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The NHL Combine And The First Round

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There are many picks that could be had at #22. For my money, I go with speed before size.

Spokane Chiefs v Calgary Hitmen
Yamamoto had 99 points this year with Spokane
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

I had the pleasure of attending the combine yesterday at the Harborcenter in Buffalo. Not only did I get to see a few familiar faces, I got to see a room full of 18 year olds chasing their dream. They also rode a stationary bike with a large man yelling at them, they performed a standing long jump, and some pull ups too. What does it all mean? In the end, probably not too much. GMs certainly have their eyes on who they like up to this point. Unless you’ve got two prospects who are neck and neck with each other, the combine probably isn’t going to change your opinion very much.

With that being said, I saw a few prospects that I liked. With the Oilers in the 22nd overall position, it’s a bit more difficult than in years past when all they’d do is pick the best of the class. Barring anything crazy (like a top ten pick slipping into the 20s), there was one I liked in particular.

FIRST ROUND - 22nd overall: Kailer Yamamoto (W)

Let’s be perfectly honest, I will miss the luxury of picking the best player in the draft. With a playoff berth (and a series win!) under Edmonton’s belt, they’ll just have to settle for the 20s so long as they don’t make any moves up or down. Barring a move the Oilers will pick 22nd overall and I think that Kailer Yamamoto would be a solid choice.

Yamamoto led the Spokane Chiefs in scoring with 99 points (42-57-99), 23 more than Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Yamamoto had seven points in four games during the Hlinka Memorial Tournament for the U18 club in 2015-16. He’s been listed as small as 5’7” and as tall as 5’9” and Eliteprospects has him at a lean 159 lbs. He kind of goes against the Peter Chiarelli School of Big Body Hockey. I hear you (though I’m not 100% in agreement), but if he can fill out over the next couple of years, he’s fast as heck and he’s got a nice wrist shot that will help you forget all about that. He’s ranked at 17th overall for North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and there’s a real good chance he makes it to 22nd overall.

If the Oilers get wacky and trade up into the top ten, I’d like to see them take a stab at Eeli Tolvanen. You win with Finns. It’s the rule.

After the first round, things get a little tricky. The Oilers own the 22nd pick overall, and then don’t pick again until 82. If I’m Peter Chiarelli, i’m looking to move somewhere in between the second round. There are a handful of teams with two picks.

  • Buffalo (37, 54)
  • Montreal (56, 58)
  • Tampa (45, 48)
  • Carolina (41, 52, 62)
  • New Jersey (36, 48)
  • Anaheim (50, 60)
  • Vancouver (33, 55)

I’ve got the Oilers making some sort of move between 22 and 82. Later this week, I’ll dig deeper into some third round selections.