Once again, that time of year is upon us where the Oilers fanbase is split in two. On one side, you have those who continue to hold out for a season where things can go right just for once, and on the other side, you have those who see the offseason as yet another failure by Oilers management, dooming the season before it has begun (the second group is more than likely going to be correct). Bettman, who operates in the realm of real life James Bond villain, has taken it upon himself to further pain of every cap strapped team in the league by raising the cap even less than expected. As such, this draft is likely to be the only highlight of our offseason, even though it almost certainly won't pay immediate rewards. As a half-lifelong Oilers fan, as opposed to some national sports bozo whose only thoughts are "How does this affect Toronto?," I've come today to celebrate Oiler spring with a better review of the draft than anything Sportsnet or USA Today could offer. I expect and welcome backlash at my grades. Without further ado...
PICK 8: PHILIP BROBERG, Defenseman: B. Broberg projects to be a shoot-first type with the wheels to get the rush going. His big knock, being mistake-prone, is something that could very well be fixed for a player that young. Even the name, "Phillip Broberg, sounds like it could be one of those iconic Swedish defenseman types. I initially blew my top over this pick, but I've calmed down somewhat. However, and I cannot stress this enough, the Oilers cannot afford to stock the defensive cupboard and leave the forwards with nothing. Now, should Broberg be Erik Karlsson 2.0, I'll be happy with this pick, but for now, it's nothing more than a B.
PICK 38: RAPHAEL LAVOIE, Winger/Center: A+. There is nothing that I don't like about this pick. He checks all the boxes: he's a winger (though he can play center), he can genuinely skate, he can handle it, and best of all, he packs all of those things into a 6'4 frame. While I don't expect him to come in and produce right away, if he develops, the sky's the limit. In a best case scenario, we get a (possibly superior?) Ryan Getzlaf. And God knows we need a winger.
PICK 85: ILYA KONOVALOV, Goaltender: B-. This pick is a combination of good and bad. One one hand, he looks the part and puts up good stats. He also comes with a bucket of KHL awards, and this quote (retirved from the Copper & Blue announcement of the pick, is pure Russian badass: "When I'm playing, I don;t count how many shots I'm facing. Whether it's 10, 20, 38, I just worry about stopping the next one. You don't win many games otherwise." On the other hand, he's 21 years old and under contract for two more years. It's anyone's guess how he could progress in those two years, and 23 is on the older side for a rookie. Until I see him up close playing in a North American league, I can't rate this too highly.
PICKS 100, 162, 193: MATEJ BLUMEL, TOMAS MAZURA, MAXIM DENEZKIN, Winger, Center, Center: B. There's not much to say here, as these later-round picks are even more of a crapshoot than earlier ones. Still, some observations. Blumel seems to be a speedy winger, which we need more of. I think his NHL chances are spotty at best; if Czechboy hasn't heard of him, I'm worried. Still, he could do it, just like everyone in the draft. Mazura projects as a "playmaking center" with good size (6'3 and 85 kilos). Given how much draft reviews are focusing on his talent, I'm worried that they may be hinting at a lack of speed, which is an area I've seen nothing mentioned. I like the size, though. Denezkin is my favorite pick out of this bunch, save his size. From what I've seen, he's an all-around forward with no glaring weaknesses, and was a key player on a good team. Interestingly, he'll be playing under MacT and with Konovalov next year, which can't hurt Oilers connections. That being said, though, he is 5'9, which sounds major alarm bells.
OVERALL: That was a decidedly mediocre draft. As much as I adore the Lavoie selection, there's nothing else that really positively stands out to me, and the selection of Broberg with others on the board. I would've taken Podkolzin in a heartbeat, even with the KHL contract. On a more positive note, that's the most European draft I can remember in years, and it would be great to have some Russians on the team (I think our best is Petrovic, maybe?), as well as the silly pospect of having three Swedes playing D. As it is, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.