An Oilers Refinery Predicts the Draft!

Hello Refinery readers! I want you all to welcome our newest addition, furiouszczerkawski! Nick is a long time writer and editor with the Gateway at the University of Alberta as well as a foreign news intern with the Independent in London. He has written on several other sports blogs and is relatively well known in some circles as a sports podcaster.

This article also marks the return of Travis Yano (thickoil) to our Refinery ranks, who is also better known as Ghostbuster on the HFBoards forums. Never shy of being outspoken on any hockey topics, we are glad to have thickoil back in the fold as you can never have too many hockey gladiators.

Nick Frost a.k.a. furiouszczerkawski

1. EDMONTON OILERS: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer/WHL)

The videos from the combine, the articles, interview after interview — you know, Oilers media department: you could’ve gone out of your way, even a little bit, to create some suspense. The fact that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be an Oiler tonight is more obvious than Dustin Penner’s love of the cheeseburger.

Though I’ve never firmly been in The Nuge’s camp, and I can already picture ardently stubborn RNH fanboys foaming at the fingers to bludgeon me with draft records that support taking a centre over a defenceman with the first pick, I understand why we’re taking him. He’ll be our number-one centre, he’s got three names (fact: better than two), and he suffers from Gretzkyvision™. Get this kid a faceoff coach and let’s move on, shall we?

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: It’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, folks. There’s nobody else. Naysayers, vocal minority: you’ve been led astray on a wild Swede chase, I’m afraid. I’d bet my first-born child or my last Twix bar on it.

2. COLORADO AVALANCHE: LW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener/OHL)

Many people say that Landeskog (who henceforth with be known as “Lando Calrissian”; I want to see if the nickname catches on) is the most NHL-ready player in this year’s Draft. Many people say that he’s a dynamic two-way forward with a glut of leadership capability. Should such statements prove to be factual when translated to the next level, the Avs should have a special player flanking their left side. Perhaps even as early as next season.

Then again, many people say that he’s Swedish as well. I call bullshit. Have you heard this kid talk? He’s clearly a born and bred Ontarian.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Adam Larsson. I still believe, like many others, he’s best player available at this point. And, hey, who couldn’t use a projected world-class defenceman?

3. FLORIDA PANTHERS: C Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John/QMJHL)

Huberdeau has been enjoying a meteoric rise following his Memorial Cup victory with the Saint John Sea Dogs, and though we could sit here all day and yammer on about how stacked that team was, he appears to have climbed his way into a guaranteed top-three position.

For the longest time, I had Sean Couturier in this spot because I figured Dale Tallon would be looking for a strong offensive centre to be the anchor of his team for years to come. Don’t get me wrong — he still is. But in a battle between two very similar players will similar offensive capabilities, the champion gets the edge.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Sean Couturier. See above.

4. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: D Adam Larsson (Skellefteå/SEL)

With Huberdeau being likely to go with the Panthers’ pick, regardless of any outcome, should Lando Calrissian end up with the Avalanche, the Devils should consider themselves the luckiest team in the entire Draft. Not only do they get best player available by a whole two spots, but their defence corps finally has something to look forward — a possible franchise defenceman who can step in right away and should become a hell of a gamer with his shut-down ability and his underrated offensive ability. (Elitserien is less offensive, people; get it through your heads!) And let’s face it, this hasn’t happened since Scott Niedermayer hopped coasts and Scott Stevens got too old for this shit.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Sean Couturier. Defence is the most glaring weakness, but the Devils haven’t picked this high in a long time, so they might go for some offence. It’s pretty wide open.

5. NEW YORK ISLANDERS: D Dougie Hamilton (Niagara/OHL)

The Islanders rebuild appears to be well on track with a solid group of forwards, a new lease agreement to build an arena, and… well, Rick DiPietro’s contract. Kinda hard to shake that.

Regardless, while the Isles have some solid pieces on the back-end in Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan, no one really stands out as an obvious top-two defender. Hamilton fits the bill perfectly, bringing size, strong mobility, and a solid two-way game.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: If he’s available in the right scenario, Gabriel Landeskog. Imagine Landeskog lining up next to John Tavares and Nino Niederreiter, rounding out their future top-six up front. I believe “sick” is the apropos term with the kids these days.

6. OTTAWA SENATORS: C Sean Couturier (Drummondville/QMJHL)

Taking a look at the five players already drafted, Couturier rounds out a group of six players that are widely projected to go in the first six spots. Of course, things could change, but you have to imagine that a team looking for a strong centre with great puck patience and who wins board battles, who’s also best player left on the board, would be hard-pressed not to make this pick. I’m looking at you, Ottawa.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Ryan Strome. In fact, in doing some brief 3 a.m. reading, this seems like a more likely scenario if you believe that Ottawa has zero interest in that whole BPA spiel. Strome would bring some firepower back to the nation’s capital, however.

