The first vote was very tight, but yesterday's saw Taylor Fedun walk away with 55% of the vote and an easy win, but the bigger story for me was the performance of Mitch Moroz. Despite all of the negative commentary surrounding his selection, he still earned 15% of the vote from our readers. Granted, that's a very poor result for someone who was selected at the beginning of the second round (Tyler Pitlick debuted at #6 and David Musil debuted at #17), but it shows that there's a significant group of fans willing to give him the benefit of the doubt based on where the Oilers picked him.
But today, we're moving on to seven more young men trying to make their NHL dream come true, and we'll begin with another polarizing pick from the top 100, Cameron Abney.
Cameron Abney - Here we have a player that hasn't been given the benefit of the doubt based on where the Oilers picked him for a long time. Abney finished dead last in our rankings last time around, and he hasn't done much of anything to suggest that there will be a change at the bottom (though with only 43 qualifiers, he's bound to move up at least one slot). Abney split last season between the ECHL and AHL and performed as expected (no offense and lots of penalty minutes). I think that the Oilers probably feel that he's on track, and of the players in this group of seven, I'd consider him the most likely to have an NHL career based on what the Oilers feel they need in their lineup in order to succeed. Sad stuff, really. Last Ranking: #44
Mark Arcobello - He's a good AHL player. In the regular season, Arcobello scored 17 goals in Oklahoma City (third-best on the team), registered 43 points (second-best on the team), and had a +16 rating (third-best on the team). In the playoffs, he was the club's leading scorer with 13 points in 14 games. If he were younger, this would all be very encouraging. Alas, Arcobello will be 24 in August, so the very solid AHL numbers probably won't be good enough to earn him a permanent call to the NHL. That said, he should be able to earn a living playing pro hockey for a decade if he wants to do it, and may get the cup of coffee that was given to Josh Green last season. Last Ranking: #41
Brandon Davidson - I had him behind Jeremie Blain last time, but the group had him a few spots ahead, and evidently, so did the Oilers. Davidson played as an overager in the WHL last season, so it's hard to know how much credit to give him for a solid junior season. Better good than bad, obviously, but when you're expected to be dominant, it's pretty hard to impress. The Pats improved substantially last year, going from a goal differential of -96 in 2010-11 to +16 in 2011-12. The improvement came mostly on the defensive side (they scored 14 more goals and allowed 98 fewer). Davidson has a big part of that, registering a +26 rating, which led Regina's defenders by a substantial margin (Art Bidlevskii was closest at +13). So there you go. Very good season in the WHL by a 20-year-old. I'm very interested to see what he can do as a pro. Last Ranking: #21
Kristians Pelss - I was a little bit surprised that the Oilers gave Pelss a contract, but only a little. I haven't seen him play a lot, but I've liked his game every time. He's not a big player, but he's strong and physical, both in terms of engaging (and winning) puck battles and in terms of laying his body on the line to win. He has enough speed to play at the NHL level, so that should also work in his favor, and unlike a player like Travis Ewanyk, he's got a bit of offense too. He's still got a long way to go before an NHL career looks likely, but Kristians Pelss turning into a checking forward at the NHL level seems possible to me. We'll get a good indication of how much the Oilers like him based on where he plays this year. A full AHL season would be a very good sign. Last Ranking: #38
Samu Perhonen - The trend is not your friend. He debuted at #23 and then fell to #31 and based on his terrible season, he's poised to fall some more. Perhonen was the starter for Finland at the U18 tournament before last year's draft, but he blew up a bit there, and wasn't included on Finland's U20 roster at Christmas. He only played in 16 league games, which is itself problematic, but the performance isn't exactly wonderful either. He played five games in Finland's U20 league, where he was pretty decent, and eleven in Finland's second division where he finished in 21st out of 23 goalies in save percentage (min. 10 games played). Not a good season. But he was drafted as an athletic project, so you never know. If he gets some of his mechanics fixed over the summer, he could surprise on the upside in 2012-13. Last Ranking: #31
Alex Plante - He was an All-Star in the AHL. He also had another concussion. I think that Alex Plante has improved substantially over the last couple of seasons, but with three documented concussions his career already seems perilously close to being lost to injuries. Though maybe that's overdramatic. Plante played in all of Oklahoma City's playoff games, and all indications are that he's healthy heading into next season. In previous seasons, this would be his year-long audition in the NHL because the Oilers are afraid to send him through waivers. I don't think they've got that fear with Plante, and I don't think that the former 15th overall pick will get scooped either. Last Ranking: #22
Daniil Zharkov - By the numbers, Zharkov doesn't look all that special. He scored just 39 points in 56 OHL games, which is pretty... meh. But he's apparently pretty toolsy. Corey Pronman had him as the 28th best player in the draft based on tools and potential rather than actual results. Zharkov is a big guy who skates well with good stickhandling and a plus shot. Sounds just like the kind of player that goes earlier than you expect! But instead he fell all the way to the Oilers at 91st overall. Why? I think the Russian thing probably didn't help him, and not just in the, "Oh no, he'll go to the KHL" way. Zharkov is a young player who needs to work on his defense and isn't able to consistently abuse his peers offensively. Seems pretty normal. Unless of course you're Russian, in which case, it's enigmatic. Last Ranking: N/A