The Oilers made seven picks in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft held in Chicago over the weekend. Overall, the general consensus seems to me that the Oilers picked players who will fill needs in the system. The Oilers drafted four forwards (three wingers and a centre), two defenseman, and a goalie. Inadvertently, the Oilers drafted a complete starting line up and one spare forward.
The first round saw the Oilers draft Kailer Yamamoto at 22nd overall. Yamamoto had 99 points in 65 games with the Spokane Chiefs. He’s been a dynamic offensive threat for the Chiefs all for the entire WHL season. At only 5’8” and 153lbs, Yamamoto is charitably called an undersized winger. Yamamoto is a speedy left wing who has vision and playmaking skill His size will be a concern for the Oilers who are hoping that his dynamic offense translates to the NHL. The coming year will probably see Yamamoto rejoin the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL and the Oilers will certainly be paying attention to see what he does next.
The Oilers traded up to pick 78th overall in the third round. With that pick, they selected goaltender Stuart Skinner of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. At 6’3” and 200lbs, Skinner is a bit of a literal giant in the crease for an 18-year-old. Joining the Hurricanes young, Skinner has already spent three full seasons in the WHL, which is odd for an 18-year-old. Last season, Skinner posted a 3.26 goals against average and a 0.905 save percentage in the regular season. In 20 WHL playoff games, he managed a 3.09 goals against average and a 0.916 save percentage. In Central Scouting’s Final North American goalie rankings, Skinner was fifth. The Oilers wanted Skinner badly enough to trade up t acquire him seeming to say they see where he fits in their system.
Also in the third round, the Oilers picked Dmitri Samorukov. The Russian defenseman had four goals and sixteen assists in 67 games with the Guelph Storm this year. 6’2” tall and 185lbs, Samorukov looks to be a formidable defenseman in the future. He’s a left shot which isn’t ideal for the Oilers defense, but is hardly a deal breaker. While the Storm struggled this year, Samorukov remained a reliable presence on their blue line. He also had five points in seven games at the IIHF U18 World Championship. Ranked 69th in the final Central Scouting ranking of North American skaters, Samorukov is a good addition to the Oilers’ defensive prospects.
At 115th overall and in the fourth round, the Oilers drafted Ostap Safin from Sparta of the Czech Junior League. Ranked 14th for European skaters, Safin is a big body at 6’5” and 192lbs. Listed as a right wing, he scored six goals and twelve assists in 24 games with Sparta. He also collected 66 penalty minutes seeming to indicate that he favours a physical style of play. The Oilers may have been looking for a large, physical forward to help protect smaller forwards like Yamamoto.
In the fifth round the Oilers picked up Kirill Maksimov at 146. Maksimov had 38 points in 66 games with two teams in the OHL—the Saginaw Spirit and the Niagara Ice Dogs. He was ranked 66th among North American skaters. Maksimov’s forecheck was noted by The Hockey Writers to be a skill to watch as was his speed. Maksimov is a large right wing at 6’2” and 192lbs who has experience playing on the international level as well. He has competed for Russia twice in the IIHF U18 World Championships. The Oilers seemed particularly interested in drafting right wings as they drafted two back to back. All in all, Maksimov’s stats and experience mean he should be a valuable late round addition to the Oilers draft class.
The 177th selection in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft was used by the Oilers to select Skyler Brind’Amour. Brind’Amour is the son of Rod Brind’Amour who was the captain of the 2006 Stanley Cup winning Carolina Hurricanes. As a player committed to the NCAA, Brind’Amour will play next season in the BCHL with the Chilliwack Chiefs. Brind’Amour finished the year ranked 157th among North American skaters. He played with three teams during the 2016-2017 season. He started with Team USA of the USHL where he had one goal in eight games. From there he moved to the Selects Academy U18 of the USMAAAE where he played 48 games with 19 goals and 31 assists for an even 50 points. Finally, he played for the Junior Hurricanes of the USPHL EL. Where he played 55 games and tallied 65 points. Brind’Amour is a centre the Oilers are hoping settles into one team and continues to produce points.
Finally, the Oilers selected Philip Kemp in the seventh round, 208th overall. Kemp is a defenseman from the US U18 NDTP. With the program, Kemp won a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF U18 World Championship. Kemp is a right shot defenseman who is committed to Yale in thee fall. Kemp played 25 games with Team USA in the USHL and recorded four points. He played a further 55 games with the NDTP where he recorded 12 points. Kemp is 6’3” and 201lbs, he was an assistant captain on the gold medal winning U18 team, and seems to be a long term investment. The Oilers may be hoping that the NCAA helps him develop as a more complete hockey player.
The Oilers drafted a variety of players, including two right wings, in their 2017 draft class. They have drafted to fit organizational need, to pick up players who provide depth in the prospect pool, and to add some dynamic offense with their first rounder. The Oilers didn’t make risky choices this draft, preferring to select players who were solid and whom they had information on. This is not the draft class of a few years ago which was largely forgettable past the first round. While none of the selections are guaranteed, the Oilers have positioned themselves well and had a successful weekend in Chicago.