7. WINNIPEG: C Ryan Strome (Niagara/OHL)

Everyone even remotely interested in the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg will be following closely to see who becomes the new face of this revamped team. Of course, it’s a bit of a drag for whomever is selected to walk on stage and receive a black and grey NHL practice jersey — but really, who cares: you’re about to become the face of a franchise in a city whose people have been deprived for longer than they would’ve liked.

Winnipeg needs the most help at centre, currently possessing poor depth down the middle. Strome provides offensive punch, quickness, and — despite not being a top-five player — could end up being a better first-line centre than some of his counterparts. Small is in, folks.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Mika Zibanejad. In fact, after picking Alex Burmistrov last year, who’s also a small offensive centre, I think the Swedish-Iranian wunderkind would be a better choice.

8. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (via CBJ): C Mika Zibanejad (Djurgården/SEL)

Before I proceed with my explanation for this pick, I would just like to say: fuck you, Philadelphia Flyers! I had three different mock drafts going, all with different outcomes, and just when I think I have all the answers, Rowdy Eddie Snider and his rag-tag team of dubious ruffians from Broad Street come along and change the damn questions.

Oh, and the pick? Yeah, Zibanejad! Two-way centre, North American style — why the hell not!? You’ve screwed me again, you pennypackers!

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: That’ll teach ‘em to change the dynamic of my mock drafts. Douche bags.

9. BOSTON BRUINS (via TOR): D Jamie Oleksiak (Northeastern, NCAA H-East)

Of all the teams in the top-ten (only now with the exception of those precocious Flyers), this year’s Stanley Cup Champs have the luxury of selecting someone that doesn’t need to factor into their lineup right away. Someone they can take their time with. Of all potential draftees being slapped with the “project” sticker in this year’s first round, perhaps none are as big — I’d recommend craning your neck upward now — as Jamie Oleksiak.

This Can-Am college boy won’t be ready for the big leagues anytime soon. However, standing tall at 6’7” and 244 lbs., the Bruins can take their time and ensure that not only does Oleksiak fill out his frame in its entirety (did I mention he still has room to grow?), but that his one-on-one physical game gets properly developed, too.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Ryan Murphy. They can spend the same time they would with Oleksiak developing Smurphy’s defensive game. Same plan, slightly smaller.

10. MINNESOTA WILD: RW Joel Armia (Assat/SM-Liiga)

With the roar of the hometown crowd generating the energy that will power the lights in the Xcel Energy Center tonight, pressure will be on the Wild to produce a mark-out moment for fans in attendance. A quick glance at Wild-related forums online show an interest in Finnish scoring winger Joel Armia, who brings size to the table accompanying natural scoring ability. However, questions have been raised about his work ethic and commitment to the play. Nothing a motivational montage or a taser gun can’t solve. Plus, Minnesota has never had a problem selecting skilled Finnish players before. My gut tells me that, outside of Nugent-Hopkins at number one, this one’s also an empty-netter.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Sven Bärtschi. But that’s a big “if.”

Antony Ta.k.a. raventalon40

1. EDMONTON OILERS: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer/WHL)

This truly is a year when the depth extends well beyond the top 10. However, there does seem to be a consensus top 4 or 5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also happens to be the consensus #1, this year.

Unless the Oilers are hit by a trade they can’t refuse, it’s hard to believe the Oilers will pass up on the playmaker and visionary – RNH. The kid might be a bit scrawny now but not many aren’t at age 18. Hall was small last year and now he’s damn near 200 lbs so I have no doubt that it won’t be an issue down the line. Whether or not RNH is ready to play in tne NHL next year is not that relevant considering the Oilers aren’t exactly built like a roster that needs him to be ready, anyway. Banking on his potential is fine at this point as RNH will continue to develop at his own pace as he gets ready for the NHL game.

As a western boy playing in the dub, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to physical play. RNH might have gotten a lot of criticism about his lack of even strength production but the kid was playing all the special teams minutes for his club – PP, PK… he’ll be good.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: I have a slight belief that they would give Jonathan Huberdeau a couple seconds of consideration – and then pick RNH. You can never have enough Memorial Cup MVPs but you can’t go wrong with any of these kids this year and Huberdeau, like RNH – could use some filling out as both are sub-180 lbs.

2. COLORADO AVALANCHE: C/LW Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John/QMJHL)

I know that a lot of people are suggesting the Avalanche will not pass on either Swede (Larsson or Landeskog) I think there’s too much potential there with Huberdeau. He received a lot of criticism for playing on a good Saint John team that was much better than the other teams in the Q but his team also dominated other teams which were the respective champions in their own leagues.

Further inspection of Huberdeau’s statistics shows that in fact he wasn’t riding the bus in Saint John – he was driving it. Many of the players on that team are junior hockey veterans and have similar stats to their previous years (see Kirkpatrick). What they needed was a little Huberdeau to come and ignite the team.

The kid hits. The kid fights. The kid dangles. The kid scores.

Like RNH he has a bit of an issue when it comes to size but as we can all see he has the frame to fill out with and once Huberdeau trains with NHL trainers he will be a beast of a power forward.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Adam Larsson. The Avs place defense at a priority and having Johnson and Larsson on the blueline would be pretty decent though they would tank for a couple more years. I think Stastny will be in play this summer.

