Hearing some chatter about Edmonton’s draft. Personally, I think they had a pretty good one.
8th Overall: Philip Broberg (D, AIK: Alssvenskan)
I was so sure the Oilers should take defense at 8, but I didn’t think they would do it. Yet here they are taking the guy who some scouts would tell you was the top defender in the draft. Most agreed that Bowen Byram was THE top guy, but you could find a few scouts that would tell you Broberg should’ve gone before him. That’s because his offensive upside from the backend is off the charts. He’s going to need the right coaching and the right development, but his size (6’3, 199 pounds) and athletic attributes are too good to pass up. He powers through the neutral zone into the offensive zone and is a natural puck carrier. He’s absolutely the kind of guy that Edmonton is going to want to have coming in a couple years as McDavid hits his mid 20s. Lack of organizational defensive depth is why Edmonton traded for Reinhart and Larsson. That vacuous hole in the organization’s prospect pool has been sated somewhat with this pick.
38th Overall: Raphael Lavoie (RW, Halifax Mooseheads: QMJHL)
It’s absurd that Lavoie was still there at 38. It’s crazy that Lavoie lasted past pick number 20 if I’m honest. He’s a 6’4 finesse player that’s built like a power forward. He has one of the best shots in the draft. I might argue he has THE best shot in the draft. He gets the puck on net with accuracy and speed. He can shoot on the move, or in the cycle. Lavoie has the skating to get to soft areas in the attacking zone and the vision to find those areas with regularity. If there isn’t a shot for him to take, his playmaking ability is also above average. He’s not a liability in his own zone either. He’s a 3 zone player with great size, skill and shot. Absolute steal for the Oilers here. Kid projects to be a middle 6 scoring winger at worst.
85th Overall: Ilya Konovalov (G, Lokomotiv Yarslavl: KHL)
Oilers grab themselves a 20 year old goaltender from the KHL who turns 21 next month. He had an obscene year for Lokomotiv this year. His numbers are stellar. He appeared in 45 games tying him for 10th in the league and through those games had a .930 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average. Those are good numbers, but there was a substantial number of what we would consider really good goalie statistics over here. The KHL had 10 goaltenders with at least 20 starts and Goals against averages below 2.00. Konovalov though, is one of the youngest among those goaltenders and was top 10 in ever relevant goaltending stat in the league. The KHL is arguably the 2nd best pro-league in the world with a lot of really skilled goalscorers and all kinds of open ice. It will be interesting to see if Konovalov can adjust to the traffic oriented game of many NHL teams. Edmonton does not seem comfortable with prospects Dylan Wells and Stuart Skinner at this time, and it seems unlikely that they view Shane Starrett as any kind of real solution for the future. While the Oilers look to get Konovalov to come over from Russia, he will be continually playing against world class level of competition. They could have their goaltender of the future here, but it’s really hard to project with any kind of accuracy.
100th Overall: Matej Blumel (F, Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL)
Blumel is an overaged player who spent last season in the USHL. His draft year he was just invisible. He had come over from Czech juniors, after looking really good in Czech Under18s and he just fell flat. I don’t know why. I could not tell you, I wasn’t scouting him back then. I picked up on him midseason though for Waterloo when he had 47 points through 34 games. Something had clicked for the kid. His size doesn’t wow you, he’s one of those 6’0, 200 pound kids. He has excellent burst speed that allows him to create separation in transition and while moving through zones. He also exhibits slick hands and a surprisingly accurate and forceful snapshot on the move that really catches goalies off guard. It’s like he’s able to release the puck a half second before the goalie expects him to and he reaps a lot of goals this way. You’ll notice I have him listed as a Forward for his position and that’s because h can play any position on the line. That versatility really helps Edmonton out down the line. If all that wasn’t enough, he also plays with some real snarl out there and has a tendency to get under the opposition’s skin. He’s UConn bound this coming season and that should be great development time for him. He projects to be a middle of the pack forward at the NHL level, but a guy that can be counted on to provide some scoring. I think Edmonton fans will really like this kid when they get to see him in an Oilers uniform.
162nd Overall: Tomas Mazura (C, Kimball Union Academy: USHS)
The late 2000 birthday center from Pardubice, Czech Republic played his junior hockey in… United States High School. Mazura was ranked 127th by NHL central scouting among North American skaters so he definitely caught some eyes. What sticks out the most about the 6’2, 170 pound kid is his playmaking. He had 54 points in 37 games which isn’t all that impressive, but 40 of those points were assists. 40 assists is good enough for top 10 among all prep school students in nation, and his assist per game ratio of 1.08 is 3rd in the country behind Liam McLinskey (1.61 APG) and Jackson Lacombe (1.24 APG), and Jackson Lacombe went in the 2nd round. Mazura has tremendous stick skills and looks really lanky. But, he catches defenders off guard with his speed and range with his stick. He’s as deft at working with the puck in tight to his body as he is at full extension and really ruined some kids days with it. His reach with his stick and confidence with it might be one of his best attributes, as he makes all kinds of plays with it. Edmonton might have found themselves something in this kid and it’ll be really interesting to track his development at Providence in the NCAA.
193rd Overall: Maxim Denezhkin (C, Loko Yaroslavl: MHL)
Oilers get a ton of value with this pick. TheDraftAnalyst.com had Denezhkin ranked 74th overall. NHL Central Scouting had him ranked as the 37th best European skater in the draft. He was the top scorer on the MHL team that included fellow draft picks: Ilya Nikolayev, Alex Daryin, Danil Misyul, and Kirill Slepets, ALL OF WHOM were chosen before him. What the Oilers got here is a cagey center who can do it all and do it all well, in a league that is sometimes known for being a little wide open and a little sloppy. What probably allowed Denezhkin to slip is the fact that he is only 165 pound and 5’10. A lot of teams went big and heavy this draft year, but I genuinely believe skill will still win the day.
The Oilers scouting department really allowed the new GM to put together a solid draft here. There are no players that really stick out as NHL long shots aside from the “Russian Factor”. Realistically though, I think Oilers fans have quite a bit to look forward to here.