Oilers' Draft Possibilities - The Consensus Forward, or Finally Draft Defense?

Alaney2k, via Wikimedia Commons

Should the Oilers take another small scorer, or take a big banger on the blueline?

This morning over at NHL Numbers, I published the most recent version of NHL Numbers 2013 Mock Draft. That version of the draft has a familiar sight for Oilers fans, namely, the Oilers taking a smaller, skilled forward:

9 Edmonton Hunter Shinkaruk F Medicine Hat Tigers 5'10, 170

Shinkaruk should be familiar to western hockey fans, he's been producing at a high level since 2010-11 for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. The Scouting Report has Shinkaruk ranked 13th, noting (PDF WARNING)

Scoring ability is the defining skill that Hunter Shinkaruk brings to the table. Undersized and overmatched physically, Shinkaruk has that rare hockey sense that goal scorers possess with his ability to be in the right place at the right time.

While it's rare that NHL team would turn down scoring ability, the Oilers have been in a search for size lately, so taking Shinkaruk with their first pick would be a surprise.

Just behind Shinkaruk, however, are a couple of enormous defenders and a couple of offensive-minded defensemen:

10 Winnipeg Rasmus Ristolainen D TPS Turku 6'3, 210
11 New Jersey Nikita Zadorov D London Knights 6'4, 225
12 Phoenix Ryan Pulock D Brandon Wheat Kings 6', 195
14 Dallas Josh Morrissey D Prince Albert Raiders 6', 185

It's far more likely that the Oilers would draft one of these four with the 9th overall pick.

One name being mentioned as a target recently is just behind that group at #16:

16 NY Islanders Curtis Lazar F Edmonton Oil Kings 6', 190

Of course Lazar is being mentioned, he's playing for the Oil Kings, and the Oilers have a penchant for drafting their own. But Lazar isn't a knuckle dragger, so while he might be considered, he's not in the Oilers wheelhouse. I chatted with Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and asked about Lazar:

Curtis Lazar is a very well rounded forward prospect who may be one of the lower risk prospects in terms of probability of becoming an NHL player.

Despite not being the biggest guy size-wise, he's a solid physical player who is strong, forechecks well, lays some good checks and always drives the net.

He's one of the best defensive forwards in this draft and is unusually skilled in that department for a player his age.

Lazar takes his checks very well, knows how to position himself in his own end and doesn't tend to hurt his own team.

Lazar sounds like a safe bet, but he's been sliding since debuting on the consensus list at #10 in September and will be a reach at #9. Of course, the Oilers aren't playing like a team that will pick at #9, and they may yet end up higher up the list, bringing Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, and Darnell Nurse into the picture.

Check out Corey's work at Hockey Prospectus.

Follow Corey on Twitter @coreypronman

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