3. FLORIDA PANTHERS: D Adam Larsson (Skellefteå/SEL)

The Panthers have had issues with developing forwards over the last decade. I don’t believe this is a main reason for choosing to draft by position, but the last few years have seen the Panthers default to defensemen. Assuming Larsson isn’t already picked up by the Avalanche or Oilers, Larsson would join a blueline that already boasts Kulikov and Gudbranson. Knowing GM Dale Tallon – building from the back out would not be an accident.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Dougie Hamilton. See above.

4. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: LW/RW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener/OHL)

The Avalanche and Panthers are high on Landeskog and Huberdeau, but this guys draft pedigree screams New Jersey Devil.

As a two-way forward with offensive and defensive maturity, as well as an ability to fight, check and play within the system, he is a typical Lou prospect. With the departure of guys like Patrice Cormier, Landeskog would immediately fill a need on the third line as a rookie. Eventually, I believe his offensive struggles are exaggerated and he will eventually be at least a second line player in the NHL, if not the net presence on a cash strapped first line. He may not have skill to play on an NHL top line right now (or ever, some think) but I think he will be a Mike Richards type – if not an offensively gifted Cal Clutterbuck.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Mika Zibanejad. The reasons are pretty much the same as for Landeskog, but Zibanejad may actually be more talented because he has been playing in a men’s league.

5. NEW YORK ISLANDERS: D Dougie Hamilton (Niagara/OHL)

It’s hard to disagree with Frost on this one, though Hamilton is good enough to be chosen way earlier than this. The smarts on this kid is undeniable and he plays a solid two-way game. Hamilton reminds me of a cross between Duncan Keith and Scott Neidermayer – he may not lay you out like Dion Phaneuf but he’ll beat you every other way nonetheless. That being said – don’t underestimate Hamilton’s physical game.

This is Hamilton’s second draft eligible year, as he went unselected last year in his first year of eligibility.

Look for him to crack the NHL this season.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Ryan Strome. Strome is a prototypical Islanders prospect but he’s not as good as Hamilton. That being said, the Islanders have depth on D so this is a real possibility.

6. OTTAWA SENATORS: C Sean Couturier (Drummondville/QMJHL)

Couturier might be one of the slower skaters in the top 10 but his consistency is undeniable. The WJC star has an NHL calibre shot and serious board presence. Some question his ability to compete in the future at higher levels but this has also been a familiar criticism of a certain Joe Thornton.

It will be hard for the Senators to overlook the abilities of this big centerman.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Ryan Strome. The Senators are in rebuild and can’t afford to be picky with positions and should take the most talented players available, regardless of position. Unless the Senators offload one of Rundblad or Cowen (which they won’t), I would’ve suggsted Ryan Murphy instead.

7. WINNIPEG: D Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon/WHL)

I’m going to go off the board a bit here and suggest that what Winnipeg needs is a tough-as-nails, go-to-guy with a bit of offensive upside. There are a couple of these defensemen this year and Siemens is one of them. Winnipeg has a lot of skill in the system and this is one of those years that you can afford to draft by need.

Siemens has a good outlet pass and has seen powerplay time. Will be a beauty defenseman.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Jamie Oleksiak. He’s this year’s Jarred Tinordi.

8. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (via CBJ): C Ryan Strome (Niagara/OHL)

Strome is an elite talent that could easily be picked higher or picked lower than this position. What is in question is how much of his game will transfer to the NHL. Is he a Danny Briere – or a Rob Schremp?

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Mika Zibanejad. Kid has a lot of spunk and skill.

9. BOSTON BRUINS (via TOR): D Jamie Oleksiak (Northeastern, NCAA H-East)

If you told me tomorrow that Chara could start tutoring his replacement right away, I’d say sign me up. This is a real possibility if the hulking Jamie Oleksiak is still available when the Bruins pick at ninth (yes, I’m aware he’s ranked lower). He’s got offensive upside (although it seems to be limited, at this point) but Oleksiak is a beast already.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Matthew Puempel. Matt was a top 10 consideration until he was sidelined by injuries. If the Bruins past actions may indicate, injury has never sidelined them from sticking to their guns with guys like Savard, Bergeron, etc. Puempel has elite skill and could be a steal outside of the top 10.

10. MINNESOTA WILD: RW Joel Armia (Assat/SM-Liiga)

Armia screams Minnesota and he would look great alongside Mikko Koivu and company. He is also flexible enough to play with the defensive players on this team, and can play special teams on either end. The one exception though may be the change of culture that has occurred in the organization over the summer. However, if there is a guy on the top 30 list that is a prototypical Wild prospect, this is the guy.

“If for some reason I’m incorrect, they’ll take [blank] instead”: Ryan Murphy. Murphy will be better than Shattenkirk, Ellis, Liles or Russell. He has vision and compete and I can’t believe I haven’t picked him yet.

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