There will be a bevy of draft content coming out over the next week or so, and as part of the festivities we will be reviewing the Edmonton Oilers performance at the 2015 NHL Draft. It was just one year ago at the draft that the Oilers would walk away with arguably the biggest star since Sidney Crosby when they selected Connor McDavid. He’s been everything as advertised and more, and if it weren’t for a shoulder injury it would be very likely that McDavid could’ve been a Top 10 scorer in the NHL this season.
Beyond McDavid, the Oilers scouting staff now headed by Bob Green and GM Peter Chiarelli, came through with improving on one of Edmonton’s biggest knocks; an inability to find players outside the first round. There is a telling stat that prior to the 2015 NHL Draft, the Oilers had selected 37 players between 2010-14 outside the first round. Only four of them have played more than 41 games in the NHL.
Related: Edmonton Oilers Top 20 Prospects
Of those four, only defenseman Brandon Davidson remains with the current Oilers group. The others, Martin Marincin (Toronto), Tobias Reider (Arizona) and Erik Gustafsson (Chicago) were moved. Outside of that only a handful of other prospects have flirted with minutes with the big club, but have yet to establish themselves as full-time NHL players. The likes of Tyler Pitlick (27 games), Jujhar Khaira (15 games), Anton Slepyshev (11), David Musil (4) and Bogdan Yakimov (1) are the only prospects drafted by the Oilers outside the first round since 2010 that have played NHL minutes.
|10||L Anton Slepyshev||Drafted 2013|
|9||D Caleb Jones||Drafted 2015|
|8||D Jordan Oesterle||Signed FA|
|7||R Patrick Russell||Signed FA|
|6||G Nick Ellis||Signed FA|
|5||D Ethan Bear||Drafted 2015|
|4||L Jujhar Khaira||Drafted 2012|
|3||C Drake Caggiula||Signed FA|
|2||G Laurent Brossoit||Trade from CGY|
|1||D Griffin Reinhart||Trade from NYI|
Still, Chiarelli in his first season along with Green, made some excellent choices in the 2015 draft, one that looks to reverse the trend and challenge the knock that Edmonton can’t pick outside the first round to save their lives.
Here is a analysis of the Edmonton prospects picked at the 2015 NHL Draft.
| C Connor McDavid (OHL Erie Otters)|
2014-15 Stats: (OHL) 47 GP 44 G 76 A 120 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (NHL) 45 GP 16 G 32 A 48 PTS
Analysis: If it weren’t for a shoulder injury that cost him nearly half a season, we’d be talking about a Top 10 scorer in the NHL. He didn’t disappoint this year and has been the elite skilled forward Edmonton has direly been needing. It’s no doubt McDavid is the cornerstone of the Oilers franchise, so much so that he’s made the three other 1st overall picks in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov expendable.
There’s no telling what the Calder trophy nominated star will do in his sophomore year but it’s not out of the question to predict he’d be a Top 5 scorer in the league next year.
| C Mitch Stephens (OHL Saginaw Spirit)|
2014-15 Stats: (OHL) 62 GP 22 G 26 A 48 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (OHL) 39 GP 20 G 18 A 38 PTS
Analysis: The Oilers traded this pick to the New York Islanders as part of the Griffin Reinhart trade. So think of this as Reinhart for Stephens and Mathew Barzal. Stephens had an injury shortened season in the OHL where he was a nearly point-a-game player.
A leader for Saginaw, Stephens also played for Canada at the WJC and scored 2 points in 5 games. He’s expected to return to junior for a final year before joining the Lightning’s farm system.
A fast skating offensively gifted forward, Stephens has decent hands and a quick release wrist shot. Could turn out to make the team.
| LW Dennis Yan (QMJHL Shawinigan Cataractes)|
2014-15 Stats: (QMJHL) 59 GP 33 G 31 A 64 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (QMJHL) 62 GP 32 G 37 A 69 PTS
Analysis: Edmonton traded this pick a year prior at the deadline in exchange for goaltender Viktor Fasth from Anaheim. Fasth is now gone and the Ducks traded the pick a few months later to Tampa for Eric Brewer. The result of musical chairs leads to the Oilers originally held 3rd round pick ending up being Dennis Yan.
