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Oilers grab pair of back-end prospects in third

The Oilers went for a goalie and defencemen with their two third-round picks in the 2017 NHL Draft

by Chris Wescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer

The Oilers went into the 2017 NHL Draft lacking a second-round selection. Softening that absence was the fact they had two third-round picks - 82nd and 84th overall.

With their top winger target, Kailer Yamamoto, selected 22nd overall in the first round, Edmonton turned their focus to the back end in the third. They'd move up to 78th overall and take a goalie prospect, and at 84 they'd grab a defender.

The Oilers exchanged the 82nd-overall pick in the third and the 126th-overall selection in the fifth with Arizona for the 78th pick - which the club would use to select Stuart Skinner. The Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender was a coveted talent for the Oil.

Video: 2-ON-1 | Stuart Skinner and Dmitri Samorukov

"We really like him, obviously," said Oilers Director of Player Personnel Bob Green. "Dustin (Schwartz) and Sylvain (Rodrigue) saw him at the Hockey Canada Development Camp and really liked him there. We've liked him all year. He's played a lot. He's played three years in the WHL and has played a lot of games."

Skinner does have plenty of experience. At 18 years old, the netminder already has 151 regular season WHL games under his belt and 24 more in the playoffs.

His best season numbers wise was 2015-16, in which Skinner played 44 games and posted a 2.73 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. In 2016-17, he'd be the even busier workhorse, playing in 60 games and posting a 3.26 GAA and .905 save percentage. He'd play a whopping 20 games in the playoffs helping Lethbridge make it to the third round of the WHL Playoffs.

"He's big, he moves well, he's athletic and he works at his game," said Green. "We just thought at that point, we thought he might go a little earlier, but you never know with goaltenders. We thought in the third round he was one of the guys we wanted to get."

Skinner is also an Edmonton native, adding an additional emotional storyline to the Oilers move to go up and get him.

"It's an absolute blessing that I get picked up by Edmonton," said Skinner. "It's an unbelievable feeling you can't really describe in words. I get to stay back home. It's a really great feeling."

Skinner was NHL Central Scouting's fifth-ranked North American goaltender.

With a forward and goalie in tow, Edmonton went defence with their second third-round pick, selecting Dmitri Samorukov from the Guelph Storm in the OHL.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound blueliner potted four goals and added 16 assists in 67 games for Guelph this season. A native of Russia, Samorukov is described as a smart and smooth defenceman with a solid two-way game. Future Considerations listed him as their 64th-overall prospect, while NHL Central Scouting had him at 69 on their list of North American skaters.

"We saw him play in Guelph this year and he's a good skater, he is a nice-sized kid," said Green. "He skates well and moves the puck really well."

At the U-18 World Juniors, Samorukov registered five points (1-4-5) in seven games, catching the eyes of Oilers scouts.

"He had a really good U-18," said Green. "We thought he took over the games over there a little more offensively. He tried to push the game a little bit more on the power play, so that was impressive.

Overall, Samorukov gives the Oilers another solid prospect in their stable of young defence.

"He's not a real physical guy, but he likes to step up and if he sees opportunities, he can make big, open-ice hits and we like that about him as well."

Next up for the Oilers prospects will be Development Camp next week.

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