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INBOX: Bob's Updated Top 5 Draft Rankings

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
On Mondays, Oilers radio colour analyst and Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer answers questions submitted by fans about the team.
  1. Hi Bob, with Dylan Strome winning the OHL scoring championship, would that change the possible complexion of the top five in the NHL draft in your opinion? -- Gerry in Ardrossan

There is no question that Dylan Strome’s four-goal, six-point performance in the final game of the OHL regular season in a game broadcast nationally by Sportsnet served notice that Strome should merit serious consideration as an option at number three for the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft.

There is a little doubt that Strome’s teammate in Erie, Connor McDavid will go first overall overall in the draft, and that Boston University star Jack Eichel will be a great consolation prize at number two.

Both McDavid and Eichel are seen as generational stars.

It is my belief that five years from now McDavid will be the best player on the planet, and that Eichel will be the best American-born player in the NHL.

Which brings us to who goes number three?

For much of this season, the general consensus was that Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin was leading the way to be the most likely player selected third. Hanifin is an elite-skating, left-shot D who appears similar to Edmonton product Jay Bouwmeester. One of the questions on Hanifin though is, does he impose his will on the game?

Strome has ranged between roughly third to sixth on most scouting service lists during this season. It is hard to ignore a centre who is 6’3” and can “shoot the pill” the way Strome can. He has a big frame, is good in the face-off circle, but needs to improve his foot-work.

It would not surprise me in the least if both Arizona and Toronto, two teams in the range to potentially draft third have Strome rated ahead of Hanifin at this time.

The Coyotes have a stud left-shot D in Oliver Ekman-Larson and other D prospects coming like Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy, but they don’t have a high-end prospect at centre.

The Leafs one true untouchable might be defenceman Morgan Reilly who went fifth overall in 2012.

My guess is that Central Scouting Service will have Strome ahead of Hanifin when the rankings come out in April.

Here is my updated top 5:

#1. Connor McDavid
#2. Jack Eichel
#3. Dylan Strome
#4. Noah Hanifan
#5. Mitch Marner

  • Which player do you think has grown and developed the most under Todd Nelson? -- Mike in Long Beach       

    Several of the Oilers young guns are tracking in the right direction under Todd Nelson.

    Some coaches have a way of breeding offensive confidence in players and I believe Todd is showing that he has that trait as a coach. Since Nelson has taken full control of the Oilers bench, Jordan Eberle has 16-24-40 in 39 games, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 13-19-32 in 39 games and Nail Yakupov has 7-10-17 in the last 21 games.

    But the player that has shown the most amount of growth in the organization since Nelson has come aboard is Anton Lander.

    Let’s face it, Lander was almost a forgotten man on the Oilers depth chart toiling in the minors, albeit as a point-per-game player in the AHL over the last couple of seasons.

    Lander has 6-9-15 in the 30 games he has played when Nelson has been the Head Coach. He is playing on the 1st unit PP and is killing penalties, and centring the third line. Anton is now showing that he has the potential to be an important part of the Oilers future, and Nelson’s belief in him has played a major factor in that happening.

  • The Oilers recently signed Ben Betker, which other 2012/2013 draft picks do you foresee the Oilers signing? -- Don in Edmonton       

    With the Denver Pioneers being eliminated in the NCAA regionals, I see the Oilers making a concerted effort in getting Hobey Baker finalist Joey LaLeggia signed. The Oilers fifth round pick, 123rd overall in 2012, finished his fourth and final season at DU and had a stellar campaign registering 15-25-40 in 37 games. An under-sized D who can really run a power-play LaLeggia played with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in minor hockey, and scored double-digit goals all four seasons at Denver.

    The Oilers have already signed four picks from the 2013 Draft to NHL deals: Darnell Nurse, Bogdan Yakimov, Greg Chase and now Betker.

    Anton Slepyshev, a third-round pick (88th overall) and Kyle Platzer a fourth-round pick (96th overall) should merit serious consideration for contracts as well.

    Slepyshev a 6’2” winger was very good in the World Juniors a couple of years ago and just finished a solid season with UFA Salavat in the KHL with 15-10-25 in 58 games.

    Platzer had a stellar campaign with Owen Sound as he put up 34-47-81 in 68 games.

    Also keep an eye on Oilers second round pick (56th overall) in 2013 Marco Roy, who plays for Memorial Cup host Quebec Remparts.

    The Remparts have a talented squad but under-performed during the regular season.

    Roy, who can play center and the wing had 26-24-50 in 59 games for the Remparts.

  • Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer
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