Now that that’s out of the way, the Lightning picked up a mature, offensive forward with a physical side. Will return to junior for another year at least and plays on one of the better lines in the QMJHL along with Anthony Beauvillier (2015 – 28th overall NYI). A consistent point producer, he’s a decent prospect for the Lightning and could one day become a top-9 skill forward.
| D Caleb Jones (US National Development Team)|
2014-15 Stats: (USDP) 65 GP 6 G 18 A 24 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (WHL) 72 GP 10 G 45 A 55 PTS
Analysis: Now playing for the WHL Portland Winterhawks, the younger brother of Seth Jones and son of Popeye Jones is a good skater with a two-way skill set. He’s improved his positional play and adapted well to the rigors of the longer WHL schedule, thanks to good conditioning and fundamental skills.
Played top-pairing minutes for Portland and isn’t afraid to mix it up. Produced well on the powerplay but don’t let the numbers sway you, Jones is more of a balanced defender than an offensive run-and-gun type.
He will return for another year of junior and challenge for a spot on Team USA’s blueline at the upcoming World Juniors.
| D Ethan Bear (WHL Seattle Thunderbirds)|
2014-15 Stats: (WHL) 69 GP 13 G 25 A 38 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (WHL) 69 GP 19 G 46 A 65 PTS
Analysis: Said it before and will say it again; Ethan Bear could be one of the steals of the 2015 NHL Draft a decade from now. He’s one of the better prospects in the pool and few that have top-4 potential. Although smaller in height, he has a bulky frame and delivers some hard hits.
He carries a heavy shot from the point and got a lot of points on the powerplay this year with Seattle. Plays a heavy workload in terms of minutes and quality of minutes in the WHL and is a top-pairing defender for the Thunderbirds. He’s improved his play year after year and is becoming more dependable in his own end as time goes on.
Will return to junior for another year but his stock is rising. Bear will be a treat to watch this year at development camp.
| D John Marino (USPHL South Shore Kings)|
2014-15 Stats: (USPHL) 49 GP 4 G 24 A 28 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (USHL) 56 GP 5 G 25 A 30 PTS
Analysis: Marino will be heading to the NCAA to join Harvard University and go the college route. He’ll be a longer wait similar to some other Oilers prospects like Dillon Simpson, William Lagesson and Joey LaLeggia who all went to college before eventually joining (Lagesson still in college) the AHL club.
The hope is that he becomes a decent two-way defender and carries his mean streak with him to the pro game. However he needs to add some more bulk to his 6’2 180lbs frame to survive the heavy forecheckers in the pros. Still he’s a relatively mobile defender and could turn into an NHL player.
Jury is still out could become a third-pairing defender.
| G Miroslav Svoboda (CZECH Trinec Jrs.)|
2014-15 Stats: (CZE U20) 33 GP 2.72 GAA 0.917 SV%
2015-16 Stats: (CZE 2) 29 GP 3.45 GAA 0.908 SV%
Analysis: A late bloomer, he was drafted as a 20-year-old and bounced around in his draft year but played well for a last place team in the Czech 2. This year he played more starter minutes and improved his save percentage with HC Sumperk to 0.924.
A tall frame at 6’3 still needs to add some bulk to his frame to be more of a presence in goal. Needs to improve his consistency but has played well considering his heavy workload as a 21-year-old starter in Europe.
Project goalie, should be better than what the Oilers got out of several other goaltenders later in the draft recently (ie. Samu Perhonen, Frans Tuohimaa, Tyler Bunz, Keven Bouchard etc.).
| D Ziyat Paigin (KHL Kazan Ak-Bars)|
2014-15 Stats: (KHL) 33 GP 1 G 1 A 2 PTS
2015-16 Stats: (KHL) 45 GP 9 G 19 A 27 PTS
Analysis: At 6’6 200lbs he has a menacing frame and if all goes according to plan he could be a steal. The Oilers really went after defensemen in this draft and Paigin is the tallest, although lanky, one they got.
Skills wise he’s a big body with good mobility and hockey sense. Should be a reliable defender in transition but mobile, mobile, mobile and can skate. Struggled out of the gate in 2016-17 but found his legs and emerged as a top four defender for his club.
Where he ends up in the long-term is the question mark, as it usually is with Russian players. Will he struggle adjusting to the North American style? Still he’s just 21-years-old (a similar late bloom pick like Svoboda) and is expected to play another year in the KHL.
Not bad for the third to last pick in the draft.