The Edmonton Oilers came into day two of the 2020 NHL Draft down both their second and fourth round picks. Ken Holland also had to make a decision about whether it would be this or next year’s third round pick that would go to the Calgary Flames as part of the James Neal trade.
Here’s a quick look at what they accomplished today:
Without any picks in the 2nd or 4th rounds as of now, no surprise Oilers will retain their third round selection (76th overall) today, and transfer their 3rd round pick in 2021 to Calgary to complete the trade in which the Oilers acquired James Neal.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) October 7, 2020
I believe Michaels has it right here, that Holland ultimately didn’t want his first pick of the day to come from the fifth round. I’m not sure if there’s a measurable value difference between this year’s third rounder and next year’s, but I can at least appreciate the logic behind wanting to keep the pick in a year they’re down a couple. This is apparently a relatively deep draft class, too, so I can understand not wanting to miss out on most of the first three rounds.
Before they made their first pick though, they tendered some qualifying offers to a couple of young defensemen:
The #Oilers have made qualifying offers to defencemen Ethan Bear & William Lagesson.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 7, 2020
The following players will become unrestricted free agents on Friday: Andreas Athanasiou, Matt Benning, Logan Day, Cameron Hebig, Ryan Kuffner, Ryan Mantha, Angus Redmond & Nolan Vesey. pic.twitter.com/7eQ9SPXNt6
It’s certainly encouraging to see them qualify Ethan Bear, even if that means they haven’t yet found a long-term extension for their best RHD. Bear was revelatory last season, and another strong campaign could see him leap Oscar Klefbom in the ‘best D on the team’ conversation. I know, it’s hard to believe, but Bear was quite capable last season, and was the Oilers second most valuable top four D — per Evolving-Hockey’s Goals Above Replacement (GAR) metric:
Caleb Jones and Matt Benning both added more value than Ethan Bear last season — crazy, right?! — but both of their roles were sheltered behind the Klefbom and Bear pairings. Bear played tougher assignments in higher leverage situations and still performed admirably. It was extremely important for the Oilers to retain his rights. Now that’s done, it’s time to look toward signing him for Oscar Klefbom money and term.
William Lagesson hasn’t seen much time in the show as of yet (8 GP), but the organization believes in him enough to give him a QO, so he might be in line for more work this year. I imagine this decision is at least in part based on the uncertainty surrounding Oscar Klefbom’s immediate future.
What felt like literally hours later, the third round rolled... around... and the Oilers made a move:
I’ll admit it. I was skeptical when this one was announced. It felt like, at least given the price we saw other teams get paid to trade down, that the Oilers could have done better here. I could be wrong though, and do concede that it gives them an extra bullet. There’s also something to be said for timing. Other teams were trading down with second round picks but staying in the second round for the most part, while the Oilers dealt their third but had to move all the way out of round three.
There is a measurable value difference between seconds and thirds that is greater than the gap between thirds and fourths, so there might be something to that. Minnesota traded their third round pick for a later third and a fifth, however, which does seem a bit better than Edmonton’s haul, though their pick was 11 before Edmonton’s.
You could also argue that, if Edmonton didn’t like anyone enough to pick there, then they could have just sent this year’s third round pick to Calgary.
More eons passed, and then the Oilers were on the clock once more:
From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, who had Savoie ranked #32 coming in:
“On pure, raw skill, most evaluators will agree that Savoie is a first-round talent. But, like a couple of the other players I have in this range, other concerns will likely contribute to his availability in the second or third round. Some question his commitment off the puck, his shift-to-shift effort levels and his defensive game. I don’t disagree. Savoie can fade in games in a big way. He plays too high in his own zone. He drifts up ice ahead of the play looking for a pass. It can be frustrating to watch. But he’s also one of the only players in the draft who can come out of an unremarkable game with two goals because all he needs is a split second. With the puck on his stick, Savoie’s one of those players who can make defenders and goalies look silly. He regularly scores under the bar from some of the worst angles in the offensive zone. He’s a lethal catch-and-release shooter who I expect will, in time, put up big numbers in college at Denver. He always seems to find ways to get the puck and make something happen with it. You can’t teach that. You can teach some of the other stuff, though.”
