Matthew Tkachuk is a presumptive top-five pick in Friday night’s first round. But the London Knights forward, obviously, doesn’t 100 percent know which team he’ll go to.
“It’s exciting,” Tkachuk said. “It’s also exciting just to know where you’re going to play. This whole process, especially since the season has been over, has been pretty crazy. But I’m excited. It’s almost down to the wire.”
Tkachuk won’t be completely in the dark on whichever team takes him. The hockey player is also very hockey knowledgable.
“I’m a hockey guy, so I pay attention to all of that,” he said. “I guess I’m kind of involved in researching that stuff. But just from watching hockey, you just know. I know what they have, I know what they need, I know what I can bring. It’s just the fact of if it’s going to be a good fit or not.”
Tkachuk is certainly in the mix for the Oilers if they select fourth overall. He met with them at the Combine, and also went to visit the city.
“I went to Edmonton. I got to sit down with them for a little bit longer than the (Combine) interview.”
They may have played half a world away from each other, but two Finnish prospects are no strangers.
London Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi watched his countryman put up a more than solid year for Karpat in Finland. Puljujarvi had 28 points (13-15-28) in 50 games this season. He had four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games.
The big right winger has turned plenty of heads among scouts and fans alike, but he also made an impression on Juolevi, who had a big season of his own in North America.
“Probably just how much he loves to play hockey," said Juolevi. "You always see him smiling even on the ice. Just a big smile. His skills, the skating, the big body. He’s just a great hockey player.”
Juolevi had a 42-point season on London’s back end this year. He is expected to be among the first defencemen off the board in Friday’s first round. Puljujarvi is a presumptive lock in the top five, and almost the consensus third-overall pick.
The Oilers have the fourth-overall selection in the first round. They choose 32nd overall in the second round.
In the third, the Oilers hold their own pick (63rd overall) as well as two via trades. Edmonton has Florida’s 84th-overall selection and the 91st pick from Pittsburgh. They received Florida’s third-round pick in exchange for Teddy Purcell at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. The Penguins sent the Oilers their third-round selection in exchange for Justin Schultz.
Edmonton has no selection in the fourth round, after trading it to Anaheim with Martin Gernat in exchange for forward Patrick Maroon.
The Oilers have the 123rd and 139th-overall (from St. Louis) picks in the fifth round. The Blues’ fifth-round pick came to Edmonton in exchange for goaltender Anders Nilsson.
The Oilers close out their draft with the 153rd (sixth round) and 183rd (seventh round) picks.
The draft takes place June 24-25 in Buffalo, NY.
84th Overall (From FLA)
91st Overall (From PIT)
149th Overall (From STL)
Many draft prognosticators have Auston Matthews going first overall to Toronto at the end of this month. Don’t remind Patrik Laine, who is hoping to convince the Leafs he is worthy of that spot.
“Sure, of course,” said Laine. “There’s lots of time until to the draft to show the Leafs that I’m worth the first overall. I will do everything I can to make that happen.”
Laine concedes that there isn’t much left he can do to swing their decision at this point in the off-season, but he’s still hoping the tape will speak for itself.
“I can’t do that much anymore, it’s just interviews and a couple of tests,” he said. “I think I showed my skills this season. I think I’ve done my work on the ice and they can now decide.”
Laine won the Jari Kurri Trophy as playoff MVP with Tappara in the Finnish Elite League. He had 17 goals and 33 points in 46 games this season.
John Marino, taken 154th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Oilers, enjoyed a championship first season in the USHL with the Tri-City Storm.
Marino tallied 30 points (5-25-30) in 56 games for the Storm. The 19-year-old defenceman also added two assists in 11 playoff games as his team captured the Clark Cup.
The Storm swept Dubuque 3-0, closing out the series with a 4-1 win. The Clark Cup is awarded annually to the USHL Playoff champions.
Marino was 13th amongst USHL defencemen in scoring this season. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound blueliner is a Harvard commit.
Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and Vice Chair Bob Nicholson has been re-elected as the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Vice President for the Americas.
This will be Nicholson’s second term as vice president.
