As mentioned in part of my ongoing ‘Offseason’ series, the first round of the entry draft is fine and dandy. A lot of big names, with big skills are up for grabs. But there are seven rounds in an NHL entry draft – in addition to the first & nineteenth picks the Oilers have picks number 31, 63, 74 (from CGY – Staios trade), 92, 114 (from PIT – Garon trade), 122 & 182.
The first round is important, but a franchise is more successful in the long run with smart picks in rounds two and up. The Oilers hope they addressed just that last season when they added Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, Curtis Hamilton & Ryan Martindale to name a few. All of these players play vital roles in the Oilers prospect system.
It’s tough to handicap how the Oilers will choose players in the later rounds. Although recent trends suggest that there is one glaring place the Oilers will stay away from – Russia. Primarily their picks will come from North America, with heavy emphasis on the CHL. In 2009 the Oilers covered Scandinavia as they cashed out with Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander & Toni Rajala.
Although recently avoiding Russia, the Oilers haven’t been afraid to add the odd wildcard from Eastern European countries – adding Martin Marincin from Slovakia & Kristians Pelss from Latvia, who are both ironically playing now playing in the WHL.
So with that being said, we can begin narrowing down the possible selections. The Oilers will draft a goalie in this draft so why not Steffen Soberg of Norway. A standout at the U’18s, his maturity level in the crease has scouts talking. Although he’s out of the realm of scouting, playing for Manglerud in Norway – due to an impressive performance at the U’18s, he’s projected going anywhere from rounds 2 to 5.
An unheralded forward to keep your eye on is Reid Boucher of the US National Development team. The teams leading goal-scorer with 14 goals in 24 games – has a cannon of a shot and could be the next big thing coming out of the development team. He’s projected as a late second round pick.
Defenseman Jonathan Racine of the Shawinigan Cataractes, who has rose in the rankings over the course of the season, is projected to go around the fourth, to sixth rounds. Not an overly big player, but he’ll finish his checks and make his living in the nasty areas of the rink.
One more player to look for is Fin – Miika Salomaki who plays for Karpat in the Finnish big leagues. Played out of his mind in the WJC, an all-round offensive player has him slotted as a late second rounder. The Oilers took a year off Scandinavia last season, so look for them to dip back into Sweden, Finland, or even Norway to pick up a player or two.