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman saw him differently, ranking him #106th back in June:
Jan. 23, 2002 | 5-foot-9 | 192 pounds
Puck Skills: 60
Physical Game: 30
Hockey Sense: 60
Shot Grade: 60
“Savoie has been a dominant offensive player in the AJHL the past two seasons and was the first U18 player to score 50 goals in 20 years. He’s a very skilled offensive player. Inside the offensive zone and especially on the power play he can pick apart defenses due to how good a passer he is. He has the patience to wait out the defense for an extra second and quickly hit seams. He also has a high-end shot and often beats goalies from long distance. There is no doubting his skill, playmaking and scoring abilities. Savoie is a fine skater but lacks true NHL level quickness for his size. Scouts heavily criticize him off the puck as a player who takes shifts and games off, and as a one-way player.
Jamie McCaig, director of operations for Canada West, on Savoie: “He can score. He’s a one-shot goal scorer. He’s very creative offensively with the puck. He hunts pucks in the offensive zone.” ”
A bigger picture look suggests the Oilers might have made some hay here at #100:
Sharp pick at #100 in grabbing local product Carter Savoie. 53 goals in 54 GP in AJHL last season. Rated way higher than 100 across the board by the pundits. pic.twitter.com/heiNOaeYAZ— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) October 7, 2020
Look, folks, I’m no prospophile, so for me to offer any sort of reasonable, valuable analysis here would be to lie to you all. I don’t have it. I haven’t watched an AJHL game since about the 2000 Royal Bank Cup, when Scottie Upshall was helping the Fort McMurray Oil Barons win the National Jr. “A” Championship. What I can say is that the consensus seems to think Edmonton did well here.
Then this happened:
Jeff’s got more on Puljujarvi’s return here, but suffice it to say I was extremely excited about the news. When the terms were reported — a two-year deal (!!!) for a mere $1.175MM (!!!) represents an excellent bit of work from the Oilers — it was a bonus. There is minimal risk, if it somehow doesn’t work, there will be takers at that price point, and it sounds very much like Puljujarvi’s as ready as he’ll ever be to come back.
With their next pick, the Oilers went with another forward:
Again from The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, who had Tullio 69th in September:
“Tullio, whose father Rocco owns the Generals, has been a top prospect for some time now, dating back to his minor hockey days when he, Perfetti and O’Rourke turned the Vaughan Kings into a powerhouse. Though he has yet to consistently show he can take his game to the next level, his trajectory has followed that of a B-level NHL prospect since entering the league. He was a 0.70 points per game player as a 16-year-old (which earned him a place on the OHL’s second all-rookie team) and above a point per game in his draft year. I thought he was consistent all season too (31 points in his first 31 games, 35 points in his last 31 games), so it wasn’t as though he needed to rack up points after Philip Tomasino’s arrival to put together the year that he did. His size gives him some limitations but he works to get pucks back and he’s a superb perimeter player who can make things happen from the outside-in and play with a variety of linemates.”
And Corey Pronman, who actually had Tullio at #82, higher than Carter Savoie on his June list:
April 5, 2002 | 5-foot-10 | 165 pounds
Puck Skills: 55
Physical Game: 35
Hockey Sense: 65
Shot Grade: 60
“Tullio was a productive scorer and generated a lot of shots, and his talent stood out whenever you watched Oshawa. Tullio has a high level of skill to go with near-elite offensive hockey sense. He’s an excellent passer who made a lot of creative plays and generates chances when it seemed like no play was available. Tullio’s passing stood out more consistently to me, but he has a great shot and can be a mid-distance finisher when he gets space. The main knocks on him are his size and skating. His stride is just OK, and while he has quickness, his stride breaks down more than you’d like. He’s not that big, but he competes well, killed penalties for Oshawa and won battles versus bigger players.”
