Striking Oil in Ontario

2018 Top 31 NHL Draft Prospects

This hockey season, and all the top prospects that went along with it, coincided with the busiest year of my life. Although I didn’t put as many of my Oilers thoughts to paper as I would have liked, the NHL draft has always been an interest of mine. With that being said I welcome you to my top prospect rankings for the 2018 NHL draft.

Beyond top 2 this draft is unpredictable. Two months ago a consensus top 9 seemed set in stone.  Today the 3rd ranked prospect on some lists aren’t top 10 picks on others. The only locks are at the top with franchise defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, and powerful goal scorer Andrei Svechnikov.

In Dahlin, Buffalo is getting the cornerstone defenseman that should, alongside Eichel and Mittelstadt, bring the Sabres back to contention. In Svechnikov Carolina (Most likely) is getting a versatile scorer who’s only mis-step was a solid yet underwhelming world junior tournament in limited minutes. Continue reading “2018 Top 31 NHL Draft Prospects”


Official Dave O’Brien 2017 NHL Draft Rankings

My goal coming in to this years draft was to make my rankings completely independent of widely published lists. One thing I have always respected about Craig Button, is that he creates his draft list by trusting his own instincts.

With that in mind, the list below is an unconventional one. Nolan Patrick’s injury history and underwhelming production, led me to be far less impressed with him compared to a year ago.

The QMJHL has always been a high scoring league, and Hischier failed to dominate down the stretch. Hardly becoming of a player ranked first overall by many scouts.

Continue reading “Official Dave O’Brien 2017 NHL Draft Rankings”

Edmonton Oilers: Uncharted Territory

After a lengthy hiatus, a stressful offseason, and an encouraging start to the season, I figured it was about time I got some things off my chest.

As critical as I have been of General Manager Peter Chiarelli throughout this offseason I’d be amiss to not mention what I believe to be significant improvement to the Oilers roster depth.

A common refrain a receive from my friends who are leafs fans is “If players x, y, and z, are as good as you say they are, then why do the Oilers still suck”

Continue reading “Edmonton Oilers: Uncharted Territory”

The Official Dave O’Brien 2016 NHL Draft Final Rankings

One thing that quickly becomes evident upon reading my draft rankings, is that I like offense. Offensive instincts are damn near impossible to teach and many players develop positional and defensive savvy later into their careers. Draft as much talent as you can and add in size/defensive players/grit later on would be my strategy if I had a vote (spoiler: I don’t).

As I am unable to catch each of these players live, this list is based more upon the research of others opinions as well as analytical work done in the field of prospects. Much like Lowetide’s list, mine heavily relies on NHLE, which although is a crude translation of offensive production certainly advances the discussion.

On Saturday, during rounds 2-7, I predict that we will see a lot of over-sized yet under-skilled players get drafted in favour of severely undersized players who actually put up points.

For the Montreal Canadiens, sorry, the Edmonton Oilers at four, I would much rather see one of the defencemen get taken, in order to address a positional need. Sure the Oilers are flush with left shot defensemen, but are any expected to be legit number one guys? Perhaps Klefbom but that remains to be seen.

As the season wore on I became less and less certain about which D was the top D, and at this point would be thrilled if the Oilers got any of the big 3.

Overall, this draft starts out as above average with three NHL ready prospects but drops off to below average in the 20’s. Nevertheless, like all drafts, there are steals to be had.

