first round 2013 draft by the Oilers.

After a two game audition in the NHL at the start of the season, Nurse was returned to junior wherehe  dominated the Sault Ste. Marie blueline scoring ten goals and 33 points in 36 games, as well as help Canada win Gold at the WJC. Nurse also led the Greyhounds to the Conference Championship where he was assigned the unenviable task of shutting down future teammate Connor McDavid, and although the Sault came up short against McDavid and Erie, Nurse was a standout in the series. After the OHL playoff run ended, Nurse finished the season in the AHL playing in four playoff games and recording four points. He projects as more of a big minute logging shut down top pairing defender in the NHL and like most big defencemen will need some development at the AHL level, but he is close.

Scouting Report

Nurse is a strong two-way defenseman with good size and mobility. Plays a very solid game, good positioning and rarely makes any mistakes. Enjoys playing physical – Elite Prospects

3.Griffin Reinhart: Defence – 6’4” / 217 lbs
Drafted: Fourth overall in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Islanders.
Acquired: Trade from New York Islanders in 2015

Reinhart returns to Edmonton where he dominated in junior as a key member of the Edmonton Oil Kings and helped lead them to a Memorial Cup Championship. The fourth overall pick of the Islanders from 2012 received an eight game audition on long island to start the season, but ultimately was assigned to the AHL. After posting a minus -13 in his rookie season while recording 22 points in 59 games,  he was sent to Edmonton in exchange for a first and second round pick. With Nurse and Reinhart representing the long term future top pairing defencemen in Edmonton, the long criticized Edmonton defence will soon become a strength, not a liability.

Scouting Report

Skating is the most commonly cited issue with his play, and it is a concern. I’d say Reinhart fits the “skates well for a big man” label; he’s a long way from being a slug but start him flat-footed in the neutral zone against Carl Hagelin or Jason Chimera and bad things are going to happen…Hockey sense gets mentioned a lot by the people who like the player, including Oilers’ executive Bob Green, and with good reason. Reinhart’s defensive zone positioning is quite strong; it was funny watching him in his second career NHL game with his head on a swivel directing defensive zone traffic for the Islanders. He just knows where to be…At his best, Reinhart makes a good first pass, keeps the play alive in the offensive zone and has a heavy shot. His first night in the league he took the puck in the defensive zone, saw Carolina making a change, and made a two-line pass that led directly to an Islanders’ goal. – Jonathan Willis Edmonton Journal

4. Iiro Pakarinen: Right Wing – 6’1” / 215 lbs
Drafted: 184th overall in the seventh round of the 2011 draft by the Panthers.
Acquired:  Signed as a free agent

The Edmonton Oilers have found money in the free agent signing of Pakarinen, who was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers. Pakarinen seems to be a late bloomer as the 24 year old started the season in the AHL, and was recalled after scoring 28 points in 39 games. He did not look out of place in the NHL scoring three points in 17 games before a knee sprain ended his season. With little to prove at the AHL level he may have to switch to the left side to crack the Oilers top nine. He has good NHL size and can play a physical role, with his offensive upside he could be a very valuable third line option.

Scouting Report

Pakarinen plays like a demon in tight spots, and his stick handling ability and skating agility compares favorably to any of the top young players in Finland. Rather than focus on artistic playmaking, however, Pakarinen prefers the physical elements of the game. Offensively, he does have a hard, accurate shot which suggests he could be a dangerous sniper. While his physical style explains his pedestrian offensive numbers, that abrasiveness has gained him both attention and notoriety from scouts. As coaches and scouts will tell you, it’s easier to tone down a player who is too aggressive than it is to try and instill competitiveness.” – Hockey’s Future

5. Bogdan Yakimov: Centre – 6’5” / 232 lbs
Drafted: 83rd overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Oilers

Yakimov had an impressive rookie camp with countryman Vlad Tkachev last year, performing well enough in training camp to earn a short look with the Oilers in an early season game. He was then sent to the AHL for his first pro season in North America. In 57 games with Oklahoma City he scored 12 goals and 28 points. He has tremendous size, but could learn to use it to his advantage more and have a bigger influence on games. His offensive upside is a question at the NHL level but should fit in as a fourth line centre with some upside. With McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins holding down the top two centre positions, and Leon Draisaitl and Anton Lander competing for third line duties, anything above fourth line for Yakimov would be a challenge. Matt Hendricks and Mark Letestu also offer potential fourth line options and offer more experience. Another year in the AHL could best suit Yakimov to allow him to develop both his offensive game and learn to exert a physical influence on the game.

Scouting Report

Yakimov is a huge, powerful young player who is a monster on the ice. He has strong hockey sense and good positional play, which makes up for his sub-par skating skills. Despite a lack of foot speed he has impressive hands and good offensive skills. After spending two seasons playing at the men’s level as a teenager in Russia, Yakimov’s game is a bit more mature than most 20-year-olds, though he will likely need time to adapt to the smaller rinks and tighter checking in North America. – Hockeys Future

6. Anton Slepyshev: Left Wing – 6’2” / 194 lbs
Drafted: 88th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Oilers.

Slepyshev has signed with the Oilers and will be making his North American debut this season. It is a three year, two-way contract, so it remains to be seen if he will make his adjustments to the smaller North American ice in the AHL or the NHL. What is clear is that Slepyshev has tremendous offensive upside. He was an impact player for Russia at the ’14 WJC scoring seven points in seven games and was also a point a game player in the Spengler Cup. He has decent size at 6’2” but is not an aggressive player, he is capable of raising fans out of their seats with slick dekes and has a dangerous array of shooting options. With a two-way contract, expect Slepyshev to debut in the AHL barring a spectacular training camp audition, which is entirely possible. Even if he starts in the AHL, there is a strong chance he is called up to Edmonton and never looks back.

