Well, Day One of the NHL entry draft has come and gone. Steve Tambellini decided to play it safe and hold on to the first overall pick, and the Oilers went with the consensus top guy in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They then (I assure you) tried to move up to take
Joni Pitkanen Kyle Turris Duncan Siemens (don't really know, but seems probable), but ended up staying put at 19th overall and getting Swedish defenseman Oscar Klefbom who sounded about as thrilled as Tim Erixon to play professional hockey in Alberta. And the night ended with Steve Tambellini not quite able to finalize a trade that would bring Ryan Smyth back to Edmonton and send Gilbert Brule to Los Angeles. The concern seems to be the exact condition of the fourth or fifth round pick heading to L.A. in an obvious attempt to outdo Lowe's $100,000 blunder in the category of "minutiae that allowed Ryan Smyth to get away". Or if you prefer to be more positive, the Oilers picked up two fantastic prospects and a top line winger in what was almost certainly the best day for Oiler fans in 2011.
But Day One is now behind us, and with that Day Two begins, and just like Day One, it begins with the Oilers selecting first, but this time the answer isn't quite as obvious. A look at some of the top candidates (you can see them in the poll) for the 31st overall after the jump.
David Musil - Musil was one of the top defense prospects coming into the 2010-11 season, but didn't show the kind of improvement scouts usually hope for year over year. After a rookie season that saw him score 0.45 points per game and register a team-leading +33 (next closest was +22) with the Vancouver Giants in 2009-10, Musil scored 0.40 points per game and registered a very middling even rating in 2010-11. If 2010-11 was just a speed bump in his development, Musil is a very good pick on merit alone (he'd be my pick), but throw in the Oiler bloodlines and I'd say he's one of two leading candidates.
Scott Mayfield - The other most likely candidate is USHL defenseman Scott Mayfield, a player that Bob McKenzie mentioned as a possibility when the Oilers were picking 19th overall (a bit of a tell that they like him). Mayfield is competent with the puck, but won't bring much in the way of offense; instead, 6'4'', 200+ lbs., and 159 penalty minutes in 52 games tell you pretty much all you need to know about why the Oilers are interested. That he had the third-worst +/- on his team is of some concern.
Ty Rattie - On the one hand, Ty Rattie scored 101 points in 88 games, and the vast majority of those came at even strength. On the other hand, Rattie had the fourth-best points per game ratio on the Portland Winterhawks, so you may be getting a passenger rather than a driver. I wouldn't be comfortable taking Rattie for that very reason, but the Oilers do like the WHL, and if they want a forward from that league, this is their guy.
Victor Rask - The Oilers love Sweden and this is the top Swede left. He was actually ranked sixth on Bob McKenzie's list to start the year, but fell a tonne throughout a disappointing 2010-11 and ended up fortieth by the end of the year. There's not a lot positive to say about the last year for Rask (11 points in 37 games in the Allsvenskan isn't very good), but he's got some tremendous tools. If the Oilers figure that he'll put them to good use, they may well decide that he's their man.
Boone Jenner - Kirk Leudeke described Jenner as "one of those living clichés as the kid who will go through the wall for his team", and we all know how much the Oilers love clichés so this seems like a natural fit. The biggest knocks seem to be offensive upside and skating, but Jenner did put up 78 points in 73 games, which is a pretty decent total. If the Oilers decide that character counts for a lot, Jenner may just be their guy.
Alexander Khokhlachev - The 5'10'' Russian played for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and performed very well in his rookie season, scoring 96 points in 85 regular season and playoff games. Khokhlachev is one of the best offensive players left in the draft, did a lot of his scoring at even strength, and is also one of the younger players in the draft, which should make for a very attractive package, but he's both small and Russian so it seems likely he'll get by the Oilers.
Shane Prince - He has the best offensive numbers of any prospect left in the draft, and at some point, it's worth taking a shot. At 5'11'' he's not a big player, but 1.44 points per game really is good! Playing on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Ryan Martindale no doubt helped to boost those numbers, but... those are fantastic numbers! The Oilers probably aren't interested at #31, but he'll be an interesting player to follow over the next couple of years.
Brandon Saad - In Bob McKenzie's mid-season rankings, Saad was rated as the 8th-best prospect in the draft, so this is an awfully long fall in an awfully short period of time. Saad just never put up the kind of offense that was expected of him after moving from the US National Team Development Program to Saginaw of the OHL, and he's seen his stock fall accordingly. Still, Saad is a big American player who scored thirty goals in seventy-one games this year, so I don't expect he'll last much past the Oilers, and given the value the Oilers seem to place on non-draft-year seasons, they may just step up and take him.
Rocco Grimaldi - A lot of people seem to really like this kid. Speeds had him at #16 on his list and Kirk Leudeke had him at #10, but I don't really get it. The kid is 5'6'' and is under a point per game with the US National Team Development Program in the USHL. That would seem to be something other than a recipe for success, so while others probably think he represents tremendous value here, I'd hold off, and I strongly suspect the Oilers hold off as well.
Brett Ritchie - When Derek wrote about Brett Ritchie, he noted that Ritchie can both drop the gloves and score goals, both qualities that would endear him to the Oilers. Ritchie had a rough start to the year, which was then followed by mono, so his mediocre season has seen him fall down the charts, and even though I don't think the Oilers will take him here, he's a guy that has potential to be a lot better than what he showed this season. His -1 rating was the best of any Sarnia forward with at least 40 games.
Marek Tvrdon - Derek has also written about Tvrdon, and while this would likely be a pretty big reach, it's possible that going with the guy who was injured for much of the year gives you a chance at a player who wouldn't otherwise be available. I don't know. Derek ranked him real high. Maybe at #61.