“It’s an absolute privilege to represent the International Ice Hockey Federation again. We have to make sure young boys and girls play and that we put programs together whether you’re a large or small nation in a healthy and safe environment,” Nicholson told the media after the election.
Nicholson received a unanimous decision.
Oilers prospect Ethan Bear may have been eliminated from the playoffs by Brandon, but recognition for his impressive season continues. The Seattle Thunderbirds defenceman was named the WHL Player of the Week for the week ending May 15.
Congrats, Ethan! Excellent post-season performance! https://t.co/AyJIaA5GPY— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 16, 2016
Bear had five points in three games and was +3 in the 2016 WHL Championship series against Brandon. He led all WHL blueliners in post-season scoring with 22 points (8-14-22) in 18 games.
During the regular season, Bear posted 65 points (19-46-65) in 69 games.
Bear, 18, was selected in the fifth round, 124th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft.
While Oilers fans were still conversing about the team landing coveted NCAA undrafted free agent Drake Caggiula, the organization was wrapping up another two-year entry level contract. Edmonton signed Patrick Russell out of St. Cloud State University.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward recorded 41 points in 41 games for his college team this past season.
“He’s a late bloomer, but he’s a big, strong kid and I call him a strong cycle player and he’s got really good hands and good net-front,” said Oilers GM Peter Chiareli on Oilers Now Monday.
“We don’t have a lot of that in the pipeline. He’s a ’93 birth, so he’s close to playing. His footspeed has to get up to speed a little more, but strong, strong on the puck and big, strong and good release. He scored 20 this year at St. Cloud, which is no easy feat. We were on him a little bit last year and he had a real good year this year. Fortunate to get him and happy to have him.”
The Oilers signed University of North Dakota standout Drake Caggiula to a two-year entry level contract this weekend, after he spoke and visited with numerous teams.
“Drake is a good prospect,” Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli said on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer Monday. “He’s one of those guys who will play. He’s very smart. He’s got good speed. But the reason why he’ll play, because he’s 5-10, 185 and that is a bit of an obstacle for him, is his hockey sense and grit. When you combine those two ingredients with skill, these guys find a way to play. No accident that I would suspect there were 29 teams after this player.”
The forward put up 51 points in 39 games as a senior and was named the most outstanding player at the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament as UND won a national title.
“We’re happy he chose us,” said Chiarelli.
Although there is excitement with the prospect, Chiarelli says there’s still a learning curve as he enters the professional ranks.
“He’s got to learn the pro game, he’s got to learn to temper his aggression,” said Chiarelli. “You may ask, why we’d get someone to temper their aggression? Well, if he gets aggressive for an undersized guy he’s going to get hurt. He’s been real big in big games. Happy to get him. He’s still got some work to do, but he enjoyed his visit with us, enjoyed our plan we were pitching so we look at him like a free draft choice.”
Caggiula has compared his style of play to the likes of Minnesota’s Zach Parise, Boston’s Brad Marchand and Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher. Chiarelli can see that.
“Smaller guys have a lower centre of gravity than other guys, so if they have the strength to protect the puck then they actually can be quite good at it,” Chiarelli explained. “I would put Drake in that category. That was one of the things we noticed in Drake. There’s a number of players who put up numbers in college, but how he controlled the play by protecting the puck and with speed was something that’s hard to find. I don’t know if he’s as much of a pest as those other two, but he is aggressive, he likes to go after bigger guys, he’s hard on the forecheck, he likes to hit. I haven’t seen that pest in him but you never know what might come out.”
Drake Caggiula, who signed a two-year entry level contract with the Oilers Saturday earned two team awards from the University of North Dakota.
Boeser, Caggiula double winners for team awards https://t.co/WH56X1wgqi— North Dakota MHockey (@UNDmhockey) May 9, 2016
Caggiula was named UND’s most valuable player, earning the Jeff Anderson Scholarship Award. Caggiula scored 25 goals and added 25 assists for 51 points in 39 games as a senior in 2015-16. The forward was instrumental in UND’s national title run. He scored two goals in each of UND’s Frozen Four games and was named the NCAA Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player.
In addition to the MVP honours, Caggiula took home the team’s Plus/Minus Award. He led the nation with a school record 46-rating.