Scouting Report

Slepyshev is a talented offensive player.  He loves to shoot and has a very good array of shots.  His wrist shot and snap shot both are hard, accurate, and feature a quick release.  Slepyshev has very good hands, and is able to dangle around defencemen.  He’s not afraid to drive the net and generated chances in close with his quick hands.  He is a hard worker engaging in and winning numerous puck battles along the boards, and is willing to take abuse in front of the net.  Slepyshev could however use some work on his playmaking.”–  Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports

7. Laurent Brossoit: Goalie – 6’3” / 202 lbs
Drafted: 164th overall in the 6th round of the 2011 draft by the Flames.
Acquired:  Trade with Calgary in 2013

After an impressive junior career in Edmonton where his career record of 88 – 34 with a GAA of 2.59, he was a late round pick of the Calgary Flames and made his pro debut in 2013. He bounced around between four teams in total, between the AHL and ECHL as a backup. Brossoit was given the opportunity to play as the starter for Oklahoma in the AHL last year played well posting a 2.59 GAA and was eventually given a one game look at the NHL. He played on April ninth against the San Jose Sharks, facing 51 shots allowing only two goals against in a loss, but it was an impressive performance. With the acquisition of three goalies in Edmonton this off season in Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson and Eetu Laurikainen, and Ben Scrivens still in the system, finding starts will be a challenge, but Brossoit has earned the right to be the incumbent in the AHL for the upcoming season. There will be plenty of competition so he will be pushed to hold his position there and to eventually work his way into a NHL position.

Scouting Report

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he is blessed with ample size and strength .. he owns good quickness and above-average agility in addition to a quick glove hand .. while he understands his body needs to get in front of the puck, he will sacrifice another part of the net in order to take away the likeliest shot option ..rebound control has been a work in progress .. has quickly worked his way into Edmonton’s goaltending picture .. NHL backup potential. – McKeens Hockey

8. Jujhar Khaira: Left Wing – 6’3” / 214 lbs
Drafted: 63rd overall in the third round of the 2012 draft

Khaira is a potential future power forward who the Oilers would love to see develop into a Milan Lucic role. In order for that to happen he needs to discover a more sufficient scoring touch as his ten point season in the AHL is insufficient. Still at only 21 years old, the Oilers will continue to exercise patience with the big winger, but the clock is ticking and he needs to show them something soon.

Scouting Report:

Khaira is a large forward who dominated in Junior A hockey with his size and work ethic. Still a work in progress when it comes to his foot speed, he has the drive and determination to make it in the pro game. Despite his prototypical power forward size he has struggled to score with consistency at the pro level; playing more of an energy and checking role to this point. – Hockeys Future

9. Anders Nilsson: Goalie – 6’5” / 227 lbs
Drafted: 62nd overall in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Islanders.
Acquired: Trade with Chicago Blackhawks in 2015

Nilsson had a previous audition in the NHL with the New York Islanders posting career 3.05 GAA and a .898 save%, hardly impressive stats. He was cut loose and signed on last year in the KHL where he had a dominant season with Kazan posting a 20-9 record with a 1.71 GAA and a .936 save%. With Cam Talbot projected as the starting goalie, Nilsson will have to win the backup role away from Ben Scrivens. The 6’5” Nilsson is capable of doing just that and stealing starts from Talbot if he can duplicate the performance he demonstrated in the KHL.

Scouting Report:

A huge goaltender that is technically skilled. Nilsson has good hockey smarts plays with calmness and has good mental strength. Challenges the shooters and has been very consistent during his career, rarely having bad games. Furthermore, he is athletic and quite agile. – Elite Prospects

10. Ethan Bear: Defence – 5-11 / 200 lbs
Drafted: 124th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by the Oilers

The Oilers may have found a gem in the draft with Ethan Bear. He does not really excel at any aspect of the game, but is better than average all-around. He lacks size at 5’11” but at 200 pounds he is not small or weak either. He is capable of skating the puck out of the zone and posted decent offensive numbers with 13 goals and 28 points in 69 games, but is regarded more as an excellent defensive defenceman. He is adept at blocking shots and has a hard shot of his own. Bear is a long way from the NHL, but if he can continue to develop and establish value at the pro level he could become a quality depth defenceman for the Oilers.

Scouting Report:

Excellent defensive defenseman who has an aggressive stick, blocks tons of shots, handles one on ones, strips away pucks and refuses to any room in his zone. Clears the front. Will relieve pressure by carrying the puck out of his zone. Excels on the pK and is a key component to his team’s success there. His offensive side needs work and he probably needs to be more confident enough with shooting the puck. – Draftsite

Recent Roster Graduates

Leon Draisaitl, Nail Yakupov, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick.

Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.

Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling

Catch up on any Top 10 Team Prospect list that you may have missed.

Connor McDavid

Darnell Nurse

Griffin Reinhart

Iiro Pakarinen

Bogdan Yakimov

Anton Slepyshev

Laurent Brossoit

Jajhar Khaira

Anders Nilsson

Ethan Bear