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Monday, June 22, 2009

Pre-Draft Notes & Rumours Discussion

This is David Rundblad taking a slap shot from the point.

More on him later.

Who I want
(at 10th overall):

Besides the obvious players who won't be available at the 10th spot (Tavares, Hedman, Kane), here are the players I think realistically will be available and should be Oilers property come time to draft.

When it comes to this year's draft I think it's time for Tambellini to try to draft something that is as close to a low-risk pick as possible: that pretty much means he has to pick a player he knows will be an NHL competitor. Here's the list of players whose bios and descriptions I've read and come across as the best potentially available at 10th overall.

DMITRY KULIKOV, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)
RYAN ELLIS, D, Windsor (OHL)

JACOB Josefson, C, Djurgården (Sweden)
DAVID RUNDBLAD, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
TIM ERIXON, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)

Kulikov's description reminds me a bit of Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings or Zach Bogosian of the Atlanta Thrashers. Strong, skilled, and takes the hit to make the play as well as a great outlet pass. Hopefully he can be our next Boris Mironov - and then some.

As for Glennie, it's been beat to death how he's the prototype strong Western Canadian hockey brainchild and I think he has the makings of a pretty good top 6 forward. He's got the skills and smarts to be a Paul Stastny type though who knows how high the ceiling actually is for him.

When it comes to Ryan Ellis, myself an others (including Dean Millard) are unconvinced that he warrants a 10th overall selection, but he certainly puts some of the other NHL prospects to shame in terms of his pure skill, smarts, and point shot alone. Not that Ellis projects to be a bad NHL player by any merit, mind you. His comparables, Letang, Rafalski, Russell, are all good defenseman. But is he the best player at 10th? He certainly is a 1st round pick in this year's draft, though - because that is the consensus and that's why we have the CSS. A bigger version of Ryan Ellis would be Stefan Elliot.

As for the rest of the D-men I've listed, I think you can never draft too many smart hockey players (especially smart defensemen) and each of the last 4 players are likened and have specifically noted that they pattern their games after the likes of Zetterberg, Lidström, and Crosby. Though patterning your game after someone doesn't necessarily mean anything, the scouting reports show that at least these 4 players have had some success at picking up those skills. And that is why I like Elliot, Rundbald, and Erixon: they sound more ready to pick up a NHL style of game and already have a puck possesion mentality. On another note, Rundblad and Elliot are noted as having big point shots.

Who I don't want (at 10th overall):

When it comes to these players, I still think they are great prospects but don't believe they warrant a 10th overall selection. I believe these players to be middle first (15th overall) to early 2nd round (40th overall) type of players. These are still really skilled, but aren't necessarily the type of players the Oilers need right now.

OLIVER Ekman Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden-2)
Peterborough (OHL)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a great hockey player in his own right and has been compared to Lidström as well. But it doesn't say anywhere about his determination to improve as a hockey player the way it does for Erixon or Josefson. Also, Ekman-Larsson plays in a lower tier and won't be ready for NHL hockey (let alone full time NHL minutes) for a long time. Most NHL D-men are long term projects but I expect Ekman-Larsson to be a extended project in himself. He has the skills - but can he adjust to North American hockey? Will he play in the AHL?

I still love Zach Kassian and think he will be a great NHL player, but I'm on the fence about whether he'll become a Travis Zajac type or a Brad Isbister type.

As for Nazem Kadri, I think that Rob Schremp is a good comparable and had/has better upside than Kadri. Kadri has more size but does he have more pluck than Schremp? Kadri has a reputation of not using his team mates nor presenting any form of backcheck or forecheck. Certainly, this is just a reputation.

Rumours Discussion

It has come to my attention that the Oilers are interested in signing Nik Antropov as a Dustin Penner replacement. This has certain implications:
  • Nik Antropov is estimated to make less than Dustin Penner's 4.250 million
  • This would spell the reunification of Pat Quinn and Antropov
  • Antropov is a RW, Penner is a LW; this means one of O'Sullivan or Nilsson will likely keep their job, unless Cogliano is capable of switching wings; thus far Cogliano has played C/RW
  • This may be confirmation that Penner may be in play for Dany Heatley
  • If Antropov is signed, Gaborik is likely not an option (because Antropov is UFA, but Penner/Heatley are both signed to contracts and must be acquired/dumped via trade)
Would Antropov actually be an improvement? The same knocks on Dustin Penner (desire, pluck, consistency) are commonly cited for Antropov as well. However, Antropov is coming out of a hockey hotbed that is actually more critical of their players than Edmonton is and one has to wonder if Antropov is actually as bad as a lot of fans make him out to be. He was one of New York's better players after the deadline. That doesn't say much about Scott Gomez or Chris Drury, I'll tell you that much.

The one thing that Antropov has you can't teach and that's size. He's got a ton of skill that he doesn't use often and I wonder if he's an upgrade on another Oiler castoff: Ales Kotalik?!!!!

I think the Oilers would also save a ton of money by resigning Kotalik but would we be a better team for it?

Here's what the Oilers forward lineup would look like in such a circumstance:

Moreau-UFA Center-Pisani

There would be plenty of salary to dump but lots left over to sign/acquire a goaltender. This lineup would have plenty of size and skill to go around, but a lot of question marks in the consistency dept. (see Kotalik, Antropov).

Considering a potential Heatley acquisition, the picture gets more twisted:

Moreau-UFA Center-Pisani

Brodziak could potentially move up and fill the 3rd line center role but it would be a better idea to get a seasoned veteran to play that role. Perhaps Malholtra, Gratton, or Fiddler. How much would such UFA Centers command on the open market?

Such a lineup above would be highly skilled but a bit strapped for cash.

I'm all for acquiring Heatley but also recognize that filling out the rest of the top 6 with cheap but effective contracts will be a very tough and trying task for Tambellini.

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