1 Auston Matthews, RW, Zurich (NLA)  1
The franchise C that the Leafs have been looking for.
2 Patrik Laine, LW, Tappara Tampere (SM-liiga)  2
Best shooter since Ovechkin? Probably
3 Jesse Puljujärvi, RW, Kärpät (SM-liiga)  3
supposedly better off the rush than Laine. These top three are all excellent.
4 Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, Cape Breton (QMJHL)  5
Big scorer, with a nasty side. Questions about his high PIMs.
5 Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL)  7
After most of the year having Chychrun as the top D, I couldn’t resist the offensive ability.
6 Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL)  6
Questions about his primary points
7 Jacob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL)  4
Amazing skater, didn’t have the greatest year but has all the tools to be an elite defenseman.
8 Olli Juolevi, D, London (OHL)  9
Best passing D-man among the big 3. Brilliant mind.
9 Clayton Keller, C, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)   14
American Marner? Undersized.
10 Tyson Jost, C, Penticton (BCHL) (18) 18
Canada’s best player at the U18. Shouldn’t be any concerns about him playing in the BCHL this year.
11 Alex DeBrincat, RW, Erie (OHL) 10
Back to back 50 goal seasons cannot be ignored. Very small but has succeeded at every level.
12 Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL) 16
Huge C. Had a great second half. Needs to use his shot more.
13 Alexander Nylander, LW, AIK (Allsvenskan) 8
Uber skilled but questions around his production on an Elite line.
14 Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL) 13
Needs to get a lot stronger before he’s NHL ready but highly skilled.
15 Charles McAvoy, D, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP) 12
Had a great first year in College. Not overly tall but Thick.
16 Jake Bean, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL) 11
Offensive upside with the best of them but is both short and stringy.
17 Keiffer Bellows, C,  US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP) 20
The finisher for Keller’s passes this year.
18 Vitali Abramov, RW, Gatineau (QMJHL) 19
Magician with the puck. Corey Pronman loves him others have question about his size.
19 German Rubtsov, C, Vityaz Podolsk HC (Rus Jr) 21
Never seen him play. Scouts say he’s a strong two-way C
20 Luke Kunin, C, Wisconsin 23
Highlight reel potential
21 Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL) 15
Blazing fast skater but doesn’t adjust his speed to the play according to Mark Edwards
22 Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d’Or (QMJHL) 17
Massive and thick. Brilliant scorer on a loaded team.
23 Tage Thompson, UCONN, NCAA NR
Huge and has offensive ability
24 Taylor Raddysh, RW, Erie (OHL) 25
Power Forward type
25 Max Jones, LW, London (OHL) 36
Big power forward with consistency issues
26 Nathan Bastien, C, Mississauga (OHL) 41
The third piece on the Steelheads top line. Definitely the third best
27 Adam Mascherin, C, Kitchener (OHL) 22
Small but aggressive and highly skilled
28 Cam Dineen, D, North Bay (OHL) 30
High offensive production.
29 Rasmus Asplund, C, Färjestad BK (Sweden) 38
Pro numbers are hard to suss out for the second wave of European players, but he has a lot of buzz
30 Will Bitten, C, Flint (OHL) 42
Performed well through a tough experience in Flint this year.
31 Brett Howden, LW, Moose Jaw (WHL) 27
Once he fills out could be a force
32 David Quenneville, D, Medicine Hat (WHL) 28
I’m definitely over rating him (This is the highest you will ever see him and he may not even get drafted) but is 5’8″ that much smaller than Spurgeon or Ryan Ellis? Both of whom are top-pairing D-men despite their size. He plays bigger than he is and has a great point shot.
33 Samuel Girard, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL) 34
Gaudy point totals but is undersized, and scouts don’t like his defensive play.
34 Jonathan Dahlen, C, Timra IK (SHL) NR
Good draft for swedish forwards
35 Adam Fox, D, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP) 46
Could be a dynamic offensive defenceman. Undersized
36 Tyler Benson, LW, Vancouver (WHL) 29
Never lived up to his high billing and struggled through injuries.
37 Frederic Allard, D, Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 39
Described as a more aggressive Justin Schultz!!
38 Carl Grundström, F, Modo Hockey (SHL) 32
Solid pro numbers. Disappointing at WJC
39 Cameron Morrison, LW, Youngstown (USHL) 43
Solid USHL number and has great size. Surprised there’s not more buzz around him.
40 Luke Green, D, Saint John (QMJHL) 45
Mobile and didn’t get the prime minutes on the Saint John blue line
41 Boris Katchouk, LW, S.S. Marie (OHL) NR
Scouts love his hard-working style. Expect he’ll go a bit higher
42 Pascal Laberge, C, Victoriaville (QMJHL) 33
He needs to get stronger but plays a solid two-way game with high offensive upside.
43 Dillon Dubé, C, Kelowna (WHL) 35
I’m not sure if he’ll be a C at the NHL level but the skills is there.
44 Dmitry Sokolov, F, Sudbury (OHL) NR
Terrible Sudbury team yet he managed to put up solid numbers. 30 goal scorer who dropped from beginning of the year. Could be a home run in the third round.
45 Sam Steel, C, Regina (WHL) 47
disappointing year but had a good playoffs.
46 Noah Gregor, C, Moose Jaw (WHL) 48
Great set of hands. Nephew of Jason Gregor.
47 Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL) 31
Giant with lots of hype. Good straight forward skater, but history suggests defensive D-men in Junior rarely pan out.
48 Maxime Fortier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL) NR
Another smallish forward but the point totals are there.
49 Markus Niemeläinen, D, Saginaw (OHL) 37
Big and strong but also loves to rush the puck. Respectable point totals considering his weak team.
50 Filip Hronek, D, Czech NR
Top rated Euro D-man by Central Scouting. Really slender but can move the puck.
51 Kyle Maksimovich, LW, Erie (OHL) NR
No one can ever accuse me of having a size bias. Over a point per game player deserves a sniff in the second or third round despite 5’9″ size.
52 Janne Kuokkanen, LW, Karpat (Fin-Jr)
Some seem to think that he could be the steal of the draft.
53 Victor Mete, D, London (OHL) NR
Have I gone too far with the undersized mobile defencemen? Should impress in a bigger role with London next year.
54 Jordan Kyrou, C, Sarnia (OHL)
Many have him higher than I do but he does not possess great size or offensive totals.
55 Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL)
Another BCHL player. Less impressive offense.
56 Kale Clague, D, Brandon, (WHL)
Had a great second half after falling off on scouts lists.
57 Filip Berglund, D, Skelleftea (SEL) NR
intriguing numbers over in Sweden
58 Tobias Eder, RW, Germany NR
Best player for Germany at U18
59 Sebastian Aho, D, Skelleftea (SHL) NR
Skipped over in previous draft
60 Adam Brooks, C, Regina (CHL) NR
Undersized overager. But the Point totals. May be worth an invite to a prospect camp

