Heading into the draft, the consensus pick here and almost everywhere else for the Oilers was Windsor Spitfires LW Taylor Hall - and he indeed was the choice. When asked to justify the selection, Oilers management seemed well informed about the positives and negatives of both players. They acknowledged Seguin's upside, yet pointed to Hall's drive and competitiveness as the key differentiating point between the two.
As a guy who'd originally been a Seguin supporter, extensive analysis of both players over the past month had taken me to move to the Hall camp - essentially for the same reasons the Oilers management cited. He is the best player available. He is the most NHL-ready of the draft prospects. And he screams future superstar. I couldn't be more pleased with the selection.
Other Draft Happenings
- I'm not surprised at all with the two Winterhawks Niederreiter (NYI 5) and Johansen (CBJ 4) going so early - they had an extremely strong finish to their season, and the 4-5 selection was just the icing on the cake for two players who had risen together up the draft rankings into the top-10.
- The way Brandon Gormley (PHX 13) and Cam Fowler (ANA 12) fell in the draft was almost inexplicable to me. It's as if once Niederreiter and Johansen were taken the teams choosing 6-12 didn't know Fowler/Gormley were still available. As good as players like Skinner, Mcilrath, and Burmistrov are, there's no way in hell they should have gone before the two blue-chip defensive prospects. Perhaps it was their lack of an intimidating physical game that scared teams away...
- There were a lot of players taken off the board. Mcilrath went early (NYR 10), as did Jaden Schwartz (STL 14), Joey Hishon (COL 17), Beau Bennett (PIT 20), Mark Visentin (PHX 27), and Charlie Coyle (SJS 28). It just goes to show how deep this draft is, where anyone picked between 10-60 could end up being just as good as any other once all is said and done.
- Emerson Etem (ANA 29) seemed to fall a lot from his original mid-round ranking. I guess a lot of teams were wary of his reportedly soft, one-dimensional game. Regardless, you'd think someone with that much speed and skill would go earlier.
- It seems that regardless of the upside displayed by talents like Jon Merrill, John McFarland, and Kirill Kabonov, teams were wary of the red flags raised for each of them. Merrill had a suspension earlier this season for an alleged sexual harassment case, McFarland has received criticism for a Rob Schremp-like attitude and laziness when approaching the game, while Kabonov's exploits range from walking out on teams to insulting his home country to playing roulette with various agents. I still don't think either of these players make it past 45 - the upside is too high to pass for some of these teams in the second round.
- Great show for the Americans here, with 11 players drafted. It ranged from players dominating in the CHL ranks to those who shone in the USHL to some who received hype through their high school team exploits. The game is growing down south, and the US is soon going to become a force to reckon with.
- Dale Tallon embodies the term re-build. What a way to go about re-building the Florida Panthers. Not only did he grab a stud in Erik Gudbranson (3), but he was able to turn that 15th pick into someone he wanted with Nick Bjugstad (21), and deal Keith Ballard for essentially 3 1st rounders (Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, 25th overall) from the Vancouver Canucks. That deal was a steal for them, and it seems like Florida is finally headed in the right direction.
- Similar praise should go to the Anaheim Ducks, whose pickup of Fowler and Etem at 12 and 29 respectively was an unreal steal. Before the draft most thought you'd have to be picking 4th and 15th to land those two.
The Oilers still have 7 more picks in the draft.
- 2nd round - 31st overall
- 2nd round - 48th overall
- 3rd round - 61st overall
- 4th round - 91st overall
- 5th round - 121st overall
- 6th round - 162nd overall
- 6th round - 166th overall
- 7th round - 181st overall
- Stanislav Galiev - A solid 6'1 Russian forward who combines natural Russian offensive skill with a tenacious defensive game. A standout in the QJHL this past year.
- Bradley Ross - An effective agitator who put up numbers just as high as Neiderreiter and Johansen this past seaoson with Portland in the WHL. Good combination of size and decent offensive potential.
- Jon Merrill - Regardless of the red flags, the upside is too high here for the defenseman from the USHL. He dominated the U-18's and maybe with research those red flags don't seem so important.
- Alex Petrovic - Edmonton-born defenseman who broke out this past season with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. Great size and solid two-way game. A project, but a worthy one.
- Calvin Pickard - largely considered the 2nd best goaltending prospect in this draft, Pickard has a legitimate chance of making Team Canada's WJHC team this December. Decent size at 6'1, 210lb.