A high level of skill and near-elite hockey sense, you say? Sounds good to me, folks. I think the Draft should only ever be used to find players for the top of your lineup, and the Tullio (and Savoie) pick seems to be along those lines. Draft the highest potential you can and then engineer your development and support systems to maximize every player that comes through your program.
A big picture view once again suggests the Oilers did quite well here:
Tullio was rated much higher than the 126th spot. Point per game winger in the OHL. pic.twitter.com/UvWgaOo2ek— Arch (@Archaeologuy) October 7, 2020
Next up, at #138:
Not much on this player from Wheeler, who had Berezkin among his 50 Honourable Mentions but, as such, didn’t include any analysis on him.
Corey Pronman did have him inside his top 100, however, and had this to say:
Oct. 12, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 201 pounds
Puck Skills: 60
Physical Game: 60
Hockey Sense: 55
“Berezkin was one of the top forwards in the MHL this past season. He’s a 6-foot-2 winger with legitimate high-end skill. His 1-on-1 play is very good, and he’s able to create a lot of chances with his skill. He has some power to his game, too. While his shot is good enough to score from a distance, he’s scored a lot of goals by getting to the crease area with his size and strength. He can make plays and shows flashes of top-end vision, but I wouldn’t call that his strongest area. Berezkin’s main drawback is his skating, which isn’t poor but he lacks quickness and a true separation gear. This makes some scouts skeptical his game will translate to the NHL.
NHL scout on Berezkin: “He has hard skill and intriguing potential for the higher levels if he can add a step to his skating.” “
We’re getting into longshot range here, but once again the arrows seem up.
Here’s Lowetide’s take:
“Russians and name spelling will be the death of me. I had Berezkin No. 122 overall, offering that he provided “size, skill and shot” with speed being the worry. He is a right shot and has played with Maxim Denezhkin who was drafted by the Oilers last season. These lowland Russian picks can be valuable, if an organization is patient and can get them to North America.”
If you click through to the images in this tweet, which feature data courtesy of Byron Bader at Hockey Prospecting, you’ll see some data about the Oilers’ first four picks of the 2020 Draft:
I linked that because, as you’ll note, Berezkin shows well here, and has the highest D+0 (AKA draft year) NHLe of the lot. Once again another pick that seems to prioritize offensive upside, though this one happens to come with a bit of size, too. Skating seems to be the concern, but there’s going to be some concerns about all these guys this late in the Draft.
Berezkin’s currently playing in the KHL as of this writing:
The draft was fun but, it’s back to watching hockey. Lokomotiv take on Spartak Moscow at 10:30 today. Looking at the lineup sheet I saw that Konovalov (#85, 2019) isn’t starting and newly drafted Maxim Berezkin (#138, 2020) is starting on the 4th line. #Oilers— Spencer Pomoty (@SPProspects) October 8, 2020
In round six, the Oilers went for a bit of a walkabout:
Not sure what to add here. Even people who know prospects don’t know much about this guy, in part because he’s already 21 and some people didn’t even know he was eligible:
Oilers take UNH triple-overager Filip Engaras at 169. Born in 1999. Really can't say much about him.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 7, 2020
Well that's a pick where I have no clue what's going on. #Oilers select at 169 Filip Engaras, he's 21 and playing at the University of New Hampshire. I had Edmonton picking Victor Mansini. Going to have to do some digging on this guy.— Spencer Pomoty (@SPProspects) October 7, 2020
The justification behind the pick will be “every player is a crap shoot at this point” but at 169 Edmonton selecting Filip Engaras is questionable at best. 21 yo, Univ of New Hampshire, 15 points in 25 games. Not sure how they justify him over Pashin or the high upside McClennon— Jameson Ewasiuk (@JamesonEwasiuk) October 8, 2020
Who is Pashin, you say? Well, he was still on the board here when the Oilers decided to galaxy-brain themselves into a triple-overager who isn’t really projecting any offense at the pro level:
Alexander Pashin looks like this...— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) October 7, 2020
I beg of you. Select him. pic.twitter.com/FR8AwUuF6A
Meanwhile, Engaras’ counting totals (8-7-15 in 25 NCAA GP), considering his age, are far from exciting, and he had to take a year off from competitive hockey to play at UNH, which has likely impacted his development some. He is a right-shot C but, again, I’m not really sure about this one, even if Ken Holland has a bit of history with players like this:
Edmonton takes Swedish forward Filip Engaras in 6th round. He played University of New Hampshire (8-7-15 in 25 games). He is 21. Holland likes taking older European players in later rounds. Some have panned out well.— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 7, 2020
Finally, in round 7:
Once again, I’m in the weeds a little on this one — but I’m not the only one.
