The Edmonton Oilers have selected Swedish defenceman William Lagesson with the 91st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Lagesson is a 6-foot-2, 196-pound defenceman who played in the Swedish Junior league for Frolunda Jr. In 44 games this season, Lagesson scored 20 points (8-12-20) and had 30 penalty minutes.
At the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in 2013, Lagesson had two points (1-1-2) in four games for the Sweden Under-18 team.
NHL Central Scouting ranks Lagesson as the 18th European skater.
The Dallas Stars make Brett Pollock the first Edmonton Oil Kings player off the board in the 2014 NHL Draft by selecting him in the second round, 45th overall.
Ranked 34th amongst North American skaters, the winger is coming off a breakout year for the Oil Kings. He became an offensive weapon for the Memorial Cup champions, scoring 55 (25-30-55) in 71 games.
“I don’t really think you put words to it," Pollock said. "The run we had, winning the Memorial Cup, being here today and being selected by Dallas is a surreal feeling. Not a lot of guys get to experience that and I can’t really put it into words today.”
In the WHL playoffs, Pollock helped finish off Medicine Hat in the conference finals with 7 points (5-2-7) in five games, including six in the final two.
Pollock, 18, is a 6-foot-2, 182 pound Sherwood Park, AB native.
Other Oil King draft-eligible players include Edgars Kulda, Aaron Irving, Ashton Sautner, Tyler Robertson and Brandon Baddock.
Adding size up the middle of the ice was something the Edmonton Oilers knew they had to do to become more competitive against the bigger centres and teams in their division and conference. At 6-foot-2, 213 pounds (and still growing), Leon Draisaitl was the pick for the Oilers at third overall.
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke with TSN following the pick and talked about what Draisaitl brings.
“We all know how difficult big centres are to obtain,” MacTavish said. “You’re going to have to draft big centres to get them because they’re very hard to come by. Leon really fits that build for us. We play in a very difficult conference, a very difficult division and we feel Leon’s skill set fits in incredibly well for us in Edmonton. There will be a lineup of wingers that will be ready to play with Leon when he gets to Edmonton.”
Some fans might have noticed that the Edmonton Oilers first round draft pick wasn’t wearing his new hat like the rest of the draftees. Leon Draisaitl put the jersey on but a certain member of the Oilers coaching staff didn’t allow him to take the hat. Head Coach Dallas Eakins played defence and blocked Draisaitl from putting on his new lid.
“He told me he is not going to give me the hat because he doesn’t want my mom to be mad at my hair,” Draisaitl said with a laugh.
Hat-hair crisis avoided.
Draisaitl also says that he thinks the Oilers are moving in the right direction as they have brought in players through trades like David Perron and their young stars continue to mature.
“I think I’m going to have to do my job and earn my spot if I want to play in that league and on that team,” Draisaitl said. “I think they’re moving forward. They’ve made some good trades like for Perron and I think the guys are getting older and more mature and this is just awesome right now.”
On the possibility of playing with Hall, Draisaitl had nothing but good things to say:
“He’s probably the fastest skater in the league and he’s an exciting player to watch. He’s a star in the league. It might be a good fit but you never know. It’s up to the coaches to put a line together and I can only do my job.”
The Edmonton Oilers made Leon Draisaitl the third overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft tonight. Having his size (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) and his skill (105 points this season), Draisaitl could make an immediate jump to the NHL from the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL.
Earlier today, Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said he felt any of the top four prospects have an “outstanding chance to play” this season. Draisaitl says he feels like he has some things to work on but should be ready after the summer.
“I think I have to work on some stuff but that’s what I’m going to do this summer and I think I’m ready next year,” he said.
It was expected that the Edmonton Oilers were interested in Leon Draisaitl. The day before the draft, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke of the team’s need of a centre and how size was also a factor. Draisaitl fits that description and the Oilers made him the third overall pick in this year’s draft.
Draisaitl didn’t know for sure if he would hear his name called when the Oilers took the stage in Philadelphia, but he had an idea that they liked him.“I think this year was really unpredictable," Draisaitl said. "No one really knew what was going on from the players’ perspective. I had really good meetings with them and knew they were interested but you didn’t know what was going on with the trades and all that stuff but right now, wearing that jersey is phenomenal.”
The Edmonton Oilers will have a decision to make when it’s their turn to submit their selection with the third overall pick in tonight’s draft. A question that has come up in the scouting meetings has been whether or not the Oilers rank immediate help above future impact or vice versa.
“That’s an interesting question and something we’ve been throwing around a lot over the last year,” Oilers Head Scout Stu MacGregor said. “Positional need, a desire to have a player that can make an impact today or who will be the best player in five years.”
MacGregor says the scouts always lean towards future projections over the short-term value of a player.
“Obviously longterm for a scout, you’re projecting five years ahead,” he said. “Management may look at things a little realistically on a shorter term basis. We do need to make some strides. Hopefully those strides forward will come from the group that’s already there and a coaching staff that’s solidified in working with that group and a comfort that the players believe in the direction we’re going on the team. Adding something that can help immediately would be a great benefit but it’s like anything, you’re judged longterm and what type of success you’ll have. One good year may buy you a few more years of employment but if you can get through those development years, probably five great years on an on-going basis probably buys you 15-20 years of employment. It’s an interesting process but scouts project longterm.”
The Oilers are in position to take one of the draft’s top four prospects: Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart or Leon Draisaitl. MacGregor said he thinks all four of them have the ability to make the jump to the NHL right away.
“I really believe all four have an excellent chance. I don’t think there is any varying degree of difference in their opportunity. Opportunity will have to present itself with the team that they’re with and their development plan and there’s a lot of factors that come with that. But I would expect that all four of them have an outstanding chance to play.”
PHILADELPHIA - Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko is above the rest in many minds. He is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American goalie and will possibly be the first of his position off the board when the draft gets underway in Philadelphia.
Demko says it is his love of the game and his will to win that separates him from the pack of draft-eligible netminders.
“I think just my will to win,” Demko said. “I work really hard off the ice to make sure I’m getting myself prepared to play. Definitely in the off-season too, I am making sure that I’m getting better for next year so when I do get back to the next season I will be ready to go. I think I just love the game more than most guys do and I want to be in the NHL.”
Demko, 18, is a native of San Diego, CA. He finished his freshman year at Boston College with a 2.24 goals against average and .919 save percentage.
PHILADELPHIA - There is no denying the potential of Peterborough Petes forward Nick Ritchie. With size on his side, Ritchie hopes to one day become one of the better power forwards in the NHL. He looks up to players like Boston’s Milan Lucic and Dallas’ Jamie Benn.
For him to become like one of those two, Ritchie will have to “bring it every night.”
“I think those two guys are pretty good players in the NHL,” Ritchie said. “They’re big and they bring it every night. I think for me, if I bring it every night, I can be one of those guys.”
Consistency is reportedly an issue with Ritchie. But the power forward who scored 74 points (39-35-74) this season believes that will get better with maturity.
“I think as I get older and more mature that will come. I will just keep working hard in the gym. I think once I get it I will be alright.”