The Curious Case of Mark Fayne

At first, Mark Fayne was an important signing for the Edmonton Oilers. At the time, all the arrows pointed to Fayne being an elite shutdown defenseman coming to the Oilers organization at a reasonable cap-hit. Previously for New Jersey Fayne was, along with Andy Greene, one half of one of the most analytically strong D-pairings in the entire NHL.

Looking at the stats, for the two seasons before Fayne became an Oiler, adjusting for Zone starts and score effects, the Fayne/Greene pairing posted a Corsi For percentage (CF%) of 59.5! When separated, Fayne looked slighty more human, yet still no slouch with a CF% of 54.2.

Full post at OilonWhyte

Matthews or Laine?

Due to my location being primarily Toronto Maple Leafs territory, and my long-standing interest in the draft each year, I’ve decided to weigh in on the first overall debate, and support my selection for Auston Matthews over Patrik Laine, as the top draft prospect as found here. To do so I’ve looked at it from both a team independent perspective (Best Player Available) and a particularly from the perspective of the Leafs organization.

Continue reading “Matthews or Laine?”

How the Edmonton Oilers Defense Performs With and WIthout Taylor Hall

Regardless of where you stand on Edmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall, his underlying analytics are some of the best in the league. Hall is the metaphorical tide that raises all boats in terms of on-ice possession numbers. This fact brings up the question: How do the Oilers defensemen perform when playing with Taylor Hall, and when playing apart?

Continue reading “How the Edmonton Oilers Defense Performs With and WIthout Taylor Hall”

2016 NHL Draft: Top-30

With the Oilers season finished, I’ve begun to really start to dig deep into the draft eligible prospects. As like many Oilers fans, I’ve become a fan of the draft over the years as a natural reaction to the high draft picks, and lack of playoff hockey. Although I’ve been following all these players throughout the year, and reading other opinions on top prospects, this is the first time that I’ve drawn up my own list. This is a preliminary list and is bound to change slightly by draft day but I wanted to get my opinions out there.

Continue reading “2016 NHL Draft: Top-30”

Oscar Klefbom and the Season That Could Have Been

The Edmonton Oilers were truly hurt this season by a multitude of injuries to key players. None of which cost the Oilers as much at the 52 games missed by defenseman Oscar Klefbom.

To say that this season has been a tough one for Klefbom would be an understatement. After initially breaking a finger, in mid December, it was later revealed that he had contracted an infection in his foot, which nagged him for the rest of the season. Moreover, several times during his stint on the IR, it appeared as if he was close to a return, before setbacks derailed his progress.

Full post continued at Oil on Whyte

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