Oilers take MODO winger Jeremias Lindewall at 200. Decent late pick here. Good size and average speed but knows how to get open. A lot of puck gazing though in all three zone. With his size and hands he could have dominated.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) October 7, 2020
Here’s Lowetide’s take:
“He is a winger with good size, and is a January 2002. Edmonton chose all forwards in this draft, which makes sense based on the organizational pipeline but this is fairly unusual in my experience following drafts.
He plays for MoDO in Junior hockey and has 4-4-8 in four games so far in 2020-21. He has been strictly lower leagues so far, but at 18 there’s plenty of time to move up the chain in Sweden. This is absolutely a ‘draft and follow’ type selection.”
“He showed off good puck control and could cover it effectively with his body. For a player of his size, Lindewall showed off good first steps and could accelerate well with the puck without having to slow down. What Lindewall does best is his work in front of the opposing net. He can take and deliver blows and has some grit to his style.”
He seems to be scoring at a decent clip this season with MODO’s U20 outfit, with 4-4-8 in 4GP so far this season. I’m not sure how telling it is that he’s not cracked the SHL proper as a teenager like, say, Noel Gunler did, but I am quite sure the Oilers wouldn’t be able to find a player like that in round seven anyway.
Six picks, six forwards, two qualifying offers, and one Jesse Puljujarvi.
That’s a decent day, as far as I can tell. I still have some reservations about the Holloway pick — keen observers will notice from Byron Bader’s data that his D+0 NHLe was actually the lowest among their first four picks — but I also think that there is some context to explain why it’s so low.
I think both the Carter Savoie and Tyler Tullio picks represent significant value at their slot, and represent the kind of thinking I’d like to see from the Oilers in the Draft.
Berezkin seems to be along similar lines, though there is more uncertainty there. His jump to the KHL looks to see him on the fourth line, but that’s not unheard of for young players in that league.
The Engaras pick looks to be, at the very least, a confusing one. I don’t really see a justification for it myself — especially when players like Alexander Pashin were on the board — so if you can offer one, please do so in the comments below.
Lindewall doesn’t really have a history of offense either, but does apparently have some tools and is currently lighting it up through 4 GP this year.
Jesse Puljujarvi’s return is, IMO, the biggest and best story of the day. Puljujarvi was a top-5 scorer in the Finnish Liiga last season and looks to be primed for another big year over there. At least, until the NHL season resumes and he takes his rightful place beside Connor McDavid on the first line.
POLL: Grade Edmonton’s 2020 NHL Draft
I think I’d go somewhere between C+ and B- myself based on the fact that I don’t know if the Holloway pick was the best play at #14 (Wheeler had him #18, Pronman #22), I really didn’t understand the Engeras pick, and that the Savoie and Tullio picks represented some great value.
Puljujarvi’s return on day two bumps the overall Draft grade firmly into B territory for me. I think that’s a great bit of business, but also believe that it should have always ended this way, and that if it didn’t it would be disappointing.
Hard to be too upset about the end result, I think, even if it took them a little while to get going.
What did you think? Vote in the poll below and grade Ken Holland and the Oilers’ work at the 2020 NHL Draft:
Grade the Oilers performance at the 2020 Draft:
This poll is closed